While planning a trip to the Bay Area recently, I noticed the Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain would be in town the exact weekend of my visit. Ever since experiencing a 3-hour “battle sail” on board the Lady Washington almost six years ago (some photos here), I’d been wanting to sketch under sail – this was finally my chance! I booked a short passage from San Francisco to Oakland. (A few days later I also signed on for a battle sail, so the photos in this post come from both excursions.)
I stayed the night at my friend’s house just 20 minutes’ walk from the Embarcadero, so it was a brief and pleasant morning walk to the ships. It’s always a wonderful moment, when you first spy the masts camouflaged among the other various masts and poles and lights of an urban dock.
Only a few other passengers had signed on for this passage, so there was a lot of space to move around and the crew sometimes had time to chat. The captain used the opportunity to perform a series of safety drills, so I got to see a lot of examples of what it takes to run this complex machine. The weather was blessedly cooperative.
Sketching was a real challenge, as you might imagine, since not only were the crew in nearly constant motion (as you’d expect), everything that isn’t nailed down is likely to move or change shape in some manner, and the shadows were coming from different directions from moment to moment!
Tonight I attended the museum’s dance party event associated with this exhibit: Bacchanal Ballroom.
The evening started off with dancers posing in costume atop column-like platforms as living statues. Perfect for sketchers, right? Right, but the poses were often very fast and there was no knowing how long they’d last – going gestural was the only way!
At some point in the evening, the dancers leapt down from the columns and assembled on the floor for a steamy dance number – which was, incidentally, choreographed by my friend Jessica Wallenfels! As soon as that piece finished, the crowd spilled forward and danced among the dancers. It was actually quite a sight, all the regular folks shimmying up next to these scantily clad paragons of beauty. And yes, eventually I put down the sketchbook and joined them as well.
Afterwards I used the photobooth as a means to display my great heroism in sketching in challenging scenarios…
I didn’t take any photos, but there are some good ones available courtesy of Byron Beck on Flickr. Kudos to the Portland Art Museum for putting on a truly unusual event that provided a lot of visual stimulation for me as a sketcher! Um, not to mention as a fan of beautiful bodies. I’m planning to attend a second time, hopefully with some fellow Portland Urban Sketchers.
Had a great time at Dr. Sketchy once again, this time with the awesome visiting urban sketcher Pete Scully as well as a few of the Portland urban sketchers. I could draw PDXYAR all day every day – they did a great job hitting fun poses in great costumes, and held some difficult poses for long beyond the call of duty. Thanks to all involved!
My flight started off with a bang – well, hundreds of inaudible bangs. As we took off, a huge full moon lit the sky (that’s it over the plane wing) and early Independence Day fireworks bubbled up from so many backyards below, in such an even spread across all of Portland and Vancouver, it looked orchestrated. Magic.
Not much airplane/airport sketching this time, due to attempts at getting some kind of “night” of “sleep”.
I stayed in the dorm portion of a hotel in Old San Juan, Posada San Francisco. It was central, way cheaper than anything else, and quite decent – with a wonderful balcony view.
Despite the other hostel residents being quite nice, I had a rough first night – I was paranoid that I would snore, and had stress dreams about snoring as the result of bad programming. A lovely cappuccino with a flower in the foam at Cafecultura (conveniently located next door to the hostel) made me feel better, and I started to loosen up the drawing hand.
Literally half a block from the hotel was the base of Fuerte San Cristobal, a very dramatic fortification built towards the end of the 18th century to protect against other European powers attacking by land. As I first walked to it to sketch, I got distracted by these metal plates in the sidewalk.
Fuerte San Cristobal was a good place to shelter as the tropical storm rains came and went.
While working on that last sketch, Puerto Rican sketcher Luis E. Aparicio joined me! He was enthusiastic about sketching, an instant friend, and an exceedingly gracious host for his city. We sketched in San Cristobal for a while and then took a walk around the city, stopping to sketch along the way, while Luis gave me some insights into different areas, buildings, and food options.
At the end of the afternoon, we retreated to a bar of Luis’ choosing: El Batey, a favorite of his with graffiti-covered walls.
I ended that day hanging out with people from the hostel – folks from the US and Canada for the most part, with the occasional European. Most of them – in about three different rental car expeditions – had spent the day being lost on the roads of Puerto Rico attempting to reach some tourist destination or another, endlessly taking the wrong turn and ending up back on the same bridge they’d just come over. But they all seemed in good spirits about it. Good travelers are fine with spending some time being lost.
There will be one more post about Puerto Rico, and then on to Santo Domingo and the Urban Sketching Symposium!
I’m still working on scanning in all my symposium sketches, so for now I’ll skip to this weekend’s activities. Yesterday, four of the Portland Urban Sketchers (myself included) took the train to Tacoma to participate in a Pacific Northwest Regional SketchCrawl. Over 30 sketchers attended! What a great way to spend the first Saturday back from the Symposium – a reminder of how much we can do and how much there is to see in our own local area.
When we gathered to look at sketchbooks, a great variety of styles was represented and I was inspired by what I saw. Tacoma was a great location for sketching as well – gorgeous and unusual buildings, cafes on every corner, more intriguing museums than you could shake a stick at. Just a 3 hour train ride from Portland! I did this sketch of Tacoma’s old Union Station building, a truly vast structure, seen from the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.
Then I tried to get impressionistic with the Chihuly “Seaforms” structure – all these beautiful glass pieces are on display above our heads on the bridge, so they are illuminated by sunlight. (Thanks to Vicky for the photo!) I was wishing there were some colorful marker pens in my bag.
Here was the original – thanks to Vicky for taking the photo at my request
We had a wonderful lunch at The Swiss Pub, then had a second sketch session. While neither of my sketches today shows a lot of forethought in terms of composition or limitation, I was thinking about those things a lot. Ideas from the symposium are in my head but putting them into practice is taking trial and error, as I push back against existing bad habits. Here I couldn’t decide what to focus on, so there is no focus – yet I still feel like a lot was learned from the process of making this sketch.
Check out the Seattle Urban Sketchers blog for some of their reports & sketches of the day, including one group shot. Also see Tina’s blog post about the day, in which she mentions me and my post-symposium high Thanks Tina, and thanks sketchers! It was a memorable sketchcrawl.
For Memorial Day I arranged to meet up with some of the Portland Urban Sketchers to visit Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Funeral Home during their annual “open house.” I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We started off at Staccato Gelato in Sellwood, and I sketched the view down Bybee…
Alanna, Pascale, and I continued on to Wilhelm’s. There was a sizable crowd already, mostly waiting to visit the Rae Room. The funeral home itself turned out to be a remarkable labyrinth of several buildings and outdoor areas all connected below with weaving, meandering corridors. There is a large fountain inside, alcoves with lovely stained glass, an outdoor pond with a stone bridge, the largest outdoor hand-painted mural in the nation, a great view of Oaks Bottom and Oaks Park, and corridor upon corridor of memorial boxes and urns.
I’m already thinking it would be great to go back again next year since we barely scratched the surface of what this funeral home has to offer. Alanna captured the stone bridge, Pascale took the building tour – next time, I’d like to do both of those things and also catch the Portland panorama from outside!
Well, I didn’t finish The Month In Comics this time. Too much was happening. There are still a few comics that got made and just need to be cleaned up & posted, but this weekend I’m on a tear to get back in a regular urban sketching habit.
I’ve been sketching on the bus…
…went to the Saturday session at Hipbone Studio and tried to figure out where to put this excellent model’s rib cage…
…stopped by Sunnyside Piazza as the neighborhood got together to repaint the intersection…
…and attended Wonder Northwest, a pop culture convention. Most of my sketching happened at the “Engineering Trek in the Park” panel discussion.
Also I got a Journey to Babel poster signed by the Captain! It’s gorgeous! Yay!!
I had a great weekend at Stumptown Comics Fest, though this photo shows I was manic enough to have the Crazy Eyes.
I’ll put up a page about the Soft Scientist later this week, and am also going to do a The Month In Comics project in May during which I’ll be posting lots of quick comic strips.
If you’re here as a result of meeting me at the fest, thanks for visiting my table and my site and I hope you enjoy your comics and/or urban sketcher’s notebooks and/or postcards!
There has been very little sketching to report at this blog lately, but I’m not slacking: I’m busy preparing for Stumptown Comics Fest! My table partner Molly and I will be at B-19, which is just about straight to the back corner of the room directly across from the entrance. This will be my first time tabling there, after two years tabling at the smaller, more casual Portland Zine Symposium. I’ll have a new minicomic, three (three!!) urban sketching collections, postcards, and all the older works (Dangerous Aromas, The Month In Comics, Ancestors of Hair Metal).
It’s great to be finishing up new projects for public consumption, but my nose has been to the grindstone for weeks now. I was very happy to take a break from comics and layout software to spend an afternoon in the sun with the urban sketchers.
We didn’t all arrive at the garden at once, so when we gathered again at the gates it was surprising that we had become a large group! And jovial, as several of us were just back from vacations, or just leaving on vacations, and there were new sketchers, and we were all pleased to see each other and to finally get a break from sketching in the rain. Best way to spend a summer afternoon!
Like many urban sketchers I choose my watercolor palette carefully. When working quickly and often in sub-par conditions, it’s much better to have a few inspiring colors that mix well than a vast selection of shades that tend towards becoming mud.
These are two of the colors that inspire me most right now.
Cobalt Teal Blue (Pigment PG50)
This blue isn’t an all purpose mixing blue, yet it’s one of the most heavily used in my palette. Mine is from Daniel Smith. (Another good option for the same pigment is Winsor & Newton’s Cobalt Turquoise Light. If you buy from any other manufacturer, make sure the pigment is PG50 or you’re getting something entirely different.)
You might guess that this is color is basically the same as pthalo blue lightened with white, but it isn’t. It really isn’t. Cobalt Teal Blue is a high intensity color that is not dulled down; the pigment is just naturally this bright tone. There’s no chalkiness. Cobalt Teal Blue is also lightfast, granulating, and holds its intensity well after drying. It adds a bright yet soft touch when used in mixes …
|PG50||mixed with…||results in|
|Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)
||Quinacridone gold (P049)
|Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)
|Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)
Quinacridone Gold (Pigment PO49)
This gold lends a gorgeous warmth to everything it touches. Add it to blue, and it’ll give a lively green that looks like it’s made out of living plant life. Add it to red with some water and you’ll get a rosy skin tone that cannot be surpassed. This one is also from Daniel Smith, and that manufacturer claims to be the only provider of single-pigment quin gold (i.e., other manufacturers are trying to mimic quin gold by using multiple other pigments).
Quin gold is warm and transparent. If you lay it on thick it’s similar in color to raw sienna, but without any muddiness that you would get from that earth pigment. Lay it on thin and it’s like liquid sunlight.
Just a few of the amazing greens you can get with this gold, the first a repeat of above…
|mixed with…||results in|
||Cobalt Teal Blue (PG50)
|Quin gold||Winsor Blue (PB15)
| Quin gold
||French Ultramarine (PB29)
(same pigments as DS Undersea Green)
There are so many lovely colors out there, but these two give me particular enjoyment. Highly recommended!