Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Old Potato Barn

This was once a busy agricultural hub, selling produce on Old Missouri 210 Highway; it bustled with activity near Liberty and Missouri City.  Now new 210 has rerouted most of the traffic and the barn isn't on the way to anywhere except a city park, which is mostly used seasonally, so it's abandoned and falling in on itself.

I used to stop there frequently to buy potatoes and other produce...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Waco Bi-plane

When my wife an I were in Maine last month we spent a rainy afternoon at the Owls Head Transportation museum, located in Owls Head, Maine. The museum is home to vintage cars, trucks, and an collection of old bi-planes. What's especially interesting about the museum is that each of its inhabitants still runs and flies. During weekends the old vehicles are out and about on the museum's grounds and the planes take to the air.

Being an aviation buff, this beautifully maintained 1923 Waco caught my eye. So I borrowed a place to sit (actually a large plastic bucket), sat down, and give this sketch a go.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Apple Tree on 2nd Street

By Marcia Milner-Brage from Cedar Falls, Iowa

There are other apple trees growing on public boulevards in my neighborhood. This one is notable: it’s the latest to bear fruit and then, the fruit hangs on the tree well into winter. This year it was particularly bountiful.

Apple Tree on 2nd Street sketch

I wanted to draw it before the first hard frost and the first snow. Before the brilliant autumn colors diminished. Time was running out. The forecast: 2 days of rain and wind followed by colder temperatures and then a snowstorm. With one day left, before the upcoming string of unfavorable weather, it was still too cool and windy to draw outside of the car.

Unfortunately it was Sunday and there were more parked cars then on weekdays. So I couldn’t get the angle on the tree that I had envisioned. I wanted to be across the street, with the tree in the foreground and the car wash sign on the other side of the block in the mid-distance. Hoping that a parking spot with this view might open up, I decided to bide my time and draw this sketch in my pocket-size Moleskin. No cars vacated my optimal spot. Resigned, I launched into a gouache painting, right from where I was.

Go to Eat Local: Scavenge on the Urban Sketchers Blog to see the gouache and  enjoy a closer look at the apples.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


I was being discreet. Really I was! We dropped in at Just Like Heaven for lunch (I had a yummy Mexican quiche!) where I began to draw the Western Auto sign. It's been a long time since I've seen one!

I continued on to draw the old guys sitting in the booth, being careful to look away as much as possible (causing them to look a bit wonky). But as they got up to leave, one of them came over to me and said they had been teasing about who was the handsome one I was sketching. I was busted! And a bit embarrassed to be caught in the act, even though I know it's silly to feel that way.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Mississippi River at Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

The weather was unusually warm today, so Roberta and I voted early and biked down the Mississsippi River Trail (MRT) to the River Heights Marina in Inver Grove Heights. We ate lunch on the deck of the Mississippi Pub  (good eats) and (of course) sketched the view. The scenery includes the marina on the near side of the river and on the far side the Northern Tier refinery. Nearly all the boats were out of the water, so Roberta and I sketched the refinery in our journals. There are a great many things to sketch in the marina and the adjoining Rock Island Swing Bridge Park, so we plan to bike there again next year.

Roberta's sketch.
My Sketch.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Camden, Maine...Fall Colors

My wife and I are just back from a trip that took us to both Maine and Vermont. My wife went to do some shopping. I went to sketch, paint, and do photography.

Camden, Maine, our base during our time in Maine, is a beautiful and quaint town. The village is home to a large fleet of schooners that, during the summer months, take travelers aboard to visit and enjoy the surrounding Maine landscape and islands by sail. By mid October many of the boats that populate Camden's harbor have been pulled for the winter. That said, while there, Camden's harbor remained busy with boats coming and going and tourists crowding the town's shops and restaurants. Then too, Camden, and the surrounding area was blooming into a palette of full fall color. This piece was done on a chilly morning and depicts Camden's crowded and busy inner harbor.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Last Thursday I had a meeting in downtown KC, and on my way back I stopped at the "Artist's and Craftsman's Supply" on Southwest Boulevard and discovered a great new paper. Shizen watercolor paper. A local company named "Shizen Design" makes it, or has it made to their specifications, in India. At any rate, I recommend that you give it a's wonderful. Here's their website:

This painting was done on my new Shizen paper - a small 8" by 8" piece with deckle edges. I approached this painting with some specific goals in mind.
#1: I wanted to keep a very limited palette to help maintain a definitive mood. So, I stuck with ultramarine, a little cobalt blue, raw sienna, burnt sienna and some gamboge.
#2: I wanted to keep all washes/colors fresh, so I made sure the previous wash was dry before applying the next layer. I think there's maybe 4 total washes.
#3: I wanted to create a more dynamic composition than what I found in nature. In order to achieve this, I extended the buildings on the right and left sides up to the top of the paper to frame the higher key center. I also added a darker wash to the upper portion of the sky to help create a value contrast with the central area and the bright yellow tree.

I'm pleased with the outcome, and look forward to my next painting on Shizen paper.
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