Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Freedom: NO COLOR

I love the ease of using a few simple tools. Don't get me wrong, I love to work in color--whether crayon or watercolor, too. But there's great freedom in rambling about my neighborhood with just a few tools and a pocket-size sketchbook. Here's a few recent sketches: black, white and shades of grey.

All were done within a short walk from my house in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

7th & Walnut
A house on a corner lot with overhanging eaves has a mature tree to shade it from the east and south.

Vintage Airstream in alley sketch
A vintage trailer parked in a back-alley.

Railroad Crossing 3rd & Iowa
Railroad tracks wend their way through my neighborhood. 

All were done with 5B pencil, Bic stick eraser, and water soluble graphite applied with a water brush. 

You can see more black and white sketches HERE in my Urban Sketchers blog post Black & White: traveling light

Monday, May 25, 2015

Introduction, sketching, and general silliness.

I've been asked to introduce myself to the group, and I'm relatively certain the folks doing the asking had no idea what they were getting themselves into. I'm a generally silly person, and when I dug around for a photograph of myself to include, the image below was the most serious image I could find.

My name is Mark Anderson and I've made my living as an artist, designer, and visual art educator for over thirty-five years. My students and patrons often ask me where ideas "come from." I can't speak for anyone else, but I like to believe I'm a student of the world around me; I unconsciously doodle on any scrap of paper that happens to be at hand and I seldom feel obliged to make a "photographic" representation; rather I enjoy trying to sketch the mood or quality of the moment. With few exceptions, I use a Lamy Safari medium nib pen loaded with Noodler's; I also carry a small travel kit of watercolors. In general, I will try to keep my sketches fresh by putting pen to paper without the "safety net" of a pencil sketch.

I'm also a lot more interested in the process of drawing than in the final "finished" product. Drawing is fun, thumbing through a sketchbook is interesting, but I don't choose to dwell on my finished work. I share it and move on to something new. Because I'm interested in the process, though, I'll often capture the stages of development as I've done in the illustration above.

I enjoy simplicity and I enjoy travel - seeing the world, meeting the people who populate the world. My journeys - and thus, my sketches - are often made while I'm walking or bicycling. I find that those folks who zoom by a place in their car, maybe hopping out occasionally to snap a photograph, are missing the essence of the place. Slow exploration often yields intriguing details lost to the traveler in a hurry. 

This past weekend, for instance, I decided to explore an often overlooked - or even avoided - part of Kansas City. I love areas like this, where the signage seems to date back decades.

I'll often draw buildings or trees, but people really interest me. I seldom miss an opportunity to create likenesses of those around me, and I often will simply fill page after page with ten to fifteen second gesture sketches of people, scurrying around in the everyday hustle and bustle. The sketch above was made yesterday at Ophelia's in Independence. Restaurants are a marvelous place to draw - your subject is often relatively stationary unlike people out on the street!

I've committed to contributing at least ten posts a year, and I appreciate being asked to do so. You may see a flurry of sketches from me at some point in the year, and then things on my end my go quiet for a while as life catches up. I'm pretty active on Flickr, and manage several blogs as well - of particular interest to this group might be Just Sketching. If you are a cycling enthusiast, you may also know me as The Early Morning Cyclist, where I frequently share the results of my bike sketch outings.

OK, enough about me. Let's get out there and draw!

Digital Sketching Demo, Art On the Square, Belleville, IL

 Art On the Square, one of the first art fairs of the year in the St. Louis area takes place the weekend after Mothers Day in Belleville, IL, my hometown. In previous years I have been an exhibitor and in 2011 created a watercolor for the fair's official poster. Each year our local artists' guild has a tented booth in which members provide live demonstrations of their work throughout all three days of the festival. This year my demonstration was live urban sketching on an iPad mounted to a tripod. I connected it to a monitor which visitors could watch as I sketched. The sketch at the top was made using an app called Paper 53 and the app's blue tooth powered stylus called Pencil. Paper and Pencil are very natural sketching tools in that your work is made in virtual sketchbooks in which the pages turn. It does not utilize other digital painting devices like layers, filters, hue & saturation settings, etc. The metaphor is an elegant one.
This image was made with an app called Brushes. Brushes does have layers, brush dynamics and many other digital painting capabilities much like Photoshop. In fact for this piece I stepped out into the street and snapped a photo with the iPad camera and loaded the image into Brushes as the bottom layer of my sketch. After painting over the reference image for a start I turned the photo off and finished the sketch with brighter colors, lost and found edges, simpler shapes & other painterly tricks. I ordinarily prefer not to work that way but this was a demo. My purpose was to show the differences in the apps, capabilities of the device and the fun of urban sketching, showing the world one drawing at a time.

Mike sketching on iPad at Art On the Square, 2015. Photo by Roger Popwell.

Not in the Water Yet

This sketch was done for Saturday's virtual sketch crawl. The drawing is of boats that are stacked 'round the edges of the parking lot of our marina...Crosswinds in Whitehall, Michigan. Whitehall Landing is another marina next door.

The boats aren't quite ready to be dropped in the water for the summer. Their owners are busy, and in some cases not so busy, getting their boat ready for launch. Unfortunately, on a busy Memorial Day weekend, the boats crowd cars in competition for space. Next week more will be in the water. The cars will win their battle.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

virtual sketchcrawl . . . at home

Today is "virtual sketchcrawl day" for those participating on Facebook and Urban Sketchers Midwest. I had considered going somewhere interesting to sketch, but we are busy getting ready for a family get-together on Monday. Bill is smoking a brisket early (in case of rain . . . which we seem to be having daily), and we have been cleaning patios. Also cleaning his shop, where we will set up all the food. Our one-bedroom cabin is just too tiny for 4 kids, 3 in-law kids, 5 grandkids, 1 or 2 dogs, our cat, and two or three additional friends we've invited.

So sketchcrawl is at home today, a sketch of our smoker at the back door with Bill's woodshop beyond. A bit wonky but fun to draw.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Meet the Author--Jim Butcher!

We had hoped to get to the venue in Independence, Missouri, in time for me to sketch it, as well...but the street addresses were so confusing we did well to buzz in minutes before Jim Butcher was to begin speaking.  He moves a lot, but it was an interesting challenge--and great practice!--to try to catch the man during the lively 2-hour talk.

I finally satisfied myself with drawing the audience!  At least I didn't worry about catching a likeness...and I'm always delighted with the chance to draw free models.

Our books are mostly on Kindle or borrowed from the library, so I asked him to sign my journal page!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More Business Travel

Had a quick trip to Oklahoma City for a technical committee meeting. Took along my sketch supplies and managed to do some on-site sketching. The rain kept me from ranging too far, but I found the American Banjo Museum! I have a soft spot for banjo. I took it up in college as a way to avoid studying and have some fun. Never stopped playing.

I took a cell phone camera picture of the museum in case the rain started back up, but managed to sketch it live. Some construction workers were close by and busy, but I managed to stay out of their way.

They had a few banjos on display that us patrons could play, so I did. I was the only patron there. Wish I had time to sketch the Deering Banjo that I played, called the Zombie Killer! It had great inlays of zombies, and metal parts with the same theme.

Sketch process: lay it out with fiber tip pen, followed by watercolor pencils and waterbrush. Text comes when I get back home.
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