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Friday, February 22, 2019

A couple of wide angle lense views from Porto, Portugal

I'm just realizing I didn't post many sketches from the USK Symposium in Porto, Portugal. These are two of my favorites. They are both double wide 8 x 10 so about 16 inches wide. The first is the Dom Luis Bridge. I did it on our first group sketchcrawl with a few hundred other sketchers!

I intended to go back and finish this one; but I decided I like it just the way it is.

Back in Brooklyn

The temperatures in NY bounced around like a pinball machine. I got there during the polar vortex. Within four days it was up to 60 degrees. Then back to snow and cold and the last day I was there it was back up to 55. 

So I went for a walk in the afternoon. The sun was just starting to cast that wonderful slanted light that I love. Visitation Church in Red Hook was illuminated. 

And the Red Hook Tavern, a new yet to open restaurant in the neighborhood was glowing. 

Another day, I headed off to the Lower Eastside. I missed the NYC urban sketchers outing where they went to the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a beautiful gem embedded in the neighborhood, pretty much in the midst of Chinatown. The museum wasn't open yet so I went hunting for a coffee shop. I found a Starbucks on the courner of Delancy and Allen warmed my hands as I drank my tea. Then turned around to see the busy corner. The yellow just popped out at me. 

Once it opened I was able to enter the synagogue which is is now a museum and displays some of the history. One of the more colorful stories included the time when the Jewish women in the neighborhood staged a massive protest when kosher meat went from 12 cents to 18 cents a pound. They interrupted a service at the synagogue and garnered a lot of media attention. And they managed to bring the price back down to 14 cents/lb.

In this sketch, I started with one of those well laid perspective plans, but I get too impatient. Not only that I couldn't actually see the structure very well due to glaring chandeliers,The  synagogue is very proud of the chandeliers, which used to be gaslight lamps, but their brightness outshone everything else.  I didn't even include them in the sketch. 

The Highline and the Whitney - good companions

I stayed an extra week in NY due to weather in Seattle. My house in Olympia had no power, so I wasn't about to go from cold to cold with no heat. As a result I got in a bit more sketching. I started off towards the Whitney in the Meatpacking District. The white sawtooth south face makes the new Whitney recognizable.

I went up to the Highline first. It was warm enough to grab a couple of quick sketches.  I love the rooftop water cisterns that dot the NY skyline. I've especially seen lots of them in SOHO and the Meatpacking district.

Before entering to see the Andy Warhol retrospective - a wonderful collection of his work. This was my favorite room - though there were many amazing pieces.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Best Laid Plans

After several months of planning to spend a few months in warmer weather this winter, we changed our plans and decided to stick around the northwest. January was going pretty well, then a family emergency called me back to the east coast right in the middle of their deep freeze.  It went from -6 on Thursday Jan 31 to 60 on Feb 5.

That burst of spring was very short lived. Saturday it was back down to 25. The New York City urban sketchers, however had scheduled a perfect location for a winter outing that day. And since family matters had settled down I was able to spend the day with them. We met up at the former Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House now Smithsonian's National Museum of American Indians in lower Manhattan. 

I was able to sketch a couple of fellow subway riders on the way before finding the massive building in Bowling Green near Battery Park and Wall Street.

Joy Hecht, an urbansketcher from Newfoundland who uses collage as her medium, and is about to teach a 10x10 class, lent me her glue for the logo (the red square says "National Museum of American Indians".)

NYC urban sketchers meet from 10 to 3 every Saturday (!) so we broke for lunch and I found this peek-a-boo view from the restaurant window. 

After lunch I braved the twenty-five degree afternoon to watch folks lining up in front of the Charging Bull. The sunshine helped for the fifteen minutes I stood there as did two down coats and my Uggs and fingerless gloves, but it was a quick sketch.  

I went inside to thaw and watch the people watching the exhibitions. 

The "afters" was held at Murphy's pub around the corner where, New York USK style is to have everyone present their sketches show and tell style. Since I had missed their portrait party the previous weekend so I thought I'd throw in a belated offering, my tablemate, Linda Moses who had come to join urban sketchers for the first time. 

So the best laid plans of wintering in the tropics has had many bright spots and hopefully more to come.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Fado Singers of Portugal

Fado singers are a bonus takeaway experience from my trip to Portugal. The troubadours sang their music in operatic style in public squares. I don't know anything about Fado so I had to rely on wikipedia to inform me. 
In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.  - Wikipedia
Wikipedia also connects fado with the Portuguese word saudade. The word t has no direct translation in English but. the closest I found was that it expresses a deep emotion of missing something that you loved that is now gone. And historically speaking, apparently fado originated in Lisbon and Coimbra. 

My first encounter with fado was at the Cathedral in Porto - Sé as it is commonly called. There on the steps was a trio of young men. Their garb makes them stand out - black suits and ties, each with a dramatic cape flung around their shoulders and across their torsos. 

After drawing this trio, they asked to see my sketch. I had them sign it, but they hid their signatures in the black of their clothes. Later they contacted me to ask if they could use their sketch on their next cd cover. Again urban sketching leads to the most unexpected events. 

When I got to Coimbra about a week later I ran across a group of girls singing outside the 800 year old University of Coimbra. They were delighted as I was the second sketcher that day who chose to sketch them, Tina Koyama had been there before me. 

That evening I happened upon a square in the old section of Coimbra, just below the University. I could hear music so I followed the groups of people through an old stone arch over a very cobbled street.

The narrow cobblestone road opened up into a small trianglular plaza lined with small restaurants and even smaller bars, a few giftshops and bookstore. Two musicians played at one edge. I'm not sure it was fado but it was magical. 

On my last night in Portugal and only evening in Lisbon, I was determined to see a bit of the city. I walked from my hotel at the top of the hill down to the Alfama district. This is the oldest section of Lisbon and I knew it would have a depth of history and culture. It took me about two hours including a stop for dinner, walking on cobbled and stone streets - some very slippery.  I walked down very narrow streets finding breathtaking peek-a-boo views of slanted light bouncing off painted buildings. the bottom ...the winding streets opened up to large square. At least 12 young men in their black suits and capes strummed and sang their meloncholic tunes. At one point they picked out some women from the crowd, draped them in shawls and serenaded them with a wistful tune. I grabbed my blackwing and furiously sketched the group. No time for paint. 

Just as I was noticing the twilight darkening signaling the time to return to my hotel, I looked to my left where an older woman had set up a card table. On it was a bucket of ice and a bottle with a sign that said "Ginja". " I flipped out Google Translate. Cherry! Indeed it was. Cherry liqueur served in a chocolate cup. I sipped the liqueur and the cup melted in my mouth. The end to a perfect evening and an amazing trip. 

Ginja (cherry liqueur) chilling on the square

Here's the short video of the Fado Singers in Lisbon

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

30x30 Direct Watercolor - June 2018

I did these works using direct watercolor - no pen or pencil set up. It's a bit daunting to hold the loaded paintbrush above the white paper. But I just have to dive in with beginners mind and what feels a lot like being back in 4th grade.

I started at our farmer's market.

We have a flat fountain in downtown Olympia. Ironically, in this waterfront town, it's one of the few public places to access water in warm weather. 

Back to the farmer's market where this mother shared lunch with her children.

Watching people at Seattle Center.

The State Capitol. 

I did a preliminare sketch for this one to determine values. 

From a photo of New Mexican.

Golden wheat fields in the hills above Walla Walla. From a photo. 

On location the spring green hills outside of Walla Walla.

Quick sketch in the garden at Chandler Reach Winery outside Richland WA. Vivalia colors. 

Six-stroke people. Thanks to Michele Cooper. 

After Paul Klee. An easy out for the day.

Garden on Cascadia Street, Mt Baker, Seattle, WA.

More six-stroke people.

I love Wolf Kahn's vibrant colors in his pastels and oil paintings. Thought I'd try out a bit of vibrant, complimentary colors. From imagination. 

Mioposto Restaurant from Mt. Baker Park, Seattle.