Monday, July 30, 2007

Beware the Killer Canoe!

More sketches from in and around the Indian Museum. (Above is a view of the front entrance from the one spot of shade in the entrance courtyard at 10am.) Later on I was inside the museum getting ready to sketch the prow of a woven reed canoe (more properly a Bolivian Aymara totora reed boat) that is in the form of a puma head when I was warned by a museum employee against touching the head. It is believed that if you touch the canoe cat's head you will drown in Lake Titicaca. She and I decided that sketching was too much like touching -- so I drew the detail of a Hawaiian outrigger canoe instead, at the point where the outrigger is lashed to the hull with twine.
Points to ponder include:
-- If that Lake Titicaca canoe prophesy was invariably true, then no one could make a second canoe.
-- If Hawaiian canoe makers really used kitchen twine for lashing on the outriggers, there would be a lot if orphan canoe pieces floating around the Pacific.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mingle on the Mall

We were supposed to spend all of our time at the Botanical Garden but I enjoyed the Indian Museum more yesterday. I had fun making some detailed watercolor sketches (on this blue-tinted pastel paper) of the 19th century beaded buckskin dresses in the current exhibition Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women's Dresses. (Mark your calendars for the National Powwow August 10 to 12, sponsored by the Museum, but held in the Arena. I remember one held out on the Mall itself a few years back and it was quite impressive.)
I whiled away practically the whole of a nice not-too-hot day lollygagging around the Mall with the rest of America. On the way home I stopped to buy the new Harry Potter book and started reading it over an early dinner. I stalled at about the quarter post but I 'spose it's my obligation to finish it, right?

(The view above is looking at the Capitol dome from the west end of the Bartholdi Garden. In the foreground of my view was a hideous yellow and red Dale Chihuly confection sitting like a spiky dead octopus in an old green wooden dory in a little pond. It was awful! Frightful! Embarrassing!I hope MY tax money didn't go to pay him for THAT! Anyway, I am experimenting with ink wash in my waterbrushes. I don' think I have the gradations down pat yet.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sketching in Watercolor

Sketching directly with watercolors is difficult for me. It will take considerable practice to get anything beyond globby and confused puddles of color. (The one above was a happy accident!) It also takes quite a bit of self-control to NOT get out the pen as soon as the puddles dry and add in line and detail. Must try to let these stand on their own! (Here are some more attempts.)

Tomorrow our sketch group meets at the US Botanic Garden and Bartholdi Park. Tomorrow is Family Day so we ought to get some excellent people-drawing practice.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Step back, to allow the doors to close . . . "

Late morning is an excellent time to catch a nap on Metro, as this gent is doing. Unless the scads of July tourists jostle and bump too much. Poor old Metro! Alas, the powers-that-be are talking very seriously about what some consider a desecration: Ambiance Of Metro Might Take Sharp Turn, by Lena H. Sun in the Post on July 2. I am going to have to start writing letters of protest. There is nothing like bright lighting to kill any elegance that Metro might possess. Yes, I do think it's elegant!
(This sketch is done with a Lamy Joy calligraphy pen and my new brown ink from Private Reserve, called 'Chocolat', which washes into that sharp reddish sepia color, which I'm not sure I like all that much. But will keep playing around with.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Putto in the Pebble Garden

My first visit to Dumbarton Oaks Gardens on Sunday afternoon was memorable: it was one of the hottest and most disagreeably sticky days of the year. (So far, that is. The summer is young.) The upside was that I was nearly all alone. I enjoyed the smells of boxwood and gardenia and imagining that it was my house and what kinds of parties I might throw in each of the garden "rooms". The Pebble Garden was originally a sunken tennis court. This putto was one of three adorning the pool there.