Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sketch / Art League

I had the privilege and the pleasure of attending Susan Abbott's excellent workshop Traveling with Your Sketchbook (hosted by the Art League in Alexandria) this past weekend. As usual, it was delightful and I was very happy to see Susan again. She's a lovely lady, a first class artist, and an outstanding teacher. (This is a highly unusual combination of attributes, in my experience. She is a gem!) Susan's website is here.

I missed the short Friday evening introduction session (my head had exploded after two full days of software training on Thursday and Friday) but I showed up bright and early for the day-long Saturday and Sunday sessions. Among other things, we did a number of standard drawing exercises (blind contour, contour, gesture), discussed the practicalities of sketching on-the-go and the nuances of supplies/materials, talked about color theory and practiced applying it to travel sketching, did some simple perspective drawing, and looked at (and talked about) slides of travel sketches by various artists.

My favorite portions of the class are, first, when we talk about page layout on Day Two. Susan has some excellent page layout examples and we discuss this at length. To me, skilled page layout (and how images relate to each other and to areas of lettering) is a key part of a well-done sketchbook.

My other favorite part is when we all come back from various sketching sessions and we all look at and talk about each other's work. Seeing everyone else's work is such a great treat for me. So much fun to see the different lenses that folks use to see both my and also their own worlds. Great stuff and most inspirational. It's actually very personal and revealing but, by virtue of being there in the workshop, everyone is eager to share their experiences.

And once again, it was a really good group of students and we had fun as well as learned a lotta stuff.

I enthusiastically recommend this class. Susan Abbott is a highly skilled teacher. She lives in Vermont and, sadly for us here, she is going to reduce her teaching trips to the DC area from twice a year to only once a year, to be in March. So sign up early for the March 2012 Traveling with Your Sketchbook class. You might see me there too.

(My sketches from this workshop class are here.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Wiwaxia, 10” x 10",
 encaustic and mixed media on panel
Wiwaxia corrugata, extinct: half a billion years ago.
We miss you, Wi!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sketching Inks: Tips, Suggestions, And So Forth

I have a new page entitled:

It'll be updated regularly and often as I find more info.
☛ Go there, read, and please leave numerous informative and complimentary comments.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Happy Commuter

seen+heard --> The 31 Foggy Bottom bus, a week or so ago, as it's cruising its way down Wisconsin Avenue through Georgetown: on jumps a large-boned fifty-ish gent dressed in good qual business casual. Odd spot, the 31 bus, for the likes of him, but oh well. Then, ha! His cell phone rings and, in a booming talking-head pundit-like voice (reverberating through the whole bus) he answers. It's obviously his secretary (or some other such personal care-giver) "Oh hi, Bev! Tell me the address of the restaurant where I'm supposed to meet him . . . ok, thanks! . . . yes, yes, I'm in a cab on my way there now. Should be there in fifteen minutes or so."

In a cab?

Forgive me if I burst out laughing. Mister Business Casual just became Mister Stuffed Shirt. Ya think his Bev could hear, in the background of that conversation, the bus voice calling out "Stop requested" at intervals? Does Bev know what a pretentious dweeb her boss is? You betcha she does. Is this a great town, or what?


Sunday, March 13, 2011


Torii, 8" x 8", encaustic and mixed medium on panel

Friday, March 11, 2011

No one was injured, so feel free to enjoy . . .

. . . the Most Beautiful Truck Crash Ever, which happened in Massachusetts the day before yesterday, as reported in the Boston Globe

Terra Solidum

About 5" x 8" - done with my Copic Multiliner SP Brush Nib - and later a gouache wash - on top of an acrylic under-painted box - in my sketchbook - on the bus.

Make your mind strong

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise hockey. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, stamp no character on the mind. Let hockey therefore be your constant companion." Thomas Jefferson

(More on the Ice House at Monticello.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's a ladder. You're supposed to climb.

Africa1, 8" x 8", encaustic and mixed media on panel

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tom's Near Thing

Ahhhh. The Search for the Perfect Sketch Bag. This is never-ending and frustrating, but in a thrill-of-the-hunt kind of way.

My latest try is the Field Journal Notebook by Tom Bihn. I like Tom Bihn and have had very good luck with both the quality and design of their other bags and paraphernalia. Good outfit! So I was eager to get this Field Journal Notebook in my hands.

First, go watch the eight minute video demo on this bag. It's good.

At left is the Notebook, as I have it packed and ready. (The keen of eye among you will notice 3 rings missing. More later.) It's holding, clockwise from top left:
-- 1 Bic Wite-out correction pen
-- 2 Copic Multiliner pens and 2 Pilot Razor Point pens
-- 1 Pentel Waterbrush
-- 1 2-oz. bottle of water
-- 2 Lamy Safari fountain pens
-- a square of paper towel slid up into the pocket behind all the pens
-- my 7-1/2" x 8" everyday sketchbook
-- and in the outside zippered front pocket, the small watercolor box in a Ziploc bag

  • Slim and compact size.
  • Quality materials/workmanship.
  • Slots in the top are wide enough to hold fat items like a bottle of water and the Bic.
  • When open, it lays flat and all your tools are accessible.
  • The whole 3-ring-notebook component was -- I knew going in -- going to get pitched, in order to make way for my sketchbook. This was a shame because I do imagine it's a significant part of the cost of the thing. The 3-ring-notebook component ought to be an optional accessory. Rather than part of the package.
  • It's just barely thick enough to accommodate all that's in it (which I consider the bare minimum of equipment). It's a tight fit! I would have liked a half inch more overall depth in the main compartment. Or a half inch more depth in the exterior front zippered pocket. Or, best of all, both.
  • At $75, it's damn expensive!

An Alternative:
I have also tried the Spec-Ops Pack Rat Organizer. With almost an identical footprint (height x width x depth) as this Tom Bihn Journal Notebook, the Pack Rat feels more roomy. And holds more stuff. And is 'only' $52. (Here's a picture of the inside.)

I plan on using both of them this Spring, during sketching outings, and will report back on the performance of both of these new bags.

Travel Sketchbooking
Sketching Inks: Tips, Suggestions, And So Forth

Friday, March 4, 2011

On a Mission


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Smile is a Frown Upside Down

I am liking: Copic Multiliner SP Brush Nib (and watercolor+gouache wash)