Friday, June 25, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

While Mandy and I are zeroing in on our next project (we have too many ideas; a good problem to have) I'm excited to say that we've found a great long term project, thanks to my friend Liz. It's actually called "The Sketchbook Project". The long and the short of it: 2800 people from all over the world get the same sketchbook. Each artist chooses a theme from the list on the website, or allows their theme to be selected at random. Work it out and send it back by January 15, 2011. Then, the books are barcoded, catalogued, and sent on tour all over the U.S. The artist can track how many times their book was taken off the shelf and where, online.

I signed up on Wednesday. Selected "random" for my theme, even though I'm totally uncomfortable with the idea of having to fill out an entire sketchbook with a theme, not of my own choosing. This will be just the shove (giant PUSH) beyond the comfort zone that I need, and I am totally up for the challenge.

My book should be here in two weeks and I'm pretty darn excited! We'll be sure to keep you updated as we both begin work on our sketchbooks...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pottery Trial and Error

Here are a few pictures of my adventures...and misadventures in the pottery studio. I'm cranking out work for an upcoming sale, so it's been all about repetition and moving quickly. The challenge of clay is that there are many places in the process where things can go wrong. As you can see in the first picture, the bottoms blew off a few of my pieces in the bisque firing. Here you can see how they look before they're trimmed. Trimming is a great way to eliminate excess bulk/weight from the bottom of the pot and it also allows you to give your pot a more continous shape.

This last photo shows a glazing mishap that has rendered these bowls useless. I'm thinking that maybe it's time to experiment with a mosaic project. Besides, who doesn't love to smash things with a hammer once in a while?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rested, Renewed and Home from my retreat. Had lots of time during class to sketch as the lecture portion got a little long and tedious at times. My sketches all happened among taking notes. Very middle school, but this time no one said anything.  If anything, it kept me in the moment and aware of all material presented. I just got to keep hands busy and wow, it felt so good.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Last of the Sketches from Project # 2

Here are the rest of my sketches from last week's project. I look forward to continuing to sketch unsuspecting subjects. Ultimately, I'd like to capture more people in motion, out and about doing things and not sneakily sketching them from behind. While I explained the concept of the CWP to my step-father and showed him my sketches, he made a great observation: my sketches (most of them) are of people in cafe's of one kind or another. Portland is all about coffee, bars and cafes. We are a city of foodies. So in looking for the subtle differences between my art and Mandy's art, our day to day subject matter really does reflect the culture and lifestyle. Hurray! It's working.

Anyhow, here are my sketches starting with the most recent...
Guy sitting at the bar at Besaw's during happy hour. 6-16-10

Tony P in the standing Tuesday marketing team meeting 6-15-10

Guy with unruly children (not pictured here) at Bank of America early Saturday 6-13-10.

Breakfast at Genie's for my step-dad's birthday. We got there early and these were the only other people to sketch. Not a great view. 6-12-10

Playing hooky from work- buying magazines for "research" I stopped by Starbuck's for a soy chai latte and spotted this lady, who was completely engrossed with her phone. Starbuck's on NW 23rd. 6-11-10

In Mandy's absence I have been spending many hours making pottery and cards for an upcoming sale. I'll call my personal assignment for this week Bowl Making. My goal is to complete (throw and trim) 20 bowls by next Saturday 6/26. I think I have about 5 done so far! Whew! Here we go again...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Down Time

Hmm... sort of lost some momentum on that last project. I have drawings to share! Really, I do. It's all about remembering to use the scanner at work. My partner in crime is away at a yoga retreat and is banned from using technology, so I'll keep sketching random people I encounter this weekend until she returns and we can start another project. In the meantime, the weather in the Pacific Northwest remains gray, rainy and cool so I thought I'd try to will the sun to shine by posting some photos of sunnier days to inspire me and my Portland peeps.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

On the Other Coast...(Hot,Hot,Hot)

Warm, well HOT weather sketches. Not getting much detail on these due to the fact that I made them at the Whirlin'Waters Water Park. Where not only does no one stand still, I feel a little uncomfortable staring at people in their bathing suits for to long.
A great place to see lots of bodies, not to mention lots of moles, tattoos and movement!
(but, my sketch pad is a little wrinkly now due to water/moisture damage :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Rainy Thursday

It's mid-June and people all over the city wore hoodies and fleece today. Seriously. The rain and gray days have the entire city of Portland in a funk-myself included. I went to Laughing Planet for lunch and while we were waiting for our food, I spotted a woman leaning over the condiment table intently. Gray flowing skirt coupled with a heavy, lined hoody. Case in point on the gross weather and what it's doing to our spring wardrobes.

On the drive back to the office, I decided to draw KW. It was somewhat awkward for me to be "in your face" about drawing someone. And of course he had to make faces at me. But, it was somewhat liberating to draw someone I know so well, and be able to show them afterwards, even though I didn't feel it looked like him so much. He thought it was more accurate than I did. Who knew?

Wednesday 6.9.10

I'm surrounded by people. All. Day. Long. My "office" (aka cubicle) is in a factory that employs some 160 people. They're everywhere: working, eating, playing ping pong, sitting in meetings, getting coffee... you get the idea. It should be easy to crank out two drawings a day. Yet I found myself waiting for the right opportunity to draw any one of them yesterday. So I'm confessing up front- I am one drawing short for Wednesday (hangs head in shame).

Now that we've got that out of the way, a little about the drawing that I did get- so much of my job is about sitting in meetings, having conversations, taking notes, making something happen and re-capping what just happened. What better way to capture those magic moments than to sketch my co-workers? Talk about jumping out of your comfort zone. Most of these people have never seen anything I've created (excluding all the killer events and media coverage I mastermind), and it does feel a little... something... to be "doodling" during event re-cap meetings. I felt like I was back in high school doing something devious or inappropriate, but that feeling was kind of exciting; just like it was in high school.

Well, I placed my sketch pad in my lap under the table and sketched furiously. I swear my boss gave me a puzzled glance at one point, and I thought "uh-oh", but I'm realizing most of this is probably just in my head. Early on in my drawing, I had assessed the proportions of my subjects head incorrectly. Usually, I would abandon the sketch and start over, but I pushed on. Once I had eliminated any aspect of her likeness, I focused on her shoulders and necklace, which came out great! The rest of the sketch- not so much.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday 6.8.10

It's funny, the more I work on this sketching from life thing, the more I'm planning as part of my day. I had scheduled a hair cut for Tuesday after work and deliberately arrived early so I could draw the client before me. I was able to sketch undetected while I drew from the reflection in the mirror at the salon.After my own cut, Nikki, my hairdresser and I went for a drink at a SE portland spot called the Night Light, that I have often patronized over the course of my years in Portland. A little vegan stir fry, a Bushmills neat, good conversation and my second sketch of the day- not a bad way to end the evening.

Sketches 2, 3 & 4 (Tues and Wed)

Getting faster and more proficient, not to mention a little more confident each day. Yesterday I was grieving and feeling sad ( see here) but the sketch pad still came out and even served as some therapy.  Today, I was at a friends house and sketched her on the glo doodle ap from my iphone. I actually love this medium and want to experiment more. Easy to sneaky sketch and it's fun not to mention always with me. I forgot to write the place, name and date on sketches so I must remember next time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sunday and Monday

Just after I posted this weeks challenge, i went out for breakfast to a great little neighborhood spot called Hash. It was RAINING! We situated our selves in the windows facing the breakfast bar and it was the perfect way to get started with this public drawing thing. The view was a bit obstructed so there were details omitted but I'm pleased with the beginning. Pardon the poor photo quality. I tried to scan them at work to no avail. Hopefully this will improve as the week goes on.

SUNDAY 6.6.10 at Hash

Monday at New Seasons (Street Side)

Monday was busy. Go, go, go all day. It wasn't until I stopped at the market on my way home from family dinner in the burbs that I realized I hadn't done my sketches for the day. Really, it wasn't until I was putting my groceries in the car. I was feeling lazy as I grabbed my sketch paper and pen, luckily for me there was a tall, lanky fellow sitting outside of the New Seasons completely engrossed in a book. Dear sir- you saved my artistic mission for the day.

I tried for two sketches but learned quickly that I need some practice representing moving targets. This one woman was taunting me. Standing on the sidewalk chatting away on her cell phone, she'd strike a pose and just as I'd get going, she'd pace in the opposite direction! Repeatedly. I gave up, but I did get some awkward lines on the paper. It's not pretty but here it is...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sketch #1, The Release of Public Drawing Fear...

Nicole, what a brilliant idea for our next mission! I am with you, I am very nervous of public drawing. I like to do art in private, so if it's gulp, BAD, I can throw it away. I love this challenge because it is a great exercise for me to embrace what I do make, good or bad, and start to accept myself and my art for what it is.   I also love the link to the blog that Nicole gave because it gives you permission to have good days and not so good days, and to HAVE FUN with it!

My sketch today is of a friend sitting out on Folly Beach today, and she had no clue....Pen on paper (about 3 minutes) Only one because, I was at the beach ya know...How liberating! Can't wait for tomorrow!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Recap, Momentum and Inspiration, Oh My.

Mandy and I were both very pleased with the results of our first project. What did we learn about our individual perceptions of "Spring"? Well, it seems that demographics don't mean much, to us spring means giant, colorful flowers. Maybe it was more about what those colorful flowers represent to each of us. Mandy was inspired by Mother's Day baskets she'd received. I found my inspiration in the shock of color a daffodil brought to an other wise rainy Portland day. Both inspirations represented some sort of hope or renewal- Spring is just that after all. Both Mandy and I were feeling accomplished, excited... motivated by successfully completing our first project. The momentum pushing us to move on to another challenge.

The blog Every Person In New York that I posted last week was also part of our conversation. If you haven't looked at it, you should check it out. Jason Polan, the artist, wanders the city with sketch pad in hand and draws the people he sees. The drawings are fast and free, but really well executed. In some cases, the figure(s) don't necessarily represent the human form perfectly but the lines do illustrate the movement or action quite well. I'm thinking specifically of the "Men Playing Basketball..." post where some of the figures don't even look complete. Arms and legs not represented. At first glance, it's a pile of lines, but once you read the description and understand the subject matter, the drawing really makes sense. The lines become a huddle of men on a asphalt court clamoring for the ball as it is tossed above them. It moves and I love it.

Jason Polan, you've inspired me! Drawing people accurately has always been intimidating, especially if the person you're drawing hopes to see the finished product. I am always nervous about offending someone with my visual interpretation of them. Jason's approach alleviates some of that pressure- he's not striving for perfection, in some cases he draws the back of someone so their face is completely unidentifiable, yet his work is still very appealing in execution and concept.

In the spirit of trying to draw more from life, I propose a series of week long projects where we are working exclusively from life. The first in the series will be drawing at least two people a day. Drawing more may be helpful but we'll only be required to post two of those drawings. The drawings should be quick line drawings; invest 20 minutes or less. Preferably, you are undetected by your subject and making time to capture someone out in the world: at the coffee shop, the gym, grocery store or just sitting on your front porch watching the neighbors stroll by. Drawing people you know is good in a pinch- but I personally like the idea of being forced to sit and draw someplace public since another fear of mine is having random people look over my shoulder while I draw. So I might as well tackle that one head on.

Mandy expressed concerns about drawing people- not her favorite subject matter. And while it's not mine either, this project is about exploring different facets of art making and moving beyond the comfort zone. So for this weeks project, we're drawing people!

Start Date: Sunday, June 6th
End Date: Sunday, June 13th
Label where you were, the date, what the person was doing.

Would it be preferable to post our solutions daily or all at once at the end of the week? And of course, if you want to join us- please do! We'd love to see your solutions to this challenge as well. In the meantime, consider what we should be working on for next week- more life drawing different approach...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spring Comes to Portland

Spring conjures so many images and memories: tweeting birds, blue skies, sunshine, new life, that lush spring green color as trees team with new buds, color, warmth, love... the list could go on and on indefinitely. As I was sussing through these ideas and accompanying visual representation, I kept coming back to this photo I'd taken in front of my house a few springs ago.

The photo was taken from a low perspective. I probably knelt down on the sidewalk and shot up. In the foreground, a bright yellow daffodil juts forward as big as the sun. Behind the flower is your typical Portland sky- gray, cloudy, the color of "blah" is how I typically describe it. The overgrown shrubbery lean in, as dark and looming as the sky. The photo has always appealed to me; the smallest thing in the scene becomes the brightest most dominant in the photo by simply manipulating the view point. Sometimes you need manipulate your scenery here in the Pacific Northwest, with nearly nine months of gray, sunless days, you re-train your eye to find joy in the subtle bright spots mother nature tucks away in plain sight. Every spring since I've moved here, just as I'm about to go crazy from missing the sun, the daffodils bloom and bring cheer to my otherwise gloomy days.

"The Bright Spot" was painted from the photo described above. It represents spring in my world: the Brooklyn neighborhood of Portland. It was really nice to have a deadline associated with this painting. It forced me to paint, on days where I would have preferred to do anything but. It also forced me to stop. Labeling something as "done" has always been an allusive challenge for me. Consequently, I have an apartment full of almost-done art work. And really, I could just keep working on this one too... forever. Without further adieu, I post my solution to the Spring project. Keep scrolling down to see the process of getting from there to here.

D-Day...Entry from the East....

My inspiration came from a beautiful hanging basket of pansies and other flowers I got for Mother's Day. After doing the purple flower I put it on the mantel and thought about how it needed a big red partner in crime to really make it pop.  The next day I went and bought another canvas and got started. I am a little ashamed at how much red paint is on this, no conservation here! I just kept going and going,  and what started as an "Oh, crap what have I done" ended up being my favorite piece.
I wish that my camera was really able to capture these better, but I actually like the glossy finish with the flash. Both paintings are acrylic on 16x20 canvas.

What I really loved about this Springtime challenge was using a ton of color and just going for it. I am usually so reserved and a little (very) sensitive about my work. In the last year I have really just started to let go of that blockage and really open up. What a truly liberating experience...making art for art's sake and not for anyone but yourself.  Like yoga on's not about the end result, it's about the journey. I can say that in all honesty, this has been an amazing journey through lots of emotions and I feel as if I am just getting started.