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Monday, December 15, 2014

The General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial



The General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is located in front of the U.S. Capitol facing the Lincoln Memorial at the opposite site of the Washington DC National Memorial Mall Parks.  Grant during the U.S. civil war (1861 to 1865) was a 4 stars General  that served under the commands of President Abraham Lincoln in order to preserve the Union.  With his armies Grant helped to defeat the traitors slaving forces of the confederacy.  Later on Grant became President of the U.S.   This collage sketch took several hours during several days in different locations.  I did the equestrian statue during a warm sunny late November afternoon which is very unusual and there were diverse groups of people enjoying the memorial.  During the following week after work I sketched a map of the Mall near the Smithsonian "Castle".  Few days later I was working out in the Join Army & Marines base Fort Myers in Arlington, VA and there were few soldiers practicing a civil war demonstration.  I had the opportunity to sketch the style of flag that the Union Soldiers  carried to battle as well as the symbols for a 4 stars General.  The purpose of this sketch is to learn from the past as well as to investigate the history of great individuals that sacrificed for the U.S.  Equestrian Statue 2.0 hrs, Smithsonian Map 1.5 hrs, and Union Soldiers Practice Demonstration 1hr.  Total 4.5hrs Black Ink on White Paper.          

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NIH Community Orchestra

The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD sponsors a Community Orchestra that performs in the D.C. area. Many of the musicians are employees at the NIH, or their friends and relations. For this year's winter concert, they performed selections from Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, Tchaikovsky's Marche Slave, Kalinnikov's Symphony No. 1, and selections from Handel's Messiah (including the Hallelujah Chorus). I got there a little early and got to sketch them while they practiced - then finished the sketch during the actual performance.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bruton Parish

Bruton Parish Church

Bruton Parish Church, in Colonial Williamsburg (about 3 hours from D.C.) has been in continuous use as a church since 1715. Many of the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson, Washington, Mason, and Henry once worshiped here, and it is still an active Episcopal congregation today.

This month, the church is hosting a different choir every night for a candlelight concert series. On Friday night, my dad's church choir from Winchester, Virginia sang Christmas songs to start off the season. The whole family came down to support him and enjoy the music in this space. My sister and I are both William and Mary graduates, so we all used to spend a lot of time together in Williamsburg, and it was fun to do that again - and show off Colonial Williamsburg and the College to my nephews.
Candlelight Concert
Bruton Parish from a visit in 2009

Monday, November 3, 2014

Capitol Hill Neighborhood

I am now working as a graphic designer for Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. Here is a promotional map I created using sketches from the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Autumn in Reston

The community I live in, Reston, is planned around a group of man-made lakes, in the suburbs of D.C.  Fall is one of my favorite times of year here - I enjoy going on walks in the afternoon, with the wind in the leaves, the smell of wood fires, and (usually) a stop at Starbucks, conveniently located about 3/4 of the way around the lake. This afternoon was no exception.

I've been trying lately to focus more on color than just line, working primarily with the brush, and pulling out the pen only at the end to put in shadows and details.  I'm not terribly comfortable with the brush-first approach yet, but I've been trying to learn from other sketchers like Kumi and João and Behzad, and it's been a fun experiment - though I still have a lot to learn.

Friday, October 24, 2014

a walk down 2nd St SE in Canal Park

I've been enjoying the good weather on weekends in October and have completed a set of 5 panoramic drawings that describe a walk down 2nd St, along the west side of Canal Park, from its intersection at K St, walking north to Bridge Spot, the skate-park under 695 near Garfield Park.

cropped-9.22.banner.jpg 10.5.14pan4blog 10.12.14pan4blog 10.17.14pan4blog 10.18.14pan4blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Eastern Market

For the 45th World Wide Sketchcrawl the D.C. Sketchers met at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. The market is housed in a 19th century brick building, and on weekends you can find food, art, crafts, and all sorts of things at the nearby flea market. The building was gutted by fire in 2007, but was rebuilt in 2009 and is now a bustling place.

While I was sketching, I met Alvin, a photographer working on a project called People in This City. He takes portraits of people he finds and asks them a few questions - and shares the conversations online. The result is an interesting cross-section of the life of the city.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Great Falls National Park


At the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Paraty, Kiah Kiean did a wonderful demo showing how he sketches using a dry twig and Chinese ink - after which, he gave each of us a sharpened twig from his front yard, and a little ink to try it on our own. Since coming home, I've been wanting to go out and try this in my neighborhood.

I went hiking in Great Falls National Park today with a few friends, and they humored me while I stopped to sketch. I thought the rocks and the falls might make a good subject to try out the dry twig technique on. I decided to add watercolor when I got home - while Kiah's sketches stand alone in black and white, I haven't quite mastered value the way he has, and I thought I needed some color for contrast.

The visitors' centers in the National Parks sell these little 'passport' booklets that you can use to keep track of what parks you've visited, and each park has its own stamp you can use in the passport. I don't have one of the booklets, but I sometimes stamp my sketchbook (if I remember, and can find the stamp). After stamping my Mather Gorge sketch, though, I noticed that someone had dialed the date on the stamp to "Oct 44 2014". Thanks for that.

Monday, September 29, 2014

United States National Arboretum


During the last day of the summer I visited the National Capitol Columns at the United States National Arboretum with another USK member Tom Condenzio. These are the original columns that once supported the east portico of the Capitol in 1828. As well as the columns were the backdrop of several presidential inaugurations from Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, to Dwight D. Eisenhower. In front of these famous columns Mr. President Abraham Lincoln gave his second presidential inaugural address. To be honest it is a magical place where anyone can get in touch with history at the same time with nature. Walking around this forest of columns it feels like ancient Greece or Rome. It took me 2 visits with a total of 3.5 hrs of sketching and exploring. I used black ink on white paper.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Udvar-Hazy Center

curtiss vought f4u 1d corsair
The National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall is great, but tends to be a bit too crowded and filled with toddlers sprinting around.  The NASM Udvar-Hazy Center out in Virginia on the other hand is a huge facility with some incredibly awesome aircraft on display, and a much calmer space to sketch about.
curtiss p40e warhawk
You could return there a dozen times and never be lacking for a new interesting, fascinating, and awe-inspiring subjects to sketch, from the Discovery shuttle, WWII planes, aircraft from the birth of flight and every era of flight you can imagine.
covered
And the conservation facility shows a bit of the process involved in restoring and maintaining the amazing pieces at the museum.
discovery

Friday, September 5, 2014

USk Symposium Paraty

I just returned from the 5th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Paraty, Brazil. Over 100 sketchers from around the world converged in Paraty, a little colonial town on the southeastern coast, for a week of sketching, workshops, demos, and eating. I attended workshops by Behzad Bagheri, Suhita Shirodkar, Liz Steel, and João Catarino, some of which were pretty challenging, but from which I learned a lot. We also spent a fair amount of time just sketching together informally in the city, and often sketched each other at mealtimes. I also got to explore Rio de Janeiro for a few days before the Symposium itself started. You can see more of my sketches from the Symposium on flickr, or check out everyone else's work in the Urban Sketchers Paraty Pool.

The Symposium is a lot of fun - I highly encourage any of you to go if you get the chance. It is a lot of fun to explore a new place with a bunch of other sketchers. And since we only get together like this once a year, it is also a bit like a family reunion of sorts - it is great to catch up with people you haven't seen in a while, but whose work you have been following online. I look forward to the next Symposium.

But for now, it is back to sketching D.C.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3 Views of SE DC

Bridge Spot near Garfield Park

The intersection of M St and New Jersey Avenue SE.

M St SE between New Jersey Avenue and First St SE

Over the past year, I have been contributing to This Place Has a Voice as one of the Cube Artists at Canal Park.  I am creating panoramic drawings and animations of Southeast's urban spaces. Over several visits, I am exploring and drawing and discovering what makes them unique. I am meeting people and learning what connects them to this place.

The neighborhood around Canal Park is in flux. I am fascinated by its rapidly changing urban landscape and drawn to the open-ended, provisional and transforming nature of its construction. We all leave a mark on this place. It's no accident, it just looks like one.

A place is created, shaped and lived in many and varied ways by many people, as minutes, hours and years pass. If I spend enough time in one place, I see some things change and some things stay the same. The sun will sweep by, people will walk by, talk with each other, play, paint a mural, build a building, or tear it down. I see how everything has its own identity and spirit - a tree, a fence, a sign - and I see how it all fits together.

Selected works will be projected on the Cube nightly, starting after sunset and running until 11:30, from now until the September 20th event day. The Cube is located at the south end of Canal Park (M and 2nd SE).

You can view my animated drawings here:
http://vimeo.com/user28455856

You can view my blog at:
http://kentgay.com/canalparkartproject/ 

The art that is displayed nightly on the photographic cube is funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates! Public Art Program.  The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) serves as the administrator of the Cube project and is collaborating with the Canal Park Development Association.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Silver Line

Wiehle Avenue - Reston East Station
Today was the opening day for phase 1 of Metro's Silver Line. I live within walking distance of the last station, Wiehle Avenue - Reston East, so I walked over to sketch the opening day festivities. There were a lot of people there to ride the first train - I had to wait in a long line outside the station. But I eventually got on board in the second car, and rode the first train in through Tysons to East Falls Church, where the new tracks join the rest of the system. Riders cheered when the train started moving, and some even sang Silver Line songs they made up to the tunes of Christmas carols.
Riders on the very first Silver Line Train
I briefly met up with some folks from Greater Greater Washington who were touring the new stations, but lost track of the group while I stopped to sketch.
Spring Hill Station

I grew up in the outer suburbs, and have been waiting for this line to open for years. Now I can ride all the way in to DC without getting in my car, so this is an exciting day.
Crane at Wiehle Avenue



Sunday, July 13, 2014

Once again a visit to The Coffee Bar.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival has been going on over the past few weeks on the National Mall, in front of the Smithsonian Castle.  This year Kenya was one of the featured countries, and there was Kenyan food, folk art, music, and dance.  I got there just around closing time on the last day, so I didn't actually get to see much, but I did enjoy sketching to the rhythm of the music.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Millennium Park


The Millennium Park was a very challenging sketch.....however I enjoyed every minute of it. This open theater was designed by Frank Gehry and it has a wonderful closed and open feeling all at once. It was a cold windy summer afternoon full of people enjoying elegant orchestra style of music from Latin America. There were birds singing, kids running, adults kissing, and many great things. I did this sketch the day before the begining of the AIA Chicago National Convention 2014. It took me 5.5 hrs with breaks and I used black ink on white paper.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Friday Night Live in Herndon


On Fridays in the summertime, the town of Herndon puts on a series of free concerts on the town green. Last night, we saw country-rock band Shane Gamble, along with U2 tribute band "2U" (the world's "second best U2 experience"). I sketched until it got too dark to see, at which point I had to put my sketchbook away and just listen to the music like a normal person. But that was fun too.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Diamond Head


During my baby brother's weeding in O'ahu I took the chance to do a sketch of Diamond Head and Waikiki beach. I had traveled from Coast to Coast in the U.S.A. and I must say Hawai'i is the most beautiful state that I had ever visited. It is a very spiritual place where the mountains and valleys meet with the Pacific Ocean. It was a nice beautiful sunny morning with a nice tropical breeze. It took me 2.5 hrs and I used black ink on white paper

Monday, May 26, 2014

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre
I had been interested in visiting F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre's resting place for some time, and finally found a good reason to as my sister told me their anniversary as coming up (the couple was married April 3rd 1920).  So the first weekend after we got ingredients together for some Gin Rickeys, drove out to Rockville, MD to a small church surrounded by commercial plazas and paid our respects.
We made a couple drinks for F. Scott and Zelda, but already there was a collection of pens, books, stones, flowers and coins left by other admirers with similar intentions.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cathedral Flower Mart

This weekend was the annual Flower Mart at the Washington National Cathedral.  Many vendors set up stands selling flowers and herbs and crafts (and food) on the Cathedral grounds, as well as activities for children.  I heard bagpipes and banjos while sketching (though thankfully not at the same time).
 
I felt particularly motivated to sketch the Cathedral again after meeting David Macaulay last week, author/illustrator of Cathedral and The Way Things Work, who was speaking at the USA Science and Engineering Festival.
I have loved his books since I was very small, and it was exciting to get to meet him, so I just had to go out and draw a cathedral today.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Process: Bayou Sketch

In urban sketching, the sketching process can be as unique as the location being sketched. Unlike a landscape painter, whom can set up an easel in the middle of a meadow and paint mountains at a leisurely pace for hours on end, urban sketching can sometimes allow for only minimal sketching timeframes. For my sketches, I carve a little time out of the little time I have for lunch, usually from ten to twenty minutes. To sketch complex buildings, like the Bayou building, located in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood here in Washington, DC, I scope out a spot, figure out how much detail I can sketch in a single section, and identify a detail where I can finish up on one day, and then pick up on the next. As for the spot to sketch from, I need to remember the exact spot, which is usually something like "along the fence, third post in, left foot on the sidewalk crack." In this manner, my sketches can take days or weeks to finish, but this is urban sketching, and to take a little time away from spreadsheets, layouts, and intensive digital work in the middle of the day, then I'm quite fine with that!