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Saturday, February 26, 2011

DC Sketchers @ The Trapeze School of New York - DC

DC Sketchers gathered at the Trapeze School of New York - DC. We focused on gesture drawing by observing the school's Intense Flying Workshop. While it seemed safer on the ground, students were challenged by drawing the human figure and further challenged by their constant movement.
Next Saturday - March 5th, we'll be visiting the National Gallery of Art from 10am to Noon. Check out the class' description and itinerary/schedule.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

more mall sketches

as promised - more mall sketches!
...with the promise of more to come :)

for a little background on this series of lunch break mall sketches and what i've been up to, check out my original entry of mall sketches HERE...

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I'm having a small show of my drawings and illustrations next month. None of them are DC-specific but they were all made on-site, back in 2009 when I was doing some traveling and sketching.

Information is here. The show runs March 1-26, at Space 7:10 in Silver Spring. Opening reception is the evening of March 4th. Stop by if you get the chance!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DC Sketchers @ U.S. Botanic Garden

DC Sketchers visited the U.S. Botanic Garden on Saturday and continued our study of contour. It was a pleasure drawing the variety of plants and flowers, staying warm inside during the blustery day. The instructor adds his drawings to the student's work here.

NOTE: I'm going to check out the book The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. One of the DC Sketchers recommends it. I found an excerpt and was intrigued by the essay that refers to John Ruskin, especially his The Elements of Drawing, a book I often reference in my teaching. I'll definitely take a closer look.

Next week we'll be visiting the Trapeze School of New York-DC and learning about gesture drawing while observing their Flying Trapeze class. We will meet at 10:45 to 12:45 to coincide with the Trapeze School’s class schedule. Check out our itinerary/schedule for more info.

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fountain pens

Ruling nib in my dip pen with sketch and bottle of ink.
The question, "what kind of pens and inks do you like to use?" Pen and ink is never more flexible in line quality than with an old fashioned pen that has to be dipped in a well of ink. The nibs vary for different uses, I like a flexible nib that holds lots of ink like the "ruling nib" seen here. Dipping it in the ink and varying the pressure which gives a bold line, a fine line, or move from one to the other in the same stroke. Still that isn't be best option for drawing around town on sketch crawls.
For sketching on the go, I have been using a pen made by a German company called Rotring since I first discovered it in a small office/art supply store in Cambridge MA on a visit in 1987. The Rotring artists pen was great for sketching, writing letters and journaling. Over the years I had and lost several. Eventually I found a converter cartridge that allowed me to use my own inks in the pen and it saved money instead of buying the disposable plastic cartridges that Rotring sells. I believe using a fountain pen is green; why use a disposable pen or a plastic ink cartridge that ends up in the trash? Any artist can use the same fountain pen for years and have a choice of various inks while reducing your carbon foot print!
1. Niji water brush
2. Pen & Ink sketch pen
3. Rotring artist sketch pen
4. converter cartridge

My new Pen & Ink sketch pen has a iridium tip and is a copy of the type of fountain pens used by artists and writers a couple generations back in the 1940's and 50's. I  have been using this pen to sketch now for a good a year and am pretty happy with it's fine tip which is flexible yet strong. Any pen nib can bend too far under pressure, rendering them useless but the iridium is very strong. The cartridge converter is a simple device, it has a screw plunger that turns to refill or empty the cartridge. I leave mine in the pen and draw the ink up through it's nib into the cartridge. The Japanese Niji "water brush" seen in this photo is a great tool for water and brush on the go. It holds water in the blue reservoir and with a simple squeeze on the barrel pushes water into the brush to use on cake water colors or to make  ink washes if you draw with water soluble inks.
Still life at home 

Sketching at NGA lecture

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DC Sketchers @ Capitol Hill Arts Workshop

The Perception of Edges - Blind Contour Drawing

DC Sketchers met last Saturday at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop to begin our Spring 1 session. We set up a still life of torn corrugated cardboard, leaves and kale and scribbled lines on brown kraft paper.

We learned how to sensitively see and record the intricacies of all the edges in these things, including the wrinkles in our palms.

Next Saturday, 2/19, we'll be continuing our careful study of edge/line by exploring contour drawing at the U.S. Botanic Garden - one of our more relaxing venues.

Check out the DC Sketcher's itinerary for the next seven Saturdays. We meet from 10am to Noon.




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Monday, February 7, 2011

mall sketches

because of my new job, i suddenly find myself with an hour lunch break in areas where lots of people are - the mall!  so, in an attempt to better my drawing skills and to stay active with drawing, i have taken it upon myself to eat and then head out to find human subjects to sketch. however, this can sometimes be challenging, since i am often far away from my subjects or they move before i am anywhere near finished. so, i'm going to post some of my drawings here to share over time.  

this particular drawing is from one of those days when i just wasn't finding too many people to draw, so i resorted to drawing my hands. :)

and here's one of actual people!  i like to find a spot in the lounge areas with chairs facing toward the center so i can easily see everyone. with a lot of these drawings, i have under a minute to get something down on paper, as people either shift positions or leave outright.  it is a challenge, but also sort of enjoyable to race against the clock, so to speak.  as i spend more time in the area i'm sure i will find the best vantage points to draw from...

i'll post more in future days / months as i draw and scan them...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

DC Sketchers @ The National Gallery - The Perception of Light and Shadow

NOTE: The Spring 1 session of DC Sketchers begins next Saturday, 2/12. See link for itinerary/schedule. Register at or by calling 202.547.6839.

DC Sketchers met at the National Gallery of Art for the fourth and final session of their Winter Workshop. We began with a warm-up in the beautiful Rotunda. Mercury was circled with Valentine's Day themed flowers and plants. Looked like an FTD ad.

The class revisited Exercise 3 from Ruskin's The Elements of Drawing: creating an tonal gradation from light to dark with cross-hatching or a continuous tone.


We then went to the cafeteria and claimed one of the tables and set up a still life of styrofoam cups - illuminated by the directional light of the window with the cascading fountain. We observed the tonal gradations in the smoothly curved forms of the cups - including cast and attached shadows.


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Teaching artist, Kent Gay, also tried his hand at the day's exercise - below.


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Friday, February 4, 2011

Jefferson Building

Lamp Statue @ Library of Congress (Sketch Crawl 30)
As the previous posts have told you, we had out latest sketchcrawl at the Jefferson building at the LoC. While I didn't get to see or sketch the hawk in the reading room, there was an overabundance of decorative architecture, displays and statuary to sketch.
Gutenberg Bible @ Library of Congress (Sketch Crawl 30)
And it was kind of a kick to see a Gutenberg bible.
Ceiling corner @ Library of Congress (Sketch Crawl 30)