Monday, November 17, 2014

Oregon to Alaska

Work trip to Fairbanks, Alaska! Had a lovely time sketching out the window of the airplane as we connected the travel dots today.

Lift-off from Portland Airport; volcanic trio; then watching the Columbia River drain into the Pacific Ocean.
Minimalist coastlines of British Columbia shift to dramatic mountain ranges. 
Envying odd peaks out the far side of the plane, then the landscape gets rugged under my side of the plane too.
Descent into Anchorage
Even lower over Anchorage. Sunlight reflects off ponds; snow-capped peaks; low angle of sun behind trees casts dramatic shadows on the water.
The fabulous mountain view from Anchorage airport.
Lifting off from Anchorage, en route to Fairbanks: already the sky turning golden with sunset at 2:30 in the afternoon!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Brown and Brown

We rented a car last weekend and as surprised how easy it is to get from one end of the urban sprawl to the other--as well as to get out in the woods.

More of my current brown-on-brown phase is posted over at Urban Sketchers Portland, if you're curious.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our Bodies, Our Bikes: Part One

Ms. Elly Blue, femininst bicycle zinester and awesome small-press publisher, invited me to create the cover for her upcoming book, Our Bodies, Our Bikes. (Just a few days left to fund the project!)

We agreed that it would be inspired by the awesome tricks that bike dance groups like the Sprockettes and the Derailleurs perform.

Having a team of people engaged in the same pose was a great opportunity to allude to diversity of experiences in the book.

Not to mention the themes of interdependence and the importance of supporting each other.

Progress! But wait, is this looking to static? Too well-balanced? Do we need more dramatic tension?

I suggested a twist of Nude Descending a Staircase. Elly suggested a dose of Laoco├Ân. Oh hey, says I, there's this neat French statue of Hercules wrestling a giant snake at the Portland Art Museum right now. Field trip!

Sketched while the baby was awake...

...and then sketched when the baby finally fell asleep.

With that inspiration, the bicycle acrobats are revisited.
Feather boa stands in for the snake, of course. Better! A future post will have the color version--stay tuned.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Summer Sketching in Sellwood Park

It's such beautiful weather to get outdoors, slap paint onto scraps of paper, and heck, even nap on the lawn.

Here are a couple of the sketches I did in tempera paint on brown paper at the last Urban Sketchers gathering. You can see more in my post at pdxusk, as well.

Babykins, looking somewhat serious.

Kiddos on the swings

Slightly abstract interpretation of bright sky between tree branches

Two-tone sky: puffy clouds, doug firs

Monday, July 21, 2014

Detail Detective

Last week I helped with a program for kids at the Portland Art Museum. One of the activities was to play "Detail Detective," using 35mm slide frames to hone in on little corners of the artwork as a way to explore and share what you're noticing. We used the "Two Way Street" exhibition of street photography as the venue for this game.


These were my starter-sketches for the activity: pick a slip of paper, see if you can find it in the gallery. All were sketched in advance with the baby kiddo underfoot or in my arms. She loved sitting on the floor and patting the walls of the gallery (especially where the carpeted wall surface transitioned to smooth painted wood.) But she did eventually get impatient, which is only fair. My last little box was drawn while she was straddling one hip, grabbing my nose in her tiny hand, and shaking my head back and forth, back and forth!

Thank you for your patience, baby child. Once you are big enough to not just eat all the art supplies, I do hope that you love doodling as much as I do.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sensible hats and tired feet: #WCsketch

I've put up two posts from the 2nd Annual West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketchcrawl event over at, so I figure I'll drop my last handful of sketches here just for kicks. It was a warm day and I was a little tuckered from the various planning committee duties (still am, in fact--almost typed "wet coat" instead of "west coast" above!) But as we wrapped up the second round of sketchbook sharing in the afternoon, my hands found a new pencil and I found myself whacking out a few more doodles.

Part of the motivation was the fact that Paula's hat was nearly the same vermillion color as the pencil in my hand...

...And sensible summer hats were really such a staple of the sketching toolkit on that very warm summer's day.

Having packed everything up and loaded myself, my gear (too much gear), and the baby onto the city bus, I started to realize how tired the day's adventure had left me. When the kiddo got a bit fussy just two blocks from home, I was only too glad to take a break in a shady spot of overgrown lawn at the local schoolyard. She had a great time tugging on grass flower stalks while I leaned up against the fence, drank the last of my water, and thought, "Whew! What an adventure!"

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fleeting Nature Sketches

The thing with sketching nowadays is that at least 3/4 of my brain is caught up with making sure my curious, semi-mobile infant is only putting awesome things in her mouth while we're out in nature. This weekend I challenged myself to experiment with doing some quick sketches in the full knowledge that I'd have to put the pencil down any moment--here's what I got onto the page.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Back-of-envelope baby sketches

OK, as this darling baby kiddo gets older, sketching gets more difficult for me. She's ambitious! She wiggles! She wants to put every darned thing right into her mouth!

But I have been able to whack out a few back-of-an-envelope opportunistic sketches, usually when she drops off to sleep in my lap.

Sometimes those sketches happen on the back on an incoming envelope...

...and sometimes it's on the back of an outgoing envelope. 

(These sketches were from March and April, and she's changed so much already since then!)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bigger Baby, Same Poses

Amazing how this kiddo, even as she gets bigger and fancier and stronger, still strikes the same poses when she's nursing as she did as a teensy newborn.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fractals, Points of View, and the Ghosts of Warehouses Past

There are some newish art installations along SE Grand Ave here in Portland which I've been enjoying every time I go by.

My impressions of them are mostly that they are an interesting experiment with fractal structures, much like how the bare branches and increasingly smaller twigs of winter trees make patterns against the sky. Of course, the metal rods being arranged at right angles give them a vaguely architectural air as well.

But when I was headed to this weekend's sketchcrawl this weekend--on foot in the steady rain, having missed the streetcar by a mere 30 seconds--I suddenly saw these sculptures from an entirely new angle. Wait--is that the shape of a building appearing out of what I had always just seen as abstract lines in a playful tangle?

 And, look, it's there in the other one as well! A burst of internet research reveals that artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo were specifically invoking the "ghosts" of old industrial buildings that once stood in this area of the city (an industrial district that's steadily converting to juice bars and yoga studios.)

Browsing further on teh interwebs, I also found images of their installation titled "Non-Sign II," which immediately brought to mind that delightful Talking Heads song:
"There was a shopping mall
Now it's all covered with flowers
(you've got it, you've got it)
If this is paradise
I wish I had a lawnmower..."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Out and About

We've been using stretchy cloth chest-carry wraps to schlepp the baby around town, whether on foot or by public transit.

A couple of times now I've tried sketching the view of the baby, snug in the carrier an layers of winter clothes, napping against my chest.

By contrast, when she's out of the carrier and wiggling around, it can be a lot harder to sketch her! I attempted this doodle with my non-dominant hand, while the baby was sporadically kicking that arm as she nursed, no less--adorable chaos.