Harter House MisHaps

So I went to Harter House today to get a few things…and noticed the checkout guy didn’t seem to know what he was doing. He would sort of act like he was scanning stuff, then stand around and pass the item to the bag boy. For the produce, he didn’t even try to act. Just sort of stood there and mumbled about stuff, then passed it to the bag boy. So you can imagine my bill was pretty low. Until he accidentally hit the button for 162 filets.

Beer Sampler at Mother’s

Thursday night I went to hang out with my friend at Mothers Brewery, a Springfield Brewery that makes lots of popular beers that all have custom names and labels. For instance in the 1950’s there was an exotic pet store that 9 cobras escaped from, and the resulting scare was legendary. So they have a beer call Cobra Scare.

But Thursday I drank Mr. Pumpkin, one of the seasonal beers, and we sat and listened to John Paul play the guitar with two other people because that’s why Stacie was there, and I was there to keep her company. John Paul is her husband, and we ate the pistachios I had in my car. Because Mothers doesn’t serve food but they let you bring your own.

Drawing People who are Drawing


Here are some drawings I did last night at Arts & Letters Alternative Figure Drawing night. I like going to these things, but tend to back away from the crowd so I can also draw the drawers. It’s interesting to look at what materials people bring to draw with and how they hold their hands.


Also it gives me a chance to fill in some background elements that add color and balance the composition. Sometimes I’m completely off on my composition, proportions, and scale, but I like to draw with a brush pen because the mistakes become part of the drawing. People move around and you just have to adapt, which gives the drawing it’s own sort of internal life.


Sometimes I’m completely off topic, as when I noticed on the sidelines, Laura was crocheting in the most graceful way, and I was fascinated watching her hands.


Arts & Letters is Springfield’s newest downtown gallery and eclectic boutique, but one of the co-owners is Meganne Rosen O’Neal who has long been involved in our arts community. I’ve worked with her much over the last year and half on various committees, but most frequently Russ and I have worked her as we created the ideaXfactory and on various PechaKucha Springfield events.

So it seems funny to me that I drew her before I knew her. Several years ago she was one of the people behind this Art Factory 417 alternative figure drawing event that I blogged about several years ago. So even if I had known her, I wouldn’t have recognized her behind the bunny mask!

Alternative Life Drawing at Art Factory 417

I’ve been looking for a group that meets to do figure drawing and recently saw on Art Factory 417 ‘s facebook page that they were having a Life Drawing Spring Kickoff. Then I read further and saw it was going to be an Alternative Life Drawing session.

I wasn’t quite sure what alternative life drawing meant, but I’ve been wanting to see inside the building — it’s a big chunky building at the end of the College Street mural. And I like their mission statement…

“Art Factory 417 fosters the growth of creative culture by providing necessary accommodations for the success of visual and performing artists. It is our goal to empower the community through education, inspiration and opportunity.”

When I got there, I wasn’t sure about drawing people in costumes and masks, mostly because I enjoy drawing faces. So I started drawing the room and the other people who were drawing.

Then a comedy team called Mike and Gary showed up and did some silly skits with a tin-foil robot. More people wandered in. Some drew from the models, some just drew. There was music, a casual friendly atmosphere, and in between poses I nosed around a bit looking at some of the artwork on exhibit, posters, and shared creative spaces.

The last pose — sort of a ‘Bunny Goddess victorious over the Feeble Tiger Man’ was inspiring and fun. I’m enjoying using the big open format of the 8″x11″ moleskine, but it took me three tries get something that would fit on the page.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next at Art Factory 417. Here’s their new Tumblr page.




Spring Crocus

Since coming back from Mexico, I’ve had bit of color withdrawal. This one little spot yellow has been waiting to greet me each morning when I walk out the front door – tiny yellow crocus just beginning to peep through the pine needles in the garden.

I did this quick sketch for @wardomatic ‘s “I need to sketch more” creative group on Flickr, and am trying to post this from my phone. Here goes…

(a bit later)

Couldn’t get the iPhone app to work, so now I’m trying this on the iPad. I know I could do this easily from a computer, but I’m trying to learn some new skills.

Sketching Lunch at Paco’s

I’ve had The Tao of Sketching for a couple of years, but packing it along on a recent trip to Mexico was a great opportunity to truly study the book. Chinese artist Qu Lei Lei covers using a wide of variety of media and subject matter. Here’s a good review of the book by artist and writer Katherine Tyrrell on Making a Mark blog. I especially like this quote she highlights:

Successful sketching depends on two distinct elements to be combined: the understanding of how each medium works and the ability to measure the amount of time you have available against the scene you want to record.
Qu Lei Lei – techniques

The samples of his own sketches drawn in many countries around the world are a delight to study, and the included demonstrations are not meant to copied, but to illustrate how the reader might approach their own subject matter and draw from the heart.

As I read his “Beijing Breakfast” chapter about drawing groups of people who are constantly in motion, it all seemed simple enough. Just draw one person, then another and another…then finally the background and furniture because that doesn’t move. But it really is a great challenge to do in real life.

Here are couple of my attempts during our trip. In “Lunch at Paco’s” I tried to capture the feeling of a group of people gathered around a table, listening to songs, and the colorful ceramic plates on the wall of Paco’s house. I sketched first in pencil, then watercolor washes, and last added the ink pen details. It probably took about 45 minutes.

I had less time for “Quinta Patio Evening” and so used pen first, then only suggested a few colors with watercolor wash. As Qu Lei Lei suggested, I wrote a few notes about the scene at the bottom of the page to remind myself of colors and mood at the bottom of the sketch.

“Love is a….” sketch drawn by candlelight

My friend Stephanie inspired me to create a painting to donate to Hearts for the Arts — a silent gallery and on-line auction to raise money for arts education programs at the Creamery Arts Center.

The auction will end February 4th, so winners will have time to give a piece of original art to a loved one on Valentine’s Day. Which means of course, hearts are the theme.

Here’s some sketches I started doing by candlelight, not to get into the mood although I must admit it helped. Sometimes late at night or early in the morning, I try to sketch by low level light so my thinking brain isn’t too alert and my subconscious is more free to go rambling.

These drawings don’t really make much sense, I just started with the phrase “Love is a….” and went from there. I finished the final painting for the auction this week and dropped it off at the gallery. You can see “Love is a Circus” and all the other auction art on the Hearts for the Arts auction page. Click on a thumbnail below to see the sketches and titles.

Looking out the window on a Snowy Morning

It started snowing last night about five and accumulated to only a couple of inches over night. This morning it was 8 degrees outside and too cold to draw. So I went to several windows to find a scene I could draw from inside the house.

I’ve been trying to look at scenes and reduce them in my mind into a few simple lines, leaving some chunk of white space for room to scribble a few words about that moment.

As I looked at the snow covering the monkey grass that lines our driveway, I thought it looked like a fluffy white fur collar, so perfect for a few minutes before I back the car out the driveway and mess it all up.