I hope you’ve enjoyed looking over my shoulder during this sketching challenge. You might wonder how I choose what I’ll sketch. During the day I’m on the lookout for interesting subjects-interesting to me and to you. Sometimes sunlight will land on an object and I’m just drawn to it. Sometimes I want to share a view or something like these luscious blueberries with you.
I wanted to share the sketches from last week for the Sketchpack Project for Artsource, an art supply store in Cape Town, South Africa. So fun to join other artists around the world in this August project.
I’ve been asked to take part in a sketching project originating in South Africa. People from around the world are joining me to sketch every day in August in this sketch pack they sent. The owner of an art supply store in Cape Town, called ArtSource, invited me and I had to say yes. At the end of the month, we all will send our little packet back to her and they will be on display and for sale for the month of October. I’m posting my sketches daily on Facebook if you would like to follow me there. I’ll post here every week as I don’t want to overload your inbox.
Most of the time while I’m sketching people just walk on by, but when I sketched the little scene of Palmer, above, a policeman, a biker, and a friend stopped to visit. The policeman wanted to tell me about his sister who paints, the biker thought I had a flat tire and stopped to help, almost deafening me as he went by (twice) on his motorcycle, and the friend was happy to just visit. The pastoral vibe in the sketch came from somewhere, but not from the atmosphere around me.
I’m having a hard time not sketching just flowers because they are just amazing this year with our record heat.
I made a wonderful pizza on the grill last week and a peach galette. Maybe I’ll sneak in a post with those recipes for a change of pace. Food is always a good idea and it has been awhile since I’ve let you in my kitchen.
Our windows look out to the Chugach Mountains, where sunlight bounces around, revealing fissures and snow packs . Monument Glacier rests deep in the crags like a jewel in a setting. Surrounded by higher peaks, it glows with reflected light. I sketched it while the sun made lovely shadows on the ice. This has been a busy summer with lots of outdoor activities. We hiked near the Matanuska Glacier, just ten miles from us. There is a knob, known as Lion’s Head with a trail leading to the top where you can see for miles in every direction.
Sunshine has been abundant in Alaska this summer and I’ve been out sketching like crazy. My sketchbook is with me in the car in case I find interesting scenes to sketch. The image below is near the train station in Anchorage. The metal red salmon swimming up the fence are so cool.
Between Anchorage and our house I drive past the Palmer Hay Flats where wild iris, also known as Siberian Flag, bloom in profusion. It was one of the hottest days of the year and I sat on my little folding stool in the sunshine sketching in delight.
Last week the Fireweed 400 began. It is a bike race beginning at Sheep Mountain Lodge, eighteen miles east of us on the Glenn Highway. This race isn’t for the faint of heart. Contestants in the longest part of the race travel two hundred miles to Valdez at sea level then back to Sheep Mountain Lodge over mountainous roads. I was sketching in the gravel on the side of the highway while racers zoomed past. One racer yelled, “Suzie, is that you?” It was the owner of the lodge, Anjanette, who has also run the Iditarod- the dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome. She’s one tough lady and only a little over a hundred pounds. This is one of the views the bicyclists see on their route. Fireweed is blooming all over the state right now.
Last year Anjanette commissioned me to paint two images of the racers on the road. These are the paintings.
I joined an online group of 125 sketchers from around the world. One of the challenges was to look for unique angles so I walked around our house and found this view of our deck and greenhouse.
One person in the group made an exquisite sketch using a chop stick and another using a twig. Here is a sketch of King Mountain Lodge near where we live. I used a genuine alder twig dipped in ink. It gives a nice variety of thin and thick lines. Holding an open pot of ink is a little scary and I was sure I would sneeze and have ink everywhere. This was a quick little sketch of about twenty minutes.
While walking the golf course with my husband, I picked up a Canada goose feather to use as a dip pen too. Because it was Canadian, I thought it would be more cooperative, but it created a scary mixture of blobs and scratches more suitable for an ink blot test than a realistic sketch.
We’ve had record heat in Alaska which makes glaciers melt, causing the rivers to rise. I sat between the Matanuska River and the highway and sketched this tributary flowing from the Chugach Mountains into the river.
There are groups who get together to sketch around the world and it looks like so much fun. I’ve been organizing a group called Drawn to Palmer and we are planning to meet every month. It will be exciting to spend time with other sketchers and see different perspectives of other artists. During our last meetup, I sketched the Palmer Visitors Center in Palmer, Alaska. They have such a beautiful garden with Pioneer Peak in the background. I’m envious that they can grow foxgloves with just a bit warmer climate.
Every now and then an email falls into my inbox and I smile. My niece sent me a note with a photo of her two children on a beach in New England. Would I be willing to paint it as an anniversary gift for her parents? Oh, my…yes!
What I do with a photograph like this first is to just absorb it. It may sound odd, but I want to think of the sea, the breeze, and the birds before I even put the brush to paper.
Next I crop the image, making the children the focal point and deleting anything that would distract from them. I wanted to give the children a more natural element to look at such as seagulls and I moved them closer to the water. Or did I raise the tide?
I liked the plaid of the little boy’s pants, but the dots on the little girl’s dress were just too distracting. The blue of the sky and water is lovely, but I wanted more colors in the whole image so I washed a rainbow of colors through the water and sand.
Here is the final result: