Archive for the ‘Open Studio tour’ Category

From Chicago; Then Back Home Again …

August 24, 2017

As I promised, I have finally gotten around to posting some more of the sketches from my recent trip to the Urban Sketchers gathering in Chicago a few weeks ago. This first image was actually done in the morning of the last full day of the symposium. I was on Michigan Avenue near the river; I was watching the morning light and shadows play across the tall buildings across the river.

Early Morning Shadow, Wrigley Building

After doing the one above, I shifted a few feet on the sidewalk and completed a second sketch using just ink (both fountain brush pen and fountain pen). Again I was drawing the Wrigley Building but after the full eastern façade was in light. (As an aside, I’ll admit that I really like the light poles and lights I found throughout the Loop and Grant Park  parts of the city!)

Wrigley Building, Chicago

Earlier, during in the first full day in Chicago I participated in a class led by Lynne Chapman, an illustrator and urban sketcher from England. In her class, we concentrated on using line and color separately … finding ways for them to harmonize or counterpoint one another rather than always controlling color with line. It was an interesting experience; one that I have worked on with students in my classes but sometimes need to remind myself to do more often in my own work.

For our first exercise we glued down several pieces of arbitrarily shaped pieces of color paper onto to our sheets of watercolor paper. Then, using inks and other materials, we drew a view of the skyline across Michigan Avenue. Here was my 2nd exercise piece from that session.

My 2nd exercise piece from the Lynne Chapman’s workshop USk-Chicago

I had lots of fun with this … it felt good to be back in “student” mode a bit, It resonated with how I imagine my adult student feel when I push them to try a new type of project. After several exercises, we all went off to try and incorporate some of this idea into a piece on our own. I worked up a watercolor sketch using a different part of that skyline and some of the bushes and trees of arboretum that we were seated within. I worked very loosely, applying color and lines … sometimes together, often separately; trying to define forms using some line and some color … but rarely directly conjoining the linear and color shapes.

stage 2 of  my watercolor sketch of the Chicago skyline across from the arboretum

Chicago Skyline (as completed in my USk-Chicago workshop w/ Lynne Chapman)

One of the last pieces of my time in Chicago was again down along the river on Michigan Avenue. This one is in some ways my least successful piece. I was working on a large-ish (1/4 sheet, 7.5 x 11) watercolor sketch of an icon of early modern architecture in Chicago … the Tribune Tower.  It proved most difficult. The building with its soaring mass and ornate gothic style top is so distinctive and so very impressive. The sketch had big shoes to fill; it needed to be something that felt solid and yet leaps towards that intensely complicated and powerfully graceful beauty that graces the upper portion of the building. My sketch feels too overworked: I should probably have diminished the visual weight and attention it gave to the building immediately behind the Tribune. Those shadows along the road and bridge were also real … but they also seem a bit heavy.

I guess it an honest attempt … that just falls a bit short.

North on Michigan, Towards the Tribune in

Frankly, like trying to sketch the Tribune building, everything about the experience was SO very intense. There were many, many fine folks there; right at 500 or so talented and committed sketchers from all around the world. I worked with several great teachers and workshop leaders. Besides Lynne Chapman, I also had wonderful sessions with Uma Kelkar (the beauty of mystery) and Jane Blundell (she spoke on one of my favorite topics, the permanent watercolor pigments). And I got to meet some favorite artists, Marc Taro Holmes and Sheri Blaukopf … both hailing from Montreal.

And I must not forget to mention the friendly, gracious, and magnificently helpful members of the Chicago Urban Sketchers chapter (including Paul Ingold) all of whom worked tirelessly as volunteers.

Charlottesville Rooftop View

We did make it home of course. And I have returned to sketching between and in the cities and towns near where I live. It feels really good to re-acquaint myself, to re-adjust, to be back into my more normal practice.  And if I struggled a bit with the immense height that the central core of Chicago presented me with … my hope is that some of what I saw, did, and experienced in Chicago will rub off on my work as well as my teaching of sketching.

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Cooler Weather? Cool Open Studio!

December 7, 2015

I for one am hoping …

Back in late August we had some really beautiful fall-like days here in Virginia; then for several weeks in September it has felt as though summer has roared back in. I spent quite a bit of time outside making photos (lots!) as well as watercolor and pencil sketches (not enough) for my studio work.  I was seeing lots of colors changing out there … so I was quite excited that Autumn weather was on the horizon!

Aug. 2012, Studio 1, SMALLEST

As the change of season came upon us, I participated in an Open Studio Tour event for the first time ever. Well, sort of for the first time. Years ago, I had a studio at the McGuffey art center in Charlottesville, Va. It is a public co-op and we had open studio event every month as part of a First Friday art gallery walk.

But this was the first time I had folks coming to my home studio. The studio tour was sponsored by the local arts council/center (SVAC) and there were a number of studios here in the southern Shenandoah Valley that were open … a few, like mine, for the very first time. The event took place on September 19th and 20th (Saturday and Sunday) from 10 am to 5pm both days. We had some refreshments, new art, … and some fun. It was a good experience and it made me get the studio back in order after an odd little summer.

Next time we do this, I’ll be sure to broadcast the invites a bit further out, maybe a little more loudly … and early. Come visit!

SVAC_OST_poster_2015

As usual, I will be sure to put info on Facebook and on my website : JohnAHancock.com/exhibitions.html

The nights are getting chilly … even a bit nippy; some of the days have some warmth to them, and the light is fabulous!

Enjoy the last bit of the fall season!


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