Thursday, October 11, 2018

Sketching from TV

Sketching while watching Ellery Queen on TV with my nephew.

TV is a fun source for sketching because it moves so fast.  It helps me practice visual memory.  Very different than drawing from life, and I know that working with 3D subjects has been terrific for my improvement... but this is fun now and then.

I used a water soluble sign pen and some spit on my finger!

On this next page, I got out the water brush to activate the ink.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Nikolaas Napping

Here's my Dutch Shepherd, Nikolaas, napping.

Done with a water soluble pen, on multimedia paper, wet with a water brush.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Sketching in Church: The 150th Anniversary of Grace Episcopal Church

I really like to sketch in church.

I have permission from the priest, fyi, so no worries there.  And I always show my work to any parishoners who ask, so people know I'm not goofing off.  They know that, in fact, I'm probably paying better attention than many others.  My mind can't wander.  I'm capturing the service.

These pages capture my attendance on a Sunday which opened the year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Episcopal Church in Holland, Michigan.    Instead of using a "sketchnote" form, I used more of a "comics" form, with panels and speech bubbles and the like.

All of these were done live, during the events. 

I captured some of my favorite moments from the liturgy.

I captured some details from the reading of the gospel and the sermon.

And after the sermon concluded, some of the special announcements.  And communion.  All are actually really welcome here.

And today, after the service, we all went outside for the dedication and unveiling of a new historical marker commemorating the church in the State of Michigan.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Fifteen

This is my final entry featuring pages from my sketchbook from my trip to South Africa with the Hope College Chapel Choir in May of 2018.  It was a great gift to me to be able to travel with a choir to this amazing country.

I'm sharing these pages to show yet another sort of thing I did in this sketchbook.  During the very long (30+hours) trip home, I captured details of the trip (making a super short connection in DC) along with things I remembered from the trip.  I drew  from memory.

By now I had gotten pretty good at the dimensions of a rhino's head, because I'd drawn and redrawn it many times. 

And while I'd never drawn our breakfasts during breakfasts because we were always in a rush, I had certainly admired the available food every morning for two weeks!  So I captured what I remembered being the most fun to experience.

You can see that I never got around to watercoloring these.   You know how it goes:  you return from a long vacation and suddenly there are a million things to do.

Someday I hope to do some paintings and other art using these sketches and my many photographs as inspiration.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Fourteen

Here is another page from my sketchbook on which I recorded a story told to us by our Afrikaans guide.

It captured my imagination to think about how a society, so split by racial violence and injustice, could ever come together in peace.

And how something small, like traffic courtesy, played a big part in it!

This makes me think a lot about the state of things in the USA, with road rage, mass shootings, and our divides over racial and economic and political issues.

Maybe we just need to get out of each other's way now and then and think "I see you.  I honor you."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Thirteen

One of the most magical aspects of having a Zulu guide and a Zulu driver was their wonderful tradition of storytelling.  Some of the stories the shared were myths and folktales.  Others were explanations of how the people and animals in the nation actually live.

One evening we had some down time while the choir rehearsed, and I used that to do a rough sketch of a comic version of my favorite story of the day.   I'm including it not because it's beautiful or even coherent to anyone but me, but as an example of the sort of thing you can put in your sketchbook!  Because, remember, it's for you!  And there are lots of ways to use those pages to remember the different aspects of your life.

Here's the story I was capturing (which I remember so clearly because I drew it).

This is a story about how the wildlife has adapted to life in the giant game reserves which I called "How Lions Use Tarmac to Catch Giraffes."

In the game reserves, the lions become very alert when a storm comes in because this means that they can hunt the giraffes. 

In normal weather, they can't capture giraffes generally, because the giraffes are too big and fast.

But when rain comes, the lions gather the pack and run to find a giraffe. 

Then, as the rain begins, they frighten the giraffe and shift themselves during the chase to drive the giraffe onto one of the hardtop roads of the preserve.

The rain makes these roads slick underneath the giraffe's hooves and the tall, leggy animals begin to slip and slide.  They lose their speed, and sometimes they completely fall to the ground.

This is the change for the lions to pounce and kill their prey.

I thought the lions' use of paved roads as a tool for hunting was pretty interesting!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Twelve

On this trip, I did one thing in my sketchbook which I really never do:  I drew from photographs.

I did this because I wanted to include memories of the animals I had seen which were most impressive to me.  But I couldn't draw on a moving safari jeep!

I'm glad I included them in the sketchbook, because this is what I show to people when I talk about my trip, not my photographs!  And so these few drawings from photos give me a prompt to share about the cool animals we saw.

My favorite was the pack of wild dogs.  The guides were beside themselves.  Evidently, these are few and rarely seen and we got to see a large group of them.  And they moved slowly enough that we got some decent photos.

One of our other great experiences learning about this amazing nation was a trip to a hippo reserve... I had hoped to sketch on the slow-moving boat, but it was pouring rain!  So I sketched these impressions from photos later in the dry hotel room.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Eleven

As we traveled, I made a few different kinds of sketches of animals.

This first is from the bus.  A quick scribble, really, to capture shapes of these amazing birds, many of which were sitting stop gravestones in this vast cemetary.

I have no idea what kinds of birds these were or why they chose this spot to congregate.  But the image struck me as one to be used in a book or story in the future!

In this next page, I drew basic shapes of animals from memory, in an attempt to illustrate what I had seen and learned while on safari during that day.   There was NO way to draw on a moving safari jeep!!

One place we stopped for lunch had a large yard (as big as many people's back yards at home in the U.S.) filled with guinea pigs and rabbits.  After I finished eating, I dashed out there to draw them from life.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Ten

Here's an example of a page with a little bit of narrative.

What I like about this page is how the three pictures move inward in closeness.  A large landscape, a medium "shot" of the trio of singers, and some close-ups of masks for sale at the nearby open air market.

While the page doesn't identify all the pieces super clearly, I know exactly what they are.  And together, these three different images take me right back to the sights and sounds and human connections of that experience.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Nine

During my travels to South Africa with the Hope College Chapel Choir in May 2018, we had the enormous privilege of visiting an AME church in Soweto.  The welcome we received there was so gracious and loving!

While the choir sang, I had the fun of drawing some of the congregation enjoying the experience.

The women were dressed beautifully.

People were so happy to have us visit; many recorded the songs on their phones.

This lady was terrific fun to watch.  It was clear she was "The Church Lady."  Unofficially, she ran the place.  You could tell.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Eight

We visited Constitution Hill, the site of a former dreadful prison and of the current constitutional court.

The tour was grim and humbling.  I didn't sketch the cell blocks, the wires, the places of suffering and death.  I think I would sketch them if I had more time to be present with them.  But the tour moved pretty fast.

Then we ended by spending time in the court area, where justice is working much more effectively now.  It gives me hope for the world.

I'm including this next page as an example of something I did a few times in this sketchbook.  Because we were on a tour and I couldn't control the time I needed or wanted to sketch things, I would occasionally stick in an image from a guidebook of something I wanted to remember, and perhaps redraw later.  That's what I did here with the symbol of the constitutional court.

In this next page, I captured some of the amazing designs and colors used in the court room to create the sense of the room itself being a space under a tree.

I can't express how much this notion of justice, this honoring of traditional native practices, captivated me.   What would America be like if we did this?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Seven

One thing I learned to do while sketching from a moving bus caught in  city traffic:  draw the people!

If the bus is moving very fast and the pedestrians aren't moving very fast, you can nab enough to capture shapes and expressions!

This ended up being one of my favorite things to do when we got caught in traffic.  And that's one of my favorite things about keeping a sketchbook:  I am never bored!

This first sketch might be my favorite sketch of the entire trip:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Six

We visited an amazing open street market of restaurants--sort of like "Taste of Chicago" but smaller and permanent.  It featured food from all over the world.

I could have spent several days there drawing people and the beautiful food creations.

But I had to eat!  So I only got a few sketches in...

I didn't eat this Pad Thai, but I loved the bowl it came in!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Five

We had just a little time to visit the amazing Apartheid Museum, so I didn't sketch much while there.

The two things I captured meant a great deal to me, sort of as a bookend of the amazing history of the people of this area of the world. 

First, I captured this very rough sketch of a wonderful piece of art outlining the Constitutional Pillars of South Africa today.  It made me think long and hard about the work they have done here and the work we need throughout the world.  I think South Africa truly could lead us...

Second, I spent some time drawing from some of the AMAZING etchings done by the San, some fo the earlier people to live in this area, and some of the first in the world to think symbolically.

That just amazed me.

Such visionaries across time lived here in South Africa!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Four

This page is a fun example of one way to keep a travel sketchbook when most of your time is spent on a moving bus.

I pre-drew the squares before we left the hotel.  Then, as we drove, I spotted things in the distance and drew outlines as fast as I could as we approached.  I tried to mark each with the time.

Then later I filled in details.

For this page, I added watercolors while in the hotel room at night.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Three

These are some of the first sketches from our trip to South Africa as part of a college choir tour.

All of these were drawn and colored on a moving bus!  So....

I had fun capturing the likenesses of our tour leaders.

I also enjoyed recording some of the details I knew I would forget in a year, or a decade.  Names, times, interesting details.

We learned that stoplights are called "robots" in South Africa.  And I observed from the bus that Disney and Nickelodeon seem popular here too--at least by the size of their billboards!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part Two

More sketches from my travels to South Africa in May, 2018, as part of the Hope College Chapel Choir's tour.

An amazing experience!

Here are a few sketches from the airplane.

 First, looking some views from inside the plane from Chicago to Dulles.

Next, the first view of our plane to South Africa!

I had fun recreating the journey map from the airline's magazine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

South Africa Sketchbook Part One

In May of 2018, I traveled to South Africa as a faculty member doing some teaching and chaperoning with the Hope College Chapel Choir, under the direction of Brad Richmond.

I had chosen to attend Hope College in 1981 because I wanted to sing in that choir, which I did for three years.

Traveling with them to South Africa at the conclusion of my 30th year of college teaching was such a perfect marker in my life.

I thought I'd share some of the sketches I made along the way.

First, a scan of the cover of the book.  I purchased a hardcover Strathmore 500 mixed media book, but I recovered it before we left to something which I thought would go with the landscape and colors we might see.

It seemed important to draw a map, marking the places we would visit.

I always make a list of the art supplies I take with me.  This helps me plan for future trips.

The final packing before our trip included help from my puppy.

I also took the time to do some sketching from a South Africa rand note.  So lovely!


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Inspired by Lemire's Roughneck

Lately I've been looking at how other comics artists draw people moving through the woods, especially from the perspective of the sky.  My brain can't generate that on its own, and it's an image I want to be able to convey in my memoir.

Inspired by how Jeff Lemire does it in his recent (and wonderful) graphic novel Roughneck, I drew this quick sketch.  Obviously I imported myself and my dogs into the tree perspectives.

This is helping me understand how the perspective guide in Procreate can help me too.

Perspective is a mystery to me, still....

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sketching a Birthday Outing!

Last month my sister (and my mom and my nephew) took me for a day-long surprise outing... to many of my favorite places!!

Of course, I sketched it as we went.

I ate breakfast with one of her lovely dogs, Marvel.

Then I opened my first card of the day, which contained these fabulous celebration sunglasses!

We ate breakfast at my most favorite restaurant in the world (seriously), The Original Pancake House (not to be confused with other pancake houses or houses of pancakes).  There I ate my favorite meal in the world: 49er Flapjacks, in-house sausage patties, one egg, and coffee.  Fueled for the day!

We spent the next three (plus!) hours in a huge used bookstore in downtown Detroit!  I found a bunch of books with older comics in them.  Then, with our last bits of energy, we went to the nearby Blick's.

Later we enjoyed homemade Oreo cookie blizzard ice cream cake and then we collapsed. 

Happy birthday to me!!  What a fun family!

Sketching several pages to track on special day was a lot of fun.  I used pen, watercolors, and some collage in a square Global Arts Handbook.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Sometimes Stuff Doesn't Make Sense, but Go With It

When I'm deep into working on a project, I find that all kinds of images pop into my head that just don't seem to have anything to do with it.

And sometimes they don't.

But sometimes, later, it turns out they do.

Anyhow, this is one of those.  I was working on a memoir, saw some underwater photography I'd done pop up as the screensaver on my laptop, and this image (which is purely made up) popped into my head.

So I captured it.  Not sure what's going on, if anything, in my subconscious here...

Of course, any excuse to play with my watercolors...

It's all part of the creative process and I just have to pay attention to it.