Will you be careful?
I know that you’re only running an errand
here at the corner
and that you’re not dressed for a long journey.
Your kiss is light
Your look calm
And tranquil are your hand and foot
But behind this corner
another part of the world,
after this moment
a sea of time.
Will you be careful?
"Afscheid (Farewell)," Adriaan Morriën
Translated from the Dutch by AD Capili
Earlier this summer, my friend Shiho Nakaza and I went on a little art adventure that included a week in Amsterdam. We participated in sketchwalks (during a record-breaking heatwave in July) as part of the 10th Urban Sketchers Symposium. During one of the walks, a few us stumbled upon this idyllic corner of the city. Entranced, I found some shade and set to work. I was pressed for time and after a while, was not quite hitting the mark, so I decided to leave it a bit unfinished and work on it more later. I didn't pick it up again until I returned home. Some of my fresher marks inevitably disappeared, but in the end, I think it conveys more of what first drew me in.
In my all-too-brief time in Amsterdam, many points of interest were lost on me as I rushed, like many a tourist, from here to there, oblivious to the history beneath my feet. I found out later that the official name of the little park that overlooks this scene is the J.W. van Overloopplantsoen. "A green bank of the Plantage Muidergracht, sandwiched between Hortus and the former Zeeman Laboratory of the UvA, named after the Dutch Nobel Prize winner Pieter Zeeman who reportedly received Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein here. Heroic ground.... JW van Overloop himself was slightly less illustrious. He was a local resident who fed the pigeons every day in this park. He called those pigeons 'my sisters', according to writer Adriaan Morriën who also lived there." ( source: idovergagen.nl )
I’ve since read that the poem above is inscribed on a monument at this little park, but I don't recall seeing it there. At the time, I didn’t know anything about this place, or about some of the darker passages of history that took place nearby. I just sat there with J.W.'s sisters, sipped my coffee and tried to soak in as much as I could before I had to move on.
Last Sunday was one of those picture postcard perfect days we are cursed with here in San Diego. It was a great day to catch up with the San Diego Urban Sketchers and try my hand at capturing Little Italy and its iconic sign. If you've never been, it's a bustling place with very little parking, lots of tourists, and the constant excitement of airplanes on their steep approach to nearby San Diego International Airport. To give you some idea of the number of landings, check out this crazy video: io9.gizmodo.com/5965233/five-hours-of-planes-landing-at-san-diego-international-airport-in-less-than-thirty-seconds
I lucked out and got a prime parking space, then parked myself between an electrical box and some big terracotta planters. After I penciled things in and laid down a few light washes, I decided to adjust my own angle of approach. Since I'd gotten a late morning start, I decided to finish my sketch in the afternoon when I'd have some bigger shadow shapes to play with. I then met up with the rest of the group, and after a life-affirming bagel and coffee, returned to the scene of the sign.
Sargent supposedly said, "An artist painting a picture should have at his side a man with a club to hit him over the head when the picture is finished." I probably could have used a good 'club man' when I got back to my little sketch, but in the end, it was still a pleasant little picture, which is all I really set out to make. Done, I popped back into the café to re-charge before heading back home. At this point I was seeing paintings everywhere, so I decided to get one more in just for fun, Only this time, I tried a different approach: no pencil---just squint at the values and 'ready, set, paint!'
As I wrap things up on this 5-Day Art Challenge I realize that there are newer paintings I need to get cracking on scanning/photographing, so thanks for looking at these with me (again). These were all done on-site around San Diego County, except for the one called Main Street Vista. I did do a plein air sketch of the scene earlier that really wasn't much to look at. I used it to make this idyllic vision of my hometown on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Rolling Days 2 and 3 of the 5-Day Art Challenge into one post, but I kind of like looking at all of these pictures together. The first two are some plein air watercolors I did at Cabrillo National Monument. I'm embarrassed to admit I've lived in the San Diego area most of my life but had never visited until recently. I lucked into having a small part of a project to update wayside markers there in anticipation of the monument's centennial. The next two images are the 2 ft by 4 ft illustrations I did for the new markers. Sadly, they're still sitting in someone's office (I hope) as the centennial plans were canceled due to sequestration.
My friend and fellow artist Shiho Nakaza has nominated me to take part in the 5-Day Art Challenge. If you don't already know what it's about, the participant posts three works of art for 5 days, and nominates another artist each day. Those artists post to my Facebook page and to the pages of artists they nominate. These little plein air paintings were some of my attempts to capture the lovely places I found in Kansas and Missouri. When I left Kansas to return to California, I felt sad that there were so many scenes I hadn't gotten around to painting. So it goes.
UPDATED 6/11: This post was updated to reflect changes in the timeline of this event. Deadlines have been changed to allow more artists to submit artwork.
The show opening has been pushed to June 21 to coincide with the artists' reception, and painting days have been extended through June 14 so that more artists may participate. The deadline for submissions has been extended to June 15.
Artists: Please download REVISED prospectus, attached at the bottom of this post.
From the flyer: "In conjunction with the 2nd Annual Succulent Celebration artists are invited to paint at WaterWise Botanicals and submit their best work for acceptance into a juried show to be held at ArtBeat on Main Street Gallery in Vista."
WaterWise Botanicals is a 20+ acre nursery/grower with display gardens on Old Highway 395 in Escondido (See map below). As part of this year's Succulent Celebration, they have teamed up with ArtBeat Gallery in Vista to hold a plein air event and show.
First prize is $200 and it is FREE to participate, and FREE to enter up to two submissions to the juried show which runs June June 21 -- July 6. Artists are encouraged to paint any time from 8am -- 5pm during The Succulent Celebration, which is Friday, June 6th -- Saturday, June 7th. Also, to encourage more artists to submit entries to the juried show, they are allowing artists to paint on-site any time from now through June 14th during business hours Monday - Saturday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (CLOSED Sundays).
I'll be painting there during both days of the Succulent Celebration. Hope to see you there!
For more information, please email email@example.com.
ArtBeat On Main Street Gallery
330 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084 (760) 295-3118
32183 Old Highway 395, Escondido 92026 (760) 728-264 (map below)
Spring has sprung here in San Diego and that means more sunshine and outdoor events. I thought I'd highlight a few that feature art or plein air painting, including some upcoming events in which I'll be participating.
This post is not a how-to but a reflection on what it's like to be new at painting outdoors, as well as a shameless promotion of my upcoming plein air class. But first: I have a confession to make.
It's been a few months since I've painted outdoors. I really have no excuse. Living in San Diego, I certainly can't blame the weather, especially after having watched from afar artist Marc Hanson paint four plein air paintings a day for a month in frozen Colorado.
Yesterday was the first day of my six-week drawing class called Learn to See, Learn to Draw at ArtBeat on Main Street Gallery in Vista. The class is based on the work of Dr. Betty Edwards. Her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is an excellent resource for anyone eager to learn how to draw realistically.
One of the hallmark exercises of this method is the upside-down drawing, which I demonstrated, as in the book, with a Picasso portrait of Igor Stravinsky. When it came time for the students to begin their lesson, one of them said, “So, on the first day of class, you’re asking us to do a Picasso?” which of course gave us all a good laugh.
When I got home, I got to thinking that I missed an opportunity there. All joking aside, though I expect drawing newbies to fret a bit at the prospect of copying a line drawing, I never gave much thought to the intimidation factor of the Picasso. I’d only ever seen it as a complex line drawing that serves as an effective obstacle course for beginners. By obstacle course, I don’t mean a series of obstacles designed to trip one up, but in the most positive sense, as a course of exercise designed to improve skills.
The point I missed sharing was this: for the purpose of the exercise, the Picasso drawing is essentially a lot of lines of various lengths, widths, angles, relationships and spaces that we are endeavoring to perceive and record as pure data and not concern ourselves with what the lines have been arranged to depict. It doesn't matter who drew it. We don't need to know "what" it is a picture of and in fact, it's better not to know, so that we may access the part of our brain that is suited to seeing the visual data and enabling us to record it in a fashion that is unencumbered by our preconceived notions.
As I ate up a lot of time going over other first-day-of-class business, the students had minimal time to work on these upside-down drawings. They are going to complete them at home and when we meet again next week I plan to bring it up in more detail. I'm also looking forward to telling them in my best infomercial style, “Yes, you, too, can draw like Picasso!”
My entry for the 2012 Paint San Clemente Quick Draw contest
Saturday June 15 marks the beginning of Paint San Clemente, a week-long plein air painting event in San Clemente, California. The public is invited to watch plein air artists paint and compete for $13,000 in prizes in and around the beach town that sits on the southern border of Orange County. The event is a fundraiser for art programs in San Clemente schools.
I'll be participating in the the Quick Draw, a one-day contest in which artists have three hours to complete a plein air painting. The paintings are then judged and put up for sale. Last year my little watercolor scene of the San Clemente Pier sold in the first few minutes of the sale. It was my first ever plein air painting sale.
Paint San Clemente is free to the public and runs from Saturday June 15 -- Sunday June 23. It kicks off with the Quick Draw and Sale on Saturday June 15. Artists who choose to participate in the overall plein air competition will continue to paint around town throughout the week. Awards are given Saturday June 22, and an outdoor art sale will take place Saturday June 22 -- Sunday June 23. For more info visit: paintsanclemente.com
I have a passion for plein air painting. I try to capture and share the moments of beauty I find. You can see some of my work online at: