Day 73 at Home: Friends, Complaints and Solutions

Sometimes it helps to be a complainer, and a pretty vocal one. Because there are solutions to almost any problem. Solutions you may not hit upon by yourself, but a good friend might.

I sketch online for a half hour every week with Nina Khashchina. A couple of week ago we opened up the same street view in a random city of the world and sketched it. And I complained about how I feel no connection to this place. Nina suggested we “tour” a place she knows the next week. So yesterday, she took me through the streets of her hometown and we stopped and drew her University.

Svobody Square (now Freedom Square) in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

And through it all, I peppered Nina with questions about her years at University, and she shared her memories of it. And just like that, our half hour was up and I had the loveliest virtual sketching experience.

Is it drawing on location? Not by any stretch! I hope one day I will go sketch on these streets with Nina and she and I will go sketch together in India. But it made a huge difference to the virtual sketching experience to see it thorough the eyes of and the stories of a friend who knows the place well.

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Day 72 at Home: First Heatwave of the Year

What does the temperature have to be for you to call it a heatwave? I think 90 F/33 C is when I start to find it hot enough to be a heatwave. And today hit a respectable 97. Not quite 100, which makes it seem like a totally authentic heatwave, but still…

I tried to capture how hot it was in the stupor of the poses, in how useless and still the fan looks and in the blinding light outside.

The app my husband check daily temperature on says tomorrow is a couple of degrees hotter. My app says a couple cooler. I say it’s always better when I am right 😉

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Day 71 at Home: A Picnic Close to Home

Yesterday we packed a little picnic, sat in the gras, napped, played a game of Exploding Kittens, and sketched before coming back home. The picnic spot? Barely a mile from home, our local park. But it felt SO GOOD to get out, and stay out, even for a short bit.

I lay on my back just looking up through the trees for a long time. And then I decided to sketch the scene, still lying on my back, holding my book up. Makes for an interesting experience and line quality.

In this time of less new places to go to, it’s been so good to refocus on seeing in new ways and on keeping it experimental. I am loving that just by turning up to make art everyday and being willing to try out the “what ifs” that cross my mind, I’m learning so much.

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Day 70 at Home: Tiny Neutrals Palette

I use a super-tiny palette called a Demi Palette from Expeditionary Art that I fill with neutrals only. And every once in a while, I put away my full color palette and use just this one. It teaches me to think better in just value, without the support of color.

I used it last week on for these . But this little spread in my sketchbook shows better what I like to do with it. It contains only two colors, Ultramarine Blue and Transparent Red Oxide, both from Daniel Smith, plus white gouache.

The largest pan contains a pre-mix neutral from the two colors, one that feels neither warm nor cool. When I use it I like to start there and then push it warm or cool with the two colors.

The two whites are both M. Graham Titanium White gouache. I just loaded them in two pans hoping I would keep one clean. You can see that’s more theory than what really happens.

It’s a fun little palette to use and with it’s interchangeable pan setup ( magnetic pans that can be pulled in and out easily, and I have extras), I can see using it for different triads too, and changing them up every once in a while…

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Day 69 at Home: What’s next week looking like?

What have you watched, read and painted this week? And what’s next week looking like for you?

Tuesday, May 26th, Thursday 28th:

The Sketching Play/Lab series continues this week with the last two sessions based on the theme, Free Your Line. And mid-week, we announce a new theme for the next couple of weeks. Hear about it first by getting on our mailing list. Email us at

Last week’s paint-along workshop painting California Poppies was fun. It was especially lovely to “meet” so many of you who I only know from this blog. If there’s interest in another session, I’m game to paint California Poppies anytime!

Other Stuff…

• Shari Blaukopf has a new workshop available called Light, Color, Shadow. I am only halfway through watching it but I can tell you this much: it is chock-a-bloc with information and demos not only on how to paint light and shadow on different surfaces and subjects, just also on how to think in terms of them and see them when you paint. As always, Shari not only demos each subject, she also discusses her tools and color mixes. You can sign up here.

• Speaking of chock-a-block with information, Liz Steel’s Foundations Fridays blogposts are just that. I go back and read a random one every now and then because they go indepth into different subjects every week.

• I could rewatch this youtube movie over and over. Exhibition on Screen: David Hockney is fabulous and inspiring.

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Day 68 at Home: Mark-making and Texture

For three weeks now, Paul Wang and I have been holding three sessions a week of our exploratory concept, Sketching Play/Lab.

After every session I photograph a portion of the page that I loved for it’s mark-making, color or texture. Here are a few of those closeups.

If you haven’t joined us for a session yet but would like to , just email us at and let us know.

What are the colors and textures of your week? I hope you’re enjoying them, and some of them are finding their way back into your sketchbook!

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Day 67 at Home: Drawn Poetry

Thank you Isabel Carmona for inviting me to be a part of your Drawn Poetry project.

The project asks every artist who participates to paint a postcard, the front of which has an image and the back of which has a poem (or an excerpt from one). This is what I sent in. A piece inspired by a truly magnificent bird that I spotted on long drives through the deserts in Baja, California: The Crested Caracara.

And the poem on the back is one I loved when I first read it in my 4th grade poetry book. There are bits of the poem I found discomforting even then (being alone? penniless?? cold???) but I loved it’s feel for the open road and unknown adventures. Here is the whole piece:

- R.L. Stevenson

Give to me the life I love,
  Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
  And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
  Bread I dip in the river --
There's the life for a man like me,
  There's the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
  Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around
  And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
  Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
  And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me
  Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
  Biting the blue finger;
White as meal the frosty field --
  Warm the fireside haven --
Not to autumn will I yield,
  Not to winter even!

Let the blow fall soon or late,
  Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around,
  And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope, nor love,
  Nor a friend to know me.
All I ask, the heaven above
  And the road below me.

I thought a postcard would be a simple little thing to paint, but since last night I’ve done three versions and it wasn’t till this not-so-realistic version that I felt like I had a piece I liked.

Thanks again, Isa! I’m looking forward to seeing all the other pieces and reading the poetry that goes with them. Sales from the postcards, when they are exhibited, will benefit Medicins Sans Frontiers.

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