Sunday, October 26, 2014

A piece of art in the library.

I went to the library to check out a book. I knew about it on my search for more information about the public art in the city of Joliet. The book was The Great Columns of Joliet. I was pleasantly surprised, since the book not only had illustrations and interesting information, it also had poems! The book about art is a piece of art itself, how lovely!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Great Columns of Joliet

Driving around in the city of Joliet, I've always seen these sculptures on top of mosaic columns. There are around 42 columns in the city. It is part of a program created by a non-profit organization in Joliet called Friends of Community Public Art, if you want to know more about why, check their link here.

I sketched one back in June 2013, see it here. Today I went to sketch two more. Each column/sculpture represents the nature, history, culture and economical backgrounds of Joliet. The first one I sketched is called The Barn Owl and the Moon. The barn owl is native of the state of Illinois. The mosaics represent the plants of the wetlands in Rock Run Preserve. My husband didn't come with me this time, but a woman volunteer to pose for me for a minute to show a reference size.

The second sculpture is called A Informed Mind Can Make Better, it is in the Black Road Branch of the Joliet Public Library. I bet you wouldn't know if I didn't tell you this but here's a secret: the sketch of the bronze sculpture shows 5 books, but it has only four <well, we have been taught to embrace the errors that happen when sketching directly in pen and ink, right?> Every book has a carved word: Art, Democracy, Music and Science.
I have to mention again, that the public service here in the United States is outstanding. One can hold a book online, and if they don't have it on the library they will bring it from any library that has it available to the library of your choice for you to pick it up. I ordered already a book I want to read, The Great Columns of Joliet. Wonderful! I can't wait to read it.
The next sculpture, Spirit of the River, is located in Route 66 Park, next to the Des Plaines River. I sketched this one a week later, the same day I sketched one of the side attractions on Historic Route 66  that I posted later in this blog, you can see it here.
We had a break from freezing temperatures today, so I did this last sketch of this sculpture Tiller of the Earth in the parking lot of a school. The symbols represent the two main crops cultivated in Illinois. Soy to the left and corn to the right.

Although the temperature was only 55°F, my hands were numb and red. My drawing materials behaved so strangely due to the high humidity. One of the pans I refilled with watercolor paint yesterday was literally melting  causing a mess on my hands, and the wind was folding the page I was working on as if it was soaking wet. It was good day though because I finally, after almost a month since I started this series of drawings, I filled the spread pages of my moleskine.  



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Grey and little pink Open House Chicago

For second time, I was fortunate to visit 3 buildings during the Open House Chicago weekend, presented by the CAF Chicago Architecture Foundation. Alex, one of the administrators of the Urban Sketchers Chicago group was the host this time. During this event people is allowed to come inside buildings that are normally closed to the public. Here's a map that I sketched the previous day to get familiar with the zone.
A4 Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook, Pen&Ink EF, Platinum Carbon Ink, W&N Watercolor Paint.
Our first stop was The National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, a spectacular building dedicated to Mother Cabrini. I decided to make two sketches of every building, one from the interior and another from the exterior; for that I needed to manage my time very well so I worked small frames. Although the walls and ceilings were covered with frescos, I skipped them and focused in the overall building.
A4 Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook, Pen&Ink EF, Platinum Carbon Ink, W&N Watercolor Paint.
Our next stop was The Elks National Memorial, a monument dedicated to the members of the Order of Elks who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation during World War I. Again, I omitted the exquisite murals all over the walls and ceilings. The overwhelming architecture was enough for this sketcher, so I focused in the dome, the marble columns and the iron work of the windows.
A4 Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook, Pen&Ink EF, Platinum Carbon Ink, W&N Watercolor Paint.
 Here is a close-up:

The last building we visited was the Second Church of Christ Scientist. At this point I was cold and hungry. So I did only one sketch, and to be honest I was tired of the grey day and grey buildings too, so, to have fun even more, I painted this one in neon pink, yes, PINK, I like, pink, pink, hurray for pink.
A4 Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook, Pen&Ink EF, Platinum Carbon Ink, W&N Watercolor Paint.
After that we took the photo of the group and the sketches we made,  then off we went for a drink and food. It was a nice day and well organized. Thanks to Alex Zonis for hosting this event.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Ninety one years old. We got together to celebrate Joseph's birthday, my father in law. It was a fun night we spent at one of his favorite places, the Croatian Club with his favorite band playing live, Harvest Moon. This is the man who has been very supportive to me through the years, the very first person who ever paid for any of my painted doodles and he has it still on one the walls of his house. I tried to render his melancholy eyes and his beautiful smile (he still has all his teeth, never wasn't fond for sweets), when started to sketch the lips he close his mouth! Oh well. I added a little more of color at home, since it was a little dark there to see the real colors. This is my humble gift on your day, Happy Birthday Joseph.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My neglected survivor plant.

I bought a tropical plant 10 years ago. This plant has been a survivor after all it's been through. First, I don't know why did I get it knowing myself. I like how cozy a plant in a house can be but that involves maintanence. I rarely water it or fertilize it. I just do it when I notice (and it may take weeks for me to notice) that leaves are down or becoming yellow. Second, it's in a small planter, how can a plant grow this 7 feet tall in such a small planter? Actually the planter is disintegrating, literally. Third, it spends long winters with minimal water. Family have helped me water it during this periods to keep it alive but I've been gone for 2 or 3 months without help and thinking this will be the last time I see it alive, and when I return BAM!, it's still there! So I decided to sketch it, who knows how long this plant will live. I don't know if it will survive another winter in my absence, I hope so, as for now, I think it is a miracle.
5x8 in, Moleskine, pen and watercolor.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mexican truffle.

We made 20 checkpoints out of 24 in the corn maze. The farm is in Spring Grove Illinois, check their website here. The farm claims that it has the largest corn maze in the world. At the beginning it was overwhelming just thinking the word "largest", but once inside everything seemed smaller and doable. It took us two hours to do it, less time that it took us to drive there, since we got lost... but found our way. When we finished the maze we sat in a bench outside the maze to enjoy the view.
The interesting thing about this visit was the finding of fungus in the maze. This fungus grows sometimes in the earns of corn, and it's edible! It is considered a delicacy in Mexico and is commonly known as Huitlacoche. I couldn't resist to grab some to cook them. I can't wait for lunch.

A5 Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook, pen&ink and W&N watercolor.

Update: Although I had all intentions to eat this delicacy, actually I cooked it, it didn't taste right, it was bitter/sour, so I discarded it. Too bad, I was very happy to find it, not always things come out the way you want. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pesdestrian Bridge Mistery

I received a pamphlet of the city of Shorewood by mail weeks ago. The front page showed photos of places and buildings in the Village of Shorewood. One of them interested me, it looked like a bridge. I wanted to find the location to sketch it. The photo showed a plaque on top of the bridge that I tried to read unsuccessfully with a magnifier, but I ventured to google what I could read. Fortunately I found it, and sure I went to sketch it yesterday. The bridge crosses the DuPage River. The plaque shows the name of the person who is dedicated to, David A. Barry, in 1986. I don't know if that is the year in which it was constructed or who that person is or was. Google didn't help this time.  I'm sure one day destiny will answer that question, if fact I could ask the Mayor (I hope no more awkward moments happen this time,see why here). He may know something about it. I will sure post any further updated information, but for now, I'll stick to the joy of finishing the last page of my sketchbook with a mystery.