Thursday, December 28, 2017

Coffee time

When the day's temperature drops from beautiful 70 F to 46 F it's time for coffee....and a sketch. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Auschwitz Sketchbook

A book came to my hands today. The Auschwitz Sketchbook, ©Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. My brother's friend visited Poland this year and brought him this book. As soon as I browsed it I thought it was a real treasure. The sketches were made by a camp prisoner which name is unknown, the sketches show only its name's initials MM. It was found by a vigilant prisoner named Josef Odi near the gas chambers in 1947. It was made in a small sketchbook 13.5 cm x 20.7 cm with pencil and some with color pencil. It is an exceptional collection of sketches given the undeniable danger. It is to me, a fascination what this brave artist sketched on location, risking its life. I cannot wait to read it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Construction workers

Sketching through a window and feeling like a spy, I sketched these construction workers. The fresh mix of concrete was transferred from the street floor to a house's second floor through a series of orchestrated movements of a construction workers' team. One of them filled buckets with concrete, two more carried it to the forth worker who was pouring it on the second floor while a fifth one spread it. Lots of muscle moving rhythmically like a song, a song I could dance to the rhythm of my pen.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Senior ladies lunch.

This afternoon at lunch, a group of senior ladies were next to my table. They looked so low key, talking with a moderate voice, showing family photos to each other and handling skillfully their i-phones. Did you notice the ghost on the right? It's a false start covered with white ink. I tried to hide it with the pen! What was I thinking?

Well, I can erase it and improve it. Case closed.

10 year journey sketching

It was until I recycled an spiral wire bound from a old sketch book that reminded me that I have been sketching for 10 years. While browsing the pages of this sketchbook I realized I went through a process of learning which it may be familiar to many fellow sketchers. 

The influences of work of other artists, reading books related to art, trying different media to find the one you are comfortable with, had led me what I do now. Over the years you develop your own style. Have I accomplish that? I don't know, I'm still working on that.
I would like to share here my earlier sketches from 2007, this year was an important one; it was a time in which I rediscovered the infinite possibilities of expressing myself through drawing, learning what were the subjects of my interest, but mainly trying to understand why I was doing it. 

Everything started with the humble pencil, putting on paper everything, everywhere from live or from photos.



places I visited,


I understood the use of thumbnails,

I started my love affair with ink,
and I wasn't shy about color anymore.

To think over the roads this activity has led to me to and the people I have met, has enriched my life in ways I never thought possible. I'll keep doing it, hopefully, to evolve to a better artist and a better person.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The organist at Rialto Theater

We arrived early to the Rialto SquareTheater in Joliet. An organist played Christmas theme music while the show started. What to do? What to do? My pocket size Stilman&Birman comes out of my purse dancing, my pen smiles at me and makes me smile also. Let's be it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Making a sketchbook with recycled materials.

Having still Arches watercolor paper from a roll I bought years ago, cut in a landscape format, I thought I needed to put the paper sheets together to make them portable. This idea  was inspired from Stephanie Bower work, she uses this format very often for one  landscape sketch or two square-ish ones in one page, I think it's very versatile.

I could take it to the office store to bind it but I was up to the challenge to make it myself with recycled materials. Long format 16 x 8 in with 24 sheets. I'm so taking this baby to my vacation in Mexico. 
A wire bound taken from a 10 year old sketchbook was used to make this new one. This gives me the idea to show these old sketches in my next post!
Leftover fabric was used to make to covers and old wrapping paper for the back side of the covers. 
I used a drill to make the holes for the sketchbook, first I secured all the paper sheets and cover together to make a block, then drilled the holes,
then smoothed every single hole with a hole punch.
A ribbon from a gift box that came with velcro was used and I adjusted the length to make a secure band.
Boom! Done. I can't wait to use this baby.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Glass art workshop

Sue is a young glass artist. She has a workshop in downtown Joliet, Sue Regis Glass Art, where she teaches the art of glass making. One of my friends found this Joliet hidden treasure and invited a group of friends to take one the workshops Sue offers to the public.  Sue has been working with glass for over 20 years and despite that she cut her finger yesterday, (you can see the band-aid in her right index finger in the sketch above) she didn't cancelled our session; the fingers of this professional artist handled the glass delicately and her trained eye knew exactly when to bend, tilt or cut the molding glass. 

We gathered around the torch to watch to everyone of us make a pendant. Of course I had to sketch this activity, most made on location. Everyone chose different combination of colored glass to personalized their pendant. 

Our pendants turned out wonderful. We had a fun evening. If you want to know more about this talented artist click her Facebook account. Downtown Joliet is changing, a lot of construction is happening now. We were told a nice park will be constructed after the demolition of a building right in front of this workshop,, something it will beneficial to businesses in downtown Joliet. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Teddy bear

I've been sewing lately. This activity kept me away from sketching. But after I finished my projects, it occurred to me to use the leftover fabric for one last but small one. I found online a pattern of a teddy bear which I thought it was going to be easy to do. I thought it could be done mostly with the sewing machine, but the teddy bear was small, I had to sew by hand most of the time. It doesn't have a name yet but it will come to me. At the end, this beautiful toy and its making needed to be recorded in my sketchbook, sketching was easier, trust me.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Old door new color

I haven't done any sketches or paintings lately but I haven't being far from art. I've been sewing small projects, which it involves creativity and to my eyes it is a form of art. But paper called me, I thought I would give a photo a go to draw something on my desk. This is one of the old doors in Mexico I like to take pictures at, doors struggling for survival. After a careful observation, it was obvious this door had some sort of aqua color paint from previous layers. It was the perfect opportunity to use a new color I have never used before, cobalt turquoise light from Winsor&Newton. It feels good to be back to drawing. It was made in a watercolor sketchbook given to me by my dear friend Roisin Cure, thanks my friend.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Still Summer in Autumn

Pencil and Daniel Smith watercolors on Arches cold press paper.
I've been waiting for this papaya to ripe for days. Finally that day has come but I couldn't help to draw it first. The visual impact of these complimentary colors made me. It feels like breakfast in the summer, when you crave for something fresh in a hot day. It actually still feels like summer during this fall season. Days are warm but oddly, the position of the sun in the sky reminds you it is not, it's not the solstice of summer. 

My thoughts are with the people of Napa. When are we going to have a break from all this natural disasters and tragedies

Sunday, October 8, 2017

American Revolutionary War Reenactment, Battle of Dollinger Farm 1776

Located in Channahon Illinois, Dollinger Farms holds an American Revolution Battle reenactment every year. Dollinger Farms were occupied by the British in 1776 andthe Continental Forces (the Americans) won a battle there. Many volunteers from Illinois and surroundings states participate in this reenactment. The volunteers dressed accordingly, the military uniforms and civil cloth are from different years, but definitively from that era. I had the chance to sketch and talk with some of them before the battle performance.They were very cooperative and patience and also were pleased to pose for me.

Rick (above), plays a private in the 84th of Foot Scottish Highland Regiment, I didn't get to talk to him since he was having a conversation with visitors where he was sharing very interesting information.   

Zack, plays a Militia loyalist for the British. This style was used from the 1760's to 1790's. He looks a little puffy but that's how the custom is. The short attached cape was used to cover the head during the inclement weather.

Bryn plays a camp follower Irish woman of the Worthington Company, the Continental Forces (the Americans). These women were in the camping ground to cook, to heal, to repair cloth, etc. She allowed me to sketch the undergarments these women used to wear, including the pockets (as a belt) and the bum pad for her skirts, all cotton and linen. No shoes, it was a common practice to be barefoot. 
She was bringing the components of her outfit out of her tent. These actors actually sleep in tents during the weekends they perform. They try to stay true to the ways of the American Revolution. Some prefer to have some comforts for safety, like using a cooler to prevent their food from spoiling. 

Finally I run into Ken, from Garfield, IL. He was fixing a cartridge box fro his friend. He plays a marine. Yes a marine. He told me the Continental forces brought the canyons of ships to the battle and they brought the marines with them because they were the only ones who knew how to use them. While sketching he mentioned I was like a reporter from that time, so true! There were no cameras, just sketches and drawings! He made me feel like I belonged there! 

I spoke with other actors dressed as civilians that I didn't sketch. I asked them why do they do this. One told me it was like a 3D experience of American History and the other one, former professional photographer, told me that participating in this events motivates him to continue learning about history. 

I had an incredible afternoon, I was fascinated by the commitment of these people to share their passion for history. If you want to attend another battle and get to talk to these interesting people click Civil War Reenacting

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Mexican grocery store

I stopped at the little Mexican store in my neighborhood where I go regularly to  buy some groceries They also serve food. There are three tables in the back of the store where to sit. We decided to have lunch there, my husband order a burrito and I wanted a soup. I asked the Mexican owner,  who is also the cook, if he had any soups. He said he had none, but he offered me some of the beef broth he has cooked for himslef and his wife for lunch. I immediately said yes.  He was born in the same town my mother was from and I intuited the broth would taste close to what I remember when I lived in Mexico. When I tested the broth it took me back the childhood, it tasted the way my mother used to do it, same ingredients, same seasoning. Just perfect. I was so grateful for his kindness, not only because he shared part of his lunch with me but for the memories he brought. While waiting for my husband to finish his lunch I sketched the butcher fridge behind us in my pocket size Stillman&Birn skethbook

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Patterns in blue

I have always liked patterns in things like ceramic, textiles, tiles, floors and even toys. I don't know why, perhaps I find a certain happiness in the intricate designs.  I'm here again, looking at a rug's pattern and responding to the urge to sketch it. I happen to have a cup of coffee in a beautiful piece of talavera ceramic. I put them together and I although the sketch could be executed better, I liked the idea of these two patterns together in my sketchbook.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A very hot day can make fish.

A whooping 92 F (33 C) was a very hot day for September here. It invited me to stay at home and do this painting of fish inspired by the earthy color textiles of Mexico. A spent an afternoon next to my husband watching tv and painting in the living room. There is (or should I say was, because I ignore if they still teach it) a song for children about fish that I learned in kindergarten. With the musical notes of this song in my mind, I share with you the result of this day, and the lyrics of that song. 

Entre el agua clara 

que brota en la fuente
un lindo pescado 
sale de repente.

Lindo pescadito
no quiere salir
a jugar con mi haro 
vamos al jardin.

Yo vivo en el agua
no puedo salir
mi mama me ha dicho
no salgas de aqui.

Mamacita linda
ahi viene Vicente
salcale una silla 
para que se siente.

Le dio la viruela
le dio el sarampion
que le quedo la cara 
como un chicharron. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

University of Chicago with the Urban Sketchers Chicago group

I missed the last time the Urban Sketchers of Chicago met at the University of Chicago, but I'm glad I went to this one. The campus is a fantastic area full of Gothic and modern buildings. My eyes went straight to the old buildings. This arch passage between the Ryerson and Eckhart buildings was just irresistible. The sky threatened us with rain but I'm grateful if didn't rain.

I was afraid I wasn't going to find a place to park since it was the University's orientation weekend for parents. I went there earlier than the meet up to take a tour at the Robie House located just one block from the meet up location, but I also arrived earlier to the tour, so I went to the cafe next to it and sketched the North side of the house.

After the assigned sketching time, almost half of the group went for a beer at Woodlawn Tap bar (sorry for the misspelling in the sketches). There, I sketched some of my fellows sketchers and one of the musicians warming up for the show that night. Willy the musician was self aware of us sketching him and tried to remained in the same pose for a while, then changed his pose and then I I got this sketch with three legs. How fun.
Busy day, but fun, I can always have another day like this one :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why keep drawing?

It's easy to do paintings in the comfort of your home. I actually remembered to take photos of the process this time while painting these color pencils. I bought them in Mexico last year not as drawing tool but as a souvenir. The paper makes a big difference in the final result. I love this painting. I used Arches paper cold press 140 lb, one of my favorites, pencil and watercolor paint. I'm being fascinated lately by the results you can get by using the classic combination of tools, so much that the title of this blog should be changed from pen and ink to pencil and watercolors, ha ha. I thought that pen was going to be my favorite forever, boy I was wrong. I guess artists evolve or mature? This makes me wonder, what is it that keeps me so hooked to drawing, or painting or sketching regardless of your tools' choice? Satisfaction. If you haven't tried yet, please do.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Sandwich Fair

And 12 years later I returned to this Fair in Sandwich, Illinois, where I try tried my first corn dog ever here. Where eating a corn dog and a lemonade is a must. This time I came with proper gear and had lots of fun sketching. Still wondering about Sandwich name? Yeap, that's the name of the town. 

Thursday was senior day discount, that explains the high attendance of seniors and the high demand of scooter rentals like this one.

Musicians and a spoon player where popular among the crowd. Have you ever got spooned? -he asked to the audience.

I made many stops and spent a lot of time at the animal exhibitions. It was hard to choose from so many grandiose roosters small and huge at the poultry building. I omitted sketching the cage in which this rooster was in.

I learned about goats and 3 different length of ears, once more! The power of sketching! The young man who told me about the name of the breeds didn't know how to spell them, so I hope these notes sound familiar to you since I have no idea about goat breed names.
Some of the cute sheep were wearing covers, like coats, for some reason, it seemed like breeders didn't want the wool of the sheep to get dirty, perhaps for future competitions. Of all the animals the swine were the ones that for the most part were sleeping. The round muscles and pink flesh reminded me of humans sleeping..... jeez! 
The Herefords were bored but pampered with lots of fans blowing wind to keep them comfortable. 

Finally I was running out of gas. We sat down to enjoy a huge profiterole filled with real whip cream and a chocolate eclair. Sorry no sketches, my mouth was faster than my pen. But....I sketched my view from my table towards a cinnamon roll vendor....go figure.
It was a fun day in Sandwich Fair. I'm glad I refreshed my memories from twelve years ago. Now I have sketches.