Archives for the month of: June, 2014

Lunchroom people from the weekend at work.

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Color was added at home.
iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
Pen & Ink and ArtRage apps.

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This was Friday, June 6, and it was a Super Day! Well, they all were, but this one was with a capital S super.

Francesca and I were going to be at both the Tate Britain and Tate Modern the following week because she was going to get me into two special exhibitions for free. I decided to visit Tate Modern ahead of time so that I could leisurely see everything else. It was a beautiful day. I took the underground to St. Paul’s and crossed the Thames using the Millennium Bridge. I covered every square inch of the museum, starting at the top, and was in seventh heaven when I got down to the second floor and saw the gallery walls crowded with paintings up down and all around. What fun it was to sketch here. I love copying Picasso. All of a sudden you can get a glimmer as to how he did this or that and it makes perfect sense – for that moment at least. I was the one standing in the middle of the room with a grin on my face.

I stopped in the Tate’s Espresso Bar for a coffee and drew the museum people.
(Full disclosure: the grouping of people on the right was drawn from a photo I had just taken of a bunch of teenagers that were just about to get up and leave the gallery. That was the only sketch I did from a photo. The people on the left were drawn from life as I had my coffee.)

When I left the museum I decided to walk back to Trafalgar Square on the south bank of the Thames. I really didn’t know how far this would be or how long it would take. I stopped in a gallery along the way, Bankside, and saw a wonderful show of etchings and relief prints. More walls crowded with art from top to bottom. Resumed walking until I recognized the bridge I saw the other evening from the Embankment tube station. I think it is called Charing Cross Bridge, maybe. Or something else, maybe. From there, surprise, it was just a couple of blocks until I reached Trafalgar Square. I arrived at Pret a Manger (either I’m a very boring diner or it’s nice that no one cares how long you hang out), ate lunch, worked on my drawings and added their decor art to the Tate’s cafe in the drawing above. At 5:30 I went to the National Portrait Gallery, next to The National Gallery, for the late, free, materials supplied, “Drop In Drawing”.

I was directed to the gallery that was to be used that evening. So not my choice of art at all. Staid portraits of famous Brits from way way back. On a large table were many marble busts facing this way and that. There were little folding seats. I got my folding thingy because I saw another woman had one even though she was sitting on a bench. I also sat on the bench and waited since it wouldn’t start until 6:30. It was getting crowded. The lady next to me started talking. Her first time also.

The person in charge came in, set out paper and boards and all sorts of pencils for us to use and gave us a suggestion/mini instruction as to a good way to proceed in copying the artwork around us. We were given free reign to use two galleries and set us free. I sat on my stool thingy and I sketched the busts with a big chunky pencil on a big sheet of paper until I reached my pencil frustration threshold. I didn’t do too badly, right?

I couldn’t stand another second of that pencil (Chunky Pencil Claustrophobia Syndrome) so I took out my Moleskine and Sharpie pen and did what I do. The sketchbook ended up getting a lot of attention.

And then I did more. What fun. An amazing amount of fun.

When it was all over at 8:30 (sob) I, now that I was totally in control of my whereabouts, walked back along Charing Cross Road, around the big construction to Tottenham Court Road, made a right at whatchamacallit Road and eventually reached the hotel with energy left to spare.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

After breakfast I headed to Tottenham Court Road which leads into Charing Cross Road – after a bit of a construction detour – I ended up at The National Gallery.

There was a convenient bench opposite this painting and there were a lot of pauses as groups gathered in front of it.

This painting by Canaletto caught my eye when I entered the first room. It is a huge painting and this detail is just a couple of inches in the lower left corner The gondolier is from another section.

The entrance has a balcony that overlooks Trafalgar Square which turned out to be a great spot to rest the feet and with the added benefit of a nice clean bathroom. I found myself here several times in the coming days.

Then I continued walking – the journal tells the story:

Man oh man. Did my feet HURT (pedometer=7.3 miles) and I was TIRED. I headed straight to my room, skipped the lobby wi-fi ceremony, and got in my pajamas immediately. Ahhh.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

On Thursday the NYC Urban Sketchers did a bit of experimentation. A sketching day was planned for, GASP, a weekday. Would anyone show up?????

Yep. Six of us met in City Hall Park and sketched.

She was oblivious to me sitting across from her. Fair game, right? City park, middle of the day. She obviously wanted to be looked at. Maybe not by me?

We had lunch in Chinatown. After lunch we were left with only three ,and, thanks to Raylie who was a font of information on the area, we ended up in Columbus Park which was the perfect place to be.

Music we couldn’t understand and un-countable clumps of people concentrating on the Chinese Chess games.

Super concentration.

A successful experiment which will be repeated next week.

iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
#1&3: Pen & Ink and ArtRage apps
#2,4&5: Sketch Club app and put on rough paper background in ArtRage app.

After breakfast I took the Picadilly line to the South Kensington stop. I had studied the map carefully but it turned out to be unnecessary because it is possible to walk to the V&A Museum completely underground. Since the exhibit I particularly wanted to see wouldn’t open until 1pm I checked the directory and headed to the first place I usually go in any museum: prints and drawings. I was very happy to come upon the exhibit “New Dawns”. From the little card on the wall “These posters communicate a sense of hope and optimism for the future…when new social and political alternatives feel possible.”

So, I saw all the bright colors, ignored the big words, and stopped to sketch details from four of the posters.

I checked out Modern Design, totally skipped the Wedding Dress exhibit and wandered through Asian Art. That’s when I spotted Jill sitting very still while she struggled with a sketch. I took full advantage of her obliviousness. I found out that she is taking a course and the assignment was to draw “texture”. She chose a poorly lighted dark, very old small piece of clothing and agreed that she should find something else.

At 1pm sharp I entered the gallery that contained “M. F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting.” I love love love contemporary Indian art and this exhibit was WOW WOW WOW. I hope it comes to New York. It was stupendous and I’m so happy I got to see it in person.

There was a small painting of Ganesha hung at the start of the exhibit that I was compelled to draw even though I was pretty much an obstruction. A man stopped and told me everything that everybody should know about the roll of that god. Interesting.

On my way out of the museum I spotted Michael Cooper sketching a sculpture. Same course? I fitted him in with Jill.

I had to hot foot it back to the hotel because Francesca, an, as yet, unmet facebook friend, was meeting me in the lobby at 3:00. She had me laughing and snorting right from the beginning. We went for coffee at Camera Cafe near the British Museum and then took the underground to Green Street stop where
we went gallery hopping. We had a dinner of breakfast food in a “diner” on Carnaby Street. Yikes! The 60’s flashed before my eyes. Then we walked down Regency Street to the end and she showed me the Institute of Contemporary Art. It was about 9:30 when we took the tube back to our respective stops. Yay Facebook!

More zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz followed.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

The plane landed at Heathrow at 8:30 am which made it 3:30 am NYC time. I had been up since 6:30 am so it was almost 24 hours awake with just one of those naps where your head keeps dropping and waking you up. That lasted about 30 minutes on the plane and then I went back to movie watching. I was awake but fuzzy around the edges. I successfully purchased an Oyster card for use on the underground and buses , successfully boarded the proper subway and successfully got off at the proper station. There was a temporary suspension of success when I couldn’t orient myself to my carefully annotated map and walked around in a few circles looking for the hotel and talking aloud to myself. Back at the station again I spotted a large map of the immediate area and had the “ah ha!” moment and soon, after a right and a left turn, my feet were leading me directly to the registration desk. Too early for check in so I stowed my luggage with the porter and sat in the lobby to use the wi-fi to confirm a meeting with an as yet un-met facebook friend the next day.

Goal Of The Day: STAY AWAKE AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.

I looked at my map, British Museum was “just over there”, other side of Russell Square. Easy Peasy. A snap to find. Got turned around, lost, feeling stupid cause it’s a big big building and it is in the neighborhood and I can’t find it – can’t follow the stinking map! Things are not boding well. I remembered that there was a Pret a Manger by the tube station so I headed there for some familiar comfort food and coffee, snagged a little table by the window and did some work in my journal. A woman, Elizabeth, asked if she could share the table. She works as a domestic in a hospital and said she used to sketch years ago. I told her about the London sketching meetup group that I was going to be with the following Sunday. After I mentioned that I couldn’t find the British Museum she explained exactly how to get there and pointed in the direction I should head. Thank you Elizabeth. Phew.

In the museum a very old docent with a quivering soft voice was leading a tour of Islamic Art so I joined it. Sigh. I couldn’t hear her at all and the pieces she stopped in front of were so uninspiring that I left in search of other things. I found an interesting print exhibition “Germany Divided: Baselitz and His Generation” and then went in search of things to draw.

It was nice to sketch here. A very relaxed museum.

At one point I sat down to rest my feet and sketched the sculpture, (Thalia, Muse of Comedy, Roman, 2nd century AD),in the center of the large atrium(?). I had no confidence that I could actually do it so I just used the museum map and surprised myself.

Now to redeem myself. Following the map, faultlessly, I walked, on purpose, the Very Long Way from the museum to the hotel, finding myself on Tottenham Court Road at one point. This road would prove to be my main walking route to many places in the following days. The process of orientation had begun.

I arrived at the hotel at 6:00 pm, checked in, retrieved my suitcase and backpack, dropped them off in the room and headed out to the St. Paul’s tube stop. I actually had to change trains. Since I was early and St. Paul’s Cathedral was in front of me and I was obviously delirious from lack of sleep, I decided to sketch a snippet of it.

At 7:00 I joined “Ghosts Of The Old City” walking tour and learned about all sorts of spooky sightings and gruesome, gory happenings. I drew every time we stopped. I have no memory of how I got back to the hotel – did I take the underground or did I walk – but I arrived at about 9:30 with a sandwich, cookie and bottle of water in my hands and 6.9 miles on my pedometer.

I ate in the room, watched TV while working on the journal, and, Keeping Awake Goal successfully attained, I zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

When I got to the train station the overhead announcement let me know that things were running late “due to track work”. I was so early it made no difference at all.

There were no lines. I checked my bag and whipped through security with my sneakers still on. I had a snack.

Then I had another one.

Still too early I meandered toward the gate but leaned up against a wall for awhile.

During the flight I watched movies, ate (again!), added the color to these drawings with my markers and wasn’t able to sleep. I didn’t really expect to but I had a plan for that.

Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

I almost gave up in despair. It was a very empty lunchroom every time I was there yesterday. Finally some “action”.

iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
Pen & Ink and ArtRage apps.

Might as well catch up on some old things while my oil burner is getting the annual tune-up.

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Moleskine journal; background Gelli Plate printed with acrylic; Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, Pitt brush pen, Signo Uni-ball (UM-153) white gel pen; and sometimes I add a bit of color with Crayola markers.

“World famous, (as per the web site), Coney Island Artist-in-Residence Marie Roberts” , arranged for all of us to see a performance of the Sideshow. I was sitting in the front row and attempted to sketch what I was seeing. What can I tell you. I was caught up in the moment and was equally enthralled and horrified and twice had to avert my eyes. I will not be insulted or take it personally if you find yourself averting your eyes also. But remember – this day was nothing but a whole lot of fun. Smiles everywhere all day long.

The sideshow wasn’t “yuck”. It was where he inserted the electric drill bit and then hammered in the nail. Or maybe the yucky part was after he removed the drill bit he licked it off. That got a big YUCK from the audience.

The last drawing shows Mark’s roll in Alejandro’s act.

She was walking and jumping on broken glass and wore strings of big white pearls draping her neck and over her shoulder. She would be a super model at life drawing.

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Our Julie’s tongue set fire to the torch thingy. We were so proud.

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Leo the Human Gumby whisked off his Gumby suit and revealed a hunky body that was quite loose limbed, literally. His shoulders and arms did impossible things.

The guy with the affinity for drills and hammers also likes to eat fire.

Leo the Human Gumby’s job was to help Mark stand on Alejandro’s chest as he lay on a bed of nails. Mark was probably wishing he had his sketchbook at the time. An interesting angle.

iPad; New Trent Arcadia stylus.
Finngr Pro and ArtRage apps.