I'm a 70's kind of gal, as in I like my temperature highs in the 70's. I can manage some days in the 80's, although even in the shade they can make it uncomfortable to be active outside. But top over into the 90's and I'm not coming out of my house for more than a few minutes at a time, at least not until the sun goes down. And I was doing that at the end of July, heading out just as the sun was dipping behind the mountain, and taking along my sketchbook on one such day. I wanted to capture the daylilies at the park I walk through, buttery yellow blooms amidst the green blade-like leaves. Even a sketch like this can take me half an hour to forty-five minutes, so my plan was to return within the next few days with either colored pencils or watercolors.
But my plans were thwarted by the smoke that has drifted into our valley from forest fires that are as much as hundreds of miles away. British Columbia is burning up again, at one point with over 45,000 people evacuated from their homes for over two weeks. Winds have been blowing all that smoke down into Washington and over into Idaho, along with smoke from Washington's own fires. This happened two years ago so we know the drill. If it looks like this from my front door, chances are the air quality rating is in the moderate or yellow range, and I am part of the population who needs to curtail outside activities - no long walks for me. A few days it has popped over "unhealthy for sensitive groups" or orange (where it is this afternoon) straight into the next level, plain old "unhealthy" or red. There's one more level in which they deem no one should be outside for any reason, but it hasn't gotten that bad yet. I miss my daily walks, and opportunities to go farther on nearby trails but there's no point in risking it. The daylillies sketch will either have to remain a line sketch or I'll have to use my memory to fill in the colors. I think I'll leave it as is.
|Favorite Place sketching homework|
Being "trapped" inside, I've found plenty to keep me busy. I just completed another section of my Sketchbook Skool class, led by Brian Butler, and boy was it different! It's a little difficult to describe his type of art, so I invite you to peruse his website to get a feel for it. He does a lot of what I think of as grafitti-style murals as well as branding for musicians and merchandise. I think most of the class was wondering what in the world could we get out of something so bizarre and how many of us need to know how to design and paint a mural on the side of a building (which he shared videos of doing). Even he was a little unsure if he fit with this group but we all dived in together and found him fun, knowledgeable and full of encouragement regarding how to use a sketchbook. For him, it's an inspiration generator, where he records the events of the day, capturing visually ideas he may use later in a finished piece. He stressed he seldom shows his sketchbooks to anyone so felt a little uncomfortable showing them to us. He sees them as idea generators that are only for the one doing the drawing, and so they are forgiving; it doesn't matter if you make a mistake in them, and mistakes can lead to a new idea. As he's wandering around sketching, he likes to fill the page to leave as little white or negative space as possible, and encouraged us to try filling some pages in our sketchbooks in that same style. As a homework assignment, he suggested we think of a favorite place, pulling inspiration from images to collage elements unique to that place. I, of course, picked the area I live in and found I enjoyed this style of drawing much more than I anticipated. I usually so carefully center what I am featuring, or if there's more than one thing on a page, each will have its separate place. I really found this liberating!
|Trying out the Bimoji Brush Pen on random pairings homework - love it!|
So here's a thing I discovered while completing that homework and the other homework of randomly pairing an adjective and a noun from pre-generated lists and drawing it. With few exceptions, I can't remember enough about how a thing looks like to draw it from memory. I've been almost exclusively sketching from life or photos for quite awhile now and found myself having to reference a sketch I'd already made in order to include a particular building, and google images to figure out how to include the train engine and the moose. I've drawn sailboats before but found I couldn't even do a decent rendering of something as common as an airplane. What does a pen look like, or a dog? Why can't I remember what a flame looks like, or a bird? I observe and observe and observe, but I guess because these are things that I don't draw very often, with or without a model, my brain only holds the barest information about them, just enough that I can recognize them when I see them. As for this second homework assignment, I decided I picked bad words to put on my list and it was difficult to figure out how to draw these things. Well, maybe that was the point; it did stretch my imagination a bit.
So here's another thing. It occurred to me that, while I am often asked how long it takes me to make a quilt, few if anyone asks how long it takes me to sketch something. There are quick quilters and quick sketchers for sure, but I'm not one of them. And I think in reality, those fast people are in the minority. I've noticed that I often spend one to two hours on an urban sketch, and even my cup sketches from the Inktober challenge would usually tie me up for 45 minutes to an hour. Does the general public take for granted that paintings and drawings are fast to do but intrinsically know work in fiber and fabric are time consuming? And do they think the images just come out of our imagination or do they understand that anything realistic has been rendered by looking at an actual scene or object? What do you think?
|Dye runs "cooking" in the sun|
While the sketching class was pushing me outside my comfort zone, I could always fall back into familiar territory by continuing the machine quilting on that lap quilt. I have 3 more rows to reach the border, which I'm quilting separately after the central part of the quilt is done, and then can go back to the center and quilt the other side. This quilt is going to get finished! And I've done another dye run, this time in colors that are replenishing my stash so should be no surprises here. The first bin has mustard yellow dye, my all time favorite yellow. The second is using ProChem's lavender dye, an old dye gifted to me and one I hope will give me a bluish rather than reddish purple, although in the rinsing and soaking today it strikes me as being too much like the purples I already have. The big bucket is holding 4 yards in a black dye recipe Judi and I developed. No idea if those old dyes will give me a good black like I am going for but I will soon find out! Once this run is processed, I have 4 additional yellow gradations to dye up, and then my dyeing should be done for awhile. If nothing else, I think I'll be out of fabric by then and maybe the heat and smoke will be gone so I can be outside again.