October 30, 2014

Israeli and German sketchers at Tel Aviv beach

Last Friday we had a spontaneous sketchcrawl with a group of German illustration students and illustrators headed by maestro Felix Scheinberger. We met at Charles Clore Beach in Tel Aviv, and had really wonderful time! It amazes me each time again - how people from so different parts of the world can be united by the same passion, having the same sparkle in the eyes, enjoying company of each other as they where old friends.
The group came to Israel for a special week trip, armed by sketchbooks and artistic tools. It was so great to see how people from the outside see our country, to learn and to share.
And as a fan of Felix Scheinberger works for a long time, I was so delighted to meet him and to sketch in his company!
3 hours of the sketchcrawl flew like a one moment, I barely could sketch something, busy by chatting and looking at others sketchbooks.

Nathan is very concentrated
Felix sketching Pei
At the end Felix and me sketched each other - what a fun way of duel! 

I sketched Felix sketching me ;)
portrait of me by Felix  Scheinberger - so great!
portrait duel!
Israeli and German sketchers - final photo
We ended by a common lunch at Yemen Kerem - nothing could be better ending for this terrific day - perfect weather, perfect company and... perfect hummus!
You can see more photos here and here.

October 29, 2014

one sketch at the dining room

dining room in the silver care center near my village
pen and watercolor, A 4

mother sitting in the left table

Since last year when my mother(93) had begun to stay at the Seodaemun district silver care center I had not sketched even one there. Three weeks ago I drew a piece at the dining room in the morning when I went with some food for her. Because it locates near my village I go often. The shining light seen through the window made me spread the sketchbook and painting gears. While I was drawing this, mother moved to the table near the window. All the while I was painting it I kept wondering what she was thinking about. Fragmentary memories, family members she had cared all her long life, her husband passed away two years ago, her last daughter who is living in foreign land.....might be. 

Flickr Digest 10.23.14 Linear and Painterly

There are times when it seems you can identify the foundations of a sketcher. Architect, Illustrator or Painter, each with their own drawing dialect. By no means a perfect practice but often what seems to separate language styles is what Heinrich Wolflin described as linear versus painterly. 

From linear (draughstmanly, plastic, relating to contour in projected ideation of objects) to painterly (malerisch: tactile, observing patches or systems of relative light and of non-local colour within shade, making shadow and light integral, and allowing them to replace or supersede the dominance of contours as fixed boundaries.)

Some times this overly simple dichotomy can be really clear for example if you compare the sketches of Suhita Shirodkar, Pete Scully, and Simone Ridyard . Though other times the definition seem far less obvious.

Chris Carter, Monument Square, Portland Maine

Julle Bolus, Vintage Bookshop, London England

Nichegosebe, Bolshaya Polyanka, Moscow Russia

The USK Flickr page has a surge of new participant so be sure to check out some the wonderful submission

Also, check out the USK Flickr Weekly themes, this is a great exercise to help inspire your daily sketching habits, this week it is Street lighting 

Mad Campus Art Exhibit at University of Washington

The Lone Stranger by Piper O'Neill
Just recently a group of artists exhibited 12 outdoor art pieces on the University of Washington Campus using the 2.5 miles of space for its venue.  The Mad Campus Exhibit displayed temporary site specific pieces  in varied places on the campus.  It was interesting to walk around and come upon an unusual art piece placed from trees or displayed where you would never expect it.  I had intended to sketch several pieces but was only able to make time for this one very large piece that caught my eye.  This is the Lone Stranger by Piper O'Neill and is a very large inflatable Cowboy.      

October 28, 2014

Urban Sketchers Sao Paulo Back On Tracks

Hi everyone!
I had recently taken our group in Sao Paulo back to streets. Because of the symposium organization, it was difficult to manage the group here, but we've been meeting  for a while again.

These are some of  my sketches of these recently 'expeditions' in this crazy town (I'm glad some of you now know my hometown!)

The sketches above I made at an art installation. I really loved this huge piece of art from Henrique Oliveira, called "Transarquitetonica", which leads you in an architectural tour, from a bright modern white space to a cave-like labyrinth towards a trunk of a tree ending. It's very inspiring to sketch!

The sketches bellow I did last Saturday at Sao Paulo University campus.
Our first target was this piece-of-art modernist building from the 1950's, designed by Brazilian master architect Vilanova Artigas.
 Then, I sketched this nice building. I was happy to use my markers again...
 This is a picture of us:


October 27, 2014

Statue Garden

One of the patios in Balboa Park, San Diego houses many statues and decorations that have been replaced or repaired. I met with friends to sketch them today. This is my watercolor of one of the statues.

How to direct a symphony

Guest post by Isabel Niehaus.

When I started sketching a little more than a year ago, sketching people was way beyond my skill level. I decided then that sketches without people would have to do. But recently I began to feel that many of my sketches would be more interesting if they included persons. So I tried to work out how to draw them and how to include them into my sketches.

Imagine my surprise last week when I stumbled upon an essay on the USK Chicago Blog by Wesley Douglas which was called: Tuesday Tips & Tricks: How to include people in your urban sketches. It was like the essay had been written especially for me!
How to direct a Symphony  Part 2

The moment to put the tip into practice came this Saturday when I was attending a concert of one of the local youth orchestras, the “Orquesta Sinfónica Intermedia”, which my son is part of at Costa Rica's “Teatro Nacional” in San Jose.

The female director gave such a dynamic presentation, I had to start sketching there and then. Of course, as always when I really need it, I had no sketchbook with me, only a brushpen. No worries, I took the half-year-program of the theater and started sketching away happily thinking all the time of Wes Douglas’ matchstick figures.

How to direct a Symphony Part 1

And wow, it worked! Suddenly, the silhouette was exactly as I wanted it to be and more importantly it transmitted the body language of the director. That was a great moment.

When the concert was over, I resurfaced totally exhausted and totally happy.

See more of Isabel's work on Flickr here.

A foretaste of the Day of the Dead ...

In Provence, the mourning ceremonies have a strong community and public character ...

Once a close is "very tired" solidarity of neighbors and friends is set up ... Once death occurs, it is the death knell ringing which are more or less likely depending on the status of the dead ...

Some rituals immediately after the death that function to stop living in the home: clocks stop, turn the pans, put a veil over the mirrors to prevent the deceased binds these objects and open the window for that the soul can leave ...

Men and women, relatives of the deceased are still not separated from the funeral procession.  "Republican" men remain on the front of the church during the ceremony ...
Once the dead were buried by family areas in collective graves.
A Montelimar, the presence of the tomb of former President of the Republic Emile Loubet has frozen the family areas and no one can be admitted. ..

One hundred years later, the family went out, the names were deleted, foams invaded burials,  chains have rusted , gravel do not crunches under the path any more, the dead themselves are dead, and the wind in the cypress outweighs their suffering ...

... And yet on the eve of the Day of the Dead, as if by magic, flowers appear on these forgotten graves as a new spring with taste of memory...
 En Provence, les cérémonies de deuils ont un caractère fortement communautaire et public…
Dès qu’un proche est « bien fatigué » une solidarité de voisins et d’amis se met en place…Une fois le décès survenu, on fait sonner le glas dont les tintements sont plus ou moins nombreux en fonction du statut du mort…
Certains gestes rituels suivent immédiatement le décès qui ont pour fonction d’arrêter la vie dans la maison : arrêt des horloges, retourner les casseroles, mettre un voile sur les miroirs pour éviter que le défunt ne se fixe sur ces objets et ouvrir la fenêtre  pour que l’âme puisse quitter la demeure sans obstacle…
Hommes et femmes, non parents du défunt demeurent séparés du cortège funèbre. Les hommes « républicains » demeurent sur le parvis de l’Eglise pendant la cérémonie…
Autrefois les morts étaient enterrés par aires familiales dans des sépultures collectives.
A Montélimar, la présence de la tombe de l’ancien Président de la République a figé ces aires familiales et
plus personne ne peut y être admis.
Cent ans après, les familles se sont éteintes, les noms se sont effacés, les mousses ont envahi les sépultures, les fers ont rouillé, le gravier ne crisse plus sous les pas, les morts eux-mêmes sont morts, Et le vent dans les cyprès emporte leurs souffrances…
…Et pourtant à la veille du Jours des Défunts, comme par enchantement, des fleurs apparaissent sur ces tombes oubliées comme un nouveau printemps au goût du souvenir…

October 25, 2014

Urban Sketchers Badges - Very Smart!

During Sunday's sketch-day, I was given a big bag a badges to distribute to all my Urban Sketchers Yorkshire members. They are cut from acetate and look really smart:

Several members asked me what the relevance of the design is and I had to admit that I had no idea. It was the subject of much debate over lunch, but nobody came up with a particularly good answer. Can anyone put us out of our misery?

Thanks so much to Mike, who is actually part of the Manchester Usk group, but who is also having a bit of a fling-on-the-side with us Yorkshire folk. A mate of his, who has a bit of sheet-cutting machinery, made the badges with a big lump of left-over acetate and so both the Manchester and Yorkshire groups are now properly labelled!

Bet you're all jealous...

Carnets de Voyages in Toulouse

A few months ago, I received an email asking if PeF and I would be interested in showing our sketches of Istanbul and the Occupy Gezi protests in a carnets de voyages group exhibition in Toulouse. It didn't seem real at first, but as time went by, we realised that it was indeed happening, and now we've only got two weeks left until the event!

The exhibition, which centres around the theme of "The Orient", was one of the reasons that led us to take a nearly two-month long road trip through Eastern Turkey with our sketchbooks— the results of which I will share here, after Toulouse— but here's a preview of my sketches:

I am excited to say that our sketches, and some of my large-scale ink drawings, will be on display along with the work of Maya Andersson, Frédéric Rudant, Christophe Pons, and the Atelier multimédia Bellegarde, from November 6th until December 30th. If you happen to be in town on November 6th, please join us for the opening at 19:00.

October 24, 2014

Night out

I have not posted in quite a while due to a rather busy schedule not allowing me to get out much and draw...however, I have been making drawings whenever time allows. Here are two drawings I made while on the NY/NJ PATH train this past Thursday.

Hope to get some others scanned and uploaded soon!

-Greg Betza

October 23, 2014

In which Holmes Creates a Painting in the Rain, or: The Case of the Vanishing Castle


We arrived at Ithaca New York later than we had hoped, due to no greater misadventure than leaving Montreal too late in the day. Ongoing activities being so pressing, Holmes had been up to the wee hours inscribing books - which are even now being dispatched to the far corners of the earth.

10Oct22_Ithaca_Sketchcrawl_0310Oct22_Ithaca_Sketchcrawl_04 copy 

After meeting our group of temporary Ithacans at the strictly functional Trip Hotel, and finding them a most congenial battalion of scribblers, we attempted a late night scouting mission. Despite the pitchest dark, and an unusual density of spiders clinging to the guard rail of the Thurston avenue bridge, we were able to confirm a suitable view of the Triphammer falls.

 Imagine our dismay the following morning, after an insipid packaged breakfast at our inn, to find the day morosely overcast and insistently raining. Worse yet, the subject of our investigation, the ruined foundry, was not found to be artfully crumbling onto the gorge - but in fact - vanished without trace. No doubt spirited away by diligent engineers, myopically choosing public safety over what is eternal in art.

10Oct22_Ithaca_Triphammer Falls_Detail 

Not in the least dispirited by this turn of events, Holmes set to work with a briskly applied will, exclaiming that he had always meant to conduct an experiment watercoloring in the rain, and this vanished castle debacle was to be his opportunity.

10Oct22_Ithaca_Triphammer Falls 

I will leave it to you, dear readers, to determine - is the evidence of continual drizzle visible in the work? Holmes himself feels, even if it could be considered somewhat smeary by critics, the vicissitudes of nature do not detract in this document of the day.

It should also be said, the thorough soaking visited on the genuine cotton rag paper (provided by the Italian, Fabriano), allowed the work to be pressed below a stack of (inscribed) books overnight, granting a perfectly flat sheet by the second morning.


For the remainder of the expedition, Holmes continued to infuriate one and all with his antisocial manner and continual scratchings. Adding tirelessly to his encyclopedic collection of oddities found in leaf-strewn campus courtyards and dusty regional museums.

10Oct22_Ithaca_Sketchcrawl_0510Oct22_Ithaca_Sketchcrawl_06 10Oct22_Ithaca_Museum_00 10Oct22_Ithaca_Museum_03 10Oct22_Ithaca_Museum_02 10Oct22_Ithaca_Museum_01 

For whatever reason this unrelenting chore included a forced march one hour away (and another back) to observe the methods of the glass workers in Corning NY. A task I am unclear as to the value of, but which seemed satisfactory to the artist, for reasons he may disclose in the upcoming weeks.


Hemingway's Cuba

In late May, Patti and I had the opportunity to travel with the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center on a cultural exchange to Cuba.  The theme, fitting for the museum, was "Hemingway's Cuba," and the tour focused on the writer's life from 1939 to 1960, when he made Cuba home to his life and work.  Of course, the sketchbook was my passport and constant companion.  We spent time in Havana, Cienfuegos, and Trinidad, and traveling the countryside in between.

As an artist and an academic, I've long been interested in the intersection of place and creativity:  the cities, towns, landscapes and experiences that inspire ideas and great works.  Hemingway very purposefully sought out places conducive to his writing—Paris and Key West, among others—but he lived and worked in Cuba longer than in any other setting.  As always, sketching allowed me to more deeply see and experience these locales, and to document a personal response to the places we encountered.  

The heart of Old Havana.  Hemingway knew these streets well, and was a regular for the mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio.

Hemingway wrote parts of many his novels from room 511 in the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Old Havana.

Hemingway's writing studio at his home outside Havana, Finca Vigia, was a surprise gift from his fourth wife.  He preferred to write in the bedroom, where his typewriter still waits.

A house in a central Havana neighborhood reflects its original opulence and the day-to-day realities of post-revolution life.

From October 27-November 14, s
ixteen of my watercolor sketches will be on exhibition at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, near the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, whose family essential underwrote Hemingway's career and lifestyle during his most productive years. These watercolor sketches offer my own authentic look at today’s Cuba, where past and present intertwine, and at many of the largely unchanged settings that fueled Hemingway’s imagination and some of his best writing.


Nowadays known as New Zealand crane capital,  Christchurch is a fast changing city, behind this fence will pop out the new central bus station but for now what interested me was this patchwork on the background.

October 22, 2014

Pondering over The Thinker

I sketched this gigantic Thinker by Auguste Rodin at the Cantor Museum on the campus of Stanford University. This little gem of a museum has loads of pieces by Rodin, including many of the small studies for his Gates of Hell sculpture.

Initially I wanted to sketch this piece from a more classic side angle, but the museum guards wouldn’t let me stand there ( I never figured why). But I’m glad I had to stand where I did, sort of in the back: it was quite a dramatic sight with this monumental piece looking down on the museum-goers.

I really enjoyed contrasting the size, solidity and permanence of this sculpture with the relatively small and fleeting viewers.