October 31, 2014

There is no Cure for Grandmother : Sketching on Location for Science Quebec Magazine


I've recently been drawing on location at a residential home for people with Alzheimer's disease. I was there on behalf of Science Quebec Magazine, gathering drawings for their article There is no Cure for Grandmother. You can order the issue in e-format [here]. (In French). Puzzles_Color
I spent a day with the residents, sitting with them and seeing the daily routine. Most of the day are the normal things; having meals and taking medications. Getting a blood pressure checkup. Therapists visit at various times of the day, doing brain-training exercises that range from picture puzzles, to helping residents garden, or even visiting with pets. Nap_Color Ladies on Couch_Color
I sat in a sunny living room with the residents, while they napped, watched Celine Dion singing on DVD, and quietly moved around in their own little world. Only some of them seem to be aware of each other as people. Talking occasionally, even if their friend did not talk back. One lady would speak only in Spanish, and one of the staff who was fluent would answer her when they were nearby. Lounge_Color
The residents were interested in what I was doing, and of course I showed them my drawings, pointing out who I was sketching. But I couldn't be sure how much they understood. One fellow was very happy to meet me, shaking hands and introducing himself, even though he only spoke French, and I only English.

The reality of their life was brought home, when he introduced himself again 10 minutes later and then again a third time. Just as happy to meet a new person each time.

I was left with the impression he was quite a salesman in his day. Had a charming handshake and hearty greeting. Sitting_Color
One of the ladies enjoyed walking around the inner courtyard, and would casually take your arm and walk you around and around the loop. She knew I was a new visitor, as she refused to walk with the other staff while I was there. Resting_Color
For the artists who will likely ask - these are pencil sketches in a 11x14" drawing pad, transferred by scan-and-printing to watercolor paper and painted in the studio.  I did not do color on location, partially because they were for print, but mostly I didn't want to bring paints and water into the house. I have done some color adjustments (fading back a bit), and added the thrown paint spots digitally.


Italy: sketches from TBDI 2014, international travel bloggers' conference in Rimini

It would have been a dream come true, if I could have ever thought of dreaming it: an invitation for a  trip to Italy, expenses paid, to participate in a conference organized by the Italian tourism industry earlier in October. Why? Because I sketch when I travel and I blog about it!  More about this here,
since there's no sense in taking up USK space to tell the story again.
It was a very busy and very worthwhile few days, but I managed to get some sketching done at the conference:

After the conference, I visited the magnficent Dolomites with two dear friends who live in Italy. I have sketches from that visit to share later, but here is one of... food! They don't call it la dolce vita for nothing!

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, Kadashi, 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.
I was able to find time to sketch on  the only dry day this week.  Here is a sketch of The Sine Wave wood sculpture by W. Scott Trimble appropriately located in the plaza between the Physics and Astronomy buildings on the UW Campus. 

October 28, 2014

Urban Sketchers Sao Paulo Back On Track

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.