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As reported earlier, last weekend I went to Seattle and met up with a bunch of illustration friends to see the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. My travel through the art exhibit periodically intersected with a tour group, and the leader of the tour did a great job of talking not only about the art but the scandalous love life of the painter (many of his models were his lovers, so it was the back-story behind the paintings and therefore fairly relevant). Picasso, from what I gathered, could be a first-class jerk both to his lovers and to his friends. Yet something—his bravado, his genius, his pheromones, his fame?—kept a steady supply of beautiful young women doting on him.

Dora Maar

This 1937 portrait of Dora Maar was the painting that I stared at for the longest of anything in the exhibit.Read more...Collapse )

Picasso: an overview in sketches.

This past weekend I headed to the Seattle Art Museum with the Northwest Chapter of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators, to see the Picasso exhibit. The exhibit was good, though the crowds were dense even with timed tickets. I tried the audio tour twice, but turned it back off almost immediately both times. There were too many interesting conversations that I was having with my fellow illustrators about the work, not to mention the internal conversations between myself and Picasso’s art.


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Nature sketchbook workshop

This past Saturday, I co-taught a class in nature sketchbooks at Mount Pisgah Arboretum with the marvelous Kris Kirkeby. We focused on shading, composition, and tips & tricks for getting work done fast when the weather is shifting! (The weather shifted in a fortunate way, I'm happy to say--though I got positively drenched heading to the workshop early in the morning, by the time we finished our lunch break and hit the trails, the sky was blue with just traces of ornamental clouds passing by. Couldn't have asked for better!)

I don't have a lot of great sketches since I was focusing on the talky-talk stuff, but I thought I'd share a few the doodles that I did whack out through the day:

We had a written-out list of attendees, but I found it much more useful on the trails to refer to these silly sketches to make sure we were all still together.

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Mushroom Festival: the final art

This past Sunday was the 29th annual Mushroom Festival at Mount Pisgah Arboretum. In earlier posts, I showed chunks of the early planning stages of the artwork for the poster. In the interest of closure, here's a slideshow that goes through all the layers of sketches through to the final art. (It's all drawn in Photoshop, with different layers of artwork turned on and off as they get progressively refined.)

From here, the artwork was put into the poster format and taped up all around town:
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autumn sunshine

Oh my goodness, so far this autumn has been about as much of a whirlwind as summer was! Never a dull moment, I can be thankful for that. Have a big backlog of images to upload and share, but I'll start with the most recent and straightforward story:

Yesterday was sunny, and some friends and I biked out to the rose garden to sketch. My attention went first to the explosion of color in the autumn trees.

But then I noticed that my companions were doing a great job of unconsciously holding their focused-on-drawing poses.
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Poster Update: a question of scale

Still working on refining the art for the Mushroom Festival poster into its final format. Last night I was kind of regretting the choice of a habitat that was so strewn with tiny needles from the western hemlock tree. While it's an accurate choice of habitat for the witch's hat mushroom, it's a bit of a chore to draw all those needles.


But while I was working on the needles, I started to worry--are the needles on the tree coming out the same size as the fallen needles on the ground? And are the needles on the ground drawn to the proper scale with the mushrooms, and the slug? Yikes. Best to make sure it's all the correct size before we get it too pretty.

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Slugs in space

OK, the poster art for the witch's hat mushroom plus giant banana slug is gradually slithering towards a nicer presentation. The crude sketch where I settled on arrangement and color scheme, here...


...is being converted to an isolated but tidy array of mushrooms and slug bits floating through space, as if they were experiencing zero-gravity inside a very white, uncluttered space capsule.


Slowly but surely. And the next morning, we start to eliminate the void:


Stepping back for a second

Fun as it was to post messy color sketches of the early Mushroom Festival poster drafts last night, it's only fair to rewind a bit to show the earlier steps of the process.

Step One: Go to the local jug band music festival and flop on the lawn with a sketchbook.


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It's early yet

Working on a rough draft of the poster for this year's Mushroom Festival. My first thought was to share the fun b+w doodles in my sketchbook, done while reading through all the field guides to learn the true nature of Hygrocybe conica. But no, that would be too simple. Instead, here's an incredibly ugly color scribble as I try to decide where to go with the composition. Ha!


Bwa ha ha ha.

Edited to add:

Sketches are shaping up better with more time. Only I think my slug is out of scale. If the cap of the witch's hat mushroom measures about 5 cm, and the length of a banana slug is about 20 cm, my layout shouldn't look like this...


...but rather, like this!


Hmm. It seems that there are previously unforeseen disadvantages to living in the land of giant slugs.

Why sketch when you can take a camera?

Went hiking last weekend with some friends in the lovely Brice Creek area of Oregon. Shady canyon dominated by towering trees, really lovely scenery. We all stopped on the trail to admire a gorgeous specimen of Indian pipe (aka ghost plant) growing precariously along the slope. The ghostly-white flowering stalks were really stunning. Dang, let's take a picture of that!

Well, deeply shaded canyons with massive stands of hemlock and Douglas fir trees overhead are dark. Though the human eye adjusts and it seems perfectly easy to see, our cameras where having a hard time of it.



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