Uncategorized

Summer Lingers On, Happily

Memorial Bridge1

Illustration: “Indian Summer on the Potomac River”, Watercolor and pen-and-ink on a quarter sheet of Arches rough watercolor paper (2017)

It’s becoming more important than ever these days to take breaks from your computer screen, from the daily jarring news… lest all the traumatic news somehow dangerously deplete you.  Fortunately around here, the glorious weather continues without the humidity of summer, making every day the perfect day to be outdoors.  The leaves are still mostly green and lit up like jewels with the sun’s light behind them.  On a day in the middle of the work week, a few kayakers moved silently on the glass-like surface of the Potomac River in downtown D.C.  (The watercolor above was done initially as a pen sketch on watercolor paper, as this watercolorist discovered too late while out walking that she had no water with her to use with paint.  It was finished up later.)

FDR 3

Photo of quote carved in stone at FDR memorial in Washington, D.C.

FDR 2

Photo of quote carved in stone at FDR memorial in Washington, D.C.

Nearby, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial adjacent to the glorious Tidal Basin, many quotes from the former president are carved in stone and most of them seem timely today.  How wonderful that they are here to remind the many visitors from across the country and around the world what our country stands for.

FDR !

Photo: Photo of quote at FDR memorial in Washington, D.C. 2017

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Uncategorized, urban sketching, Watercolor Painting

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Sketches

Few places in Washington, D.C. are more relaxing than the fountain area in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art.

NGA sculpture garden

Illustration: Watercolor and pen-and-ink on 5″x7″ Stonehenge “Colors” paper

As with most parks and museums in this city, entrance to the sculpture garden is free and it’s open until 7 p.m.  There is a patio restaurant and cafe to one side with indoor air-conditioned seating and ample outdoor seating.

NGAsculpturegarden2

Illustration: Stabilo sepia pencil (“aquarellable”) on Stonehenge “colors” 5″ x 7″ paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)

It’s all truly an oasis in the middle of a busy, politically fraught city…and so, yesterday, taking a break from some other concerns, I sat there a while, near the fountain, and practiced sketching some of the people, many of them apparently visitors to this usually beautiful and dignified city.  It’s restorative to see people of all backgrounds and walks of life enjoying the spray of water from the many jets of water criss-crossing the Sculpture Garden pool in huge arcs above.  It’s hard to see how they could leave this city with a bad impression if this garden is representative of their experiences.  And indeed many of the people I watched were in no hurry to leave, staying an hour or more.

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living in truth, Risk, Uncategorized, Uncertainty, urban sketching

Half-Truths and Lies

Events recently reminded me of sketches done while wandering in the halls of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. not so long ago.  This is an inspiring place which often is missed by visitors to the capital because it is not on the Mall. It is is a bit off the beaten path.  But in this Gallery is so much history, so much art, and so much that is astonishing.  It is a relaxing place too with lots of places to sit, including in a covered light- and plant-filled atrium.

tennyson

“A lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson Illustraton: Pencil sketch by Black Elephant Blog author of a bronze bust of Alfred Lord Tennyson sculpted by William Ordway Partridge and located in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Co-joined with the Smithsonian’s Museum of American Art (which is where I came across an intriguing bust of Alfred Lord Tennyson), this entire city block is devoted to the proud history and artistic accomplishments of the people of the United States, and visitors to the United States, right up to the present time.  Like the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, these two museums present powerful evidence of the fact that this nation is built on a pretty solid foundation, if only we would bother to understand and protect it.

With so much to keep up with these days, it’s more likely than not that we will pay inadequate attention to the requirements for this solid foundation–which is a huge risk that has been with us at least since the onset of the digital revolution.

In our social media-saturated world, we are more likely to be guilty of rushing to judgment than pausing long enough to try to understand what’s going on.  That’s why taking some time out to sit in the National Portrait Gallery can be helpful!  Sketching has a way of concentrating the mind at the same time that it opens us up to new perspectives.  At the National Portrait Gallery, you can bring your drawing tools right inside, and the atrium/courtyard is a perfect place to practice drawing people in motion too.

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Uncategorized, urban sketching

Memorial Day Weekend sketch or two

Venturing into Washington, D.C. on this Memorial Day weekend revealed a city full of  memorial observation underway in numerous ways, from bikers to skaters, and, then, more and more bikers.  Stationed in the middle of the intersection at 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue, facing towards the Lincoln Memorial, was a police officer keeping an eye out for pedestrians who regularly would step–past the bride and groom standing on the median strip!–into the path of the endless river of motorcycles.   The heat, noise, exhaust fumes, and crowds were overwhelming after only 20 minutes, so it was impossible not to feel sorry for this officer who stood there amidst it all without a speck of shade.

Rolling Thunder sketch

Illustration:  Watercolor and pen-and-ink sketch by Black Elephant Blog author

For those of us not on duty, however,  it was still possible to enjoy some cool breezes dining al fresco at a nearby restaurant  opposite this entrance to the George Washington University Park.

GWU university

Illustration: Watercolor and Platinum Carbon pen-and-ink sketch, “George Washington University,” by Black Elephant Blog author

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urban sketching

Guitar Player in the Park

Seemingly endless cloudy and rainy days gave way today to a spectacular afternoon.  In Dupont Circle Park in Washington, D.C.,  a man strummed songs on his guitar in a soothing way. The soft chords he played seemed to erase the sound of the traffic surrounding us.   Each melody was a well-known one to anyone around and listening to music in the 80’s.  The songs blended with the sound of the water falling from the fountain nearby. A perfect afternoon and venue for a quick sketch!  Hopefully the guitar player will return soon for an encore!  (And, hopefully, so will the sun!)

Dupont Sketch

Illustration: Watercolor and Platinum Carbon pen-and-ink sketch, “Dupont Circle Park,”  by Black Elephant Blog author

 

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Risk, Uncertainty

Sculpture Garden Night Skating Sketch

A very snowy  week is coming to an end, leaving wonderful winter scenes in its wake.

night skating on the mall

Illustration: Watercolor and pen-and-ink sketch,  “Night Skating in the National Gallery Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.”  by Black Elephant Blog author

With so much closed due to snow, there’s been time to experiment with night scenes in watercolor and to give “hot press” watercolor paper a whirl. It took a couple of tries to start to get the hang of the paper, with its smooth surface, but it’s fun.

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