My Sketchbook

Arizona sketches

I took a road trip to my old stomping grounds in Arizona to visit my Mom for mother’s day.  Saturday, we spent the afternoon down at Tempe Town Lake, enjoying the sunshine (translate=getting sunburn), throwing ketchup packets at pigeons (they were trying to steal my fries!), and just relaxing.

I recently lost my beloved fountain pen  (waaaah!), so I had to find a replacement for her.  I bought a new one at Aaron brothers, but ended up with a much broader nib that I like. But I thought I’d try and see if I can make it work. I did a sketch of the Mill Ave bridge that crossed over Tempe Lake. The results were…interesting. Not in love with it, but it is a different look than my normal sketches. Also, the ink is NOT waterproof, so that means no watercolors over it.

Mill Ave Bridge, Tempe

On the way home to California, since I was by myself, and in no major rush to get home, I stopped at a rest area about 50 miles from the border to do some more sketching. It was reeeally windy, and I must have looked pretty funny perched on the top of a fence post, with my sketchbook and watercolors in my lap.  I wouldn’t have been surprised to have been blown off the post, it was so gusty. But I manged to get a quick painting of the Kola mountain range before climbing down.

Kola Moutains, Arizona

There were so many times on the drive home, that I wished I could pull over on the side of the highway, and sit and paint for a while.  But alas…the little voice of common sense in my head (that unsurprisingly sounds a lot like my mother) told me it would not be a good idea. So instead I tried to capture some really good mental images to store for later paintings.

Day at the Del

A few weekends ago, Clint and I drove down to Coronado to attend a friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful day, absolutely gorgeous, and just perfect for getting married outside. I had some time to kill before the wedding started, so I pulled out the trusty sketchbook.  I love the way the sun was making the red roof of the hotel just light up a fiery red.

I must have looked a little odd, all dressed up, and standing there with my sketchbook. I had another wedding guest wander over and stand behind me to watch over my shoulder. “Don’t mind me…I just wanted to see what you were doing.”  Its a good thing I’ve gotten over my fear of having strangers watch me draw.


Sketchbook: tough-guys and donuts

Last weekend, my mother-in-law came to visit, and on a wet and rainy evening, we happened to drive past a Krispy Kreme.

“Look! The ‘Hot Now!’ sign is lit!” she exclaimed in delight. Well, of course we stopped and went in.

As I was sitting at the table waiting for my husband and his Mom to come back with their coffee and donuts, I noticed a man standing at the counter.  A rather large man, his shirt straining to keep all those beefy muscles under wraps.  His arms were crossed in a very “Don’t come near me or I might eat you” attitude. And it just struck me as hilarious, because…well…he was waiting for a doughnut.  You can put out all the tough guy attitude you want, but dude, you’re in a Krispy Kreme…buying a doughnut. It makes it a little harder to take you seriously as you lick glaze off your fingers.

Note, that I did not say any of this to face (nor show him his pretty drawing), cause I was fairly certain he could kick my ass and hang onto his fresh doughnut without breaking a sweat.  Stupid I am not.

So, a frenchman walks into a bar…

Let me begin by saying…I love my husband. So very much. No one is more supportive of me and my art. He is usually the first person I show my art to, and the one whose opinion usually matters the most.

Being married to an artist is not always easy. Or should I say, being married to me can be a real pain in the butt some times.  I’m an artist, a geek, a girl, and often times…a four year old who wants her way NOW.

One of the “fun” benefits of being married to me is being subject to my artistic whims. Which means if you happen to be sitting across the table, couch, or room from me when I decide to draw, you must sit there and be drawn.  You cannot escape me. (Strangely, I’ve started to notice my friends and family refusing to sitting in my line of sight when I have the sketchbook out. Whats up with that…?)

Over the years, Clint has been the victim *cough* subject of  many sketches.  I have a giant life sized drawing of Clint on purple paper, as my final project in figure drawing class in college.  I have drawings of Clint playing video games. I have ugly drawings of Clint that looking nothing like him at all, and pictures drawn in crayon. I even have a picture of the SHAPE (just the shape) of Clint’s head…drawn on a napkin, at a wedding, after a few glasses of champagne.  I was trying to make a point. (LOOK! YOU HAVE A UNIQUE SHAPED HEAD! ISN’T THAT COOL?) Anywhoo…

Clint has gotten used to me drawing around him over the years.  The embarrassment has worn off for the most part.  Take your wife to a sports bar pizza joint to watch the game, and what does she do? Cheer for the wrong team? No.  Spill beer all over some one? No. She pulls out her watercolors and starts drawing the bald guy sitting in front of her. Sigh.

Picture it for a moment.  Our evenings out go something like this: We arrive at a lovely English pub, and get seated a our booth. Clint pulls out the menu to decide what beer he wants. I pull out my sketchbook and pen.  Clint looks up from the menu to find me staring at him intently…in a really creepy way…while drawing furiously in the book.

“Really?” he says with a sigh.

“But…the red wall behind you! Its sooo red!”

Now one of two things happens. He will either decide to ignore me and return to the menu, OR he will start making funny faces and wiggling around in his seat. I prefer to be ignored, though the funny faces make for a more entertaining picture.

After a while, I will put down the pen. Usually around the time our food arrives.

“So, do I get my wife back now?”

“Yes,” I say grumpily (see comment earlier about a four year old).

Now he wants to see the drawing I just completed of him. I hand it over for inspection.

He starts laughing.

“What is this? I look like some french dude. Posing for one of those weird french paintings!”

“Hey!” I grab the book back from him in a huff. “You do not!”*

He laughs and starts making weird…french…noises. “Ah-huh-huh. Oh chante! I should be drinking a cappuccino!” And proceeds to make sipping motions with his hand while holding his pinkie in the air.

This is when the evening falls apart. I throw my pen cap at him, which ends up under the table, and the dinner winds to a close with Clint, the waitress, and I on our hands and knees looking for the missing pen cap with a cellphone flashlight.

And this, boys and girls, is why I’m not allowed out for parties and get-togethers. Because inevitably, pen caps will fly, and someone French will be offended.

Clint at the olde ship

*He really does look like a guy in weird French painting. Sigh.
Clint in college: 2002
College, 2002. Clifford the dinosaur.
Probably around 2005. Big lips.
Assasin's creed, 2007
Video game hands, 2005
Late night at Denny's, 2009
Lunch at olive garden, 2009
Video games at Grandma Burke's, Thanksgiving 2009
Football at sports bar, 2011

My Giraffe-thingy (Sketchcrawl #30)

Dinosaurs January 22 was the 30th World Wide Sketch crawl. The Los Angeles group decided to visit the Natural History Museum.  I’d never visited before, so I was particularly excited to go.  [Interesting side note: I’ve discovered over the last year or two that I have really high expectations when it comes to museums/aquariums/etc.  This unfortunately(fortunately?) comes from having grown up near some really awesome museums during my formative years (The Smithsonian in DC, the Aquarium at the Harbor, Science Center).  In my head, I’ve just thought that ALL museums were this awesome. You can understand my disappointment when I started giving other locations as an adult and realized how lucky I had been.]

The NHM was a really neat place to go and draw.  There was a pretty large turn out of other artist from the area.  It was a hoot to see a large gaggle of artist, huddled around the dinosaur display, sketchpads out.  Watching the other visitors was even cooler, as they tried to figure out what was going on.

The rotundraI kept to myself for the most part, since this trip was supposed to be my Artist Date for the week (Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way).  I wanted to feel the complete freedom to go where I wanted, and linger as long as I wanted.

I loved the animal exhibits. Drawing animals is sooo much easier knowing that they won’t be moving on you. You know, being dead and stuffed an all.

A few nights before this, I had a typical “Crazy Megan” dream (as my husband calls them) involving a cabin in the woods,  aliens, and a weird looking animal–a strange mixture between a zebra and giraffe.  I wrote this the next morning after I woke up: “Last night I dreamed up this giraffe like creature, but with tan and brown stripes like, a zebra’s.   Maybe my giraffe-thingy lives in the jungle. It would have have short fir because of the humidity.  Not a long neck, cause he can’t reach the tree tops.  So maybe he grazes, like a deer. I’ll try and draw it later.” I wish I HAD drawn it, but I didn’t. And now I have no pictorial proof of my awesome idea.

And then, while drawing in one of the animal exhibits at the NHM…   There it was.

My Giraffe-thingy.  It was REAL.

I stood there in complete shock, reading the description on the plaque: “Okapis are the only living relatives of the the giraffe.  Despite their large size, they were weren’t discovered until 1901.  The have foot-long blue tongues that they use to strip leaves and buds from trees, and also to clean their eyelids and ears!”

All I could think was this: MY BRAIN IS AWESOME. I IMAGINED IT AND IT CAME TO LIFE!!  Well, not really life, since this particular giraffe-thingy was very dead. And stuffed. But still.

Too bad I wasn’t actually alive in 1901 to claim the credit that I was due.

Animal exhibits

A day at Disneyland

Thunder mountain This past Saturday, I got to spend the day at Disneyland with my sister Christy and my mom, to celebrate Mom’s 65th birthday.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day in southern California. Not too hot, the sun was shinning, the sky was blue…   We spend ALL day at the park. For Christy, it was almost 20 years since the last time she’s been to Disneyland. It always amazes me how many things in the park change…and how many stay the same.  Christy @ DisneylandThe park has such a timeless quality to it that I love.

I didn’t do very much sketching since we were running around all day, but I did get these two quick drawings done.  One just outside Thunder Mountain Railroad, and one of Christy while we were eating some ice cream in the Gibson Girl Parlor.

The First Christmas

I have always been fascinated with Mary.   What kind of woman would be trusted to raise the Son of God?  Jesus was completely human while still being completely God, so I imagine his birth was like any other.  It hurt like heck, was tiring and messy. And yet, knowing that the baby you were giving birth to was also a Savior–what an odd and fascinating combination of circumstances.

I image that she was more than just a little awed and terrified on that first Christmas morning.  A first time mother, not to just any baby, but to the SON of GOD.  It must have been just a tab overwhelming.

This is why I’ve tried drawing her a few times over the years. I’ve wanted to try and capture that strange tension that must have been her life…joy…fear…wonder…stress.

The pencil drawing is from around 2000.  I wanted to try and capture her, moments before labor begins. She and Joseph have arrived in Bethlehem, and she is exhausted from the journey.

The painting at the top is from my sketchbook.  I put some watercolors over a quick ink drawing, inspired mainly by a baby I was observing during church.  Joseph is in the background.  Now THERE is another fascinating person I’d love to have a cup of tea with some day.  How many more times can I say fascinating in this post?

Sketchbook: Aug 6-8

Olde Ship 8-6-10 Friday evening after work, Clint and I met some friends at the Olde Ship, in Fullerton.  It was really busy in downtown Fullerton because of the monthly art walk.  We had to wait a while for a table, the place was packed.  I was able to do a very quick sketch of Sean, the bartender.  It was hard really to capture him with how much he was moving around, making drinks.

After an hour or so, we got a booth in the corner.  My two favorite things at the Olde Ship are the clam chowder, and the fruit of the forest pie (warm!) with ice cream.  Wouldn’t recommend having them together at the same time, but both are sooo delicious.  It was nice just to chill out with friends and enjoy good company.

On Saturday, we went to a BBQ over at Crock’s (from Zeitronix) in Long Beach.  The smoked ribs were to die for, and as it got dark outside, I did a sketch of the backyard and the colorful chinese lanterns. I think over all, Clint had a great birthday!

Chinese laterns

Worldwide sketchcrawl 28

IMG_2749 On Saturday, I participated in my first sketch crawl. (A sketch crawl is day/time set aside for drawing, usually at a specific locale.) I joined the Los Angeles group at Hollywood and Highlands, and had a delightful time! We met around the fountain, and stayed in that area for most of the late morning. It was great to meet a bunch of new folks, and share in the experience with them.  I loved watching other people’s reactions as they walked by us.  Particularly the kids, who seemed to be drawn (ha!) to the artistic energy. I watched one little boy stand over Ivan’s shoulder for a good five minutes…leave, and then come back again.  He was completely fascinated by what was going on, but couldn’t seem to work up the courage to ask any questions.

IMG_2748 IMG_2752 IMG_2753 IMG_2755

I stayed with the group until lunch, and then had to duck out to meet up with my husband and his folks, who were in town visiting for the weekend. I didn’t get as many drawings done as I thought I would, but I had so much fun.  I think I will be back next time it rolls around. Note to self: next time, bring a hat.

Here are some of my sketches from the day:

Sketch crawl 28: hollywood highlands Sketch crawl 28: tree Sketch crawl 28: people Sketch crawl 28: boiling crabSketch crawl 28: LA skyline

Other sketchers:

The Cat and the Custard Cup

The Cat & Custard Cup restaurantLast night Clint and I finally went in and had dinner at a place that I’ve driven by a hundred times. And almost every time, I think to myself: I HAVE to go in there.  The name itself is enough to draw me in: “The Cat and the Custard Cup.”  Add the ivy covered English front,  and hand-painted-looking sign, and how could I resist?  The inside of the place exceeded my expectations.  It was decorated with old English furniture and fabrics.  I felt like I was stepping into an classy English pub.  In the middle of La Habra?!  I felt a little weird pulling out my pen and sketchbook, but I couldn’t resist with so much eye candy to look at.  But I was able to get most of the details drawn before our food arrived.  I took a quick picture with Clint’s camera for color reference, though I ended up painting from memory.  Will definitely have to go back for more.

San Jose del Cabo trip recap

Map of San Jose del CaboLAX A month ago, I spent a week down in San Jose del Cabo with my husband Clint and his family.  We had a direct flight out of LAX, to San Jose.

I love traveling with my husband, we rarely fight or get too stress.  We’ve pretty much mastered the techniques for getting through security as painlessly as possible, EVEN when we get selected for secondary screening, which happens often since we are often flying standby.  While waiting to board our flight, I did a quick sketch of the boarding area.  I think the gentlemen in the blue shirt  got a little suspicious of what I was doing.  He kept staring at me for most of the time I was drawing.  Most likely, he was trying to figure out what I was doing.  Hopefully he wasn’t a mob boss, and was planning on having me wacked for capturing his likeness.

Mexi-coke On the flight, I got to enjoy a refreshing “Mexi-coke.”  The Coke bottled in Mexico is made using real sugar, instead of corn syrup like we do in the states.  As a result, I believe it takes slightly better than our Coke in the US.  Most likely, it is all in my head.  But it was fun to see the World Cup hype in Spanish.  The flight from LA to del Cabo is about three hours. Just long enough to get started on a good book, or watch a movie.

San Jose del Cabo airport bar

Our flight arrived before Clint’s folks.  So we relaxed in the small airport bar.  The NBA finals were playing on the TV (Boston vs Orlando).  San Jose del Cabo airport it a tiny place, with two baggage carousals, but the moment you walk out the door into the terminal, you are bombarded by men trying to sell you rental cars, and have you sign up to visit their time shares.  We’ve had to walk this gauntlet every time we’ve landed in Cabo.  I’ve always imagined that there were always there, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourist just off the plane.  But what I never considered was the small number of flights that arrive in this tiny airport on a daily basis.  There might be one every few hours.  Max.  So what do these eager salesmen do while they are waiting for the next flight of fresh meat to come in? They sit at the bar, drink beer, and watch the NBA finals.

Grand Mayan satuesWe stayed at the Grand Mayan Resort.  The Grand Mayan in San Jose is not as large as the one in Puerto Vallarta, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in style and comfort.  To enter the hotel, you first have to pass through a dark, vaulted, marble room.  As you look up, and up, at two very large statues of a Mayan man and woman, you hear drums and White treeflutes playing in the background.  I half expected to get attacked by a raiding party every time I passed through the gates.  All in all, it made for a very cool first impression.

twin dragons My favorite part of the resort was, of course, the pool.  Nothing says vacation like being served a Pina Colada, while floating in the water next to a giant stone dragon.  And that is pretty much what I did for the whole week.  It was hot enough outside that it was just a little too uncomfortable laying around, unless you were fresh out of the pool.

I spent most of the week lathered in SPF 80+ sunscreen, and I still managed to bet fairly burned.  And thanks to the Irish blood in me, my body doesn’t know how to tan, but just likes to burn, and peel.  And freckle.

Pool at Grand Mayan

Rancho de Costa After spending two days in San Jose, we took a road trip north to a little sea side village called Bahia de los Suenos, or “Bay of Dreams.”  The funny thing is, it used to be called Bahia de los Muertos, “Bay of the Dead,” but they changed the name so that tourists wouldn’t be scared away. Personally, I find “Bay of the Dead” much more interesting.

We were invited to stay at a lovely place called Rancho de Coasta, by a friend of Clint’s father.  This place was truly breath taking, sitting right on the beach, over looking the most beautiful blue water I have ever seen.

Seal sunbathing We went swimming and fishing and snorkeling. We lounged by the pool, ate fresh fish tacos, and guacamole, and grilled steaks.  I went fishing with Clint on the second day there, caught a few fish that were good for eating, and of course, a pelican…or two.  I can’t seem to get away from them.  I must look like a push over.

We headed back down the Baja, to the Grand Mayan.  The day before we left, we took a trip down to Cabo San Lucas, the town at the very tip of the Baja, for lunch at our favorite restaurant, “The Office.”  This place is NOT an office, nor is it at all associated with the NBC TV show. Stringfellows at the Office It is a ocean front restaurant, that served the yummiest garlic crab, and margaritas.  And by ocean front, I mean literally. Your feet are in the sand. Clint and I make it a point to get there every time we visit Cabo, and I order the crab every time.  Word of warning, if you should visit during Happy Hour…you will not be walking in a straight line when you leave.  Their drinks are HUGE, and will last you all day.

El Arco Full moon over ocean

Maryland trip

LAX I flew out to Maryland to visit friends and family for a long weekend.  I flew on a standby pass, so I had some time to kill while waiting in the airport for a flight.  I pulled out my sketchbook and trusty fountain pen, and had enough time to capture some of the other passengers waiting to board their flight.

It was unusually hot for the east coast, but I didn’t mind at all.  The humidity was actually a nice change from California’s predicable dry nice weather.  I really enjoyed the thunderstorm that rolled in Saturday evening.  We very rarely get genuine thunderstorms in southern California, and I forgot just how much I missed them.

From the airport, I had lunch with my family at a great place in Eldersburg called Habbi’s Kabobs.  Its a little hole in the wall, but has great Persian food.  Waiting for our food to arrive, which took quite a while, I entertained the family with my drawing.  It has become a joke among those who hang out around me for too long, that you never sit directly across from me, or in my line of sight, or you just might end up as the star of a sketch.

Habib's Kabobs

One of the things I love about the east coast, is just how green it is, even during a dry spell.  The foliage around Dad’s house was in full swing, and I couldn’t resist getting out the watercolors and doing a quick painting of the house.  Debbie's gardenI love this house, love the English country feeling of it.  Love sitting on the porch, with a cup of tea, listening to the birds, or watching the fireflies come out as the sun sets.  Debbie’s gardening just adds to the feel of the place.  A perfect combination of planning, and wildness, that fits perfectly in the quiet wooded house.   I wish I could say that I have even half as much success with planting.  But my small garden is very sad in comparison.

Farthest Out Dr

BWI sunriseFar too soon, it was time to head home.  The trip back to California took far longer than the trip out.  I have realized that flying standby in and out of BWI on United is hit or miss, since there are so few flights going to and from LAX.  I spend the day on Monday, starting bright and early waiting to get out on the limited non-stop flights.   Sadly, I had to spend an extra night in Carol County (oh, sniff sniff), before I was able to fly out on Tuesday. I was fortunate to get on a flight to Denver, and then on to LA.   As much as I love Maryland, I was very happy to get back to Clint, and my own comfy bed.

Denver to Orange County

Moleskine art

moleskineI just finished up filling my first moleskine sketchbook, so I thought I would can some of the pages and share them. I am disappointed with how little color is in most of the pages. I started off so well, and then kinda fizzled out with the watercolors/color pencils. Oh well.

Characters/People appearing in the pages:  Clint Stringfellow, The weird Coke creatures, Thunder Moutain, Little Red Riding Hood, Drew Sodestrom, Wall-e, Robert Deniro, and bunnies. Lots of bunnies.