May 31, 2018

Sketchwork Moved!

Please visit Sketchwork at After 12 years with Blogger, I am incorporating my blog into my website because the interface on Weebly is easier to deal with and has apps for iPad and my phone. It's a little glitchy, but it just makes it easier to post and so hopefully I'll post more? Hope to see you over there. I'll leave this here as long as Blogger lets me.

May 12, 2018

A Story about Pens

I drew this story about some kids who live behind us and make me think about the backyard I spent most of my childhood in. When I draw stories like this, I usually use diluted sumi ink for the grays, Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 black pens, Pentel brush pen and Pentel ink brush pen.

I came to love the Sakura Pigma Sensei after my husband bought a pack of different sizes for me to try out. Though I have my favorites, I do try to use new materials to see what else is out there. In that spirit, I recently bought some new brush pens from I love the Pentel brush pen, but sometimes wonder if I would get more use out of a brush pen that had a little less give.

The Pilot Fude-Makase acts more like a felt tip pen than a brush pen, which I like. It doesn’t have too much give, allowing for a lot of control. It felt good to use it so I started using it on this drawing.

Before using it on the drawing, and really before buying it, I should have paid attention to the specifications and noticed it was neither waterproof nor lightfast. I painted over the pen marks with diluted sumi and noticed the ink running. I thought maybe the ink needed more time to dry so I came back later and tried again. It still ran, and turned a pinkish/purplish color that indicates a dye-based ink that will likely discolor when exposed to light (based on my previous experience with non-lightfast pens).

This story drawing lives in a sketchbook, so it won’t see the light of day very much. But just to be sure – because I really like the lines and marks from these pens – I made this chart. (If you have taken a class from me you know I love charts!) I went over the ink with water immediately after making the marks, again after an hour, and again the next day.
The verdict is that while using this pen did not ruin my drawing at all, it will not be a sketching pen or a story-drawing pen for me. But it will be a writing pen! It works beautifully in my Moleskine Cahier notebook (I prefer unlined), which I use for personal notes, so there is no water involved and I won’t mind if it eventually fades. Verdict number two is that I need to pay more attention when I buy stuff.

May 09, 2018

Testing a New Blogging App

Have we reached the point in technology when a small laptop feels too cumbersome? I may have. Lately I just want to use my iPad for everything. I can also draw on it, so that just makes it better than a laptop, right? In trying a bigger switch to smaller technology, I am testing a new app. Let’s see if this works!

Here’s a sketch from several weeks ago on a visit to the Memphis Botanic Gardens made with Pentel brush pen, watercolor and colored pencils, in a Stillman & Birn Alpha.

March 27, 2018

#oneweek100people But Later than Everyone Else

Another round of #oneweek100people took place the week of March 5 through 9 (that's right - just five days in that week!) and I participated, sort of. It was my last week at my old job so it was a bit hectic. And I kept coming across more bananas and birds than people - it was a weird week.

But just as I've done in other #oneweek100people challenges, I ended up drawing way more people than I would have otherwise.

Final count: 32 people, two bananas, ten birds and two dogs.

March 26, 2018

Sketching Memphis, 5 to 10 Minutes at a Time

My new office is right next door to the Dixon Gallery and Gardens and every day I park facing the trees and the bushes that are just starting to flower. Today I had a few minutes to capture the tulips visible through the trees.

I stopped at the dry cleaners on my way home from work and noticed what looks like a demolition sign in front of this great 1960s building on Poplar just east of Perkins. I honestly hate to think of what will be put up in its place. Commercial architecture ain't what it used to be.

(Click image for more detail.)

March 02, 2018

In New Orleans for Mardi Gras!

It surprises me that I'm the type of person who likes to travel with a lot of people, but here I was on my ninth or tenth trip with a bunch of people. We went to New Orleans for the first weekend of Mardi Gras. Five of us in one house, two in another, and two more in a hotel.

I've really trained these people to just deal with me sketching during a lunch stop or at a bar.

The house we stayed in was so nice. It gave each of us enough privacy, but I could also hear when it was time to get up by the sound of someone else making coffee.

I rediscovered my love of the Lamy Safari right before this trip. I filled it with Noodler's 54th Massachusetts, a lovely waterproof blue-black.

No trip to New Oreans with this group is complete without a visit to Felix's. It's right across the street from Acme Oyster House, and dare I say better, even though I've never been to Acme because the line is always too long? Short if no lines at Felix's.

We went to the Chewbacchus Parade - love this one! We went a couple of years ago, and it's a big hit with this crowd. Several of us got our faces all glittered up, donned tiaras, and grabbed lots of goodies from the paraders. I just sketched, while my buddy Jimmy held an umbrella over me when it started raining.

On Sunday we just watched parades all day (and napped). We stayed off of Napolean and were close enough to walk to St. Charles, an ideal location for parade watching. As I painted this I took breaks to catch beads. I even caught a cup!

Such a great time! (Click images for more detail.)

March 01, 2018

My Devil's Tower

Finally! I have wanted to make this for a year! I post a lot (A. Lot.) of pictures of this building on my Instagram account, and by extension on Facebook and Twitter. And sometimes people ask why. And sometimes it drives people crazy because I can't give a full answer. Well, here is your full answer to the question Why do you love the Clark Tower so much?

My Devil's Tower 2, ink and watercolor on paper (click image for more detail)

February 27, 2018

Sketch Walk Practice and Map Making

Last Saturday I went downtown to do a test run (walk) of a sketch walk that Memphis Urban Sketchers is having this Saturday, March 3, to commemorate MLK50 and the 1968 Sanitation Workers' Strike. For more information see the Memphis Urban Sketchers blog.

It was hot and rainy - weird for February 24, but our weather is nothing but weird lately. But I pulled on my rain jacket and hood and kept at it, even though my sketches and notes got quite smudged.

I made a map and a schedule for the day, showing the difference between our route and the original strikers' route. There's now a basketball arena where part of the route was.

Saturday I'll get more time to actually sketch, and I'm really looking forward to it!

February 15, 2018

Mixed Water Media Class at Flicker Street Studio

I am teaching a class at Flicker Street Studio in March and April called Mixed Water Media. This is a three-week class about working with a variety of water-based media and techniques to create a finished painting. It is inspired by what I learned from the late Bonnie Beaver.

I took mixed-media painting from Bonnie Beaver several times when working toward my art degree at the University of Memphis. She was always so full of energy and ideas. What sticks with me the most is the way she would coax art out of a mess of sprays and stencils and shapes.

These two paintings were from a series I made in Ms. Beaver's class some time in the mid 90s. I would put down a base of colors and shapes and then step back and see what the painting wanted next. It was fun to explore the materials and see what I could make happen.

In this class we will use water-based media such as watercolor, liquid watercolor and inks, Neocolor (water-soluble artist crayons), water-soluble graphite, Inktense sticks, maybe a little gouache, maybe a little gesso, and anything else that wants to be mixed with water. We will use stenciling, spraying, salt, and other ways to make texture. We’ll work on big paper (22” x 30”) moving from experiments to a finished piece.

I hope you’ll join me!

Click here to sign up at Flicker Street Studio.
Mixed Water Media with Elizabeth Alley
Thursday Evenings
6:00 - 9:00 pm
March 22nd - April 5th | 3 Sessions
$150 + $25 Materials fee | Beginner and up | Ages 15 +

February 01, 2018

Assignment for Myself: One Week 100 People

Since Sunday of this week I've been trying to sketch 100 people to warm up for sketching at Mardi Gras this weekend. I love this assignment because it gets me looking for people to sketch, and if there aren't any I end up sketching a car or a tree - the point is I end up sketching something.

I only made it up to 59 today... I wonder how many I can sketch in New Orleans over the next few days!

(Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook)
(click images for more detail)

January 25, 2018

Two Stories of Iceland

For the last year I've been working on this project, Two Stories of Iceland, a narrative exploration of Icelandic stories and landscape in small paintings and drawings.

It consists of a series of 16 ink drawings that tell the true story about a young woman who disappeared from Reykjavik last January, called Story of a Girl. I drew the version of the story - the search, investigation, and the impact this event had on the community - that lived in my head as I followed the developments in the Iceland Review.

Another series is of a trip I took to Iceland in 2015 with my best friend, who is Icelandic, and our families. As I tell the story of the trip in small paintings and drawings, I relive the trip obsessively.

I did most of this obsessively, as that is my modus operandi, plus I can't figure out how to do things any other way.

I hope you'll come see the show at Crosstown Arts (in Crosstown Concourse). It'll be up through March 11.

I also hope you'll come back here to see if I post more sketches - I hope I do! I plan to do another #oneweek100people next week, but just on my own and will try to post my sketches :)

Sketchwork Moved!

Please visit Sketchwork at . After 12 years with Blogger, I am incorporating my blog into my website becaus...