Sketchbook: Loose Park Rose Garden

I’m going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and make a statement that some may find controversial: Kansas City has an under-appreciation of its park space. Sure, there are parks scattered here and there, but stop by on a weekday afternoon and you will find most completely empty. I think there’s a very good reason for this. Many of us have our own personal green spaces. Many folks have yards. Even in our modestly sized yard we have three garden beds and a patch of grass. What a luxury! Sometimes I look around at the outdoor space I have at my fingertips and think about how jealous the New York City me would have been.

However, there is one park we, as a whole, adore. Loose Park! Loose park has a little something for everyone—a playground, a pond with ducks, a walking path, tennis courts and of course, everyone’s favorite: the rose garden. Formally named the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden, it was dreamed up in 1931 by the Kansas City Rose Society. It’s one of the most coveted outdoor wedding venues in KC. The 150 different varieties of roses bloom throughout the summer, so no matter when you visit, you’re likely to take in some good smells.

Last Friday was absolutely gorgeous here in Kansas City, so I treated myself to a morning of sketching. As I sat there drawing and sipping my coffee I realized that I’ve unintentionally made this a biennial tradition. Posted below is my sketch from last Friday, one from 2017 and another from 2015. It’s interesting to see my style evolve. While I do appreciate the techniques used in each piece, I find it interesting that over the years I’ve grown to appreciate the interaction between the flowers and the structures in the garden more than just the plant themselves. Roses are such a beautiful flower, but I love how they have their dark (and pointy!) side as well.





Sketchbook: Andy Goldsworthy's Walking Wall

I can’t recall the first time I discovered Andy Goldsworthy. I know I was young, possibly a high school student pouring over a heavy art book my mom brought home from work. I remember seeing his brightly arranged collections of leaves and thinking—I get this. This was the kind of “art” I would make in the wooded, creek-lined backyard of my childhood home. Collecting and arranging. In college, I gave a talk to my Drawing II class about his works and was mesmerized to see him in action while watching Rivers and Tides at the arthouse movie theater I felt cool just stepping foot in.

So I was obviously thrilled to find out that Mr. Goldsworthy would be creating an installation practically in my back yard. Franklin (my dog) and I have been wandering over to the Nelson-Atkins every few weeks this spring to check the progression of the Walking Wall—the title of his current installation (you can read more about it on his web site). Yesterday was a rare sunny day in a month of almost torrential rain. While my days have been busy and my nights sleepless, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to go out and capture my version of a Goldsworthy original. I owed it to my high school self.


Color Me Kansas City!

Hey Look! I made a book! While I don't necessarily find coloring in coloring books relaxing, I DO find drawing the line work for them extremely therapeutic. I was in need of a big meaty personal project after finished a big project this summer (details to come) and so the Color Me Kansas City coloring book was born! Take a look at a few pages from it below and if you like what you see hop over to it's very own shop and purchase a copy for yourself

Spring? Spring!

I have a confession to make. I actually really like winter! I like doing inside things. I like eating comfort foods, watching basketball and piling on the layers. I feel cozy and comfortable and it's nice. There's a little part of me that get's a little sad when the sun stays out later. And March? Please. What a tease. You can take March. 

But once we hit mid-April, it's ON. Spring seems to be in town to stay and I'm ready to embrace it whole heartedly. For instance, earlier this week I took a detour from my usual running route to stop by the Kauffman Memorial Garden and I was BLOWN AWAY. The tulips were in full bloom. I almost couldn't believe my eyes. The very next day I said to hell with all deadlines (and other projects I can't tell you about yet) and took the day to visit the garden with my watercolors. 

Now I just want to ENVELOP myself in these yummy colors! And, thanks to the weird glorious site that is Society6, I can! I put my paintings on a whole bunch 'o crap so you can too! 

Summer State of Mind

While we're still quite a few months away from barefoot weather, a brief break from work and slightly sunnier days have put me in a summer state of mind. I'm hoping to take part in a few sales this summer and would love to start including some original paintings (a throughout studio clean out has emphasized the necessity of this). I've always wanted to revisit a quick plein air painting I did during "The Big Pic-Nic" at the Nelson-Atkins a couple years ago. Instant summer!

On Location: MOPACA

Missouri + Alpaca = MOPACA! Did you hear (you probably did)? I went to an Alpaca show over the weekend! I planned to stay an hour or so. Pet some alpacas, but some yarn….4.5 hours later I walked out of there with a sketchbook full of goodies. 


Alpacas are such a funny looking animal, but they are also sweet (albeit smelly).

Most had no problem with visitors stopping by for a pet (or a hug!).

The judging process did seem to be a little stressful for them. But it was sweet to see their handlers comfort them, hold them, and try to get them to settle down. 

Christmas' Last Hurrah

After spending the majority of the holidays either sick and feeling utterly unmotivated to create, I was thrilled when the temps soared last Friday and I was able to get down to The Plaza to sketch! If you haven't yet been down to see one of Kansas City's favorite holiday attractions, you better hurry! Tonight is the last night. Below is my favorite painting of the the bunch. Check out my tumblr page for all my sketches!


Lil' Quickies

During the Brush Creek Art Walk I had an epiphany. I've always been of the mindset that watercolor is somewhat of a quick medium. It's not like oil or colored pencils where you can spend hours and hours building up an image. If you paint over a watercolor too much, you just get mud. While the act of watercolor is relatively fast, the thought process behind it can be excruciatingly slow. It's a lot of testing out colors to make sure you get just the right one (there's no going back, no command-Z!) and reverse thinking on how to get the highlights and shadows just right.

After being disappointed in how far I could get during the first two-hour quick paint competition at the Art Walk, I decided to keep it small for the second. This image measures 5'x5' and took about an hour and a half. 

It was a blast. So. I did some more. I think I would like to make this a regular thing. After all, I can always spare an hour and a half in the name of watercolor. 

And speaking of thought process, I took some photos of my plaza painting along the way to make this litter gif. I like gifs. 

An Obsession.

It's officially summer in these parts. And you know what, it hasn't been terrible! I've been keeping very busy these days teaching drawing at KCAI, working for Petite Alma, Storybird, and a very new exciting book project! I've also started up a drawing on location group here in Kansas City (just like the one in NYC last summer). It's been a lot of fun exploring my hometown, meeting new people and seeing everything through new eyes. 

Last week we met at the Plaza (and outdoor shopping area in midtown KC). I live near by, so I actually come down to draw at the Plaza quite a bit. I've been enamored with the J.C. Nichols fountain and the sculptures of the horses that represent four major rivers of the world (The Mississippi, Volga, Seine and Rhine). After Sketch Club was over, I passed by the fountain on my way home and was just stunned by how pretty it looked all lit up. It was a have-to-draw moment. 

Night Fountain, Kansas City

Night Fountain, Kansas City

Of course, this isn't what I sat down and painted on location! I've been wanting to experiment with taking my sketchbook drawings and paintings and turning them into more refined larger paintings and practice my watercolor skills in the process. This piece is 12x16" and done completely in watercolor with a bit of white gouache (look ma, no photoshop!). 

Keep in mind, this was not my first shot at the fountain. I've been drawing it regularly all spring and have finally captured all four horses. Here are a few of my other Fountain pieces:

this one is the on-location sketch of the above, larger piece

this one is the on-location sketch of the above, larger piece

Obsessions are fun, aren't they? While I sometimes post my location drawings on this blog, I always post them on my tumblr, so make sure to follow me there as well!