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.

2019

2017

2015

2015

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.

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On Location: Kansas City Zoo

I took my class to the KC Zoo today. Between hunting them down and bugging them about their drawings, I did some sketching myself. This is the old Ape House that will be torn down tomorrow (as I was informed by a groundskeeper as I was drawing). Our zoo's primates now live in much more comfortable, natural habitats, which is fantastic. But it's still a little sad to see this old relic go. My students, most of whom are not from Kansas City, didn't have any memory of it. They all said it reminded them of Jurassic Park.

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. 

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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. 

Wednesdays in Lawrence (pt. 2)

The next segment of drawings were created on days that barely made it to the double digits up to today, where we hit a balmy 77...so in Kansas speak, over the last three weeks. Enjoy!

Dyche Hall, Lippincott Hall 2/25/15

Dyche Hall, Lippincott Hall 2/25/15

Watson Library 2/25/15

Watson Library 2/25/15

Watson Library 2/25/15

Watson Library 2/25/15

Watson Library 2/25/15

Watson Library 2/25/15

The Museum of Natural History 3/4/15

The Museum of Natural History 3/4/15

The Granada 3/11/15

The Granada 3/11/15

The Granada 3/11/15

The Granada 3/11/15

Looking forward to even more outdoor drawing as the weather gets even nicer! Be sure you don't miss Wednedays in Lawrence Part 1

Wednesdays in Lawrence (pt. 1)

As many of you know, for the past two semesters, I've been teaching a class at my alma mater, The University of Kansas. This semester, I've decided to make the most of my 40 minute drive up to LFK (for the non-kansan) and start a weekly sketchbook project. Every Wednesday I'll spend an hour or two before or after class sketching on campus or somewhere around town. Typically, I'll go back to my studio and "complete" the pieces (so, no, not dragging an entire paint set around with me). Here are the results of my recent outings. I'll update here periodically, but be sure to follow my tumblr blog or for weekly updates! 

Wheatfields

Wheatfields

On the Hill

On the Hill

Murphy Hall Box Office

Murphy Hall Box Office

Murphy Hall benches. 

Murphy Hall benches. 

The Hill on a Cold, Cold Day.

The Hill on a Cold, Cold Day.

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!

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Be Brave! Have Courage!

I've recently returned from a fantastic, desperately needed trip to California! I'm so back logged though that I haven't even scanned half of my sketches done on my travels. Key words for the week would be: IDOLS, SUNSETS, SEAFOOD, DISNEY, DISASTER, DISNEY, MIRACLES, FAMILY, FUN. Not bad for a week's vacay, huh? I hope to post much more soon, but for now, some wise words from a childhood hero, Tomie DePaola as he delivered a closing keynote at the LA SCBWI conference:

On Location: Lawrence City Band

My summer sketch club has been seeing the sights this summer! While we typically frequent iconic locations in Kansas City, this past week we hit the road and traveled west to Lawrence, Kansas ( aka Larryville, L-Town, LFK and the Home of the Jayhawks). If you know very little about me, you probably know that Lawrence holds a very special place in my heart.

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If you know a little more about me, you know that I used to play the clarinet. I played throughout college on a scholarship and even a little while after with various groups including the Lawrence City Band.

The band plays every Summer Wednesday in South Park located in downtown Lawrence. Having been a former musician with the band I knew that they also rehearse two hours before every concert at KU's Murphy Hall. I shot off a quick email to the director and got the ok to come draw the musicians during their rehearsal. 

 

It wasn't until I was in that room drawing and listening to the music that I realized how much I missed playing myself. I did the math and figured that I spent approximately 1080 hours playing in that rehearsal room in Murphy Hall during my college days! That doesn't include the time spent in my professor's office or the creepy old practice rooms on the top floor (that I'm now kicking myself that I didn't draw as well!). It's no wonder old memories surfaced.

This post goes out to my old band buds, especially those who are still making music. In whatever capacity! It takes effort and you rock (or toot or blow :)

 

Sketchbook Selfies

This is a little game I like to play with myself. I'm always snapping pics of the scenes I go out and draw, so from time to time, I'll take a sketchbook "selfie" (to use the buzz word). Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. Here are some of my favorites. 

Peak's Island, Maine

Peak's Island, Maine

Central Park (the one that started it all)

Central Park (the one that started it all)

our apartment in Astoria, Queens

our apartment in Astoria, Queens

Mets Game

Mets Game

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

Country Club Plaza, Kansas City

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Fruits of the Season

I don't exactly hate winter. I like all seasons. I just wish that this particular season was about a month shorter. With a good coating of ice on the ground, and some fluffier stuff on the way, let's think about some of the sweeter things that winter brings: citrus fruit. Orange, ruby, lemon, lime, these little gems are at their best when the season is at its worst.

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As I sliced up my orange at lunch today, and placed in my favorite bowl, I was blown away by just how gorgeous this simple pleasure it. And so, I painted it. Isn't that what you would do?

Lately

January has been a wee bit insane, and yet, I have almost nothing to show for it...or so it seems. With a few works in progress, I thought I'd share with you some sketches I did as research for a fun project I am working on that takes place in an old library!  I made a trip to our local Kansas City library and also my dear old Watson Library at the University of Kansas to draw in the beloved/creepy/deserted stacks (which I was thrilled to find have not changed a bit in the past 10 years!)

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Maine Rocks!

This past weekend my husband, father-in-law, and I took a little spur of the moment road trip up to Portland, Maine. I had never ventured north of Boston, so this was an entirely new experience for me. The coast of Maine doesn't look like anywhere else I've been before. It was simply breathtaking. We spent the first day bumming around Portland and Cape Elizabeth. Our second day was spent on Peaks Island. Zack and his dad rented bikes while I had a chance to break out my sketchbook. An afternoon simply wasn't enough on this quaint little island. I can't wait until I have the opportunity to go back!  

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On Location: DUMBO

My Wednesday night drawing group has been going great this summer! While we could always handle a few more drawers, I've really enjoyed spending time with friends and also making some new ones! A couple weeks ago we went to the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo. It really is quite spectacular in the evenings. I've really been enjoying taking my little watercolor set out on my drawing adventures. A little color can make a big impact!

 

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On Location: New York Public Library

Last Wednesday night I met a few old friends, and a couple of new ones for a night of drawing in Bryant Park! It's a group I've recently organized called the Draw Club (super creative, no?). We meet at a new place in the city every week. We draw for three hours and then we share our drawings. Pretty simple. The point is to keep up our location drawing skills, build a community of illustrators and to enjoy and record this amazing city we all call home. If you're an illustrator reading this, check out our tumblr page for updates and where we are heading next! We meet every Wednesday night this summer from 6-9 pm, and I promise, we're nice! Our next destination is the Highline/Chelsea Market. Maybe I'll see you there!

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Fan Art

I had grand aspirations to post a sketchbook page daily this year. Needless to say, I'm a bit behind. It's been a busy week. More on that later, but in the mean time, make sure to check out my tublr page for frequent sketchbook updates! 

Last Friday at the Society of Illustrators reception I was standing behind Yuko Shimizu wearing a fantastic polka dot ensemble. I thought it funny, because last year we were both up on the stage. She was the chair of the show last year and I was honored to recieve my gold medal from her. I've been a fan of her work for a long time. In fact, she was one of a few illustrators I use to follow that led me to attend SVA. 

Sandy Sketches

We're going on day two of being holed up in our litter apartment here in New York. We were very fortunate and have both our power and internet, but that doesn't mean it's been all movies and beer for the last couple of days. We did to quite a bit of prep before Sandy rolled through. Bought tons of food and filled every possible surface in our kitchen with containers of water...

Yesterday, while I drew everything in site, Zack worked diligently at the kitchen island on some architecting...

The most visible damage on our street is a tree that lost it's branches and rested ever so delicately on the near by power lines...

I watched it happen last night around 6 and just waited for the power to go, but you know what...it never did! we are truly lucky. My heart goes out to those not as fortunate as us. Especially those and the family of those at the NYU Hospital that lost it's power and the people there who were busy fighting for their lives in the first place to prepare for another disaster. For some reason, that story struck me most of all. I hope everyone has been relocated and doing the best they can.