Tagged: landscape


Pulled into Spokane after a 10 hour bus ride from Bozeman. I left at 3 AM which meant I got to see western Montana as the sun came up a bit before we neared Missoula. Awe inspiring countryside. The Tamarack or Western Larch trees were super dramatic as their needles had turned golden yellow shortly before they were to fall off. They only grow west of the Continental Divide which made for a glorious welcome to crossing the Great Divide.

Hit Spokane and found my way to a sweet little cafe, The Alpine Bistro and Bakery Company, where I recharged with a rustic soup and sandwich. They make huge sweet rolls and I tore into a mammoth cinnamon bun with cream cheese icing the following morning before giving a demo at Spokane Art Supply that afternoon.


Right next to my hotel was a Whole Foods-esque Co-op grocery store with a second story juice bar and dinning room that sported a jaw dropping view of the mountain range to the north of Bozeman.

Love the trees out west and set about to draw a few on the MSU campus when this gorgeous largish bird  went flitting about. Black head and neck, white under belly, tail feathers longer than it’s body length, iridescent blue black back and wings with white scattered throughout it’s wings. Magnificent. And BOLD! Saw it hold it’s ground by the base of a pine tree while a dachsund trotted up to sniff around. I though folks would be equally excited when I described it to them but nope. “It’s one of them damn Magpies”. “They’re worse than pigeons and they kill cats”. What? They kill cats?? Next I thought I’d hear they carted off small children. However, several folks, including a couple birders spoke of their tenacity. Part of the Corvid family, which includes Jays, Crows, and Ravens,  Magpies are described in Wikipedia as one of the smartest animals. One of the very few who have shown self-recognition in mirror tests. Big vocal range and good mimics. I became an immediate fan.


The above drawing was whipped out in the early morn before heading off to a number of demos and the veg was actually a turnip not a beet. I used some ballpoint on these pages but mostly turned to the Pitt Brush Pens, And with the exception of the tan page with the turnip drawing, these drawings were done in a sweet little leatherette covered Rhodia sketchbook.



Toiling away at the old mill. Fall’s upon us and once again I rise early to make the life drawing marathon at The Palette & Chisel. Nearing completion of the current ledger book I’m drawing in. I’ve really enjoyed this one: a 500 page 1959 Veterinarian’s Daily Record published by the Kersten Publishing Co. A real beauty that takes a serious soaking with fountain pen ink without bleeding. Try this in your Moleskines.





OK, here’s a new development. As a 57 year old citizen I am entitled to register for Seniors Life Drawing sessions at the Chicago Cultural Center, a beautiful old former central library in downtown Chicago. Located in “The Loop” at the northeast corner of Millenium Park, I have often gone there to work catering events, see exhibits, and to just hang about and draw folks in the first floor reading room. So….the two drawings above to the right, the page of several quicker poses and the half hour study on toned paper done with Pitt Artist Pens and a white China marker were executed at my first “seniors” event. I’ve acted like an old geezer for years so I guess I just made it official.


      I’m making use of a Prussian type blue in my sketchbooks these days. I like it’s dark slightly dirty nature. By combining it with lighter value and more distinctly cleaner blues I get a range that makes otherwise monochromatic drawings richer. And by having varied hues of blue it’s not just a matter of darkening the tone but of changing the character or temperature of the color. When using fountain pens the 2 blue inks I like which have this Prussian sort of hue are Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron and Iroshizuku tsukio-yo. I make the choice depending on which fountain pens I’m using. The Bad Blue Heron is from Noodler’s “Warden” Series and is water resistant when used on cellulose paper and I have found that it can and will create build up on the nibs and in the feed if not flushed out quite frequently. Therefore, even thought I dig it’s color and coverage, I don’t use it in pens that cost more than $65 – $75. For those pens I switch to Iroshizuku inks. The principle fountain pens that see a lot of Noodler’s are my Pelicano Juniors. Less than $15 they are a scream. Just love ’em. Stainless steel nibs that have a slight give when pressed, they use ink cartridges ( which I refill using a hypodermic) that hold more ink than converters. I even find their clunky bodies comfortable. The only drawback is that the plastic caps split and crack quite easily. Everything else seems pretty durable to me. I intend to have a toymaker friend of mine cast a couple caps in a more durable material.

A drawing done from a photo of a wind mill in Illinois that I intend to visit, the clouds were drawn one morning by watching formations out my front window. I’m no Clive Powsey when it comes to clouds and luminous skies. That’s some work for this coming year.





The above 4 pages are drawn from the incredible show of WW II posters at the Art Institute of Chicago titled “Windows on the War” which features Soviet TASS posters. I purchased the book and drew from the reproductions therein because the policy at the AIC was No Sketching in the gallery. Having walked in without noticing the sign I managed to get in a few drawings before the guard came over and stopped me.

I rarely draw plants but after an illustration assignment this summer and some visits to the exquisite Chicago Botanic Gardens I’m looking to knock out some more of these. I’ll see if I can sneak a nude into a secluded part of the gardens for some plein aire cheesecake. The botanicals are draw with Pitt Artist Pens and try as I might I managed only to kill the dazzling sense of luminescence and glare. This post has quite a jump in imagery going from a peaceful intimate scene with my girlfriend, to the savage images from WWII TASS posters to cafe dwellers combing thru their computer screens, an infant, a commuter with focus wedged between the pages of a book, and drawings of models and plants with a glimpse of their reproductive organs.


My darling Jenny in dirt farmer hat, ever the reader.

A view of Rachel’s super cool mid century modern kit house on bluffs above Lake Michigan. The reflection of the trees on the bedroom window had a spider web appearance.

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