Friday, December 28, 2012

Gulf Coast Road Trip

Summer's over in North Texas and the weather is turning a bit nippier. So, who wouldn't jump at the chance to escape the Metroplex for awhile by hopping in the car and heading to the Gulf Coast? Sandy beaches, great sea food, a little coastal birding... and a chance to "test drive" Stillman & Birn's Beta Series sketchbook.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Underwood/Pridmore House, built 1940...restored 2012

The Underwood Home in Lubbock, Texas was designed in 1940 by Hal O. Yoakum, a Dallas Architect.  It had been vacant and neglected for many years until Tim and Melissa Pridmore purchased and restored it in 2012.  I am fortunate to be have been selected to design and implement the landscape enhancements and restoration.  Congratulations to the Pridmores for preserving one of the iconic and historic homes in Lubbock!  (sketched on location in pen and ink/watercolor)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Waiting times.

The long waits at airports, either to catch a flight or waiting for a family member are tedious. Drawing helps me make more enjoyable waiting times.
Waiting the Houston Miami flight Dec10

Barajas-Madrid T4 waiting my wife. Dec16

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Little Cheer on a Gloomy Day

We had a rainy overcast day today and by the afternoon I had a bit of cabin fever so a little sketching seemed in order. This is the Houston City Hall, a lovely Art Moderne style building, with the "city tree" in front. Spending the time sketching cheered me up considerably.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Drive-by sketching?

I've probably driven by Covenant Hospital 1000 times in my life, but this morning I had a few minutes to kill between meetings so I decided park into an adjacent parking lot and sketch it!  My goal was to capture the essence of an architecturally complicated hospital complex and to do it quickly.  I needed to decide what the iconic view of the hospital was, compose and simplify the sketch and then execute the sketch.  Beginning to end...55 minutes.  I'm not sure how successfully I accomplished my goal, but I sure had fun!  I'm trying to get better at seizing opportunities to hone my skills when they come along...

It's official! Barcelona will host the 4th International USk Symposium!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Downtown Fort Worth

No, this isn't a scene from a Frank Capra movie, it's downtown Fort Worth.  A sidewalk table at Razoo's restaurant on Main Street will afford you lots of Christmas spirit, with views of the downtown decorations, strains of Christmas carols from the next block, mobs of teenagers giving "free hugs,'' and plenty of passers-by stopping to say hello.  The red balls in the trees make their appearance on some blocks and not others, in some years and not others, but I appreciate them when they're displayed.  Lots of shops open, come on down...

Friday, December 7, 2012

Duck Dynasty

The Houston Heights is actually a collection of little neighborhoods. The neighborhood adjoining mine, Woodland Heights, began having "Lights in the Heights" many years ago. At first it was just glowing luminaria placed along all the streets and singing a few carols, but over the years it has evolved. Now anything that lights, waves, inflates or glows is fair game. And the festive lighting has become more elaborate. I'm sure the power company is delighted. They still put out the luminaria, but now half of Houston comes to look. This weekend there will be traffic gridlock, so I took a little preview today. I've drawn this house in a previous year when they had Santa waterskiing across the lawn. I thought this year's offering was clever. Luckily I just barely know what Duck Dynasty is. After dark the little blue lights create the "pond" for the flotilla of duck decoys. And this is only a small part of the whole display- a flock of airborn ducks hover over the yard and there's a whole sunrise scene on the other side of the yard. I'm a big fan of 37th Street in Austin, so I love to see someone get creative with their lights.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What's in Your Pen?

More and more of us seem to be using fountain pens in our field sketching. (There's even a little beauty in our photo montage banner.) I do too. But, it wasn't till I received a really nice NOS Eversharp as a gift in early November (and immediately started putting its delicious flex nib to work) that I started wondering how fountain pen inks compare, say, to the microns and dip pen inks we also use.

Since there seems to be a dearth of information on lightfastness and pH levels from the manufacturers I thought I'd take a very short break from sketching, do my on series of tests and articles, and share the results. For anyone interested, I begin the series here this week with a selection of blues.

Happy sketching!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas season culture

My wife has an on-going desire to make me more "cultured and refined."  Thats kind of like trying to turn a skunk into a house cat in my case, but she still tries!  Anyhow, we had an enjoyable time last night at the Lubbock Symphony and Lubbock Chorale production of Handel's Messiah.  It was enjoyable evening with great friends and beautiful music!  Don't be too critical of my sketch please...sketching the human form is very difficult for me and the theater was very dark!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stealing a few minutes to capture the raw beauty of west Texas

Took a few minutes while working on the Glass Ranch in Blanco Canyon near Spur, Texas to try and capture some of the incredibly rough, rugged and raw beauty of the place.  Big skies, big country and incredible beauty!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Road Trip: College GameDay

Patti and I traveled home to the Louisiana State campus for the LSU v. Alabama game this weekend, where ESPN College GameDay had set up for live broadcast on the campus's huge parade ground.  I moved to the rear of the field to get an overall vista of the action.  The venerable Law School building at far right acted as a nice counterpoint to all the temporary tents, canopies, and the ESPN tour bus (center).  Amazing energy and revelry for early on a Saturday morning!  Alabama won the hard-fought game, but Louisiana still has better food and music!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Quilt Show

I've been going to the International Quilt Show here for many years, but I never took my sketchbook. Today, it was a welcome addition as it gave me the chance to rest my weary feet and try out my waterbrush loaded with Walnut Ink.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bird watching at Edith L. Moore Sanctuary

One of teh hobbies of my wife, and which accompanied whenever I can, to enjoy my hobby, sketch. Small natural reserve close to the City, where can see various species of birds.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I See Angels, take two!

A film crew arrived at my studio Wednesday of last week to film seven demonstration videos that will accompany my upcoming book.  They wanted to film the creation of an on-location sketch, so I took them to downtown Fort Worth (5 minutes from my house) to produce a sketch of the Bass Performance Hall.  I had drawn the sketch once a week before for practice, so I felt comfortable jumping in for a second round with the cameras rolling. All went smoothly, other than honks and catcalls from passing cars, and some Fort Worth Symphony staffers coming around to determine what in the world we were doing outside their offices.  I drew for almost 40 minutes; it will be interesting to see how they edit it down to less than 10.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A little trip to the cool, colorful mountains of western North Carolina....

 I had a little time on our trip to do a little sketching.  If you've never had a chance to visit the mountainous area of the southern Appalachians in western North Carolina you are missing some incredible scenery!  In October the air is cool, the weather is beautiful and the fall color is spectacular!

 There are fantastic potential sketches around every bend in the road.  We happened upon this well kept old school house near a small community of Whiteside Cove.  Impossible for me to capture the brilliance of the fall colors...beech, hickory, maple, oak, tulip poplar.....
 We stayed at the Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, North Carolina.  I could have sketched their building and grounds all week!

No trip to North Carolina is complete without a visit to The Biltmore Estate in Asheville.  I was able to sneak a few minutes to sketch the interesting roof line of the carriage house.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sketchcrawl 37

Nine crawlers showed up at Discovery Green on Saturday. This is the best turnout we've had so far. Hopefully this will lead to a regular group who can go out from time to time together. Three crawlers were members of the local illustrators group. There was a yoga class going on early and some model boat enthusiasts later on. The weather was spectacular and I'm sure Tomas and Judith will be posting their results later. Both of them got pictures of the group as well.
Model boat enthusiast
Model boats on Kinder Lake

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thaksgiving Day is far away, but .......

Thanksgiving day is far away, but the shops have everything to celebrate it. Sketch done while my wife and my sister were shopping

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pine Springs Camp-Sacramento, NM

I spent a quick weekend in the beautiful mountains of southern New Mexico and was able to squeeze in a little sketching time!  It felt really good!  My postings have not been very frequent this summer...gotta learn to slow down and relax with my sketchbook more often!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Travels with Danny

An Illustrated Journey, Danny Gregory's long awaited sequel to An Illustrated Life, is set for release in February 2012, and I'm tickled pink to be among the 40 artists worldwide who were selected to participate in the project.

Want to preorder your copy? Not a problem. Check it out here: 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

This time they win

Will you see the back of people's heads every week for the rest of High School football season? It could happen. Our seats are kind of high up so getting any real detail of field action is not easy. Yes, we have season tickets to high school football. Do people in other places do that? I'm a little shy to go sketch under the stands. That seems to be where the real action is, at least if you are a kid or young teen. Anyway, seems when I am a captive audience at the game is almost my only sketching time lately.
REMINDER: World Wide SketchCrawl, Saturday, Oct. 13 Houston group is meeting downtown at Discovery Green 10 a.m. at the Lake House Waterside Cafe.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Lake Jackson

Xtreme Hummingbird Xtravaganza in a wonderful morning, were we see hummingbird being banded, but very difficult to draw, this beautiful creatures are so fast, and so small.................
As well you can adopt one, or may be buy some plants for you garden to attract them.
And of course you can walk the nature trails, were I did this sketch

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Friday Night Football Texas Sketcher Style

When you are only at the game to see your drummer boy - the rest of Friday Night High School Football is a new opportunity to sketch. No doubt the fans around me think I am wakky but...the results. The band seemed to be having so much fun - the horrible loss did not seem to phase them.
Lucky for us as the home team we sit with our backs to the setting sun. The visitors, which this week, were a see of red facing straight into the sunset. Last week our visitors filled maybe 25% of the other stands, this week a big cheering crowd with a good band. It did make the game more fun.
Square sketchbook, Sailor fountain pen, and watercolor with waterbrush.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Amazon is accepting pre-orders for Jim's book!  Go to to buy your copy now!  Congratulations to fellow USKTexas member Jim Richards!  Way to go Jim!  This book is destined to become a classic! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Sense of Place

How much do you really know about the area closest to home? What was your city or town like before the urban development? Or the suburban sprawl? What was there 50, 100, or 50 million years ago? And can you still find any artifacts of those times?

This week I talk about getting to know (and sketch) areas that may be as close as your own back yard.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sketching at the Ideson

Today I attended a tour and sketch trip sponsored by the Institute for Classical Architecture and Art at the Ideson Building. We got a very interesting tour of the lovely restoration by one of the volunteers. It made me appreciate the hard work done on this building even more. It is a MUST see for anyone who loves old buildings. We decided to sketch the facade, which we learned was an homage to a 16th century Spanish university. I put a photo and my sketch side by side here. I was sitting on the ground and far to the left by those lights, so my perspective was slightly extreme. But you can see what I drew on the upper right corner of the building with Heritage Plaza looming behind. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Monday, September 3, 2012

New England Travel Book-Aug2012

Wonderful trip to New England, with a lot of time to sketch, thks to the undertanding of my family.
Rest of the sketch here.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse-Bristol, Maine

Public Garden. Boston

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting the nightly bat exodus. Austin.TX

The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Nearly 1.5 millions Mexican Free-tailed bats reside in vertical crevices beneath the bridge.The bats provide a valuable environmental service to central Texas by consuming 10-15 tons of insects nightly.
Some more sketches of my recently sort trip to Waco and Austin  here

Friday, August 17, 2012

Historic Houston

Given the newness of most of Houston, the title of this post seems a bit humorous. This is the old Jeff Davis Hospital which sat abandoned just above downtown for many years. The new Jeff Davis was torn down years ago and the Federal Reserve Bank sits in its place. This building, which was built in the 20's, has been turned into artist's lofts. I got a little carried away with the hatching, but once you start you're stuck. Oh well, I love this old building and I may come back to it with a looser approach later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Urban Sketching on Toned Paper

All of us know that the majority of a tonal drawing is middle tone. And, at some point in our sketching careers, most (maybe all?) of us have thought to ourselves, "There must be a simpler, faster alternative to spending so much time covering up the whiteness of our paper."

As it turns out, as early as the Renaissance artists had identified a fast, visually appealing option - toned paper. This week I've covered that alternative in some depth in a blog article entitled Tools of the Trade #3 - Toned Paper. If you're interested, please feel free to take a look. Then maybe give it a try. (You may be amazed by the speed of this technique.)

Happy sketching everyone! (And don't forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, broad-brimmed hat and plenty of water till this heat subsides.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

36th World Wide Sketchcrawl

As in Portland (2010) and Lisbon (2011), the last day of the USK Syposium in Santo Domingo coincided with a World Wide Sketchcrawl.  About 100 urban sketchers, including 5 from Texas, converged on the lively Parque Colon to capture impressions of the place and people.  I completed this sketch of the plaza, which was later bought at the USK silent auction by Shari Blaukopf (the sketch, not the plaza).  Make plans now for next summer's symposium.  Details are yet to be announced, but a memorable time is guaranteed.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alcazar de Colón (1510-1512) - Santo Domingo - DR

Built by Christopher Columbus's son Diego. Was the center of the Spanish court in the Americas. The Palace hosted the legenday Spanish explorers Hernan Cortés, Francisco Pizarro and Ponce de León.

  Plaza de España 's panoramic from the Alcazar de Colón. Workshop by Simonetta Capecchi and Claudio Patane ( 3rd USK Symposium)