August 04, 2017

Symposium Sneak-Peek and Big Post-Symposium Change #1

I did this sketch in Mike Daikubara's workshop Sketch Now, Think Later. Mike's take on sketching is to make the most of your sketching time, which includes not mixing watercolors! I am also interested in doing whatever I can to get myself to put pen or paint to paper. So Big Post-Symposium Change #1 is reworking my watercolor palette (again) to eliminate or at least limit color mixing.


More on the Symposium as soon as I can get two sketchbooks-worth of sketches scanned, as well as more information about (probably) Big Post-Symposium Change #2 and (possibly) Big Post-Symposium Change #3.

(Click for larger images)

July 24, 2017

Green Memphis

Sketched at Shelby Farms at lunch. I had bigger plans for this sketch but it was too hot to finish, but now I really like the simplicity of it!


Back at Shelby Farms working smaller.


At Beale Street Landing - the green in the background is the bluff.

July 23, 2017

Catching Up


Some Friday nights we go to Memphis Made and I sketch instead of drinking beer.

























Documented my day.



















Spent a lunch break catching up on emails and blog posts.

July 22, 2017

One Week 100 People - Symposium Prep Edition

Well that sure was fun! I sketched 86 people, so I didn't make it to 100, but that is 26 more than I did during the last challenge in March!

(click images to see more detail)

During this challenge I was reminded how important it is for me to make time to sketch, instead of waiting for when I have time. This sketch was done one morning before work. I parked and looked up and there were all these people walking into work. So I sketched them!

And that's something that is so great about sketching - when you are in it, you pay more attention to the world around you than you would otherwise.


This was a good way to prepare for the Symposium, too. I get out of the habit of sketching every day, so this helped me to get back into it.

I get out of that habit because I would just be sketching every day things. But this exercise helped me to see/remember that the everyday stuff is worth paying attention to and remembering.

One Week 100 Cars would be a very easy challenge for me.




In the end this reminded me how much I enjoy sketching people, especially with my fat pen.

Now I'm all ready for the Symposium next week!



July 18, 2017

Symposium Sketching Supplies! (and Accidental Sketchbook Review)

I am so excited about attending the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago as a participant! For the last several years I've helped organize the Symposium so, while they were all great, there was a lot more responsibility than sketching.

Here are the sketching supplies I'll have with me next week in Chicago...


This is a new bag I just put together of all of the things I like to be able to grab in a hurry.
(left to right)
• watercolor kit made by Peggy Wong and filled with my current favorite assortment of pigments
• Palomino Blackwing pencil
• red/blue Mitsubishi pencil
• Sakura Pigma Sensei C10 chisel pen
• Kuretake waterbrush pen
• Sailor Fude DE Mannen Brush Style Fountain Pen (This is new to me. I bought it for one of the workshops I'm taking.)
• My favorite! Sakura Pigma Graphic 1 (aka my fat pen)


This is my regular purse bag that keeps finding more things in it.
(left to right)
• two travel brushes (The bigger one is new to me. I bought it for one of the workshops I'm taking.)
• another fat pen
• Pentel brush pen (black, and like a fountain pen with a cartridge)
• brush pen filled with diluted sumi ink
• Pentel ink brush pen (gray, and it comes in the brush pen)
• white Uni-ball Signo pen
Pentel Aquash waterbrush pen filled with Dr. PH Marten's watercolor
• variety of colored pencils, some watercolor, some not
• Palomino Blackwing pencil
• Kuretake waterbrush pen
Also along the top - a water cup, clips, and double-sided tape.

I'll also have a few extra things requested by instructors, like fine-tip pens, 6B pencils, and an eraser.

Sketchbooks... I prefer carrying one small sketchbook at all times, but I know I'll need to make larger sketches and some of the instructors specified watercolor paper, and some specified cheap paper for thumbnails. So I know I'll use the small Stillman & Birn Alpha (top left) for all-day everyday, and probably the Barcelona souvenir Moleskine watercolor paper accordion sketchbook. But, I love the Stillman & Birn Zeta (bottom left) - nice thick smooth white paper. Yum! Definitely the Moleskine Cahier journal that's under the Barcelona sketchbook, for thumbnails and such.

Stillman & Birn and Moleskine are two for my favorite sketchbooks. Stillman & Birn sent me some of the new softcover books to test out. It took me a minute to get used to the different format, but I love that they are lighter than the hardcover, and the paper is as good as ever. The way they open can be a little clumsy - they don't always want to crease in the right place - but that is not important to me. I like my sketchbooks messy as they are part of my everyday life and therefore not precious. The soft cover makes it easier for them to be everyday sketchbooks.

Moleskines are just good all the way around. I use a cahier journal every day - several actually, for different projects. For years Moleskine was my go-to sketchbook, but these days I prefer bright white paper.

My other favorite sketchbook, not pictured here, is Laloran. They are handmade in Portugal with high-quality paper, and are beautifully bound. I buy a few every year and pick them up at the Symposium, so I will have more soon!

Well this post turned into a sketchbook review, but what can I say - I do like to talk about sketching materials! Another reason I'm excited about the Symposium next week - it will give me a chance to share sketching tips and supply recommendations and to learn from all of the amazing sketchers from around the world!

July 13, 2017

#oneweek100peopleSymposium (edited)

One week. One hundred people. Who's in?!

Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes started this sketching challenge in March, and with the Urban Sketchers Symposium coming up in Chicago, I thought we should do this again. I need the practice!

For the week of July 17-21*, I am going to work on making sketches of 100 people and post them** using the hashtag #oneweek100peopleSymposium***. Feel free to join in!

* I know, I know. It's just five days, not a week. But that's how it was structured last time.

** You can find me on Instagram @elizabethalley and on Twitter @alleyelizabeth and on Facebook.

*** Marc suggested changing it to help us get fired up about the Symposium!

Painterly Sketching Sketches

In my post yesterday I mentioned the Painterly Sketching workshop I taught at Flicker Street Studio last month. These are some sketches I did in preparation for it. I really enjoy this concept, because the color you put down initially doesn't have to be neat or exact. It's there as a guide to build on.




After the workshop I went to Casablanca to pick up dinner (after a big nap, that is), and while waiting for my order I practiced what I preached. I started with colored pencils to block out the shapes, then added the people and the details. I like that this works for quick sketches as well as longer sketches.


July 12, 2017

Memphis Urban Sketchers at Whole Foods

On Saturday the Memphis Urban Sketchers met at Whole Foods for some comfortable indoor sketching. (It's so hot here.)

Here's my warm-up sketch. Warming up is so important when you know you're going to be sketching for a couple of hours.




There was so much to sketch it was hard to choose! I wandered into the entrance and there were these gorgeous tomatoes, onions, and watermelons. I approached it with the concept I taught in the Painterly Sketching workshop at Flicker Street a couple of weeks ago. I put down the big shapes in watercolor - red/orange for tomatoes, onion-color for onions (sort of a yellow ochre plus burnt sienna maybe?), and green for watercolor. Then I went over them with more watercolor and colored pencils. So much fun!


With time for a couple more sketches I found some more produce, then sketched the whole fish. Some of the other sketchers and I talked about how you how you have to take advantage of having whole fish to draw when you can.


July 07, 2017

Coffee and Crepe Myrtles


















I really did think this girl was breaking up with the guy she was with, but then I realized she was just very animated.


June 23, 2017

Career Day

I forgot to tell you about career day! I was invited by a Girl Scout Troop to speak about being a technical writer AND an artist. I couldn't say no.


There were so many dedicated women there talking to the girl scouts about being engineers, firefighters, lawyers, photographers, and dog trainers. It was very inspiring!


I liked having the chance to talk to them about being able to do more than one thing - the practical job plus the thing you're meant to do. It's also an option.



June 09, 2017

The End of the Little Square Sketchbook

These are the last few un-posted sketches from my little square Laloran sketchbook. It was a challenge to get used to because it was so small, but I fell in love with it!





June 08, 2017

Book Sketch and Review - Naked by the Window by Robert Katz

One of my college professors recommended this book nearly 20 years ago and I finally got around to reading it. It's a great book - part detective story, part courtroom drama, part art-world exposé.

The author makes a very good argument that artist Carl Andre killed his wife, artist Ana Mendieta. Andre was acquitted because the legal system and the New York art community failed Ana and let him get away with it. He was then able to continue working and to continue showing his artwork.

What I wasn't expecting from this book was the very clear example of the patriarchy that it provided, without ever mentioning the patriarchy. Carl Andre got away with the murder of his wife because he was a successful male artist. And that's what the patriarchy does - it makes a man's job more important than a woman's life. I'm aware that it's not "supposed to," but just look at all of the examples of rapists who have received little to no jail time because they were young and had "potential." Or look at the president of this country, who can brag on tape about grabbing women's genitals, which seems to be okay with everybody because he's a good businessman. 

So, I would totally recommend this book, but be forewarned it will haunt you. RIP Ana Mendieta.

May 28, 2017

Vacation! Part 4

This is the sweet little house we stayed in.


It was on an acre or more of land, so one day I just wandered around sketching.


On the property there was this perfectly creepy little pine forest that I couldn't wait to sketch. The trees in it were crazy! It wasn't actually creepy - the whole place had a nice feeling.




This is the view from the deck looking towards the water.







After another night at The Squealing Pig, we drove back to Provincetown and took the long trip back to Memphis. It was such a great trip, but also so nice to be home.