Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sketchcrawl at the UP State Fair!!

This past weekend I took my drawing/painting materials and tried to summon the Spirit of Roz Stendahl, great State Fair Sketcher!!  (See her blog at:  http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/)   I am an outdoor painter/sketcher, but I usually sit in secluded spots or botanical gardens or zoos where people usually are doing their own thing and don't pay attention to a middle aged woman with a sketchbook.  I have always subscribed to drawing from life--I think that is the quickest way to improve your drawing and painting--doing it from life.  I also love animals and thought it would be fun to try having my own sketchcrawl--consisting of just me, at the UP (Upper Penninsula of Michigan) State Fair!  Below is a video on my experience!  Hope you enjoy it! 

First I gathered my materials.  I usually take my Nomad Wise Walker bag into the field, which holds everything I need.  An array of plein air watercolor brushes, a folding water cup, a watercolor paint box, a couple of sketchbooks, which are usually made of paper that can take watercolor washes.  This weekend I had a 5 x 8 1/2 sketchbook made by Fabriano.  (See photo Below)  I also had a large Moleskine Watercolor Folio which is approximately 9 x 12 inches.  It's a biggie!!  I usually take two watercolor type journals out with me, never knowing if I will want to get a larger or a smaller picture.  I also have a plain sketchbook which to draw thumbnails or just do pencil work.

Other items include tissues, a value scale, a variety of pens--a set of Pitt Pens, a Pentel Pocket Brush, a couple of similar ink brushes, water soluable pencils.  Soft pencils for good gestural sketching--Ebony pencils and mechanical pencils.  And a small spray bottle full of water.  (i.e. Everything but the kitchen sink!)

When we got to the fair I brought my materials with me.  We visited some of the exhibition buildings with all the various ribbon contests from quilting to flower arranging.  It was pretty chilly and there wasn't much sun.  We then went through the lovely DNR section which had great opportunities for sketching beautiful wildflowers and a pond.  But I wanted to do animals this time...onward!

We went to the cattle barn first where there were both dairy and beef cattle.  I have always wanted to sketch a Jersey cow, and there were a few grand champions there that were good possibilities.  We surveyed the entire barn before settling down and my hubby and I went down the steer aisle.  The judging for the beef cattle was about to begin and the handlers were moving some of the animals into the judging area. One steer decided to go his own way dragging his handlers with him!  He ended up going into the next row of cows, knocking one over and knocking over the barricades before being controlled.  My hubby just sat there (he was raised on a farm).  I got the HECK OUT OF THERE!!  Bob said the color washed out of my face...and I moved very quickly.  No cows/steers to be drawn today!!  

On to the Swine Building!  What really surprised me was that I had a hard time with the commotion--all the  people and animal noises, midway barkers, and rides churning in the background.  It was very distracting.  I could not find a good place to sit and sketch the pigs. Disappointed in two failed sketching opportunities, we went to the goat/sheep building.  There I was able to find a spacious area in which to sit and sketch the cute goats and sheep on either side of me!  And these sheep were NOT quiet!!  I thought I was sitting in Time Square with cabbies honking their horns all around me!  But, to my surprise, I WAS able to get into the drawing.  Next we went to the "Miracle of Life" building and I found everything I had been searching for--space, fairly quiet and lots of sleeping baby animals!   

This was a building of animals who were ready or had given birth during the fair.  A little 2 week old pig caught my eye and my sketching pencil whipped out...on to the calves...saw one that his mother rejected at birth.  I sketching him, a couple of lambs, and another sleeping calf.  We started to go to the incubator with the baby chickens, but the center rings caught our eye.  Inside was a Holstein cow in labor.  We sat and watched the entire ordeal and I sketched her strained face as she went through her labor.  The calf finally came out after 2 1/2 hours of waiting.  It was a great experience for sure!!!  A couple of people came up and commented on my drawings and I was surprised anyone even saw that I was drawing.

What I learned from this experience:

I didn't need to bring the kitchen sink with me....I should have taken Roz's lead of carrying a fanny pack where I could grab what I needed...which was this:  one pencil (I used the water soluable graphite...so many things were only black and white and shades in between), one pen--the XS Faber Castell Pitt Pen, my watercolor kit and my waterbrush.  I didn't use the large Moleskine, but stuck with my 5 x 8 Fabriano sketchbook.....I did 7!! pages...mostly of the animals, but I did a couple of food places where we had traditional fair food. 
What I used, 1 pen, 1 pencil a water brush, watercolors and a sketchbook! 

I also learned that I could concentrate in chaos and noise!!  Except for the whole steer issue--I did feel safe and could find the adequate spaces to draw.

Thank you Roz for introducing us all to the State Fair Sketch Crawl!! 

Hope everyone else had a creative weekend!!!


1 comment:

Roz Stendahl said...

Nancy, great fun to read about your UP State Fair experience and what happened. (Now you know why I always stand when I sketch!)

Our "Miracle of Birth Barn" is always the most crowded feature at the Fair, standing room only, a sea of Fair goers inching their way through the pathways. I was amazed you found space to sit down there!

Great sketches. I hope you go many many times in the future!