Thursday, June 26, 2014

Union Station - Chicago

The last day of our trip to Chicago we arrived at the Megabus stop to go home with about 45 minutes to spare.  Guess what just happened to be caddy corner from the Megabus stop?  Union Station!  There were four in our group so we decided two of us should stay and watch the luggage and two should go check out the train station (and then vice versa).

As Nora and I headed over to the building I was already in awe of its grandeur.  The columns in front of the building are so huge and stolid they feel like they must have been there since the beginning of time.  There is a palpable, silent beauty about them.  I wanted to stand still in that space for hours and just be near these soft, gentle giants.  Alas, we only had fifteen minutes so we went inside.

(click images to enlarge)

And this is what you see upon entering the building!  Everything from the ceiling to the light fixtures to the intricate column details oozed luxury and grandiosity. 

But the most impressive thing about the Union Station is the space.  The space envelopes you and swallows you whole.  The ceilings are so high you feel you are the size of an ant.  And at the same time you feel you should be wearing a ball gown and magic slippers.  The lofty glass ceiling and sumptuous details recall a time when travel was a luxury and a grand adventure.

The photo of the light fixture below didn't do it justice so I had to sketch it.  Talk about crazy detail... this light was over the top!

We were there on a Monday morning and I had the sense the station is little used.  There were only a handful of people and the space seemed quiet and empty.  But the evidence of its busy history is etched into its granite bones. Through the decades the steps of countless men, women and children gradually left their mark on the worn stairs.

Although I was only able to visit with this building for a brief time it certainly left its mark on me, as did Chicago.  I loved the all the details and wanted to absorb them all.  I could feel them soaking into my being and, in a way, I become them and they become me.  They percolate inside and then will surprise me and make an appearance when I least expect it...perhaps as a design element in my work, a pattern in a painting, or a rhythm in a piece.  I never know how the Nessy filter will modify and alter them, but I do know that it is important for artists to get out there and travel and see the absorb the beauty and let it alter your soul.  So get out there people!  Soak it all in...and then let the magic begin.   

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Urban Sketchers Chicago 2014

As mentioned in my previous post, Christina, Nora, Carla and I attended the Urban Sketchers Seminar in Chicago.  Christina posted a photo of the group and a sampling of our sketches on the Cincinnati Illustrator blog earlier this week.  I love seeing everyone's individual style.

It is funny because I feel like I tried some new things in these sketches that pushed me out of my comfort zone (i.e. using marker, not using ink), but in the end they still look pretty much like all my other sketches.  I also really tried to loosen up (some might say unsuccessfully).  I think it is hard to loosen up without getting messy or sloppy.  It is something I am hoping to work on more.  In the end I didn't really come away with any particular sketch that I loved, but at least I tried some new techniques and met a lot of really cool people.  And I finally got to visit Chicago which I loved!

(click images to enlarge)

Clark St. Bridge

Christ the Savior Church (LaSalle Dr.)

Newberry Library


Monday, June 16, 2014

Chicago Urban Sketchers Trip Photos

Last week Christina, Carla, Nora, and I attended an Urban Sketchers Seminar in Chicago.  I grew up in Ohio and for some reason I have never visited Chicago.  I was totally blown away by the architecture.  We stayed at the Chicago Hilton and as you can see from the photo below it was awesome!  This was the entry lobby - I think the picture says it all.  The Hilton also had a super-hip remodeled section with luxurious cozy chairs and cubbies where we ate dessert one night.  We stayed on the twentieth floor and had a partial view of the lake.  I highly recommend this hotel. 

Above is a photo of the famous Chicago "bean" in Millennium Park.  It is by Anish Kapoor and is actally called "Cloud Gate" but everyone calls it "the bean."  It is super fun to walk under it and see how the city is reflected.

As I mentioned before I was blown away by all the details.  One could spend a lifetime photographing Chicago architectural elements.

I especially loved the iron details on the subway entries.  They were different at every station.

The staircase below is from the Palmer House and the dome below that is from the Cultural Arts Center. 

Click the above photo to read it better.  Our hotel was on Michigan Ave.

As we were walking back from the lake one morning we passed this giant sperm whale sculpture by Preston Jackson.  I like the use of recycled materials.

Below is a photo of the fountain at Grant Park.  The "sea horses" spouting water were really fantastic.

I have never been so impressed by a city before and I feel like we only scratched the surface.  Another trip is definitely in order.  Check back soon because I am going to post my sketches from the workshops next.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pine Cones at Gina's

A couple weeks ago Gina Weathersby invited a few people over to her new photography studio.  Stepping into Gina's studio is like entering a beautiful dream.  The airy, light-filled space is chock full of amazing objects and everywhere you look something interesting catches your eye.  Vintage china, wedding dresses and fabrics, antiques, fresh flowers, and random ephemera and baubles abound.  The space and its contents are lovely and reflect Gina's personality and eye for beauty.

The day of my visit Gina was doing a photo shoot for fellow friend and graphic designer, Lisa Ballard.  Gina, Lisa, and stylist Nora Martini were working to create a look book for Lisa's new line of wall hangings and pillows, Mod Botanicals (check it out here).  I was super excited to watch how Lisa, Gina and Nora interacted to create such magic.

Throughout the shoot these pine cones kept catching my eye. I loved the varying textures and the contrast with the metal plate and bowl. One could easily spend the entire day "playing" in this space.

Below are a few photos of Gina and Nora working their magic.  I got a sneak peek at the look book last Monday and it is amazing.  As soon as it is available I will post a link.  You can currently purchase Lisa's wall hangings and pillows at her shop here

After painting ensos with Frank in the morning, visiting Gina's studio in the afternoon and catching a plane for another meditation retreat I was one tired girl.  But I went to sleep that night with a smile on my face, feeling lucky to have such incredible experiences and to know these amazing people.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Chop Carving and Enso Painting

Last week my friend Frank Satogata invited me to his studio for a morning of chop carving and enso painting.  A chop is a printing stamp used as a signature.  Frank had seen the one I made to sign my cicada sketchbook and wanted to learn how I made it.  So I brought over my sheet of Safety-Kut and my carving tools and he carved his name (in reverse) in Japanese into the stamp above. 

Frank has been into painting ensos lately and offered to show me his technique and use his brushes.  An enso in Zen Buddhism is "a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to express a moment when the mind is free to let the body create.  The ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void)." (Wikipedia).  He had several books dedicated to the enso and I love the philosophy behind it.

As you can see below I had lots of fun practicing.  I also attempted a little Japanese calligraphy. 

When we were done Frank posed with his beautiful companion Ellie.  You can also see some of Frank's brush collection on the wall.  He has been experimenting with different brushes and I can't wait to see him using the giant brush hanging behind him in a full body performance.  I told him so and he showed me a video that blew me away.  If you like big brushes you will love this video!