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SKETCHBOOK: a creative tool and a way of life that celebrates design and drawing as vital ways to see and value culture, to discover ideas, and to envision a better world.

Friday, September 15, 2017

COME SKETCH WITH US IN TUSCANY!!


I can't tell you how excited I am to be teaching a 10-day location sketching workshop in Tuscany, October 4-14, 2018!  This opportunity provides the time, space, inspired surroundings and immersion in techniques to take your sketching experience to new heights.  The class is capped at 12 artists, so there will be plenty of one-on-one teaching and discussion in addition to group talks and demos. You'll also get to know the best of Tuscan food, culture, towns and countrysides with exceptional hosts and guides.  We'll be staying in our own villa, a relaxing departure point for the best of Tuscany.

Our partner in this exceptional travel experience is FollowYourSensesinTuscany.com.  I'm tremendously impressed with them, and am delighted to be working with such thorough and inspired professionals.

This workshop is filling up, but there's still room.  Don't miss this rare opportunity!  Every artist should go to Tuscany--and those who have been long to return.  Come with us--LET'S GO!!

HERE'S THE LINK:  Sketch Tuscany with James Richards

Thursday, September 14, 2017

On Location: Sketching Hurricane Irma

One month after relocating our home and business to Siesta Key, Florida, a barrier island off Sarasota, Patti and I found ourselves evacuating inland and upland to higher ground as Hurricane Irma churned across the Caribbean with Florida in her sights.   We found ourselves in a Lakeland, Florida hotel, a few miles east of Tampa, but well out of storm surge and flood danger.  Over the next 18 hours, we watched in shock and disbelief as the storm path moved westward from skirting Florida's Atlantic coast to a direct hit on the Tampa/Sarasota area.  A more southerly landfall spared us the full fury of the storm--it was a Category 1 by the time it reached Lakeland--but wind gusts to 100 mph and sideways blasts of rain and made for a harrowing 24 hours.

As Irma approached, I decided to create a series of sketches documenting the storm from the relative safety of our open hotel porte cochere.  This position allowed me to experience the wind and rain without being completely exposed to flying debris.  The first four sketches below capture four phases of my experience of the hurricane (the first three sketches were duly baptized in Irma’s rainwaters).  The fourth image is a photo of my open Stillman & Birn sketchbook, showing the raw double-page spread as drawn on location.

It was remarkable to me how sketching the storm robbed it of its power to terrify me--I had a job to do, and the hurricane became an opportunity rather than a bogeyman.  This was an invaluable lesson, and I extend special thanks to those who encouraged me.  So the beginning is over--here's to rebuilding--cheers!

This sketch, made Sunday at 10:10am, shows the calm before the storm.  The the sky has darkened.  All is dead quiet and the sky is still; even the birds have left.  

The second sketch captures the same view a little more than an hour later, when the first strong band of wind and rain circulated through.  



This image, sketched at 7:30pm, is made a couple of hours before the eye of the storm reached us.  Note the change in wind direction.  The rain is blasting sideways and the howling wind is shredding the palms, but we still have electricity (the parking lot lights are still burning). 

This sketch is drawn 9:30am Monday; the first sunlight and blue sky reappear.  The birds have returned.

This is the series as drawn in the 8 in. x 10 in. Stillman & Birn Beta series mixed media sketchbook, which held up well to the abuse of the situation.  All the images were drawn with PITT Artists' Pens (waterproof ink) and watercolor.  A white gel pen was used to help indicate the night lighting in the top right sketch.



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Jim's Reportage Sketching of Hurricane Irma Makes TV News

When I named my Craftsy class "Sketching the Energy of Places," the eye of a hurricane wasn't what I had in mind. But having evacuated about 40 miles inland from our home on the Florida coast, I took the opportunity to sketch views of Hurricane Irma as she passed through Lakeland, Florida. While sketching under our hotel porte cochere, a Tampa WFLA TV news crew drove up seeking shelter.  Reporter Melissa Marino took interest in my sketch documentation, and filed this story:  

Sketching Hurricane Irma on location

A screen photo of the news story.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Workshop Handout for the Chicago Symposium

If you weren't able to attend my workshop "The Grand Illusion:  Achieving a Dramatic Sense of Depth" for the 8th International Urban Sketching Symposium in Chicago (or even if you were), I've posted my handout here in PDF form for download...ENJOY!



Thursday, June 29, 2017

On Location: Bradenton Beach, Florida

The Sarasota area won't disappoint coastline explorers looking for cool community character with a sense of authenticity. After sketching on Coquina Beach (see previous post), we motored north to Bradenton Beach, a small island community with a quaint, compact village center.  The landmark clock tower shown here is visible from the main road, and pulled us off the highway (as it was designed to do) and through the village to the historic Bridge Street Pier.  We found some shade and cool drinks, and captured the scene shown here, while meeting a number of other travelers and local characters in the process.

The clock tower is on the waterfront at the foot of Bridge Street, making it a highly visible landmark for locals and travelers.






Monday, June 26, 2017

On location: Coquina Beach, Florida

For those who love the beach--Patti and I made a 30-minute drive north from Siesta Key to check out the Sunday morning market on Coquina Beach.  After several days of overcast skies, I was taken with the sunlight on the beach and the colorful mash-up of buildings, sand, umbrellas and beach patrons.  We found a table in the shade, and picked up a couple of pina coladas.  I proceeded to capture the scene I was so taken with, while Patti proceeded to capture me.  A near perfect way to spend an hour.

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The observer and the observed...

Laying down ink.  I still believe the combination of lively linework and watercolor best conveys my impressions of the energy of a place.


The frozen pina colada makes watercolor time even more creative...
Some days it  all comes together well.
Our work here is done--time to find the Star Fish Market for lunch on the working docks...and maybe another sketch.

Idaho Adventure: Hemingway's Silver Creek Preserve

On our recent Mountain West road trip, we found and hiked the Silver Creek Preserve near Ketchum, Idaho to see the unspoiled landscape and to locate a Hemingway Monument there.  We were told that if we wanted to see and understand Hemingway's Idaho, don't follow the tourists to Ketchum or Sun Valley.  Go to Silver Creek, which is virtually unchanged since the Nobel Prize-winning author hunted and fished there with his sons.   We parked along a dirt road in the preserve, and noticed the Bald Eagle overhead--a very good sign.  We hiked along the creek through grasses still wet with morning dew, and found open water with a view to the mountains beyond.  The air was cold and crisp, and the early morning sunlight gave everything a golden glow.  There we found the monument, and the perfect moment.   The sketch didn't take long, and Patti took some photos to capture the memory.

Hemingway at Silver Creek.

The elegant stone monument at the site is unobtrusive.  The timeless biblical quote opens Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises. 
Your humble correspondent at work.

In process...the snow-capped mountains in the distance appeared closer that they look in the photo.

Hemingway, Bobbi Powell and actor Gary Cooper (a Hemingway buddy) standing at virtually the same spot that the sketch captures.

Our Silver Creek memory, with the Bald Eagle keeping watch.