Tag Archives: maryland

Sketchbook Peek: Fort Washington

Despite having grown up absolutely nowhere near water, I really like lighthouses. I stood in the wind as I drew, a man nearby flying a kite far above my head as the sun started to set. A lovely day, and I’m glad I took the time to draw part of it.

(I also love national parks because I can put the stamp in my sketchbook.)

Sketchbook Peek: Oxon Hill Farm

It was a windy and chilly April day that I visited Oxon Hill Farm, far too windy to draw the cows in the field as I’d wanted. So I took shelter in this little building and drew the old tractor they had on display along with other ancient technology.

Sketchbook Peek: Gaithersburg Book Festival

Every year, BCinDC (my local BookCrossing group) gives away free books at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. After getting my 227 books all ready to go, I decided to draw the boxes and bags and bins. That purple bin has been my BookCrossing bin for years, and has served me very well.

By the way, we as a group brought 2100 books and came home with fewer than 10. That, my friends, is a good day.

Urban Sketching: Berlin, MD

I recently went on a little road trip, snarfing my way across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. One of my stops was Berlin. This town is absolutely precious. I stopped by Rayne’s Reef for lunch, and sketched the display window of Town Center Antiques across the street (which I also enjoyed browsing – it’s huge!).

I’d like to note that this was my first time sketching in public with no other artists around. I’d joined in sketchcrawls before, and I’d drawn in public with no one else around, but this time I was the only one drawing among a bunch of strangers going about their day. And you know what? It was fine. Nobody bothered me or rushed me or commented on my drawing. I felt comfortable and confident.

And I may just do it again sometime.

Draw ‘Til You Drop at VisArts (NSFW)

Warning: there’s a lot of nudity in this post. Just so you know.

Though I have not yet actually participated in a SketchCrawl, I am a member of SketchCrawl Washington DC. It was through this group I heard about Draw ’til you drop, a marathon drawing event put on by Visarts in Rockville, Maryland, this past Saturday, January 14. (Hat tip to the very talented Ricardo Pontes for letting me know about it!) I probably wouldn’t have gone but a friend went ahead and registered us both, and I’m so glad she did. It was quite the experience.

The format was simple: 12 hours, 6 models. Each model did five 5-minute poses, then one long pose for the other 90 minutes (minus some for breaks, of course). I figure I drew for about ten of those twelve hours, and by the end of it I was pretty spent.

I arrived an hour late, but that was more than enough time to capture the first model’s long pose.

I was still warming up, but she came out all right. I could have stood to redo her hands, though. They’re a touch on the small side.

A lot of people were doing amazing things with charcoal and conte crayon and heaven knows what else, but I found I was happiest with my plain old #2 pencil, and ended up sticking with it the entire day.

The second model was a man – the genders alternated all day, actually – and he did a lot of interesting short poses. I didn’t scan in most of my five-minute sketches because they came out pretty terrible, but I liked this one all right:

He was thin but had good muscle definition. His long pose was seated. I know we’re artists and aren’t supposed to care about these sorts of things, but I was kind of glad I didn’t get the full crotch view for this one.

Most of my drawings show people facing to the right because that was the front of the room, and few of the models faced the folks in the back. Which wasn’t a big deal – we were certainly allowed to move around the room – but I stayed put because I was comfortable. See, when I walked in I didn’t see any of the plastic folding chairs everybody else was sitting on, so I grabbed an upholstered divan from the corner that was probably meant for the models. I doubt I would have lasted half as long had I not been sitting on a cushion.

Anyway, by that point my friend and I were hungry so we grabbed a delicious lunch at Lebanese Taverna. When we got back, the next model was in the middle of her long pose:

I liked this pose. It was such an interesting angle to be drawing from. It’s kind of hard to tell from my drawing, but she was lying on a bunch of pillows. I hope I hadn’t inadvertently stolen her divan.

The next man was even thinner than the first. My husband said my drawing looks like Ricardo Montalban as Khan.

I replied, “Congratulations, you now know what he looks like naked.”

Now, I’m a very impatient speedy artist, so I routinely finished my drawing within the first or second session of the long pose, and I rarely feel like drawing the same thing twice in a row. So I did a close-up of his head:

His hair was a little strange, with long bangs starting from a very receded hairline and combed forward over his eyes, but I did my best.

The last woman of the day seemed new to the modeling world. Unfortunately, she was neither muscular enough nor curvy enough to provide much in the way of shadows, so I found her difficult and unsatisfying to draw. I started out drawing her long pose with pencil, then busted out my pen and watercolor pencils to pass the time. However, I wasn’t using watercolor paper, so my poor sketchbook got pretty wrinkled:

By that time I was getting a little bored with drawing and my energy was flagging in general. There was still another full session after I finished this, so I drew the guy next to me:

He did not actually look like Beethoven-as-a-gangster in real life. And his drawings were gorgeous.

The final model breathed life into the last two hours of the day. His short poses were interesting and athletic, and he did a seated long pose in a position I’m not sure I could have gotten out of:

He was interesting enough that I drew him a second time:

…and somehow managed to shave several years off his age. Very weird. But I think I did a little better on the hair this time around. He had very complicated – but awesome – hair.

And that was it! Afterward my friend and I headed over to Dogfish Head in Gaithersburg and ate way too much yummy food. Good times.

Final tally: 10 hours, 9 finished drawings, 20 five-minute sketches, and a whole heck of a lot of great practice.

BookCrossing BackStory

I was recently asked how I discovered BookCrossing and got to the point of being so involved as to be on the planning team for an international convention.

Jeez, I dunno. I guess I’ll start from the beginning.

Once upon a time, I had a subscription to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, a publication which highlighted assorted interesting websites. At the end of each issue was a pull-out list of all the URLs mentioned. As I read the stories I’d circle their entries on the list, and then bookmark the sites for later perusal. It could (and often did) take years before I got around to actually visiting the links, but from time to time I’d browse my “check it out” bookmark folder, remove the dead links, and re-file anything I wanted to keep. One of these links was for Photo Tag (or maybe Foto Tag), a project where one leaves a disposable camera out in public with instructions for the person who uses the last exposure to mail it back to the owner. The owner then develops the photographs and posts them online. (Astoundingly, some of the cameras were actually returned!) I can no longer find this site anywhere; I suspect it’s either defunct or I am misremembering its name.

Anyway, one of the links on that page for similar projects was BookCrossing. (WheresGeorge was another, IIRC.) I admit, my first thought when I discovered BC was, “Free books!” I did a little hunting, not realizing that most wild-released books are picked up within hours or even minutes. It took about two months to get my first wild catch, a truly exhilarating experience.

After a while I started attending the monthly BookCrossing meets at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub, organized through Meetup. I met some lovely folks this way, but the group was fairly small since it was held on Thursday nights and nowhere near a Metro stop. Once Meetup started charging group organizers for events, the whole thing fell apart: who wants to pay to chat in a public space? Disappointed, I started a Yahoo! Group, but clearly wasn’t disappointed enough to actually plan any get-togethers. The group was very quiet for a long time.

Enter Cookie, recent transplant to the DC area. In July 2007 she held a meet in Waldorf, Maryland. Remembering how much I loved the gatherings at St. Elmo’s, I drove over an hour to attend. I’m glad I did. Almost single-handedly, Cookie re-energized the group, and slowly we gained momentum and members. Soon our group had free-book tables at local festivals like Kensington’s Day of the Book, the Carroll County Book Fair, and the Gaithersburg Book Festival. We held annual joint meetings with local Librarythingamabrarians each fall at the National Book Festival. We met monthly at various locations in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, plus occasional additional meets with BookCrossers visiting the area.

Then Cookie got a crazy idea.

As one of the largest and most active BookCrossing groups in the country, she suggested we put in a bid to host the annual international convention. Bids are put in two years in advance, so in 2008 we bid to host the 2010 convention. We lost to Amsterdam, but when we bid the next year we won – which was better in a lot of ways, since it meant we got to celebrate the 10th anniversary of BookCrossing. It was during the 2008 bidding process that the name BCinDC was born and one of our members designed the lovely logo we used for the convention.

I have absolutely no idea how I ended up on the convention planning team. It started out as a totally informal thing, then somehow it turned into massive brainstorming sessions on Google Docs, quirky book-collecting sprees, a series of well-researched blog posts, and marathon meetings that lasted long into the night. I nearly had a mental breakdown, to be perfectly honest. As awesome as the convention was when it finally happened, those two years of planning involved a lot of stress and heartache. There were times when I wanted to quit the site entirely. I’m glad I didn’t, because the convention was so totally worth it.

BookCrossing is a lot of fun. It’s fun leaving books in random places for folks to find, it’s fun when the right book finds the right person, and it’s fun to discover new books I never would have come across otherwise. But in the end, it’s the people that keep me coming back. BookCrossers are the most generous people I’ve ever met. It’s not just books (though they are almost aggressively generous with those!), but everything. For example: each year an event called “Holiday Gift Giving” is held on the forums. Basically, you post your wish list, no matter how simple or outrageous, and people can choose whether or not to fulfill any of them. There is no obligation to give and no guarantee to receive, and yet people do both. Whenever I travel, I post on the forums and there is almost always someone who would like to meet up and welcome me. On Sunday morning of the convention, when we had to pack up the book buffets, attendees enthusiastically took on the job without even being asked. I could keep going, but I think you get the gist. We’re connected by a love of books – and not even the same books! – and this nutty hobby of giving away the very books we love. And yet somehow that is enough to form lifelong friendships. I certainly have.

My sister suggested once that BookCrossing is my “tribe.” I think she may be right.

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