Urban Sketchers at the San Jose Museum of Art

On Valentine’s Day, the South Bay Urban Sketchers met at the San Jose Museum of Art. This is a group that meets once a month on the weekend to sketch at a different location.

The San Jose Museum of Art is number #33 on the list this book, 100 Things to Do in San Jose Before You Die by Susannah Greenwood.

Tabaimo: Her Room Exhibit

On the first floor of the museum, there was the exhibit of Tabaimo: Her Room. She is a Japanese artist. I was able to watch 2 of her 3 animated video shorts. All the images were ink drawn. The last one, "danDan", incorporated actual furniture as part of the video.

Book Cover

In another room, there were scrolls of her ink drawings.  Written on the walls in pencil were random words and phrases from a book called Akunin (Villain) by Shuichi Yoshida. The San Jose Public Library’s copy is unavailable but you can order it through Link +.

All the letters were written backwards. I wrote a few of the words down in my sketchbook that I could decipher easily like “a tiny bathroom”, “Louis Vuitton handbag”, “waiting room”, “Right?”, “Chicka!”, and “the cold doorknob”.

Diebenkorn in the Bedroom, DeFeo in the Den Exhibit

On the second floor, there was the exhibit, Diebenkorn in the Bedroom, DeFeo in the Den. Dixon and Barbara Farley donated several modern and contemporary works of art of Bay Area artist to the museum. In last month’s blog, I saw Richard Diebenkorn’s sketchbooks at the Cantor Center of Visual Arts at Stanford University. So, it was lovely to see a few of his works of art on display. Other well known artist like Jay DeFeo, Willem de Kooning, and Claes Oldenberg were also on display.

Some of the smaller works of art were arranged in a way that I could visualize a couch or credenza underneath the art.

Border Cantos Exhibit

I got to see a preview of Border Cantos. The exhibit officially opens on February 26, 2016. This is a collaboration of photographer, Richard Misrach, and composer, Guillermo Galindo. Their theme is the border of the United States and Mexico.

The preview was in a small enclosed room. What was on display was visually uncomfortable to look at. For example a piñata made from spent shell casings.

The music didn’t help either. The music didn’t use traditional instruments like the violin, piano, clarinet or horn. The instruments were made from found objects. The sound was loud, disjointed and coming from several sources in the room.

Believe me, it was a difficult to sketch in that room. Most people did not linger. At one point while I was sketching the Misrach’s photograph, "Effigy #3", the music abruptly stopped. The room was silent. I sighed in relief. I could hear myself think. Alas, it was short lived. The music started up again. A security guard later told me that it is on a 4 hour loop.

eBooks About the Border Conflict Between the United States and Mexico

  Run for the Border, coverBorder Games, cover

Or use our Opposing Viewpoints in Context database.

Colored Pencil Sketching

Color pencil sketch of Effigy #3.

In museums, you’re not allowed to use pen or paint only pencil. So, several members of the urban sketchers group would go to the outdoor café to use watercolors on their sketches. I like using watercolor as a medium but not en plein air. That's French for in the open air. There are art supplies necessary to carry like water, containers for the water, paint palette or watercolor box. I’d rather paint in the comfort of my own home than outside.

Color pencil is a perfect medium to add color to your sketch. Color pencils are inexpensive and work well with painting and mix-media. However, it is impossible to erase your marks completely.

Here are a few books that are for the absolute beginner to learn basic techniques in crosshatching, layering and blending colors:

To learn more advanced techniques like burnishing, underpainting, sgraffito, and using solvents, check out these books:

Basic Colored Pencil Techniques, cover

As a bonus, the Winter 2015 Issue of Drawing Magazine has a cover story article, “Colored Pencil: 5 Artist and their Approaches”, written by Austin R. Williams.  He interviewed Elizabeth Patterson, Cecile Baird, Anna Hammer, Erwin P. Lewandowski, and Art Venti. There is also a Material World column featuring color pencils called “Color Pencil Primer” by Sherry Camhy. You can download the magazine to your device for free through Zinio.

Artists of the past as part of their education would study the works of masters by sketching and drawing. I’m glad to have the opportunity to do the same.