Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sketching at Phipps

Flowers, friends, food, and sketching - put them all together and you have the makings of a perfect day!

Ink and watercolor, 7" x 10" Canson sketchbook with 140 lb. paper

This past Wednesday, I joined a group of artists from the McMurray Art League on an outing to Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh to see and sketch the summer flower show. Many of the women had taken my recent sketchbook journaling workshop and wanted to try out some of the ideas they had learned.

I used Speedball opaque white ink to draw the iron framework of the conservatory after I had painted the green foliage inside

We dispersed to all corners of Phipps and spent two hours sketching to our hearts' content. I headed outside to the Japanese Garden to enjoy some warm sunshine...

and sketched a scene which included a wooden arbor and the view beyond. (I drew and painted the garden scene on location, then added the border and background stripes later at home. I find that's what works best for me.)

Lexington gray ink and watercolor, plus a bit of brown Pigma Micron pen in the dot/dash border. 7" x 10" Canson sketchbook with 140 lb. paper

Then I went inside, to the leafy jungle of the Palm Court.

In the Orchid Room, each exotic blossom seemed more beautiful than the last.

The group came back together at 12:30 for an incredibly good lunch at Cafe Phipps, where we took a peek at each other's sketches while gobbling down quiche, soup, and salads.

After lunch, I wanted to finish the sketch I had started earlier in the Desert Room. With the sun pouring in and temps soaring, the Desert Room was feeling more and more like an actual desert as I sat on a rock and sketched, but it felt kind of good to bake awhile. It seems like I've been cold for the past seven months! After these pudgy round cacti and their prickly neighbors were drawn, I moved on to the Sunken Garden for one last sketch.

Lexington gray ink and watercolor, plus Speedball opaque white ink for the prickly barbs on the cacti. 7" x 10" Canson sketchbook with 140 lb. paper

Close-up of cacti with opaque white ink

I was pressed for time with this last one, so I dashed it off quickly, which gave it a more spontaneous look than the others. I like that. Guess I need to speed up more often!

I thought you might enjoy seeing some of sketches my friends did that day, too. It's fun and inspiring to see the variety of styles and techniques.

Some have vibrant color...

Others are studies in black, gray, and white...

Some are loose and simple...

Others are more detailed...

But they all reflect the fun we had, just taking some time to play, be in the moment, and do something we love.


  1. I love your page compositions and the variety you achieved in such a short time. Thanks for posting all of these.

  2. What a fun trip, and great sketches from everyone… great layouts too…

  3. Thanks, Leslie, for all your help and inspiration. This was such a fun day. I know I have a long way to go, but I really enjoy seeing other works and adding their "touches" in my paintings when I can. We have to do it again sometime!

  4. These sketches are really lovely! You got quite a lot done. Do you have the opaque white ink in a pen or did you use a dip pen for it? The other ladies look like they really enjoyed the trip.

  5. Joan,
    First I tried a Gelly Roll white gel pen, but it didn't want to cooperate. The lines weren't consistent and solid white, so I got out a bottle of Speedball opaque white ink and a crow quill pen, which worked very well.

  6. I've been reading your blog for a while. First time commenting. I live in Pittsburgh and your paintings of Phipps are amazing! Your talent leaves me so wishing I could paint! Beautiful work!

  7. Just give it a try sometime, Tricia. Maybe you could take a class. I'll be teaching in Washington, PA, this fall. Watch for more details later in the summer. I'd love to have you join us.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...