Tag Archives: Corvallis Farmers Market

The Three ‘P’s (and a recipe)

Passion.  Perseverance.  Practice.  Those are at the heart of this week’s Sketchbook Skool online lessons.  So this spring weekend I’ve been passionately persevering and practicing:

"Sunflower Starts", mixed media by Kerry McFall

“Sunflower Starts”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

This year I decided to get a jump on the cutworms and slugs and plant sunflowers in cardboard egg cartons.  I put the cartons out in the driveway, where the cement reflects sunshine and collects warmth and, I thought optimistically, deters bugs.  The seeds sprouted, and are thriving, although some of the leaves are still struggling to shed the shells.  I decided that today was the day to plant them, so drawing them first would be a good exercise in perspective, shading, and recording daily life.  I brought them inside, and when I lifted them up to check for roots poking through the bottom of the carton, discovered colonies of “curly bugs” (sow bugs?) had come along for the ride, all snugged up in the dividers underneath.  Eew.  But one person’s grossout moment is a chicken’s delight, so the neighbor’s hens had a lovely Easter morning treat.

Yesterday was the first Saturday Farmer’s Market of the year, so we walked to the Riverfront (one of the true delights of living close to downtown) in a light drizzle and made the rounds of the booths for a “Farm to Table” supper.  Fresh cheddar bratwurst, cabbage raab ( new veggie for me), and BumbleBerry Pie.  Raab, it turns out, is the blossom spike (with tiny leaves) of the cabbage if you leave the plant in the ground to overwinter – it looks a lot like broccoli.  Recipes are below this sketch:

Corvallis Farmers Market 2014, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Corvallis Farmers Market 2014, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Slice Sweet Briar Farm cheddar bratwurst into bite size pieces – it’s really good, and really fresh.  Chop one onion into quarters.

Stir fry onions and bratwurst until brown in cast iron skillet in olive oil.

Add enough sauerkraut plus juice to almost cover sausage, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or longer… If you happen to have a bottle of beer open, pour some of it in, too.

At end of the 15 minutes, leave the brats simmering, and chop the raab into 3 inch sections.  Stir-fry in olive oil with one clove of chopped garlic and a little sea salt just until tender-crisp, which only takes a few minutes.  Serve with the bratwurst.  And if you’re not on a diet, some fried potatoes would be perfect to go with this.

Farmer’s Market Find: Studebaker!

sketch of red pickup

“Farmer’s Market Find,” mixed media drawing by Kerry McFall

Saturday found me roaming downtown by the river, enjoying that “last rose of summer” aroma in the air as autumn moves in.  You know that smell, still a little sweet, with the richness of wet soil and leaves beginning to decay.  I didn’t really want anything from the market, having gotten the Fit of Domesticity out of my system the weekend before.  But I was thrilled at what I found at the north end of the market – a brilliant red Studebaker pickup.  It was clearly somebody’s baby, not a speck of dust on it, gleaming in the October sun like a giant red chile pepper.  Gorgeous.  And I don’t even really like cars!  This is the first time I’ve ever been the least bit interested in drawing one – it must be the color that attracted me – and I have to say cars aren’t easy.  I think it must be like the relationship between anatomy and life drawing – you really need to know a little bit about the chassis (now there’s an automotive word!) underneath it to make a believable drawing of the outside.

I remember hearing my Uncle Creston argue at family reunions with my other uncles about how Studebaker was the maker of the best automobiles on the road… funny how some words stick with you, so the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the Studebaker logo shining on the passenger door was an image of Uncle Creston.  I’ll bet he would have loved this one!

Pie Fixes Everything

sketch of pie and box

“Pie Fixes Everything”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Oh, the Restraint!  I have still – after three hours – not eaten my Farmer’s Market prize yet… but after staring at it for all that time as I painted, I can tell you that my resolve is weakening.

The “RD” in the crust stands for Razzle Dazzle flavor, which is raspberries, blueberries, and Marionberries.  Our local pie maker’s booth features the “Pie Fixes Everything” logo and stacks of brown boxes filled with pies that rival even my Mother’s (it’s okay, she doesn’t do Internet!).  I wholeheartedly agree that a pie can fix everything, although I think that biscuits may actually provide a better fix because you can put butter on them, but that’s just me.

It’s been a glorious summer beginning today: a sunny walk to the market, breakfast with SueAnn, some on-site sketching, great people watching, fun painting, shared a turkey sandwich for lunch with my cat, and now PIE!

Organic Dandelions… Really

sketch of baskets of vegetables

“Organic Dandelions”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

At the Corvallis Farmer’s Market a couple of Saturdays ago, I snapped a few photos in the Gathering Together Farm booth.  Their veggie basket displays are visual feasts, but it’s difficult to sketch “live” because hungry people have shopping to get done.  I didn’t realize until I got home and began sketching that the main “veggie” in the center of this display was your common ordinary run-of-the-mill dandelion leaves!  Who knew that you can get $3.00 per bundle for a handful of “weeds”?!

But I’m not that much of a dingbat.  I have read that dandelions are one of the healthiest, most vitamin-packed greens.  Ironic that we spend so much time and money and herbicides trying to eliminate them.  Refreshing to see them being recognized for their potential!

This painting/sketch uses my evolving technique of mixing china marker with watercolors and colored pencil.  The challenge is that the waxy china marker not only resists watercolor, it also resists my final phase, which is ink.  It’s wrecking all of my best pens!  The wax eventually builds up on the tip of the pen and it’s almost impossible to get off.  Looks like I need to come up with a “work around”…

Small Town, U.S.A.

market sketch

“Corvallis Farmer’s Market”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

From the lovely little white courthouse to the old telephone poles lining the clean (!) brick alleys, Corvallis is the penultimate “small town”.  Saturday mornings in summer find about half the populace (and their dogs) strolling through the farmer’s market down by the river on First Street.  It is a mouthwatering collection of homemade pies and local cheeses and fresh eggs, and potato bread so soft you can’t even slice it.  It is a visual candy dish of glistening strawberries and rotund radishes and potted tomato vines that already have blossoms.  And every half block you can hear a different band or singer or fiddler, some terrific, some off key, but all enthusiastic and filled with the joy of just bein’ alive and kickin’.

Market Saturday is a ritual, a celebration, a feast.  I have always loved it, but never was brave enough to sketch it until now.  Funny how I don’t mind drawing where I’m a stranger, but in Corvallis, no one is a stranger… I planted myself on a shady bench between the ‘Health Care is a Human Right’ booth and the guy who will consult with you on how to fix your bike.  I had a good angle on the courthouse and the food tents, and used the perspective of the street to funnel the parade of humanity.  But shade turned out to not be such a good idea, so I picked up my gear and moved off down toward the bread van, Oven & Earth, always my favorite vendor.  I passed a singer, two young jugglers, a couple of bands, and then I stopped in my tracks to listen and watch as the “Grange Hall Drifters” performed.  The songs they sang are as old as the hills, I’m sure my Grandfather called Square Dances to them back in the day, but these guys were young.  “Philomath boys,” one bystander said, and they were certainly dressed the part.  Jeans as jeans were meant to be, cowboy boots (real ones, not fancy Texas pointy-toed ones, but the kind you work in), plaid shirts.  Coulda been cowboys, coulda been loggers, one mighta been a hippie, but definitely Musicians with a capital M.  I didn’t realize I was grinning like a fool until a friend came up and asked me who I knew in the band.

sketch of musicians

“Grange Hall Drifters”, mixed media by Kerry McFall


There were too many enchanted listeners drifting in and out of my line of sight to be able to sketch live, so I snuck up close, snapped a photo, and went back to listening and grinning.  If Corvallis wasn’t so uptight and self-conscious, we all would have been dancing in the street, not just the three-year-olds.  I miscalculated when I got home and started sketching because I couldn’t fit the fourth musician onto the page – definitely a cowboy, banjo, white straw hat and all – and if he sees this I apologize.  Next time I’ll slow down and do a better job of composing before I jump in with the watercolors.

I also decided that sketching the produce booths was not a good idea – people were there to shop, and visit, and there was no place to sit, stand, or lean.  The longer I stayed, the more crowded it got, and the more people wandered over to chat.  More photos await my next opportunity to sit still long enough to sketch.

Penultimate is too close to the truth in describing Corvallis, I am afraid.  The definition is “next to the last”.  This year saw the advent of a WalMart and a bunch more national franchises, and the demise of our local grocer.  The university is busily erecting industrial barns and paving their lovely agricultural meadows, doubling the student head count to vastly outnumber the resident population, while Florida developers bulldoze through my neighborhood to build 5-bedroom “luxury townhomes” for college kids not even old enough to drink legally.  I know – Change is a constant, but we are destroying what we came here for in the first place.  I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.  Shoot, I miss it already.