Tag Archives: Oregon Coast

Sketch Crawl October 24, 2015

—That’s the joy of “crawling” for me – seeing what variety comes out of people’s hearts and minds as we all experience the same spots on the map in the same time frame. —

sketch of artist

“Oceanside Artist”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

I was invited to lead a “Sketch Crawl” last weekend (Oct. 24) in the village of Oceanside, Oregon.  The term Sketch Crawl I think is an adaptation of Pub Crawl, the difference being that you’re not limited to pubs, but you do progress as a loosely-connected group as the day plays out, plying your art, eating, drinking and being merry.  It’s simply great fun!  And how does one lead a Sketch Crawl?  For this one, I shared a few of my sketchbooks, I showed a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up (mostly from Sketchbook Skool), I briefly demonstrated two of my favorite tools (china marker and waterbrush), and then we headed out to let the art happen.  Leading is less like an art lesson and more like a pep talk: “Afraid of that blank sketchbook page?  Try drawing a border first in pencil – and voila, you’ve started!  Or just splash on some watercolor in the basic shape of what you see…”

Tiny Oceanside (which is near Tillamook of Tillamook Cheese fame) offered a one-block strip of sketching opportunities, which included the Three Arch Inn (our launching point), the community center deck overlooking the surf, the Post Office, a fire station, and two restaurants. A few sandy steps down, and you were on the beach.  The “crawlers” included around two dozen folks, literally from ages 9 to 90, beginners to accomplished professionals, who came to enjoy the glorious weather (! yes!  in Oregon in October at the coast!!) and the company of other artists, even if they all weren’t quite sure what a Crawl is…

We spent the morning choosing a likely spot in the village, pitching our folding chairs and stools, and “arting”.   It was fun to spot the crawlers on the sidewalks and decks and beaches, and to look over their shoulders as they worked.  We re-grouped for lunch, most of us at the Blue Agate Café, then carpooled up the cliffs to Cape Meares.  It was breezy there, but we all found another couple of magnificent views to fall in love with.  Close to four o’clock, we returned to our starting point in the lobby of the Inn.  The Art Accelerated group who organized the event provided snacks and wine and tea and coffee, and I encouraged everyone to share the results of their efforts.

What accumulated on the floor of the Inn as we laid out our sketchbooks was exactly what I had hoped for: a wide range of styles, subjects, and media.  That’s the joy of “crawling” for me – seeing what variety comes out of people’s hearts and minds as we all experience the same spots on the map in the same time frame.  From houses on the hillside to morning glory blossoms, from the geologic marvels of the coastline to the ever-changing waves that sculpted them, each page was unique.  Each choice of color or tool reflected something about the artist and the day.  Judging from the glow on the faces of the participants, even the shy ones who protested they weren’t artists, it was clear that they were pleased to say they had been on a “sketch crawl”.

Escaping to the Coast

sketch of children playing on shore

“Simple Pleasures”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

When the temp reaches 97 degrees in the Willamette Valley, plus a pollen count that’s off-scale even for here, it’s time to skedaddle to the coast.  Oregonians call it “the coast” because it’s not a beach… it’s a rocky stretch of sand scoured by cold wind and covered by clouds and fog.  It’s just not a place where you stretch out with your paper umbrella in your drink and your floppy hat covering your face from the sun.  Floppy hats must be anchored with elastic chin-bands, and drinks just make your hands colder.  But we love it.  You cross the center line of Highway 101 to turn onto the coast access road, and the temp plunges 40 degrees – no kidding!  The brave little souls painted above were having a marvelous adventure because they don’t know any different… I hope their hot cocoa was waiting for them when they finally were dragged away!

No trip to the coast is complete without a trip to Mo’s Chowder.  We sat out of the wind and enjoyed garlic cheese bread with our bowls of buttery chowder, and I had a perfect view of the dock and the Tsunami-bait homes out on the jetty.

sketch of dock

“View from Mo’s in Lincoln City”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

We stayed a few nights, had quite an adventure in the casino, and were ready to come home to a much more comfortable stretch of temps in the 70’s… whew!  Here comes summer!

Idyllic. Almost.

painting of red hammock

“Red Hammock”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

My Plein Air class set up in Tangent, Oregon at a lovely old farmstead, where our hostess had made big jars of iced tea for us.  Christine (another student) and I claimed the shade in the orchard, where she painted a gorgeous portrayal of a duet of pears (if you look closely above the hammock you can see a few), and I chose the bright red hammock for my subject.  I had a new toy to try, a Sharpie white water-based paint marker.  It worked like a charm for drawing the white ropes, and for toning down the “nouveau style” heavy lines after I got carried away.  The center of interest is perhaps a bit too close to “front and center”, but I was pleased with the bright colors of the hammock.  I never did reach the relaxation level implied in the painting… nothing like the constant roar of traffic on the highway to drown out birdsong on the summer breeze.  But I’m not complaining – it was such a treat to be able to paint outdoors for three hours, and then enjoy the resulting art show as the class displayed their work for critique.

One other sketch accomplished this week, this one during a business meeting held at the Oregon Aquarium.  The meeting room is about the best I’ve ever been in, with a view of the marsh surrounding the bay in Newport on one side, and a floor to ceiling window into the shark tank on the other end – AND coffee and delicious maple bars!  Clearly I need to put the Aquarium on my sketch destination list.

“Conference Concentration”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Nye Beach Performances

gulls perched on a row of posts

"Synchronized Scowling" mixed media by Kerry McFall

The Newport Performing Arts Center (not pictured obviously!) on Christmas Eve eve was a treasure:  first we saw a local ballet troupe perform Nutcracker Remix in 3D, an absolute hoot and very well done.  There is nothing like a 3-year-old ballerina to lift your spirits, unless it’s a 3-year-old Nutcracker soldier battling a mouse king three times his size – best sword play I’ve seen on stage since I saw Baryshnikov dance the Nutcracker in Atlanta once!  And then later that evening, we heard none other than David Ogden Stiers read from “A Christmas Carol” and other Christmas works – world class actor, small audience – we felt very privileged.

Between performances, an informal synchronized  flight show was taking place a bit north of the Arts Center.  As a rule it’s too windy/wet/cold at the coast (there’s a reason we rarely use the term “beach” in Oregon) for plein air sketching.  This weekend was no exception, and I came prepared with my camera.  A flock of gulls had congregated because some idiot was throwing them bread – it was fun to watch them catch the chunks in mid-air, but what I know about wild birds is that you shouldn’t feed them white bread.  When Bread Man left, a cloud of gloom descended on the flock, and they all took up posts on the fence and stared moodily out to sea from the Nye Beach Parking Lot (obviously so named by the good people in the Tourism Bureau).  Good mood or bad, it’s very difficult to avoid an expression on a bird face that doesn’t look cranky… still working on that!  The blob of red on the tip of their beaks doesn’t help much, kind of makes it look like they just tore apart their prey and forgot to use their napkins… the NationalAudubon Society web page tells me that this is probably a Western Gull, and the wing span can be up to five feet… wow!

Lions of Another Sort

"Sea Lions", mixed media by Kerry McFall

With thanks to the Oregon Coast Aquarium photograph archives, here is a sketch of the sea lions that appeared as tiny dots in the ocean in my previous post.  Sea Lions are strange and fascinating creatures, perhaps the ultimate “walking fish”!

Neptune’s Horses

Seashell sketch

Neptunes Horses

 …or Triton’s Stallions?  I thought I had already posted this, but somehow I skipped it.  A couple of weekends ago I went to Depoe Bay, Oregon, with my dear friends from Loosely Bound for a “retreat”.  We laughed and sewed and left behind the news and the Internet and all the rest of it, and I found a shell in a kitchen basket to sketch.  Not native, I’m sure, but colorful enough to merit trying Liz’s new watercolor metallic pencils.  The paper wasn’t quite the right weight to withstand the water wash, but I like the way the ripples looks like sun rays when it was scanned.  And the horses?  Shirley, who spends a good deal of time at the coast, told us that when the surf is high like it was that Saturday, and the wind blows it back on itself, it’s call Neptune’s Horses… or was it Triton’s Stallions?  Next time I’d like to focus just on those stallions, they were breathtaking.

Cracked Crab

Colored pencil sketch of cracked crab shell

Cracked Crab

At the coast last weekend (notice I didn’t say beach, most of the sand seems to have been sucked out to sea…) I found a crab shell, which when I picked it up was whole.  The colors and patterns were captivating – greens and purples and oranges, so vivid and clear!  Tiny arrows and horseshoes and stars in a beautiful ivory shade stood out from the spots.  But sadly, by the time I got home with it, safely tucked under the car seat, it had dried into a dull ghost of its colorful self, and a huge crack had split it nearly into two pieces.  Soaking it helped a bit, but the greens were gone.  Even so, I was determined to sketch, and the arrows and other patterns were still clear.  As I worked to capture the intricate edge, I realized how much  it reminded me of piecrust.   The light penetrated the shell and shone eerily orange through the eye sockets…  Life and light comes and goes, as Triton’s stallions thunder up and down the beach.