May 28, 2011. Three days left to teach and the summer is here. I finished up some work at the school, then headed around the block to this spot on Johann August Sutter street. We're packing up our classrooms for the big move to our new school building and we're packing up our suitcases to fly to Washington state, then California for the summer. I haven't seen my dad in two years, and I'm looking forward to going to a Dodger game and eating some good American junk food.
May 26, 2011. There are some things you just don't put on a resume. But those are often the things that matter most when it comes to the day to day. If I have perfect job performance, but have no human relations skills, and if I have impressive credentials, but have no heart for my fellow man, I am hardly more than the machine I sit behind. My job is go beyond my job; to see the big picture. To see that people matter more than my productivity.
May 24, 2011. So, if you haven't had a chance, make sure to check out our new Urban Sketchers Basel site. As I said on the main Urban Sketchers site, "Our intention is to showcase the beautiful city of Basel, Switzerland through on-location sketches and to perpetuate an interest in urban sketching amongst professional and amateur artists in the region. In the future we would like to schedule Basel sketchcrawls where sketchers could meet together and share their love of outdoor sketching. Basel is a city rich in history and known for its museums and art." Also, if you haven't had a chance yet, check out the other Urban Sketcher sites listed on the sidebar, and if you're into street sketching yourself, think about starting your own USk site in your local city or region. Directions are found on the main Urban Sketchers website.
May 23, 2011. I thought it was about time to do another self-portrait. This school year's about to wrap up, then we're headed to the Pacific Northwest for a couple weeks before heading down to Fresno, California, and eventually down to Long Beach. I'm loving the sunshine these days, sitting on a bench in the hot sun for a half an hour today. The bench overlooked the entire village of Sitzenkirch, and I fell asleep letting my mind run through 14 years of memories there. God has been good.
May 22, 2011. I didn't intend to draw our old house today. We lived here for only two years, but we have many good memories. The house sits across the road from the school where I have taught for the past 14 years. After this year I will be saying goodbye to this sleepy little village of Sitzenkirch and teaching in the town of Wollbach. Here my kids shot bows and arrows, walked in the creeks, cheered for Germany during the World Cup games, sledded in the snow, and enjoyed the beautiful countryside in the summer. Here is where our heat went out, and where we celebrated one of our coldest Christmases, opening presents with our coats on and as many candles as we could find to light. After I finished the sketch, the couple who has lived there for the past few years came out and requested to buy it, as they too will be saying goodbye to this house and moving back to Egypt.
May 20, 2011. Here's a commissioned sketch for some friends of ours. The timing is good, as our car broke down again this week. They called to confirm the price the other night, and I told them it depends on the size of the repair bill. Of course I'm kidding. Truth is, our car has been a real pain this year, and we are actually considering not having a car next year to save money. We'll see.
May 19, 2011. We had to shut our school down for the day, due to a flu bug that was taking out a large part of our student body. Therefore, I found myself with a day off in the middle of the week, so I headed into Basel to do some sketching with Boris Zatko. I found him sketching the old children's hospital, down by the river. He needed a break, so we took the water taxi across the river, and took a little walk. At that point, the sky darkened, and a thunderstorm changed our plans, so we drove over to Acqua Basel, where we did some indoor sketching of the restaurant's lounge. I added watercolor to the sketch later in the day. PS: Boris has posted his report and sketches of the day [here].
May 17, 2011. Here's a little sketch I did today after work in the village of Holzen. Shortly after I sat down on the grass, I was joined by a little 6 year old girl named Alexandra who told me she was going to be an artist some day. From that point on, she became a little helper, giving me pointers and ideas. I had to stop in the middle of this sketch to draw a cartoon that she could take home. Alexandra's two little sisters came over and started grabbing up my paintbrushes and pens. It turned out to be a fun little party, but I think Alexandra wasn't too impressed with my German.
May 16, 2011. There are always bills to pay. There are always misunderstandings and conflicts. The car breaks down and the picnic gets rained out. Troubles are a normal part of life. No one escapes them. But thank God, he has given me people in my life who make me smile and laugh, and focus on the great things happening around me. One of my favorite times to think through all my blessings is when I'm walking through these hills, and I have time to just be thankful for life. It is a gift.
May 14, 2011. A lazy Saturday. Last night was my annual father/son campout, when all the boys in my class and their dads head out into the woods for an overnight. We usually come back sopping wet, cold to the bone, and spend the day cleaning up muddy tents and sleeping bags. But this year was wonderfully dry and warm, and we woke to sunshine. Now that everything is put away, and the yard work is done, the clouds came and the rain began... just fine with me. I sat down and sketched whatever was in my head, and here's what came out. I suppose it shows a mixture of refreshment with a bit of anxiety as well, as I think about the flurry of activity ahead. One day at a time... enjoy each moment.
May 11, 2011. I must have gotten in the mood to sketch churches last night, because I did it again today. It was a busy day, but I found an hour before dinner to sketch, and an hour after my small group guys to paint it. It's a very simple church, really, but the cemetery grounds and the landscaping around it are very nice. Whenever I go, people are always there, water pails in hand, caring for the plots of their loved ones. It's something I enjoy seeing. A few people walk by, curious at a person sketching, but I have always enjoyed cemeteries- not in a macabre way, but I try to imagine who those people were, and wonder if they were happy with their lives. Were they friendly or honest or faithful? Or would they give anything to start over so they could love more and give more? And those of us above the ground, standing in the sunlight, have a little more time to change.
May 11, 2011. Here's a watercolor of Aufkirchen that I sketched before, but wanted to add some personality to.
May 10, 2011. I'm very happy to announce the launch of Urban Sketchers Basel, a partner site to the original Urban Sketchers blog. The site will highlight the beautiful and international city of Basel through on-location sketches and drawings of those that live in or nearby. At this point, we have four contributing artists, including Boris Zatko, Javier Alberich, Jamie Aspinall, and myself.
May 8, 2011. William Hatfield, also known as "Devil Asne Hatfield," led his family in its bloody feud with the McCoy family in the late 1800s. The feud symbolizes so much of what's wrong with our human condition, and one of our greatest ambitions is to teach the young ones how to settle differences before they escalate. The strongest way to teach our kids how to do this is by our own example- how we handle conflict ourselves.
May 6, 2011. It's beyond busy at our house this month, as it's the end of the school year. But I did get out for an hour to sketch this today. Bliss. We are preparing to head back to the States in a few weeks. My daughter will be looking at colleges and we will have many appointments. It is these times when I can sit and sketch, or when I can walk, that I take inventory of all that is going on in my life, and appreciate all that God has given me. My complaints and my worries just seem to blow away, like the little seeds carried away on the wind.
May 3, 2011. My goal during the break was to produce one drawing or painting for every day. Here are the 18 results of that time. Most of these were done on location within 20 minutes of our house, with the exception of the sketch in Zurich, and the little Moleskine sketches or miniature paintings with acrylics. I am not expecting to be able to sketch this month, as this is the busiest time of the year for me, so I was glad to have had some time in April. In June we will be heading back to the States for the summer, so hopefully I can schedule in some drawing days then.