Travel Sketching

My husband, artist Kurt Isgreen, and I just returned from a three week road trip to the Texas hill country and Gulf coast.  After acquiring a small Hawk popup camper for our pickup truck last winter and taking several short trips last year, we decided we were ready for a more ambitious trip.  After three days of traveling and figuring out the logistics of camping, grocery shopping, and navigating, we were ready to begin recording our travels in sketches.

cheri isgreen
Along the San Antonio Riverwalk, 2/14/16

For this trip I took a 6″ square multimedia sketchbook.  The size was a bit of a challenge; being quite small, I had to determine what to include and what needed to be simplified.  The square format was also somewhat of a challenge, as city scenes lend themselves better in landscape layout.  The plus side: the size was ideal for walking and hopping buses; the paper weight allowed for a variety of media, including markers and watercolor.

San Antonio:

First evening, too late to explore the Alamo, but good light for drawing
Day 2 San Antonio- our plan was to see the many historic homes in the King William neighborhood, San Antonio


Day 3 San Antonio- took the bus to the Museum of Fine Arts- one of the best art museums I have visited.  Very impressive for a small city.  Then down the Riverwalk to the Pearl neighborhood.
Final day in San Antonio, then on to Goliad, TX
Visited 4 missions, explored all 4 missions and sketched 2.
Espirtu Santo Mission is right on the grounds of Goliad State Park, where we camped


The town of Goliad is a short walk from the park along a well-kept trail/bridge system

After leaving the Hill Country, we traveled to the Gulf Coast.  We camped at Mustang Island the first night, visited Padre Island National Seashore, then on to Rockport, Fulton, Goose Island State Park, and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.




Rockport-Fulton had the best seafood I have ever eaten.  I ordered the shrimp pasta, which were absolutely HUGE and fresh off the boat!

Leaving the Coast, we camped a Blanco State Park.  We explored the smaller towns of the Hill Country, including Luckenbach, Texas and Fredericksburg.  Both Rockport and Fredericksburg are art colonies.  The final night at Blanco, a hard rain fell which made national news.  I was quite worried about flooding and tornados, but we came through it safely.




Seven Days

Drawing in an investigative process; as one draws, one learns about a chosen subject.  Monet was the master of learning through repeated studies of the same subject: Rouen Cathedral, the train station Saint-Lazare, and of course his beloved waterlily pond and bridge.

Inspired by my sister’s arrangement of tangerines and tangelos, I decided to make a seven day study of the fruit.  I love the Italian desert server on which she arranged her fruit.  The fruit was fresh from the grove, with intriguing almost pear-like shapes.

The first drawing captures the arrangement in ink.

Day 1

I was very drawn to the leaves still clinging to a few of the fresh tangelos.  I knew that the contrast of the green and orange would make a striking little watercolor painting.


“Zooming in close allowed me to explore how light influences color on a form.  The red shadows from the reflected light surprised me.”

With so many shapes and overlaps, I decided to explore how that overlap would be exploited in a Cubistic manner.  I chose blue complements for the server’s outlines.


“LOOKING THROUGH- observe carefully and imagine how to complete each shape- though hidden by overlap.  Painting allows abstract pattern of color to develop.  This is my take on cubism.

Further exploring the “orange-ness” of the fruit, I played with the essence of sun and citrus- similar colors, shapes, even texture.


“An orange is a small package of liquid sunshine.”

Each day’s study suggests a new direction for the subsequent journal entry.  The oranges and sunshine reminded me of the creative approach the program CBS Sunday takes with its iconic sun.


Drawing and painting reflections, rather than object, forces an artist to search for true shape and color, instead of an object’s symbolic elements.  To emphasize the reflections, I left the rest of the drawing as minimal tonal values and details.


What better way to end this study on Super Bowl Sunday?


……….a Bronco line-up…………….


In collaboration with Scott and Debbie Cassidy, I am pleased to announce the installation of my artwork at Backstreet Bagels Co.  Paintings in a variety of subjects, including my signature watercolor horses, adorn the walls.

"Hot Shoe" copyright C Isgreen 2015 $500
“For a Good Time Call Ed” award winning watercolor painting $500 copyright Cheri Isgreen

Also hanging are note cards and a small collection of mixed media prototype collages, designed from my original paintings.  The artwork is specially priced for this debut showing.  Take an additional 20% off the purchase of all artwork through the end of this month, by presenting the completed certificate.

j[g.backstreet certificate


Backstreet Bagels Co is locally owned and run by Scott and Debbie Cassidy.  Backstreet is a deli and coffee house serving their signature bagels made fresh daily.  Backstreet offers  a varied breakfast and lunch menu served all day, a full barista bar, baked specialties including my personal favorite- Scottie’s biscotti, friendly service, a cozy atmosphere, and a summer patio garden.  Located at 127 N Townsend, in Montrose, CO, Backstreet is open seven days per week: 6:00 AM – 2:30 PM weekdays & 7:00 AM – 2:30 PM weekends.

Coming in 2016, I will be offering classes and workshops, including a Lunch & Learn series focused on sketch journaling, urban sketching, and pleine aire painting.  Please comment at the end of this post if you are interested in joining the art workshops.

"Contours of my Morning"  copyright C Isgreen, pen on paper, 6" x 6"
“Contours of my Morning” copyright C Isgreen, pen on paper, 6″ x 6″

Building Study

The elevation view is when the artist looks straight at a building.  Both the horizontal and the vertical lines are straight with no converging lines.  For a quick exercise, I sketched the Great Harvest building in downtown Montrose.  It was built in the early 1900’s with some classical architectural detail.

Great Harvest bldg, copyright C Isgreen 2015, ink on paper, 6" x 6"
Great Harvest bldg, copyright C Isgreen 2015, ink on paper, 6″ x 6″

CONTOUR DRAWING: lines of inquiry

I’ve taken Danny Gregory’s sketch challenge: take 10-15 minutes to create art before breakfast.  I enjoyed doing these breakfast still life compositions.


"Breakfast Still Life"  copyright Cheri Isgreen pen on paper  6" x 6"
“Breakfast Still Life” copyright Cheri Isgreen pen on paper 6″ x 6″

These three little studies are based on contour drawing.  From the idiom, “a line of inquiry,” contour drawing takes this notion quite literally.  When one closely examines objects and sets out to draw them through contour lines, this close observation results in deep inquiry about the “thing-ness” of individual objects.  What makes a teapot a teapot?  For me, it’s the ceramic glaze, the stout curved form, and the bamboo handle.  The delicate china shape of the egg plate suggests “Haviland; Limoges, France.”  In describing the milk jug, I added some details to the lines which reflect who I am.  For those who know me well, they would say, “She chooses healthy food, (non-gmo and unsweetened).”  They may also say, “Well , she’s lactose intolerant.”  It’s not necessary to include every detail in the milk jug.  It’s more important to make a statement about the object, or in this case, about the artist- what was important to me as I portrayed the milk jug.

"Contours of my Morning"  copyright C Isgreen, pen on paper, 6" x 6"
“Contours of my Morning” copyright C Isgreen, pen on paper, 6″ x 6″

It’s fun to play with words, as well as images.  Think about what the “contours of your morning” look like.  For me, breakfast is very important.  As one who used to skip breakfast, I’ve come to rely on the sustenance those nutrients bring.  Without breakfast, I would have no stamina.

Are you a busy career person?  What do the contours of your morning look like?  Are you focused on the meeting at 9 AM, the daily commute, or grabbing some family time before everyone heads out the door?  Visual it.

"When Negatives Become Positive"  copyright C Isgreen 2015, ink on paper 6" x 6"
“When Negatives Become Positive” copyright C Isgreen 2015, ink on paper 6″ x 6″

Artists use the negative space found around an object to define the shape of the object.  Instead of focusing on the contour of the shape, in this drawing I looked at the negative space AROUND each shape.  Using ink, I needed to do some adjusting, so instead of strong contour lines, I opted for sketchy lines with strong negative space surrounding the objects. the negative spaces were defined from cast shadows.

What other negatives could be interpreted as positives?  For starters, the results of a mammogram…….