My Third Place

The third place I lived, that is.  The Charles Building at 9101 S. Ashland Avenue – I was three years old.  My Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Bob lived in an apartment here.  They moved out, and we moved in.

This is the home where my first real memories begin…my parents’ Murphy bed, my crib in the dining area, the ceiling falling on me while I was sleeping in said crib, laundry hanging in the back courtyard, walking up Ashland Avenue with my dad on a Saturday morning.  It was one of my favorite things to do. We would pass the building with the “crazy clocks,” as we called them. They may have been barometers or thermometers, and they hung out over the sidewalk, each clock face with a single hand that seemed to move in no particular direction.

The best thing that happened when we lived there was the birth of my sister.  And after a short while, of course, we would move again…but that’s another story.

Yesterday, my husband drove us to 91st and Ashland.  I sat in the car and sketched the Charles Building, first with pencil, then with my mother’s Parker fountain pen, circa 1945. I marveled at how well preserved the building is, in spite of the somewhat questionable stores that now occupy the ground level.  It is a beautiful building, with lovely details – if I were an architect, I would be better able to do justice to one of the more forgotten buildings in Chicago.  I still love it!


Next stop, Evergreen Park…

Oh, the places I’ve been…

I have started a new project – drawing all the places I’ve lived.  It would have been a great idea, had I started this when I was 24.  But I’m going to give it a go, starting with the house my parents lived in when I was born.

I have no memories of this house, so I can’t provide you with any amusing anecdotes of my life there.  All I know is that we lived in the basement of this house.  I had to Google the picture, and after 65 years, I was surprised that it was still standing!  I’m pretty sure there was a wooden – not concrete – front porch, with a wooden railing.  And there probably was no glass block in the basement window.

Here is 1759 W. 71st Street.  I drew the house twice – once for practice, and again in a 5×7 accordion-fold sketchbook – using pencil, ink and watercolor.

FirstHome  71stStreetHouseLoRes

I lived there for about six months.  When I was five months old, my grandmother died.  My father’s oldest sister, Aunt Sis, suggested that we move out of the basement to live in my grandmother’s apartment at 8051 S. Green Street – along with two uncles and two aunts.  Aunt Sis, Uncle Walter and my five cousins lived in the upstairs apartment.  I don’t remember too much about living there, either.  I seem to remember playing in the back yard with a boy named Tommy – but he could be a figment of my imagination.  I was also told that my Uncle Fay would peel grapes for me.  (I may have been a wee bit spoiled, living with all those relatives!)  Fay was short for Fabian – his full name was Edwin Fabian.  A few of my dad’s siblings, as well as my dad, were called by their middle names.  We don’t know why.

My husband and I drove down to Green Street a few years ago so I could take some photos – it is still beautiful.  A typical Chicago two-flat – beautiful red brick with limestone accents.  I drew this picture by referencing old, as well as more recent, photos.  The front door has changed (I drew the old one from family photos), but other than that, it looks exactly the same!

8051 S. Green Street, drawn with graphite pencil and colored pencil.  I definitely need a better scanner – there is a yellow cast to the picture, the red bricks are not that bright and neither is my drawing!


Next stop, 91st and Ashland.

Navy Pier sketches

My husband and I celebrated his birthday last week by visiting Navy Pier. He was kind enough to wait while I did a little sketching. I sketched the prow (I think that is what it is called!) of the ship, “Windy.” The sky grew darker as I was sketching, and the boat was filling up with tourists. As I finished my sketch, the boat sailed away, and a soft rain started to fall.


We went up to the Crystal Garden, where I did the following sketch.  I am still debating if I will add watercolor to it.


EDM – Day 2

Day 2 – “draw a lamp.”  I drew my favorite antique lamp, a gift from a dear friend.  It has a solid base that is brass or brass-colored, but a tall column of white glass, topped by a white glass globe, and a clear glass chimney.  I am always terrified it will shatter into a million pieces.  I love it!

Sketched with 2H and 2B pencils, Conté black pencil, and watercolor.


Everyday Matters – Day 1

I have challenged myself to draw something every day.  Whether or not that happens, remains to be seen.  I will follow the suggestions  on the Facebook page for Everyday Matters.  The first assignment – draw a shoe.  I decided to draw my baby shoe, which I am assuming is the first shoe in which I walked, at the age of 9 months.  In keeping with the fashion of the day (the 1950s), my mother had my shoes bronzed for posterity.  The pair sits on our bookshelves, collecting dust.  But, they make good bookends!


Saturday in the Park

Saturday was our regular Urban Sketchers Chicago monthly meeting day, which coincided with the 43rd Worldwide Sketch Crawl day.  USk Chicago met at the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  It was a gorgeous day, temperature in the 60’s near the lake, and we had a great turnout.  I entered the conservatory with another sketcher, Alex, hoping to find something interesting to sketch.  Less than a minute later, I was heading for the door – I needed air!!  There is a reason those places are called “hothouses.”

Outside, I decided to sketch the little bridge and tunnel located a safe, and much cooler, distance from the entrance to the Conservatory.  I sat on a small rock wall (for nearly two hours!) and sketched away.  Soon, a little girl was playing peek-a-boo with me from behind the nearby water fountain.  I was wishing I could sketch faster, and better, to capture her.  Meanwhile, her parents were having 10,000 fits trying to get her to leave – but she and I were laughing and having too much fun!  One of the most interesting aspects of sketching in public is interacting with a wide variety of people.

Case in point.  A man who was walking by admired my work in progress, and told me that he, too, enjoyed sketching.  I said, “Well, you should join us!  We are on Facebook, and we post our photos…”  Before I could finish, he declared that Facebook was owned by The Government.  As were most of “those social media things.” They are trying to control our lives. He continued to talk, while I smiled and nodded and mentally went somewhere else for a while.  Finally, I noticed that his monologue was winding down.  He ended by saying that Facebook, Twitter, and two other things that he mercifully could not remember, were, in “reality,” the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  He bade me a cheery good-bye, and set himself up near the entrance to the Conservatory, where he played the tin whistle beautifully!

I love hearing the tin whistle, and as I sat on a rock wall, and sketched a rock wall, I could almost imagine that I was in Ireland.  It was magical!



Sketched with pencil, Staedtler pens, watercolor, Conté pencil, in a S&B Zeta sketchbook.