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…


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.


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.


Yesterday, I went sketching with the Urban Sketchers Chicago group.  It was really wonderful to meet some sketchers I had not met before.  We revisited Chinatown, where we had sketched last year.  We are thinking this should be a yearly event.

I arrived early (really?), so while I waited for the others to appear, I did a few sketches, sitting on Cermak Road, facing north.  The first sketch is a portion of the Three Happiness Restaurant, and the view up Wentworth Avenue.



(Pencil, Micron pen, watercolor in Holbein post card book)

Next, I sketched people who were passing by or standing around.  I loved the young woman who was listening to a tour group leader giving a lecture.  The young woman kept fidgeting her legs around, while keeping her arms crossed.  Even from across the street, it was obvious that she was bored out of her mind!



(Pencil, Micron pen, watercolor)

The next two sketches were done at Chinatown Square, a block or two north of Cermak Road, on the west side of Wentworth Avenue.  We were happy to discover that there was a Chinatown Festival happening – and it was very festive!  We were entertained with music, young children dancing, many different people and even a procession of monks.  I set up my little, bum-numbing stool, and began to draw.

When I finished the drawing of the horse sculpture, I acquired a small fan club – two young girls, around 10 and 11 years old, and their twin cousins, the most adorable four-year-old boys.  The older girl asked me to draw Angry Birds.  (I had to get my phone out and find an Angry Bird to draw – the red one, of course!)  Then the boys had to have Angry Birds as well.  One of the boys asked me to draw a big house.  (The house I drew could only have been inhabited with stick figures!)  While I was drawing and looking down at the paper, one of the boys kept putting his face under mine, bringing our foreheads together, and staring into my eyes.  I’m not sure what that was about!  Then the younger girl asked me to draw flowers.  I drew everything and gave them the pictures.  They hung around for about an hour – a very appreciative audience – and I enjoyed it immensely!

ChinatownSquare HorseSculpture


(Both pages done with pencil, Staedtler pens, Micron pen, and watercolor in an Arches Travel Book, 140 lb. paper)

I copied the symbol for “horse” from the base of the sculpture.  Then, the oldest member of my fan club asked if she could draw the “new” symbol on my page.  I was delighted with that!  All in all, a great day with the Urban Sketchers!