December 19, 2020

Peters Inn, Fells Point, Baltimore–virtual tour 12/13/2020 (POSCA pens on grey-toned paper)

Last Sunday my sketching group was treated to a virtual tour of Baltimore. Our intended host could not actually join us that morning, but as is our usual, we rallied round and made do. He posted some photos of what he described as special views of the city for us to draw. He also provided some very interesting detailed historical background of the city. I knew that Maryland was one of the original 13 colonies, but for me that was it. Thank goodness our invisible virtual host shared lots of other interesting historical facts about Baltimore, including the Battle of Baltimore—a land and sea battle fought during the War of 1812. 

As I have already said, I don’t really know anything about Baltimore and have never had the opportunity to go there. However, I have been to Philadelphia and it’s just a mere 100 miles northeast. In fact, you can travel between these two historical cities by water if you use the Chesapeake and Delaware canals. While I was in Philadelphia I really enjoyed learning about the historical buildings and the famous Americans who had lived there at the very beginning of this country. Hearing about the history of Baltimore was also very interesting to me. What I think I really liked was our virtual host’s personal story about living there in the early to mid 2000’s. He told us he was there for 7 years, but didn’t much care for it his first year. But he said he grew to love it when he decided to immerse himself in what he called Baltimore’s “great community of cultures.” He also added that it was during his new found attitude of “Baltimore” joy that he met a woman who later became his wife. Such a great story, right? Very romantic too! And to help introduce us to some of the cultures he explored while living there we first went to Baltimore’s Little Italy to sketch. (I didn’t include it here as I only got a basic pen and ink sketch down on paper in that first 30 minute sketch-a-thon. As we had the photos, I later started to add color, but did not get past laying down the initial shades of red brick. Oh yes, Baltimore is loaded with brick houses and buildings. This is something not at all common here in CA as it is not safe to be anywhere near a brick building during a earthquake.) 

So, then we moved onto a smaller and more intimate view of a couple dining out at Peters Inn in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore. It was interesting to learn that Waterside Fells Point was founded in 1732. It seems that now it is a trendy place along the waterfront where you will find cool pubs, taverns, and art galleries as you walk along the cobblestone streets. There is even the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myer Maritime Park Museum in what was once an industrial building. This museum is dedicated to African-American nautical history. I’m thinking that all those early American cities are made up of communities of different cultures, right? And it makes me wonder if everyone of us wanted to travel to such a city, we should be able to find something or someone there we like, right?

This idea of immersing yourself into the various cultures of various communities reminds me of a couple instances where my son and I moved to larger cities in CA, with his initial and final reaction to new people and places. After he graduated from high school we found ourselves moving from small town Grass Valley to Sacramento. Before going he told me he knew he wouldn’t like living there. Duly noted. But as time went along, he went to a community college there and quickly found some peeps of a like mind. As you might imagine, that was great for both of us. Then I found myself moving to Los Angeles. He put his foot down about going to La La Land and stayed in Sacramento. Duly noted. But in between quarters at UCSC, he found himself joining me here. I have heard lots of people say they would never live in LA, and yes the traffic can be pretty awful. But I will say, there is really nothing quite like a beautiful Southern CA day—truly noted. Guess what? He came to visit between quarters anyway. And before so many things closed down last March because of COVID, he was working as a research assistant at UCLA. He had finally connected with his peeps here and finally admitted that it wasn’t so bad after all. Duly noted!

Final note about my “art” geekiness

Ok, I have to make mention of the materials I used for the Peters Inn. The minute the photo popped up on my computer screen, for our second 30 minute sketch, I knew immediately that I wanted to use my POSCA pens on grey toned paper. I was almost giddy with my impending challenge of using the red and orange pigment on that grey background. As I’ve said Baltimore, is loaded with brick houses and streets, so if you want to sketch there you will need lots of shades of red for all those bricks. I knew I would want to use red in a saturated way, with spotty bits of orange and red, and then with red and orange used closely together. All of this color manipulation was calculated to be used with the grey paper showing through just the right amount. Your eye to brain connection can then facilitate the mixing of those colors to great effect.

Once that bit of pigment geekiness was unleashed in me I found myself reading a TIME story about PANTONE colors. If you know of the Pantone Color Institute you will know that each year a very specific color(s) is featured. The Pantone Color for 2020 was PANTONE 19-4052 (Classic Blue). This color was chosen as an enduring color that was to evoke a stable and dependable foundation on which to build a new era. It was meant to instill calm and confidence. Yikes! Not sure I would I describe 2020 with any of those words or sentiments. But, Pantone colors for 2021 speak to a different year and time ahead for us. Their 2021 colors are PANTONE 17-5104 (Ultimate Gray) and PANTONE 13-0647 (Illuminating). The grey is meant to bring to mind stable and concrete foundations, and calm beaches covered with pebbles. Illuminating is a bright yellow. It is meant to evoke sunshine and instill cheerful spirits. I don’t think the grey toned paper I used here would be considered PANTONE’s ultimate grey color. No matter. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely get behind a bright and stable 2021. Can I get an Amen?

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