4 June, 2017. I had a great time leading this weekend’s Kansas City Art Institute graduate sketching workshop, “Illustrating the Edible.” Working with art teachers is always a powerfully positive experience, and this group was no exception. I have a pretty loyal following of workshop participants, and I usually know the majority of attendees. However, this weekend I had a group of art teachers who were nearly all new to me.
The first stop on our three day workshop was at The Cellar Rat, where my group enthusiastically embraced sketching (and sampling!) during a wine tasting. Located in the Crossroads Arts District, the wine shop and the surrounding neighborhood was packed for our monthly First Fridays art walk. So, the opportunity for sketching subject matter was rich, no matter where each artist positioned his or herself. Our focus this weekend was on food: dining, socializing, preparation, shopping, and growing – and the wine tasting was an excellent way to kick things off. Drawing people who are in constant motion can be challenging, and sipping a glass of wine while attempting to do so might have helped to calm the nerves of those made nervous at stepping outside their comfort zone!
Our Friday evening visit to The Cellar Rat was intentionally leisurely and fun, providing those who wished to do so the freedom of an enjoyable romp through the Crossroads District. Saturday’s schedule was considerably busier, beginning at The Missing Ingredient. The Missing Ingredient is an subsidiary of the restaurant development company, Bread n Butter. Using hydroponics and specialized grow lights, they are local producers of greens, herbs, and even edible flowers for local restaurants.
I always find my mark making is pretty rigid and tight when I first start sketching, so to warm up I arrived at the warehouse a little early. Moving around the page very quickly, I roughed in the main shapes without any penciled construction lines. My goal was to loosen up and emphasize the key shapes…zero in on the important stuff, and restrain myself from adding unnecessary details.
Once my group arrived, we descended upon the place. Inside, and beyond the initial office area, there is a large open area which is filled with row after row of plants. Our hosts welcomed us to set up and sketch anywhere that was convenient. I was impressed with the sheer number of lettuces, not even to mention the variety of other greens on hand. The vertical grow spaces had just been harvested of edible flowers.
Our next location was an upscale restaurant named Stock Hill. Elegant and sophisticated, the interior architecture is both impressive and comfortable. Although we were supposed to be with Chef during our visit, some wires got crossed and we missed out on the opportunity to document the processes he goes through in preparing the kitchen and staff for the day. Instead, my sketchers focused in on the environment: lights, stairs, table settings, and so forth. I felt fortunate to have been able to capture a small kitchen prep scene earlier during breakfast before the workshop day schedule had begun.
Fate is a cruel mistress – even though we were touring various food venues of the city, I wound up inhaling a McDonald’s cheeseburger on my way to our next location of the day. Rushed as I was, I couldn’t resist adding small touches of color to my breakfast sketch while I chewed on my rubberized burger.
And while the event had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my workshop, I pulled over for three or four minutes to sketch a demonstration. The ladies in front, seeing me pull up and look, did me the favor of posing and shaking their sign and flag!
The final location for our day was the City Market, a place I’ve visited many times for both shopping and sketching. It’s a place where people of all types find themselves shoulder to shoulder in search of grown foods, a happy hunting ground for mimes and street musicians, where the air is rife with the aroma of meat grilling. In some respects, I expect it’s somewhat divine.