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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Machu Picchu at the Natural History Museum

It was pouring rain today so no plein air painting, but a fabulous day to go to the museum! Unfortunately, everyone else thought so too and it was a little crowded. The museum is the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven CT. I love going on weekends because you can park free in the parking lot of the Yale University Geology Lab which is right next door. The special summer exhibit this year is about Machu Picchu the center of the Inca civilization, in Peru during the 15th century, approximatley the same time as the Aztec civilization in Mexico. When I first arrived I knew I'd have to go to the dinosaur hall and sketch one of those behemoths first LOL! Today I chose the stegosauraus. The hall was crowded especially with kids and more than a few little ones bawled in fright when they encountered the T-Rex head and the Dinonicus, making it hard for me to concentrate. So I left for Machu Picchu. The exhibit began with a short 7 min. informative film. Machu Picchu was discovered by a Yale expedition in 1912 led by a man named Blanchard. (Ok, I didn't write any of this down and I hope I got that all straight!!) The figures were part of a diarama, there was a lot of ceramic work and stone carvings. The most interesting part was the display that showed how they moulded the skulls of their infants into different shapes, presumably to identify the person as belonging to a certain clan or social status. Now the technical details...the steggie and the figures were done with uniball vision pen and Yarka Watercolor with Aquaflow brushes, the kind that hold water in the handle, very convienient. I was able to sit in the dinosaur hall but not in Machu Picchu. So for the rest I switched to Faber-Castell Pitt Artsist Brush Pens. I love these things! They are quickly becoming my favorite when I can't juggle the watercolors and moleskine at once. I only have the landscape set(6 colors) but when I got home a Cheap Joe's Art Stuff sale flyer was waiting in my mailbox to announce that Faber-Castell is making 24 new colors and the NEW 48 color set is on sale for a one time only price of 69.99....I am soooooo tempted! I like these pens because it's like I'm painting. They cover in broad strokes very quickly creating a solid area of color not lines. They blend and mix when you layer and dry instantly. They're extremely lightfast and waterproof meaning that I could also combine them with watercolor if I wanted too. The only weird part of the day was that I had the distinct impression that people pretended to be looking at the exhibits but they were really peering over my shoulder! That was just creepy LOL When I paint outdoors people always come up and chat, which I usually enjoy. It seems that when you set up an easel you really go public and people feel free to come over. Sketching though seems to be a more personal, private affair and I don't think people feel comfortable saying anything, but their curiosity gets the better of them and they just have to sneak a peek LOL! It's always an adventure out there!! (little angel on my shoulder waving a credit card says I don't really need anymore pens, and can make due with what I have, plus who's going to lug 48 pens around?...oh but the little imp on the other side is waving all those beautiful colored pens around and telling me that I can select just the colors I think I will need for where I'll be sketching and they're not that heavy anyway, a lot lighter in fact than the French Easel I tote around.......)


Anonymous said...

Jan...Wonderful sketches! Looks like you had fun...I have the 6 pack of grey shades of the Pitt artist pens and am thinking about getting the landscape ones too...I really like that they are brush pens...I also have the Pitt pens for sketching...I really like the superfine nib in sepia.


Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Debbie,

Well I succumbed to temptation and ordered the BIG set of Pitt brush pens last night LOL. I should mention tht I also used some gel pens in these sketches, to get some of the colors I needed. Gel pens are also very fun for a scribbly look, I have a 10 color set of Sarasa that i got at Staples. Oh and I just got a sepia Memory Brush, it has brush tip too. Haven't even had time to try it out yet!


Laura said...

The Pitt pens work so well for you! I would like them if they had a more flexible brush, like the Kuretake ones do---as it is, I can't make the Pitts behave in the squiggly way which is my favorite way to draw. But, as I say, YOU work wonders---and, oh, to have 48 colors to play with!

Jan Blencowe said...


(Covering my ears)...don't tell me about any more wonderful, colorful pens LOL I have no resitence to temptation LOL