Garden magic

It’s raining again now, but Buddha and I were reveling in the sunshine this week, I with my pen and watercolors while he basked in meditative bliss right outside my studio.

buddhabasking

Pigma Sensei pen (fine) and Lamy Joy fountain, w/c in hand.book sketchbook, 8 X 8″

daffodils

Years ago I planted daffodil bulbs all in a row along the driveway only to find that by bloom-time they had mysteriously migrated to other places. Every year now a big clump of daffodils emerges on the steep hillside above my studio. I had a few more moments to catch the last light of day standing downhill from the blooms on rain softened ground for a shaky scribble of a bloom capture on paper. And then the miraculous baby Pipevine pipes appeared just by my feet so I leaned over to sketch them as well.

pipevine

These Dutchmen’s pipes will soon open, then be quickly replaced with green leaves and eggs and then my favorite black and orange polka dotted caterpillars. Now if that isn’t garden magic, I don’t know what is.

A Celebration of S.F. Urban Sketchers!

Saturday was a day full of jubilation. So many things to celebrate – a gorgeous sunny day in San Francisco, sketching at Mission Creek with 60 some urban sketchers – a party at Arch Art Supply afterwards to celebrate the 5th anniversary of S.F. Urban Sketchers and their generous new sponsorship of  group – ending with the official opening of the 10X10 urban sketch workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. This workshop series is happening in cities all over the world to celebrate yet another anniversary – the 10th year of Urban Sketchers worldwide – with 10 local workshops. I know, its a lot. But definitely an exciting time to be sketching in the Bay Area.

The workshops are filling up fast, so take a look at the offerings soon if you’re interested. I’ll be teaching workshop #10 on June 10, Sketch Vignettes to Share the Story That Interests YOU!  In this workshop, held in the picturesque west Sonoma County town of Freestone, we’ll use ink and and watercolor and explore tools for quickly getting to the story YOU most want to tell in your sketch using ideas of vignette design. Visit my website and contact me for more information and I’ll tell you how to register.

missioncreek fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ Hand.book sketchbook

I get so excited when I’m in the city and want to go for the big picture, even if there’s no time for details. Imagine the S.F. Bay right behind the stadium and entrance.

missioncreek2

There were soo many sketches of this houseboat! I think it was the antlers that attracted us all, along with a lovely strip of grass in the sun to perch on our little stools.

missionbaysketchers

missioncreek2

Vive la Resistance!

TAKE HEART. RESIST.  So reads an artful letterpress card made by Eric Johnson  which I picked at the Codex Book Fair in Richmond this week. Protest art was to be found in abundance at the exhibition. It has to go somewhere, all this overwhelm, distrust, and dismay with activities of this new administration.

resist2acrylic and collage on gesso coated w/c paper, 10 X 11

We will not compromise. There’s too much at stake. We will not get too comfortable except in our growing unity. We have each other after all. People of all colors and orientations. We have this planet with its innumerable rare species.

This vibrant world of ours. This is where our pride should find its home.

This Muse Group lesson was: moving the fluid acrylic paint around the paper on a gessoed surface, wiping it off, scraping through it and adding more while it’s still wet. I finished it off with some black ink lines drawn with the ink dropper. I was just thinking two figures but the red (my favorite color) expressed my heated emotions at moments throughout the day, in conversation with friends or tuning into the media.

resist

This in-class demo was quick and dirty. I hope you’ll insert your own words on the sign.Expletives allowed.

Make Your Own Story Here

I was inspired by the Sebastopol Center for the Arts”Marvelous” collage and assemblage exhibition as well as the artists showing in Gallery III, John Hundt and Sherrie Parker. So last week we did a lesson in my Muse group combining various images to create anthropomorphic and surrealistic “figures”.  I tried to keep mine simple – images on white paper background with little if any paint added. The result was images that tell their own story, so I’ll show two here without my own story so that you can find your own.

goat

Here I am trying to be refined, like some collage artists, and finding that it is preferable to use Yes paste for this sort of collage rather than acrylic gel medium because it is tackier . Consequently I found that even the heavy body gel made the paper curl up and I had difficulty with placement. Lesson learned!

theworld

Images like this are so political these days. . .

butterflies

I needed this one to clear the palette, so to speak. Here are the words that came:

Innocence. Ah, it’s all coming back now! – the spinning whirl of each day – the knowledge that nature belongs to us in the same way our hands and feet do – the doorways that open to exotic new countries – the stairs we rush to take because the world is a continual treasure hunt – the butterflies we follow into their worlds of fragrant blooms and dizzyingly nectars.

I’m starting a new Monday Afternoon Muse series March 6 in my Sebastopol, California studio.  Visit my website for more info and to contact me if you are interested!

Sketch with me this Spring!

To all you wonderful visitors from all over the world, I wish you were closer (or I was closer to you). But if you’re local to the S.F. Bay area or coming to visit, you are invited to our charming and slightly quirky little town of  Sebastopol (and environs) for some on-location sketch workshops with me this spring. Registration is open now! Here’s the scoop.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-4-39-34-pm

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-4-39-59-pm

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-4-40-28-pm

To register for any of these workshops contact me.

And this is just part of what’s happening in the Urban Sketcher universe this spring. To see the rest of the workshop offerings from wonderful and diverse teachers around the S.F. Bay Area, visit Urban Sketchers.org. 

But don’t worry! Even if you live on the other side of the planet from California there will be sketch workshops closer to you this spring, in over 30 countries on several continents. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. You can find all of them on the Urban Sketch website here.

Sketch The Medical Scene

I’ve learned to sit in the corner of the waiting room in medical offices, car repair shops, airports or any other place where waiting ensues. I cross one leg over the other make a slanted table and get out my smallish everyday sketchbook. Right now this is the soft cover  6X8″ Beta Series Stillman + Birn sketchbook.

kaisersurgery

The “safest” place to sit and sketch is behind people, but it’s not the most interesting visually, so the conversation becomes more important. The fellow on the left, Max, was a big, loud, friendly volunteer greeter for these surgery patients, and the grease that got more than the usual amount of conversation going in the small waiting room.

“When I get up in the morning and open the newspaper, I look at the obituaries and, if my name isn’t there, I know it’s a good day!” says Max (probably whenever this is needed to give the surgery patients a good chuckle)

The other interesting subject was the fellow in the back with the bright red shirt and matching sneakers, so I abandoned the design principle of putting bright warm colors in the foreground and cooler/lighter in the background. (Red is actually my favorite color)

When all the patients were taken into another room I had the room to myself to get a bit of paint on with water brush and the pocket palette I carry in my purse.

You may have guessed, I am not the patient here, but the companion.

Laguna Walks and Sketch Musings

Years ago, drawn to getting outdoors to make art, I tried to be a plein air watercolor painter (among other things). I found that I was too restless by nature, especially IN nature. I wanted to move before I could finish the painting. Well, maybe I couldn’t deal with the environmental issues either, like hot sun or wind or bugs or cold or. . .

I think that’s why I found sketching with pen and watercolor to be a better fit for me when I’m outside the studio. I get very stimulated by new environments, seasonal changes, people in public and want to try to capture as much as possible in quick sketches.

With the gorgeous sunny weather this week my sketch buddies and I headed to the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail for a hike/sketch day. The Laguna is “the biologically diverse landscape of Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland. Internationally recognized for its ecological importance, the Laguna’s marshes, vernal pools, riparian woodland and valley oak savannah are rich habitat for wildlife and plants, including the special-status California tiger salamander, Sebastopol meadowfoam and Lobb’s aquatic buttercup.”

At our first stop I set the timer for two 15 min. sketches so we wouldn’t get too carried away.

laguna

When we ran into too big a puddle to cross without waders, we drove around to the other end (Occidental Rd)  to walk a bit and make another sketch stop.

laguna2

When I saw this massive unclothed oak bordered by the shimmering water I forgot my intention to keep it simple and got totally and quite happily bewitched by the tree!

vhschoolrdvineyard

Another day I brought my sketch bag and stool along on a walk near my home for a quick study of the vineyard geometry, the reds and greens, and Albert Einstein-like mops of impossibly gnarled vines. This is one of my favorite times in the vineyards when the “bones” show. I used my Lamy Joy fountain pen for the black and Uniball Signo white pen for the sun catching highlights.

studiosketch

Yet another day this week I sat out by my studio, back to the warm sun and totally overworked this sketch while my cat Phil kept bumping me to elicit a more attentive response.

Just now as I was out doing some garden clipping I realized that a lot of people shy away from sketching because they mistake it for an activity that’s about making a realistic representation of what you see, like (we think) a camera does. And so of course that becomes an obstacle to doing it, because we always fall short of that. In many ways I don’t think my drawing has changed/improved all that much over the many years I’ve been doing it, but my enjoyment of sketching just keeps growing.

That’s the part I want to share, the enjoyment of telling the personal story of our lives, or as the Urban Sketcher motto says “to show the world, one drawing at a time”.  And if you’re interested in participating, there’s so much coming up this spring! There’s both my workshops locally here in Sebastopol and Urban Sketch workshops around the world and particularly here in the S.F. Bay Area. Stay tuned for more about those tomorrow. Here are the ones I’ll be teaching locally.

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-2-52-15-pm

Regardless of your drawing ability you can enjoy sketching with some simple tools and skills and some like minded folks to sketch with. For more information and to register, visit my website, email me or call the number above!