Galway bound


I’m off to Ireland on Sunday for three weeks of sketching with my travel buddies. First stop, an urban sketch workshop in Galway. Then we’ll be touring Ireland by car for nine days with the trip culminating in the UsK (Urban Sketch) International Symposium in Manchester, England and more workshops with teachers from around the world.

The above picture might imply that I am all organized and packed and ready to go. Ahem. Not so. But it’s a start. This is probably overkill, and believe me, I will not be carrying all this around with me in my little day pack. But one must plan for many eventualities and lost and broken and running out of ink/paint eventualities!

As I did last summer in Italy I shall try to post sketches/pics from the trip as time and WiFi allows.It’s definitely a trip I’m anxious to share!

Windy Jazz


fountain pen and w/c in 9 X 12″ Mixed Media sketchbook

The S.F. Sketchers met up for a jazz festival on Fillmore St. last weekend. The street was blocked off to traffic for several blocks with musicians performing at several locations. A cold and windy July day, just what you’d expect if you live in S.F. (which I don’t). It always seems crazy when I leave my home in the “banana belt” of Sonoma Co. to bring a coat and hat to the city, but it was definitely required last weekend. The winds were at times so fierce that the sheet music on the stands blew free of the clips meant to hold it down!


This was a challenge to sketch.  I sat in the sun to warm up but could barely see the outline of the musicians with the sun shining in my eyes. So I tried a different treatment with a brush pen.


Back to a smaller sketchbook as the wind blew up even more.


And then later, in the warm comfort of my couch I sketched this street dancer who I’d captured on my iPhone.

It was a fun group of 33 sketchers from all over the world!  Russia!  and Finland!  and India! I love the spirit of this Urban Sketcher phenomena, which has become seriously international.

Keep it simple


black and sepia inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  -Lao Tse

Take a piece of tissue paper.  Crinkle it up and place it on the paper. Squirt some ink on the tissue. Roll over it with a brayer. Now use the same tissue paper to print more ink marks on the paper. Keep it simple. Dip a home made bamboo pen in the ink and add a quote.


Now take it one step further and draw on it a bit with a water soluble pencil. Paint a whisper glaze of dilute acrylic. Keep it simple.

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.  – E.E. Cummings

Black and White hold hands


inks and gesso on w/c paper 10 X 11″, workshop demo

There’s teeth in this one, a snarl through bared teeth, a jagged fence, a bit of slime. I am dying to get away, but held in place with a fascination at the bizarre beauty of the scene unfolding.

Go ahead and take me to the edge where all the action is, where sea meets land, nature meets city, good meets evil, and life unspools in alternating increments of stress and peace. Black and white are always holding hands and taking turns.

Wet some shapes on the paper, squirt on some inks. Tip the paper. Add gesso and scrape through it, picking up some wet ink with a notched scraper. Move the fingers in to smooth some passages, mixing gesso with ink.  Now meet the image which has appeared.

This was the first exercise in the Wabi Sabi workshop, to let the inks talk.

Dry Over Wet


charcoal and pastel over monoprint, 10 X 11″

It’s a carnival, all set up for the onslaught of summer, the tipping of the year as the sun itself seems to stop and turn.  We don swimsuits, sunscreen, eat juicy plums and carry our ice tea out into a world bent on staging vacation. The strenuous pursuit of leisure.

This started out as a wildly colorful monoprint which I pulled off the shelf to demonstrate something which I rarely do: finish with lots of dry media. Mainly I don’t usually use the dry media because I put these smaller “Muse” pieces in loose leaf books and the charcoal and such gets smudgy unless you put lots of fixative on it. But. . .I had so much fun with this and wondered why I don’t do it more often!

Summer Concerts (cont.)


pencil, fountain pen, w/c  in Stillman and Birn sketchbook, 6 X 8″

The best part of these free summer concerts (this one in Healdsburg plaza) is not the music, although that’s fun, nor the food, although there’s plenty of tasty items.  It’s the people watching, like this gentleman, who was such a good spectator that I got the whole sketch done on the spot (unknown to him I might add)


Soul Fuse was a great R n B dance band, so after the sketch and a Gyro sandwich and glass of wine, we got up and boogied with the crowd of all ages and apparent life styles.


The band’s photographer with her duo-toned hair was a marvelous subject as she waited for the the right shot.

I must say, I have no idea how this triptych happened- something in the wordpress software which I need to learn how to do – but it tells the story better than individual pics.


fountain pen with water soluble ink and watercolor

Another night I attended this Sufi Qawwali concert, which was in fact so ecstatic that I was unable to simply sit.  So I stood against the wall most of the evening, moving to the beat and managing to do a couple sketches in the dark.


The hands. . .they seemed to hold such intense rapture in them that they would fly into the air as the singers released torrents of devotional song. Tablas conversing back and forth with voices and harmoniums in some universal music language that made the spine tingle. Whew!  I came home and painted the background red, like the beating heart of this music.