Wine Country Winter Festival

Yesterday Carole and I spent the afternoon at the Wine Country Winter Festival at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds and somehow never tasted the wine, but came away with lots of sketches!

The Santa scene was very low key so we started there, and even got our picture taken on Santa’s lap (well almost).


fountain pen and watercolor in Stillman + Birn Beta Sketchbook, 7 X 10″

Santa Tim is a non-profit Santa! and he even belongs to an organization of Santas who have natural beards!


Nice beard, huh? And no, Carole and I did not plan to wear the same color.


The music was too loud in the pavilion so we sat right outside and enjoyed the sun.

winterfestival3 The group My Divas was dressed in colorful 19th century garb, wandering around sharing their carols. I wanted to get all six of them on the page, but alas, they didn’t fit. So apologies to the one I left out! Their vocals were so delightful and clearly they were enjoying each other’s company.


Inside the Grace Pavilion here with the Arts and Crafts exhibits, and the magical disappearing man! I could have drawn in the rest of him after he left, but I’m not sure it would have matched. Better to move on I decided.


Moving down to Amy Smith’s hats (Flying Colors Studios), she let me sit on a stool and enjoy the view while trying on one of her exquisite soft creations. Getting pretty comfortable here and chatting with the artists. With so much detail to draw, what a treat!  But finally it was time to call it a day.

Seb Arts Opening and Healdsburg Jazz

Tomorrow night, Dec 2, the Sebastopol Center for the Arts will be hosting an opening of the annual member art show 6-7:30pm with wine and appetizers and displays by the teachers who will be offering workshops in the new year.

I have a piece in the show, but will also be at a table sharing my sketchbooks and Muse Group art books along with information about two weekend workshops I’ll be teaching next year at the Center: Quick Capture Sketching in Ink and Watercolor and Experimental Mixed Media Painting. For more information about these workshops you can visit my website or just come see me at my table tomorrow evening.

Last week Bob and I attended the Healdsburg Jazz member party and were treated to the Latin grooves of Carlitos Medrano and the Cuban Descarga.


fountain pen and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook

Can you tell how intrigued I was by this singer, especially her generous shape and those fabulous boots? Years ago I gave up wearing shoes with more than one inch of heal in the interest of comfort, but I can still enjoy how they look on other women and wonder how it’s even possible to walk in them.


You can never see all the musicians from where you’re sitting, but that lends itself to the process of vignetting and designing interesting edges that don’t touch the sides of the paper. I like the larger size sketchbook, but don’t want to take the time in my quick sketching to fill the surface with paint. Highlighting the skin tones and instruments tells the story will enough. And I find that most Jazz musicians wear a lot of black, a difficult color to pull off in watercolor. So I clothe them in white!

Channeling Bruce Conner

Last Saturday we took the family to SFMOMA to finish off our Thanksgiving festivities with  a visit to the Bruce Conner exhibition “It’s All True” and others.

As you walk into the Conner exhibition you are met with his words:


His assemblages, collages, and ink blots in particular evidence the kinds of techniques we explore in Muse Groups all the time. Add in the rest: the films, the photography, the music, the social commentary and explorations of identity – it all made for an intensely satisfying museum experience.

So in an effort to share it with my Muse Group on Monday we did a “channeling Bruce Conner” lesson. We got out the inks and the nylons and old lace and antique book illustrations and metallic ephemera, and it was an explosion of wonderful weirdness. The first piece here is mine.


She’s getting her hair done and mind blown. She can’t stop thinking about the clothes she’ll wear and who will see her and what they will think. But what does she think? She struggles with this a lot. The voice of her grandmother rises up and twines around her like the ivy outside her window.

“Pay attention” says granny in her thin raspy voice. “Care for your loved ones and most of all love yourself. Take the time to find out who you really are, dear.”

conner3The tables in my studio groaned under the weight of it all.

conner2Fibrous paper encased in polymer medium. . .

conner4Layers of paper, lace and even some button and alphabet blocks.


by Muse Bettina


by Muse Carole


by Muse Muriel


by Muse Diana


by Muse Bonnie

Bruce Conner is no longer alive to be either delighted or appalled by what we have done. I like to think he would smile. In any case I have forwarded a full measure of gratitude for his artistic dedication and brilliance (and all those other adjectives) throughout his long life. Thanks Bruce!


My plan was to sketch whatever aspects of a busy Thanksgiving day and aftermath I could manage in between hosting, cooking, serving. It started with my friend’s arrival and a sketch-chat with her. No food was on the table yet, but there was a pumpkin at least.

fountain pen and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Beta series Stillman + Birn sketchbook

We picked up Andrew and his girlfriend Maura and discovered that both of them were stealing every possible moment to work on portfolios for grad school applications.

No sketching was possible at dinner. I guess I’m not as dedicated an Urban sketcher as some I know. Being a slow eater and not willing to let my food get cold, I found that by the time I was finished, everyone else was ready for desert, which meant I must whip the cream for the caramel hazelnut pumpkin tart, oh yeah!

After the dishes were done we were not a lively crew as the tryptophan kicked in. Andrew fell asleep on the couch with his nose in his computer.


This one I did later from a picture I took with my Iphone. I’m experimenting with how much I can leave out and still tell the story. The white of the paper is always so lively and skipping the color in clothes certainly saves time.


Next day my two young architects were still at it in our dining room with their backs to the window and view. Such discipline! and they’re so used to me lurking across the room with my pen and paints that they pay no notice.

Only problem is that the sketches here don’t tell the whole story of all the fun and food we had during their visit, and enjoying my two good friends who joined us and Bob who made much of the magnificent food. Once again this year Thanksgiving lived up to its reputation as the favorite holiday of the year.


I believe we all need to honor our clan, our totem, our spirit guide to gather strength, fortitude, wisdom and humor to meet life’s challenges. And Lord knows we’ve all felt a bit challenged of late. So in Monday’s Muse group we sought inspiration from indigenous artists throughout the ages to create our own spirit guide figures. I chose an ivory statue of Baluba from the Congo.


acrylic inks, pen and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

I am quite taken with you, my Baluba.  You are cracked and in pain, yet appear peaceful. Speak to me of what you feel.

Response: I have so much to hold and yet my mouth stays open. Each red button is another scar, yet when you push it, a light goes off inside me. I can’t explain it, but it is so, that with each new wound the light gets brighter and my companions here wake again and take to the skies.

Rainy Day at the Mall

Usually I try to steer clear of the shopping Mall, especially this time of year when the Christmas commercial hype is in full gear. (Sorry, is my bad attitude showing?) But it was raining and our other sketch plan fell through, so we decided to give the Santa Rosa Mall a try.


If this guy looks a little wooden, it’s because he is, or maybe plastic. We lucked out and got a table in the middle of the entryway where we could drink our coffee and do a 360 degree sketch.


Every one of these window mannikins had several red and yellow sale tags on them. I guess they figured people wouldn’t see the 6 foot red and yellow sign?


Lovely store window here, even if the paper owl does look like Darth Vader. Here are all the super feminine, sexy clothes that don’t fit my comfort needs, but great to look at and sketch. As usual we had people taking our picture – the allure of the urban sketcher, you know – met the family of a very young artist who shared his methods with us, and got asked if we could illustrate a children’s book. And I overcame a bit of my Mall-phobia with each hour. We all agreed that sketching with friends is indeed a panacea.

Ready, Set, Sketch at Healdsburg Plaza

Last Saturday I met up with the Ready, Set,Sketchers group at the Healdsburg Plaza for a morning of sketching followed by lunch at Wurst. Not wanting to sit down in one place and do a detailed sketch, I set a time limit of 30 minutes on each spot and moved around.


fountain pen and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Stillman & Birn beta series sketchbook

I overdid the girth of the column here, but that’s what happens when I get interested in something and don’t take time to measure. Healdsburg is such a combination of local people hanging out side by side with legions of happy visitors who travel in packs from tasting rooms to shops to restaurants, lending a party atmosphere the place.


The Plaza is ringed by enticing boutiques and permeated with the aromas of fine foods.It was tricky on that Saturday morning to get out of the way of the parade of visitors on the sidewalk.  I found a little patch of grass under a tree and thought I’d play it safe and stay outside on the sidewalk and stick to drawing. I did try on one of these hats at Bella and was sorely tempted!


But then I was drawn to another shop, One O One, where the sun was shining on the display in the window. Mannikins are the best subjects when you want to relax. They are well behaved and never move!

The Ready, Set, Sketchers meet in Sonoma County locations on the second Saturday of every month and you’re welcome to join in.