Packed. . .almost


I’m driving myself a bit crazy trying to make decisions about what to take.   Tomorrow I leave for Italy and a month’s artist residency in Assisi.

I’ve been trying out various bags and pens and books for months now, and here is what got juried in:  an Eagle Creek day pack that even has room for a water bottle and my tiny collapsible stool and secret compartments for money, etc. The sketchbook is handmade by my husband with the hot press watercolor paper.


These are the basic art supplies which will go in the checked luggage.  With clothes for the month and more, it’s getting a bit heavy.  I picture myself dragging two (they’re small, but. . .) suitcases through the chaotic Rome train station. . .but they are on wheels!

There’s some last minute looking through a phrase book to get some basic Italian phrases, Google translate app, podcasts downloaded for listening while traveling.  If you are one of the many friends who have offered advise for the trip, thank you!  I think I’m ready.

Please join me on this trip – next post will be from Assisi.

Shakespeare in Presidio Park

imagefountain pen and watercolor in sketchbook

Yesterday was the most glorious weather in Presidio Park, San Francisco, with the SF Urban sketchers meeting up for an afternoon of free Shakespeare on the lawn.  The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet was performed with pathos and a perfect dose of comedy to an audience on blankets with their lunch and wine.

With the constantly changing scenes, costumes, gestures, it was both tantalizing and frustrating to try to get it down on paper.


When there was too much activity on stage, I reverted to contour drawing of the crowd, which helped a bit to calm me down so I could try again.  I also wanted to use my new watercolor pigment, Sepia with just a bit of Cerulean.


I was using my water soluble ink on the three women, but all the lines melted when I touched them with a brush, so I switched pens again for the friar.


Catching on that what I wanted was to capture the DRAMA of the moment, I realized that the Pentel Brush Pen was the way to go for quick gesture.  THere was no way to capture one whole scene in tact!  So I just kept adding figures as I thought I could sketch them.


For instance, Romeo and Juliet’s father, definitely not in the same scene!


The play doesn’t actually end here, but this is the ending we all remember.  AH!  Star crossed lovers!

After the play, as our group was sharing our sketches from the day, Juliet (alive again and smiling) and some of the other actors came by to enjoy the sketch art, as we thanked them for stellar performances!

Local Color


Lamy Safari fountain pen with black cartridge ink (water soluble) in Moleskin w/c sketchbook

The welcoming folks at the Bunny Barn (no longer a business) let us sit and sketch their lop ears.  I remember going there years ago when my boys were little and we were into raising bunnies.  It’s hard to look at these sweet fluffy lop ears without wanting to just pet them.  But they were wonderful models, fixing a pose for a while and moving only the nose, which twitched out some kind of message we couldn’t understand.


There’s just something about bunnies that reminds me of children’s books, and stuffed animals of course, though it should be the other way around!


Here you have a whole spread from the same sketchbook.  THere’s a coffee place in town – Hard Core Coffee with not only some of the best and most reasonably priced coffee in town, but the biggest collection of characters and recycled . . . stuff! from rusty fire trucks to hippy art.  I had lots of time to sketch this one over a lingering cup of coffee with my usual Friday morning coffee girlfriends.



Heavy body acrylics on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

The secrets behind closed doors – they’re the ones that entice us to take a closer look.  This was the idea behind this recent lesson, which explored the notion of windows and doors, of openings into other worlds.  Rather than keep you in too much suspense, I’ll open the window for you.


You get the idea, I’m sure.  “A Young Man” by Botticelli.  He reminded me of my two sons.


Two mixed media pieces, glued together with window openings

And if you open those windows, you see. . .


We hide too much behind closed doors, locked and bolted. We even forget where we put the key. Better that way, we think.

But “I believe that somewhere in the darkest night ” of those locked closets, concealed behind layers of curtains and outmoded clothes, there’s an open window where we can

Gaze in at the pain.  You think it will bite you. 

Gaze in at the anger.  You think it will burn you

even though it’s  been biting and burning you for all these many years.

Open wide those windows and gaze in.

The Ferry Building and A Sculpture Installation


zig millenium pen and w/c in Moleskin watercolor sketchbook

A trip to San Francisco last week was an opportunity to celebrate our 26th anniversary with friends and take in a photography exhibit at Pier 24 after lunch at the Ferry Building.

For years after moving to the countryside (wine country north of San Francisco) I would find the city too hectic. Now there’s still a bit of adjustment when I hit the city, the I’m soon salivating at all the sketch opportunities and people watching!  The Ferry Building on the Embarcadero at lunch hour is a marvelous assault on the all the senses. This wasn’t a sketch-venture so I had just 25 minutes for this quick capture of the scene while sitting on a stone wall near a group of homeless men.


Right across from the Ferry Building is this powerful installation of statues, which I photographed and later sketched in order to study the artist’s unique representation of the human face.

Family Models


Dip pen with Diamine Terracotta and Noodlers black ink in 8 x 8 ” HAndbook w/c sketchbook

This is my first post using apps on my iPhone! I’m practicing the new “mobile me” in preparation for the trip to Italy in 1 1/2 weeks.  You may have noticed that the appearance of the blog has changed recently.  That is also so it will be smart phone mobile friendly (with “fluid layout”).  I have a little gorilla pod to set the iPhone on and a fold-up wireless keyboard as new toys to make this possible.  Here’s what it looks like.


Meanwhile, in an effort to keep sketching even while at home, I hunt down my son(s) who, bless their dear hearts, are willing to let me sit and stare at them.  With Ben I always get the finger picking guitar music as an accompaniment, a sort of icing on the cake, both visually and auditorily.


Pentel Pocket brush pen in Canson Mix media sketchbook

Andrew, who is no longer home, likes to do crosswords at breakfast, like his mother.  Here I’m practicing quick gesture drawing, which I like a whole lot better than my labored drawings, but only one out many turn out this good.  Believe me, you don’t see the others!

On Being a Nobody


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

I am a jar of preserves, of memories of who I was to be –  a ballerina, a sleek and swift athlete, a musician.  The talented, the driven, the serious – the famous, the admired –  memories stuck in a vinegary solution.

I am always climbing up some ladder, looking for some higher ground with a better perspective. I used to spend a lot of time thinking my way into other people’s shoes and trying them on for size.  “What am I supposed to BE?”, I would ask, feeling like an uninteresting bit of nobodyness.

It passed the time, this kind of daydreaming.  But when I was particularly worn out, perhaps by the weight of my incessant wondering, I would be quite relieved to find that my world had let me be a Nobody.

Most of the time now, I find I’ve made my nobodyness into somebody I like.

We did two weeks of the Fun Self Portraits lesson this month in Muse Group.  The three heads are mine, printed out from a few minutes of play with my Photo Booth application on my computer using the Comic strip filter. The students’ results were mind boggling!  I’ll get them up one of these days, but for now, here’s an older slide show again: