Pleasanton Sketchbooking Workshop

Sharpee ultra fine pen and watercolor in Arches Travel Book, 6 X 10″

Last week I spent three days teaching a sketchbooking workshop for the Pleasanton Art League at the Firehouse Arts Center.

one of the most lovely settings for a workshop with a big airy well lit room and just a block from the picturesque main streets of Pleasanton, where we spent most of our time sketching on location.  The students were such good sports as I put them through the paces of timed sketches and public “exposure” to overcome the timidity we all share when doing art in public.

We started out with drawing warm ups inside.  That meant sketching our own or someone else’s feet or the contents of our purses. . .

and then lunchtime sketching. . .hard to be too discreet when there are several people lined up with sketchbooks studying the patrons.  Somehow these folks never noticed.  The trick is to order and then do the pen sketch and color before the food comes. . .adding the menu, date, and other comments afterward.  If you ever get to Pleasanton check out the Rising Loafer Cafe and Bakery.  Their bread and sandwiches are to die for.

After lunch we walked over to the historic Kottinger’s Barn to do timed sketches.  It now houses Milfleur gift shop and garden.  I promised the class we could do a pen and watercolor sketch in 15 minutes and then I had to show them while they timed me.  Yikes! You just put your pen to paper and move it from subject to subject in a kind of tapestry for about 10 minutes and then fill it in with color.  Then it was their turn, and we spent the afternoon at this fascinating place.

. . .drawing tapestries

. . .piling up colorful impressions

It’s rare that you get such a cooperative subject, but the owner’s dog was taking his afternoon siesta next to the front door.  At one point Luca opened one eye, took a brief look and settled back into slumber.

That was the end of day one. I took pictures of the students’ sketches as well and will be sharing them, maybe even in a slide show (if I can figure out how to post that!)



  1. Susan, this is so inspiring. The 10-15 minute sketch in front of the subject is a wow. Are these in the small size travel notebook you showed me, or a larger one? I ended up getting a Koi pocket watercolor box with 24 pre-loaded pop colors and a thumb ring for my Through Rome with Toy Cameras trip. No one I know teaches these travel sketching classes like you. Could you do one in Sebastopol or Santa Rosa? A mini painting road trip? I’m your first student.


    1. I’ve been teaching these quick capture sketchbooking workshops for a few years now. I’ll definitely schedule some more. I’ll tell you that even when I wait to teach them in the warmer weather, it often gets cold anyway, sometimes rains, so we get challenged, especially to sketch quickly to stay warm! So I guess there’s no point in waiting til May or June.


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