Day Three: Skin and more public sketching

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

It was pretty cold old out on the third morning, so we stayed inside and played around with contour sketches of each other in pairs.  For cafe sketching where there are all kinds of interesting figure models (I prefer the clothed kind anyway) it helps to have a quick capture strategy that at least gets the outline down and maybe the hairline and a nose and brow.  So we practiced.  The hard part is our absolute fascination with facial features to the exclusion of other more important things like body attitude, negative space around the figure etc.

Next we tried mixing up some skin color, just a simple yellow/red mix watered down a lot, just enough to say “skin” in a quick sketch.  There are some obvious limitations in this approach, which is not as useful in places of ethnic diversity. . .but at least works for the majority of folks hanging out around Pleasanton.

It warmed up just enough to move our group to Tully’s coffee on Main St.  Instructions were to add writing to the sketches, including eavesdropping on conversations if there was something interesting.  When the bikers arrived with their shiny Harleys we had already started our sketches, which is probably just as well in my case.  I find all that chrome to be totally confusing!

After lunch we did memory sketching in the garden of Bonnie’s historic home.  Five minutes of gazing in stillness at a subject and then drawing and painting it from memory.  . . just to prove to ourselves that indeed our eyes can serve as accurate cameras when instructed to do so.

My last sketch of the day. . .this glance into the guest bathroom in the house.  How could I resist?  We ended by writing our intentions for continuing the practice of sketchbooking and shared them with each other.  The every day aspect of sketching is what bears the greatest fruit, but that is often a lone practice and must needs be anchored by the participation with other friends who share it.  This friendly and enthusiastic group will have no problem supporting each other, but I am definitely missing them now.

Hope you enjoyed seeing the slide show of their sketches!



  1. Thank you, Susan. What a fantastic workshop. There were so many things that I learned from you. Most importantly, what I gained from the class was an indispensable tool to capture the structure, essence, atmosphere and mood of my surroundings in a quick manner, without the dread of trying to create a masterpiece. Each page in my journal is it’s own experience, story, thumbnail sketch, soulful writing or new art technique that I can either just enjoy or take to my studio and expand on it through pastel painting. I love sketching, now!


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