A Weekend of Urban Sketching

I had been looking forward to this 3 days in San Francisco.  My husband Bob was at a photography portfolio review, leaving me to get out on the streets and sketch!  No shortage of subjects in S.F., that’s for sure. I carefully assembled my supplies and outfit for my new urban sketch persona.  The trick is to have everything you need for comfort and art making compact and accessible.  Only thing is the list of all those things gets so long that you might as well be packing for a trip to Europe!

My new vest with 15 pockets really helped. I’m not kidding.  15 pockets, which means you have to memorize where you put things. But it worked great!  So now I need a whole new wardrobe of all vests with lots of pockets.


Ready for my first day out.

My husband Bob made me a lovely sketchbook with BK Rives printmaking paper in it.  This paper is so soft and lovely.  But there’s a bit of a learning curve for me to use it, as I discovered with my first sketches in Chinatown.


I did a rough blocking out of the card players in Portsmouth Square and midway they all got up, rearranged their “furniture” and played musical chairs. Only the lady in purple stayed put.  So I erased the pencil and that’s when I discovered that the paper was too soft.


But I had to try the cherry blossoms and I knew this guy was stoned and not likely to move. . .


One of the challenges I’d assigned myself was a true urban sketch of a building with some complexity.  Sitting among the smokers in the park, but on a comfortable bench with a view of this restaurant, I plunged in, trying all my different pens while trading texts with my friend who suddenly showed up in town and wanted to take me for a drink.  (oh yeah, it was my birthday)


Next day I had planned to sketch the 164th annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities downtown, including the parade of 200 floats.  But first, while waiting for the bus, I saw the nude bike-a-thoners pedal by.  (no sketches there!)  Arriving to a sea of green bedecked humanity I instantly understood the this was not a very accessible sketch venue.  Too hot in the sun and everything moving!  Nevertheless I tried some figure sketches.



  • the guard in front of the Asian Art Museum
  • parade4
  • the ubiquitous cell phone
  • Next:  Pirate Ships on the Bay with the SF Urban Sketchers

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