San Diego Urban Sketch Crawl: Part II


Zig Millenium and Pelican fountain pens and w/c in 8X8″ Hand Book w/c sketchbook

Sunday morning the west coast urban sketchers met at Old Town for a morning of sketching and sharing together.  My first two sketches were of things I would not normally have access to, a covered wagon and. . .


. . .a shoppe selling “Fancy Goods, Haberdashery, and Millinery”.

I had about 25 minutes til the meet up at the flag pole and headed over to another part of town where live performances of Folklorico dancing were going on.


The girls were so colorful, with their bright costumes and swirling skirts that I decided to just plunge right in, with a quick pencil gesture sketch, some pen, and then swoops of color.  This actually was my favorite sketch of all!


Lamy fountain pen with water soluble cartridge ink “melted” with water brush

We said hasta luego and gracias to the urban sketchers and headed to the Fiesta de Reyes restaurant for lunch.  Margarita in hand, surrounded by palms and tropical plants and colorfully dressed waitresses I thought, “Mission accomplished.  The event is over.  My books are full of sketches.  Time now to celebrate and relax.”

But the thing about sketching is that it becomes an addiction and it’s very hard to stop!  At the table directly beside us was an extended family speaking Italian, smiling and laughing and enjoying each others’ company thoroughly. The patriarch (easy to see) had a particularly interesting face.  Surreptitiously and trying not to be discovered, I starting sketching him on my lap under the table.

But we were very close and their little toddler got up and walked in front of me with his mother and I started flirting with him and talking to her.  Soon I had the whole story of who was who at the table and how they’d come together from different countries to be together on vacation. I showed them my sketches and wished I could sit and visit with them all afternoon.

This is one of the reasons I LOVE sketching in public. . .the people you meet. More on this later.


After lunch, instead of resting, we were attracted to these women who are the greeters at the gate. There was a bench directly in front of them. At least every other group that enters asks to pose with them for a picture, so they are busy, with beautiful smiles on their faces in a welcoming gesture. The one on the right asked to take a picture of us with sketches on her cell phone.


Here’s her Selfie plus.

So I made two more friends. Then. . .


I met Izzy and her sister at the airport.  And then we flew home.

And I pondered what it means to live in the country, yet think of yourself as an “Urban Sketcher”.  I love the serenity of my life away from the throngs of people and incessant activity of cities.  But as a sketcher, I not only get to do some serious people-watching, but I consistently meet people I would never have access to.  I’m not a grandmother yet, but I can do a sketch and have children gathering around with sweet interest on their faces and have conversations with them. The same with adults of all ages and nationalities.  All of the usual barriers come down with the creation and sharing of these simple art pieces. Each time I do a sketch moments take on a weightiness and importance in my life and the smallest details are remembered.


  1. Awed again! You are a brilliant sketch artist. Seeing the photo of the greeters showed how you were able to capture their essence in mere minutes. And your brushwork is never overdone: just enough to tell the story. Speaking of which, your writing is as good as your art. Your blog is such a joy to read and study. Thank you!

    Judi in LA (familiar with all the spots you hit in SD)


      1. Saw a multitude of sketches today by Andrea del Sarto at the Getty Center and thought of how much you would have enjoyed seeing the exhibit. For the most part he drew with red clay, hatching into it and frequently wetting it.


      2. Thanks Judi! I’ll check him out. Lucky you to be close to the Getty Center. Hope to get there some day.



  2. Susan, you are who I wish I could be! These are all so wonderful! Your talent is such an inspiration! Love it!


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