Charlie in Healdsburg


fountain pen, watercolor in 8X8″ w/c sketchbook

The free summer concerts are winding down now. This year I mainly got to the concerts in Healdsburg Plaza – the best I’ve found for music, dancing, sketching and of course eating and drinking! On Tuesday this week it was the biggest crowd of the season to hear the Charlie Musselwhite band. He lives locally so we get to be proud of his prodigious talent along with just enjoying the music. It was not possible to actually see the band in order to sketch directly, because the dance “floor”  was packed right in front of them. So I just joined the dancers and slipped through narrow openings between the bodies until I finally arrived where I could take some pictures with my iPhone. So this sketch is from my iPhone after the fact. Much easier when the target isn’t moving!


But the rest of the time was spent people watching from the relative comfort of my stool.  I think I might have sketched this same guy (what a great subject!) last time.  Must be the hat and beard. . .When he turned around and I complained my husband suggested I just sketch him the opposite way. Good idea Bob! Sometimes I actually take his advise.

There’s always couples acting all romantic and doing their dance moves.  Some of them are really quite good and some you could be a little embarrassed for, except that they’re enjoying themselves so much that it puts a smile on your face.

On Thursday I got to host a reunion of the SF Bay Urban Sketchers who were at the Manchester Symposium last month. After lunch we headed over to the Honkey Donkey Farm and Bird Exchange for some real country-style urban sketching. Now there’s an oxymoron for you.


But these guys were ready for it all, even for the goat (in the donkey pen) who thought he’d have Susan’s sketches for dessert. She just scooted her stool back out of reach and kept painting!


We arrived just as the miniature donkeys and a couple goats, were eating lunch. It was a rather active scene as you can imagine, and we were all struggling to get the noses and the ears in the right place as the subjects moved constantly. I think I did a pretty good job of illustrating the messy chaos of the scene anyway.  And did I say how dusty it was and how the flies were congregating as well?


A trick I’ve learned – when you don’t fill the picture space with your quick sketches, just fill the remaining space with the story!


The whole donkey-drawing business was not going as well as I’d hoped so I went into the large room where the exotic bird cages are. As you can perhaps see, this bird was holding relatively still which I very much appreciated. What you don’t see is that the parrot in the cage next to him would erupt every couple minutes with a brain piercing squawk. Such conditions are excellent for quick sketching endeavors.


I finished up by adding color to the ink sketch I’d started earlier in the week as I was checking out the possibilities of bringing a small group to sketch there. The emus coexist peacefully with the donkeys. I must say they are the most exotic looking creatures of all, and I have tried to sketch them before, but never feel like I get their likeness. Their boa hairdos are the best part. I’ve got to keep trying.

A big thanks to the folks at the Honkey Donkey Farm, humans and creatures alike!



  1. Hi, I have been taking Danny Gregory’s Beginning class – you should be teaching it too! You are getting so good at these character sketches! Love, Liane



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