Glendi International Food Fair

I used to avoid summer festivals, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crush of people, the hot sun, loud music, parking challenges, unreliable food offerings etc. But when I tell myself it’s another “sketch venture” somehow it all works.

So I arrive at the Glendi Festival in Santa Rosa thinking I’m there just to sketch and five hours later leave with a handful of sketches and a wealth of experience I won’t soon forget!


Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in 8X8″ w/c sketchbook

My friend Lynn had prepared me to be ready to eat and dance and enjoy the music. The food booths serving Greek, Russian, Eritrean, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Jerusalem taste treats, the tables heaped with baked delicacies from all these places. . .ahhh!


After a while I overcome my shyness just a bit to get out and try the Greek line dancing, faking the steps, which are slow enough but deceptively tricky to a newcomer. So I just hang on to the folks next to me, keep moving and hope no one minds. It’s a friendly family crowd of all ages.


Back to sketching, I’m having trouble tracking the now Eritrean dancers’ constant movement, so I settle on a very quick sketch of a pair sitting next to me engrossed in watching.


in Holbein Multi-Drawing Book, 6 X 7″

Then I head into the church, which is elaborately adorned with colorful iconography, to hear a male choir singing hymns from the Baltic region in a variety of languages.

glendi6And then for yet another treat of the day, the monk who is the resident artist creating the newly frescoed walls depicting the events of the new testament, leads a tour of the church. His discourse encompasses everything from the history of the church, the iconography, the ritual and symbolism, to the chemistry involved in painting frescoes. He shows the ground pigments and the binders and shares the laborious and devotional practice of creation which involves round the clock labor for each section of the fresco.


Small wonder that Fr. Doolan himself bore some resemblance to the traditional iconography he had painted.

Most of these were sketched while standing and painted on site while sitting. The last one of Fr. Doolan was done at home from a picture I took. I’m trying to be accepting of the shaky line which comes with trying to balance the sketchbook in one hand and not being able to anchor the other. Probably just takes practice! But then there’s the energy of the active line which is perhaps lost with greater stability.

What is your solution for sketching while standing? Any ideas?


  1. Susan, your sketches awe me. I know I would recognize the people if I were to meet them in person. Yet your style is so loose, but you are able to capture the essence of each person. Brava!


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