Travel Sketchbooks

On the Slopes (of San Francisco)

No, it hasn’t been snowing in S.F., but I was on the slopes there last week for a few days. My husband Bob had portfolio reviews over the weekend at Photo Alliance , which is held at San Francisco Art Institute up on a hill in North Beach. It’s hard to go anywhere in S.F. without encountering some steep elevation changes.

unionsquare

We started out with some shopping in Union Square. From a sunny spot the world flowed by at big-city speed.

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Next morning we were at Fort Mason on the Bay front, checking out the SF MOMA gallery and just filling our lungs with that fresh sea air.

YerbaBuenalarge

After lunch we headed downtown to the Contemporary Jewish Museum to see the “Show Me as I Want to be Seen” exhibition, which I highly recommend. The description of the show is, “How do we depict “the self” if it is unknowable, inherently constructed, and ever changing? How does the concept of portraiture shift when categories are in crisis, and visibility itself is problematic?” (For those of you who know me, I guess it’s pretty obvious why I would want to see it.) It will be there til July 7 if you want to see it.

Sitting on the grass at Yerba Buena Gardens, enjoying the warmest sunshiny day in months, I got a bit greedy with trying to put everything in, until I got numb-butt and gave up!

Bus19

It’s such a treat to ride the bus all over S.F. It’s inexpensive for seniors:  with my Clipper card it’s only $1.35/ride, and there are no parking woes or dealing with crazy drivers and one-way streets, and more.  And if you stay  on the bus for longer than three or four stops, you move through a variety of cultural ecosystems. Friday morning on Bus 19 down Polk St. there was a sudden onslaught of wheel chairs and the necessity to quickly rearrange seating patterns to accommodate.

One gets a new appreciation of what it takes to get around the city in a wheelchair with items like. . . musical instruments, and then to board crowded buses. This keyboard, held together with masking tape and protected by a strip of cardboard, had found a spot behind its owner where it would be safe.

missionbay

Bob wanted to check out the SF Center for the Book on Portrero Hill, and next I showed him Mission Bay, and made him sit and rest while I sketched a house boat. Then down to Dogpatch to see the art shows at Minnesota Street Project.

There was lots more bus drama on the ride back, with invasions by teens, just out of school, who never looked up from their smart phones, even to talk to each other. Then more wheelchairs, and finally, the last stop at Fisherman’s Wharf where we were staying.

macondraylane

If you’re still with me here, this is the part about the real slopes of SF. On Saturday the SF Urban Sketcher Meet up was at Macondray Lane, which is itself flat – a narrow and verdant alleyway off a particularly vertiginous street with knockout views of the city and bay.

For whatever reason I woke up that morning feeling particularly shaky and unsteady, but slowly made my way up the hill, still hopeful that I could capture the city in its undulating glory. When my inner undulating wouldn’t stop, I found a shady spot in the Lane with an obstructed view, and very slowly and with great patience constructed a calmer scene until my brain cleared.

macondraylane2

It sort of worked, because minutes later I was back to my usual rough and ready style,  much relieved and enjoying the company of my beloved SF sketchers. The afternoon ended with a mini “salon” to share our sketches at STUDIO Gallery and see the current show of “Tales of the City by the Bay”.

jeffingallery

And I got to meet the handsome sketcher named Jeff who had been a subject in the sketch!

On my last day in the city, once again I hit the slopes and I trudged up the steps of Telegraph Hill to see Coit Tower up close, the murals inside and the views. It’s actually a more impressive sight from the distance as a recognizable icon of the cityscape.

telegraphhill Five days in the city, along with all the steps I’d climbed, had exhausted me, so I found a relatively quiet street to do this study. I call it that because I’m more used to sketching people and animals and country scenes and such, and city architecture requires “study” before I can attempt it. (Actually I may have studiously ignored it here!) There were few people on the street, and they were moving quickly, but the lone figure in the doorway sufficed to give scale. She came by to see my sketch, and when I showed her that she was in the sketch, she clutched her chest and shrieked with delight!

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Rainy Sketch Date

A little rain never stops us urban sketchers. Well actually it usually stops me from going out, but not when my die-hard buddies are willing to risk the elements. So on Tuesday we met at Dominican University in San Rafael for a drizzly day. Sitting on a porch wasn’t such a bad idea, at least for a while until the cold started to seep into the bones.

dominicanrain

Of course then we had water saturated sketchbooks that needed to be held open under the umbrellas while walking back to the car. The next stop was lunch in a warm bar downtown.

 

flatiron

I’m not accustomed to hanging out in bars, but I must say that the sketching opportunities are good. One gets a little bored with coffee shop folks glued to their computers.

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When I christened these men Sports Bar Flies I realized that we had sat there for a while after finishing lunch and could easily fall into that same category!

Some Flood-times Ironies

For over two days now a song has been going on in the back of my mind. Occasionally I would register that it was a James Taylor song. but it wasn’t til this morning, as I was driving on the only open route into Santa Rosa, due to extensive flooding, that the words to the song leapt into my awareness with sudden force, “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain”! 

At that moment on River Rd. the entire Laguna flood plain was spread out before me, that same plain that had carried the message of fire and smoke for periods of time the past two years. Fire and rain. Record breaking rain in Santa Rosa this week and the worst flooding in over two decades, following on the heals of the record breaking firestorm.

Barlowflood

I headed into Sebastopol later to see what the flooding had done there. Muddy Laguna waters had invaded town. The Barlow, our town market area, was under water and roped off. I set up my stool on the edge of the water, facing the residential area, hoping to tell some of the story in sketches.

While I sketched onlookers came and went. Children raced into the water while parents expressed dismay. “You’ll soak your shoes!”

(Child)”I want to go in a boat!!” “Why is the trash can floating?”

I started collecting ironies. . .

–The Barlow sign restricting parking to Barlow customers, when the only parking in the lot was under water.

–The Not a Through Street sign on the street that was under water and had become a thoroughfare for kayaks.

–The Slow Children Playing sign, again on the street where no children were allowed but there were lots of adults playing in their canoes.

–And the white and blue fire hydrant which was itself under water and unlikely to be needed at that time.

I stopped counting how many boats paddled by me in this downtown Sebastopol street, but I’m guessing 30 in less than an hour – or how many people took pictures of the lady sitting at the edge of the water sketching (me).

Barlowfloodpic

I tried sneaking into the area where all the crews were hard at work, but got shooed out, along with all the other curious townspeople.Barlowfloodpic2

So I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, and I have a fair idea of all the grief folks must endure when their home and business life must be restored before life can return to some semblance of normalcy. To them I send my prayers and hope that they’ll once again see sunny days that they think will never end.

Our Cups Runneth Over

As I write this, Russian River communities are evacuating, The Sebastopol Community Center is at flood level (where they pull up the flooring and cancel Jazzercise and other events). Our sump pump in the basement is filling up and may go off at any moment, and the rains keep falling.

So I thought it a good time to share sketches from last week when I took on the challenging task of sketching the water in the Laguna below my house., which is all about the reflections.

lagunareflections

I doubt there are any kayakers out there today, but really, wouldn’t it be fun to paddle over a road? We’ve gone from drought and fire season to days of winter’s atmospheric river, a dramatic transformation. I need to get out there again when the rains pause, to practice more reflections, where the skies and trees dip dizzily into the waters.

woodenheadAnother scene that near my home, the version which was aborted by my too cold fingers. You fill in the rest.

Fire Story Sketches at the Land and Me Event

 

After the devastating 2017 firestorms here in Sonoma County some of us sketch artists were compelled to record the stories of our land and people who were so dramatically impacted. As time went on we sketched the rebuilding efforts, and finally a year later, the anniversary events.
And now we’re happy to announce the first pubic showing of the entire body of fire story sketches at an interactive performance event, created by local artists, musicians,dancers, and thinkers, featuring live music, interactive creative experiences, dance poetry and participatory performance.
Carole Flayerty and I will be there to talk with people about our process of reportage sketching, recording the experiences of the fire through the filter of personal experience. I hope you can join us at. . .
landandme
If the land could speak…
The Land and Me  – Public Performance Event!
Saturday, March 2nd, 2019
from 4:00-6:00 PM – Free – Register HERE
The DeTurk Round Barn, 819 Donahue St, Santa Rosa
Join us for this interactive performance event, created by local artists, musicians, dancers, and thinkers, featuring live music, interactive creative experiences, dance, poetry and participatory performances with:
Eki Shola . Ben Roots . Nancy Lyons . Ernesto Garay . Carole Flaherty
Susan Cornelis . Margie Purser . Irma Bijou . Lea Goode-Harris
Kasia Apolinarski Krzykawska . Dustin Ordway . Aimée Otterson
Jared Wiltse . Carol Mancke . Trena Noval
Bring along your families, neighbors, and friends to note and celebrate some of the ways that the richly diverse Santa Rosa community has responded to the 2017 fires through renewed connections to the land.
CONTRIBUTE to the PERFORMANCE – please bring a small object you found on the land that can fit in your hand to share at the event!
ALL AGES WELCOME!
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To get a glimpse at more of my own fire story sketches visit my website.

Audubon Sanctuary, Tiberon

On Tuesday this week I joined the nature journal folks in Tiburon for one of John Muir Laws (aka Jack) lectures on “How to Draw a Forest”. Jack is a master naturalist and accomplished nature illustrator whose teaching methods are engaging as well as informative.

Jack says “The process of attention is what makes you fall in love with the world. It’s through attention that we create memories. The sketchbook helps you to preserve the integrity of those memories. ” 

Tiburon

Jack does these workshops all over the Bay Area and leads monthly nature trips as well. The Richardson Bay Audubon sanctuary in Tiburon is a heavenly spot on the Bay across  from San Francisco. I was ready to try out the “how to draw a forest” techniques but was so wowed by the yellow house on the bay that I couldn’t resist, damp and cold as it was that day! And then it was lunchtime.  The inside of a forest sketch technique will have to wait.

And how bout skies?! Laurie Wigham will be teaching the next Nature Journaling class “What’s in a Sky?” next month.  Laurie knows how to capture the mystery and eloquence of skies and break it down in steps for the watercolorist.

And if you’ve been thinking about taking my Watercolor Painting Tips for the Urban Sketcher workshop May 11, now is the time to decide! There’s one spot left. For more information and to register for my workshop or any of the other 10 X 10 Bay Area Urban Sketch workshops this spring visit my blog post here.

 

SF Sketchers 7th Anniversary Party

Did you see the skies yesterday?! It was a spectacular jaw-dropping show yesterday morning as I drove into San Francisco through mist and fog and rain and sparkling sunshine and every kind of cloud drama.

I was there for an urban sketcher teacher meeting, sketch meet up and party at Arch Art Supply Store. A pretty significant downpour was perfectly timed for our sketch meet up. But these SF Urban Sketchers, many of whom have been meeting to sketch outdoors for years now, were well prepared and unphased by the cold and rain. I headed over with some of the group to Big Daddy’s Antique store, an open emporium  of fabulous furnishings grouped in living area scenes. No heat, but at least shelter from the rain!

bigDaddys

After an hour we headed back to Arch Art Supply for a celebration of 7 years of SF Urban Sketcher meet ups. In the capable hands of Laurie Wigham the group has grown to about 3200 members and hosts one or two meet ups in the city every week, as well as the 10X10 Urban Sketcher Workshop series which I will be a part of again this year. You can download the entire workshop flyer here. And if you want to join some SF Sketchers events you can sign in on Meetup.com

Arch Art Supply is our generous sponsor and was the host of the party. It is always fun to shop there for sketch supplies. I can hardly believe this, but I actually brought home a sketch palette set up that I had never seen before! (I mean I think I have a collection of every other one ever invented.) I’ll share it here at some point after I have tried it out.