Travel Sketchbooks

Apple Blossom Festival

Twice a year in Sebastopol we celebrate our agrarian roots with an apple festival.  In the Spring it’s apple blossoms, even though the festival lands on a day which is weeks past the actual blossoming of the apple trees. I particularly enjoyed the live music this year.

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And especially this band! It was hard to sit still and sketch rather than dance to their soulful R + B music. We considered sitting in front of the stage directly in the sun and behind the dance area. But there would be little visibility , since the band was in the shade of a tent. The vantage point at the side of the stage was better, a bit closer, though we could only see part of the band.

There’s probably a story to why this wonderful band took the name Lucky Losers, but they were definitely winners in my book!

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When the winner-Losers finished their set there was time to stretch and get ready for the next group. This continuous line drawing was fun, a standing sketch connecting heads in the audience, chairs, tents.  . .

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Once again on the (other) side of the stage I took the strategy with this band to start with the instruments and hands/arms and attach whatever body parts I could see to them! This way I actually got five musicians in the picture, but was unable to see the lead singer Volker Strikler!  Sorry Volker. Another great band!

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A little wind blew up in the late afternoon and the sun seemed more appealing. We sat down right behind this West County Sound guy who was struggling to get the system up and running for the next band, Burnside.

For memories from the fall festival here in Sebastopol, check out last year’s sketches.

 

A Day at SF MOMA

Taking sketch breaks is a perfect way to to avoid the tired feet and visual overload that usually happens to me at a major art museum. The San Francisco MOMA was our destination last Thursday and the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit. Rather than trying to head home before the rush hour, we stayed through dinnertime and benefitted from a more relaxed approach.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in Beta series Stillman + Birn sketchbook

If you feel a bit like you’re on a ship while looking at this, then I achieved my goal of communicating my experience of Snohetta’s architectural design for the new expanded MOMA.  There are so many interesting angles, both inside and out, that one needs to continually re-balance to stay grounded. Perhaps that’s what happened to the bronze statue, which I sketched in an effort to reconnect with gravity.

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I made it through the exhibit about five minutes ahead of my friends and got this much down before they showed up. It’s enough I think. Always better to only sketch what one sees. The mind fills in the rest.

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If you watch an Alexander Calder mobile long enough, the up and down of perspective gets lost and you no longer miss it!

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Looking up through the Occulus as the light pours down. It’s not a subject for a quick study, more an opportunity to record a tapestry of favorite visual moments.

Workshops This Spring!

It’s a busy spring season coming up, and I’ll be doing what I enjoy most – sharing approaches to painting and spreading my own creative wings with like-minded people! Hope you can join me.

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For more information about these workshops and to register visit my website!

Sketching Between the Puddles

Normally at this time of year here in Sonoma County wouldn’t we be enjoying more predictably sunny days? Instead we’re dodging downpours on a regular basis, and LOVING IT! Gardening days are pure bliss because all the plants that have been biding their time throughout our five year draught are going bananas now!

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So last weekend we planned to visit the goat farm and sketch the baby goats, but that plan got rained out. So we headed over to Harmony Farm Supply and sketched in the sprinkles of rain and under an overhang while garden-fever was in full swing and customers were hungrily selecting additions to their spring gardens.

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Oh, by the way, while being frustrated that it was not a baby goat sketching day, I did a quick one of this handsome young one (Redwood Hills Farm) from a Facebook photo. Good practice for when the sunny day comes!

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Next day, Sunday, was sunny! The Sebastopol Farmer’s Market never disappoints with seasonal fruits, veggies, baked goods, plants, crafts, live music and more to tempt, well, everyone! Greedily I did a series of vignettes, some while standing.

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And then found a sunny spot out of the way to draw the tents and a guy picking out a pastry.

Some of this was practice and thinking through the schedule for my next sketch workshop April 29, 30 in Sebastopol, which will feature on location sketching along with the opportunity for some good eating! If you’re interested, visit my website.

Intro to Sketching in Public (Sebastopol)

It’s always a crap shoot to schedule an outdoor sketch workshop in March! But somehow we slipped between the rain storms for an idyllic weather day last Saturday in Sebastopol town for the Intro to Sketching in Public workshop. We took over the stage area on the Plaza for the introductions and then spread out in the plaza for the morning of demo and sketching.

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We look at bit bundled up here, but it was warm in the sun. After some drawing warm ups I demonstrated continuous line drawing and shared thoughts about how we decide what to put in and what to leave out of a quick sketch.

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I certainly left out more than I put in! All those cars and benches and things. I’d still be there sketching if I’d put them all in!

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Lunchtime and the afternoon was spent in the Barlow where there’s plenty to eat and sketch. I picked a spot across from a clothing shop for a 5 minute sketch and then added the color in a demo later, adding splatter and white pen detail with the Uniball Signo white pen. Once again I left out way more than I put into this scene, capturing only the “bling” that attracted me.

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Last stop of the day was in front of everyone’s favorite coffee shop, Taylor Maid, and the Floral Design shop. There are still areas of the Barlow that are undeveloped, like this scene from bygone years across the street  And if you can tell me what it is, I would appreciate knowing. Does it have something to do with apples? Grains? Wine? Beer? None of the above?

Sketching at home

When it’s not the season for travel or time for local event sketching, there’s always what is close at hand. I no longer sketch my food and drink, which is recommended by some of my favorite luminaries such as Danny Gregory and Liz Steel. But I’ve had my eye on the rusty mailbox next door, and then there’s always the goats at the bottom of the hill.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in soft cover Beta Stillman + Birn sketchbook

And then there’s the town I live (outside of), Sebastopol, where I’ll be teaching two workshops this spring. The first is “Introduction of Sketching in Public” on March 25th. So I’ve been wandering around town with the eyes of a tourist sketcher to find what one could capture quickly in a workshop setting.

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A lovely water fountain in the plaza and an exercise in connecting it with the background while leaving out most of the rest of what was there! That’s the hard part.

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I found a bench in the sun and had a few minutes left to doodle some people. I often end up liking these “doodles” better than the more finished ones. You’d think I’d learn.

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But another day I had more time, and a good spot to sit with a friend and kept sketching awhile after my subject had left. Of course they always leave before you’re done!

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fountain pen and watercolor in Toned Tan Strathmore Art Journal

And then there’s always the selfie. This one done while on an hour-long phone call in front of my computer (one looks for time where it is to be found), which might account for having lost a bit of the top of her head. Oh well.

I’ve had people tell me I should paint more attractive self portraits of myself, but this is so much more amusing. I think I feel a series coming on. After all, you don’t have to pay this subject to sit and she’s always available to sketch live!

Sketch with me this Spring!

To all you wonderful visitors from all over the world, I wish you were closer (or I was closer to you). But if you’re local to the S.F. Bay area or coming to visit, you are invited to our charming and slightly quirky little town of  Sebastopol (and environs) for some on-location sketch workshops with me this spring. Registration is open now! Here’s the scoop.

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To register for any of these workshops contact me.

And this is just part of what’s happening in the Urban Sketcher universe this spring. To see the rest of the workshop offerings from wonderful and diverse teachers around the S.F. Bay Area, visit Urban Sketchers.org. 

But don’t worry! Even if you live on the other side of the planet from California there will be sketch workshops closer to you this spring, in over 30 countries on several continents. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. You can find all of them on the Urban Sketch website here.