Travel Sketchbooks

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.

Laguna Walks and Sketch Musings

Years ago, drawn to getting outdoors to make art, I tried to be a plein air watercolor painter (among other things). I found that I was too restless by nature, especially IN nature. I wanted to move before I could finish the painting. Well, maybe I couldn’t deal with the environmental issues either, like hot sun or wind or bugs or cold or. . .

I think that’s why I found sketching with pen and watercolor to be a better fit for me when I’m outside the studio. I get very stimulated by new environments, seasonal changes, people in public and want to try to capture as much as possible in quick sketches.

With the gorgeous sunny weather this week my sketch buddies and I headed to the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail for a hike/sketch day. The Laguna is “the biologically diverse landscape of Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland. Internationally recognized for its ecological importance, the Laguna’s marshes, vernal pools, riparian woodland and valley oak savannah are rich habitat for wildlife and plants, including the special-status California tiger salamander, Sebastopol meadowfoam and Lobb’s aquatic buttercup.”

At our first stop I set the timer for two 15 min. sketches so we wouldn’t get too carried away.

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When we ran into too big a puddle to cross without waders, we drove around to the other end (Occidental Rd)  to walk a bit and make another sketch stop.

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When I saw this massive unclothed oak bordered by the shimmering water I forgot my intention to keep it simple and got totally and quite happily bewitched by the tree!

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Another day I brought my sketch bag and stool along on a walk near my home for a quick study of the vineyard geometry, the reds and greens, and Albert Einstein-like mops of impossibly gnarled vines. This is one of my favorite times in the vineyards when the “bones” show. I used my Lamy Joy fountain pen for the black and Uniball Signo white pen for the sun catching highlights.

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Yet another day this week I sat out by my studio, back to the warm sun and totally overworked this sketch while my cat Phil kept bumping me to elicit a more attentive response.

Just now as I was out doing some garden clipping I realized that a lot of people shy away from sketching because they mistake it for an activity that’s about making a realistic representation of what you see, like (we think) a camera does. And so of course that becomes an obstacle to doing it, because we always fall short of that. In many ways I don’t think my drawing has changed/improved all that much over the many years I’ve been doing it, but my enjoyment of sketching just keeps growing.

That’s the part I want to share, the enjoyment of telling the personal story of our lives, or as the Urban Sketcher motto says “to show the world, one drawing at a time”.  And if you’re interested in participating, there’s so much coming up this spring! There’s both my workshops locally here in Sebastopol and Urban Sketch workshops around the world and particularly here in the S.F. Bay Area. Stay tuned for more about those tomorrow. Here are the ones I’ll be teaching locally.

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Regardless of your drawing ability you can enjoy sketching with some simple tools and skills and some like minded folks to sketch with. For more information and to register, visit my website, email me or call the number above!

Urban Sketch workshops

Urban Sketching workshops near you!

If you are interested in urban sketching workshops, read through this post carefully, for
1) Workshops around the world
2) Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area
3) And a workshop I’m teaching- in Sonoma County!

Workshops Around the World

This is an exciting year for Urban Sketching! Urban Sketchers is 10 years old this year and they’re celebrating with year-long workshops all over the world. Excited? Click  this link to see where all the workshops are. Each city lets you pick from 10 workshops being held throughout the year.1010

Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Urban sketchers is excited to be holding it’s own series of 10 workshops all over the Bay Area: 10 teachers you’ve been wanting to take a workshop with and I am one of them! And the workshops are geared to all levels of sketchers!25_usk-10classes-san-francisco-bay-area2

For more about these workshops and how to register, go to this link. We have quite a fantastic lineup of workshops, so register soon.

Whether you are signed up for a workshop, thinking of signing up, curious about urban sketching, or just want to meet and hangout with urban sketchers, everyone is invited to our launch party on Saturday February 11 at Arch Art & Drafting Supply in San Francisco. The event will kick off with a sketch meet-up at San Francisco’s Mission Bay at noon, followed by the launch party at Arch Art & Drafting Supply at 1:30. UsK classes will be introduced and individual instructors will be available for a meet-and-greet session. Come join us even if we’ve never met before, we’re a friendly bunch!

I will be teaching the last workshop of the series titled Sketch vignettes to share the story that interests YOU! on June 10 in Freestone, CA. In this three hour workshop we will explore tools for quickly getting to the story you most want to tell in your sketch. We will build the sketch out from the point of your greatest interest, connecting it to its context and leaving out all that isn’t needed to make a more powerful impact. Principles of vignette design and utilizing the white of the paper will be practiced along with simple drawing and watercolor applications. I hope you can join me ! For more information and to register visit the 10 X 10 S.F. Urban Sketchers web page.

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Chinese New Year in San Francisco

Bookended by the rousing  and massively inspiring women’s marches last weekend was a S.F. Urban Sketchers meet up in Chinatown. Bob and I were staying in the city and taking buses to get around. So first of all I got to satisfy my desire to sketch on the bus!

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fountain pen and colored brush pens and w/c in Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook

The ride was short and bumpy so I plunged in with great trepidation. The squiggly lines tell part of the story. I kind of wish I could spend a whole day riding a bus and sketching til I got the hang of it. Laurie Wigham of SF Meet Ups fame has proposed this. I vote for that! I only stopped because I realized I was missing the terrific view of SF streets!

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We met up in Saint Mary’s Square where the kids, dressed in drummer attire, were getting ready to march in the mini parade. The constant movement was a challenge! At one point a group of five boys came up within a couple feet of us to see what we were doing and were so intrigued with the paints and brushes that they looked like they planned to stay! Of course all sketching had to stop at that moment to enjoy their attention.

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Next I stood by the older boys who do the dragon dance. Later I realized that this dragon looked like he would either eat the boy or the lollypop on the stick!

chineseny5One of our group, Liz, saw an opportunity for us to have a different viewpoint and we ordered tea at the Chinatown restaurant, sitting on the balcony above the stage, where speakers and drumming blared from the sound system for the next hour!

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A dragon danced on the street below for a while.

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Away from the noise (I thought) in an alleyway I situated myself across from this gentleman barber and rather obviously started to sketch. When he saw me, he went inside and came back with this instrument. I smiled in gratitude when he started playing rather loudly “My Darling Clementine”, stopping mid-song whenever a person stopped to take his picture. Then he would hold up a much used cardboard sign that said “Haircut and shave” and ask if the person wanted a haircut.

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The heart of Chinatown. Can’t wait to go back.

Come join me this spring and summer for some sketching-on-location workshops!

North Bay Urban Sketchers

Also known as the Ready Set Sketch group, the North Bay Urban Sketchers meet up on the second Saturday of each month to sketch together at a different Sonoma County location. The group is coordinated by Richard Sheppard and welcomes anyone, beginner or experienced artists who wish to get out and sketch in public alongside others. Typically there’s an initial meet up place to greet everyone, followed by time for sketching in the vicinity either alone or with others, and then a time at the end to look at all the sketches together and meet some other sketchers.

There was a fine turn out yesterday for the meet up in Occidental and sunshine to warm the art spirits!

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fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ hand.book sketchbook

Occidental is a friendly little town nestled in the redwoods between Sebastopol and the ocean and happens to be one of my favorite spots for sketching. This white church right up the road from Howard’s Cafe was back lit, which meant staring into the sun to sketch it. But I must say that after so much rain and cold, it was a delight to experience the tentative warmth of that winter sun.

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Next spot was the pub Barley and Hops across the street, and once again, facing into the sun I zeroed in on just the porch and the elegant palm fronds.

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I can stay away from sketching people only so long til the urge takes over! And there’s few better subjects than sketchers because they are mostly still.

If you’ve been wanting to try some sketching outdoors, why don’t you join the Facebook Group, Urban Sketchers- North Bay, and come along some time?!

#SBSADrawingaDayChallenge