coffee shop sketch

Day 5: #OneWeek100People2017

Golly, I hope you’re not too tired of seeing all these people sketches. Yesterday was the final day (of 5) to get in the 100 people sketches. For a last minute spree Bettina and I sat/stood in the loft at Taylor Maid coffee in Sebastopol, the perfect place to catch people at that interesting angle looking down. A bonus is that no one looks up to see that you are sketching them!

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Platinum Carbon fountain pen in Stillman +Birn Beta sketchbook (soft cover)

This is a tricky angle because we’re so used to sketching at eye level that we don’t get the perspective right. Her legs were probably not that long when seen from above.

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I kept trying to capture the hand gestures as people talked to each other and only occasionally caught something before they moved on. I think if I sat for 3 hours I would probably have a chance to jump in fast enough. The hand is such a complicated structure that it requires quite a bit of study and practice in itself. I’ll put that on my (endless) to do list!

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It’s always more fun to sketch with a friend, and we had lots to discuss, but when the brain is tied up with such talk, it’s not as able to access the critical measuring and comparing part of drawing, so here I was getting sloppy. Determined though to get this woman’s hand gesture!

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This beautiful young woman reminded us so much of the lasses we saw in Ireland last summer. She was animated in every part of her body as she conversed with the young man opposite.

Painting in the red hair later seemed to rescue this sketch. I mixed up a puddle of yellow, red and a tad of blue and put some skin color in so the sketches seemed a bit more “human” and left it at that.

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Once again, not having to draw the face made it easier to get the gesture and foreshortening. Sometimes I find that my line gets squiggly from the excitement of the moment. The line takes over and wants to describe something quirky. O.K., I say. GO for it!

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The Moments In Between

I carry an abbreviated set of sketch supplies in my purse, ready for when the opportunity presents itself. Here are some of the sketches which have accumulated in my sketchbook in the past couple weeks in those moments in between the business of everyday life.

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pen and w/c in soft cover Beta Stillman +Birn sketchbook, 7 X 10″

. . . at Codex Book Fair in Richmond where artists from around the world exhibit their original creations and show and tell to the public.

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It was hard to take time away from the looking to sketch! So much to see and learn, but the colorful umbrellas caught my eye.

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and my friend Laurie Wigham sat down to sketch with me for a while and took this picture. Meanwhile she did a beautiful watercolor sketch of a container ship in the bay outside the window.

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Another weekend we joined Andrew and Maura in the city (S.F.) to explore the Mission, its murals, shops, and fascinating street milieux. Here I’m trying to sketch at a cafe and visit with them at the same time, inside, distracted also by the long line that’s forming across the street to get into one of the trendy ice cream joints.

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We visit thrift shops to try on clothes as well as some not-thrift shops like this one. I take a load off my feet to sketch the mannikins.

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Life and sketching happens wherever you find yourself and last week it was in the preop department where everyone wears blue bonnets, staff and patients alike, and the electronics are beeping and showing movies of, not stock market trends, but vital signs. The patient did well and I got lost in the wires and buttons.

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Next morning I had time to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks before the exhausting day ahead, hanging out with and caretaking my own dear patient. (Who now is healing quite well.)

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It’s a bit of a challenge to get good color application with a waterbrush, which is what I carry in my purse, also a palette the size of a credit card.

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But it gets the job done. Life gets down in little bits and pieces in sketches while the memories get reinforced, and a little bit of pleasure bubbles up. Life and art like to go hand in hand.

Stoves and coffee shops

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Lamy Safari fountain pen and watercolor in Strathmore w/c sketchbook 5 X 7″

We finally replaced our old stove, which could only be lit with a match, and installed a new exhaust fan.  It became an opportunity for a sketch of the “everyday matters” variety.  I’m having some trouble with my fountain pen lines, which are sometimes too fine. I go over them and then the drawing looks insecure.

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My insecurity is showing here as well.  Sketched from up above on the balcony, it was a great angle though.  My son and husband and I were there for coffee.  They did stuff on their computers while I sketched and texted pictures to my other son who wasn’t with us.  We fit right into coffee shop/internet cafe ambiance.

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Another day, this baby was on his father’s lap, one seat away from me at the coffee bar.  The father said nothing as I brazenly scribbled and flirted with his son.

Sketching away the holidays


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Japanese brush pen and w/c in Strathmore w/c sketchbook, 5 X 7″

The holidays are officially over now.  Today we’ll take down our Bookworm tree and lights.  My Strathmore sketchbook, inaugurated in October, is full.  The holidays are never a time to get much larger painting done, but they are a perfect time for some quick sketches.  Here’s a sampling.

The jury is still out on which of my pens works best.  They all have pros and cons. The brush pen, which you see in these images, is the most expressive, but it puts down such a bold line (a bit scary!) and it bleeds, so you can’t paint watercolor over it. unless you want mud.

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In pursuit of more colorful subjects I have found the Farmer’s Market to be the most accessible.  I went to sketch motion, but ended up sipping my chai comfortably on a bench and opting for a sedentary subject who was easier to draw.


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More brush pen sketching at a local cafe hang out. The trick is to stay away from facial features and go for body attitude. All the shading here is the brush pen bleeding as I swipe it with a water brush.

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The guy in the foreground was literally close enough I could touch him, but he was more interested in the people ordering their coffee, especially this young lady with the cool boots!