Grace Cathedral

Nob Hill with the Urban Sketchers

Last Saturday the SF Urban Sketchers met at Nob Hill to sketch Grace Cathedral and top-o-the-city scenes. The icing on the cake was a visit from our Australian friends Liz Steele and Jane Blundell who perched alongside us on the streets sketching and enjoying a near perfect sunny day in San Francisco. The group swelled to 83 sketchers and there was plenty of socializing with old and new sketch friends.


fountain pen and watercolor in Hand book w/c sketchbook, 8 X 8″

While we perched on our stools across the street from the Cathedral we enjoyed the photo shoots of several brides dressed in the romance of white and bouquets.

nobhill06I might have to sketch this one from the picture! I was too lost in the arches and hangings and intricate architecture of the cathedral to catch on in time for a live sketch of this.


Sitting next to my friend Cathy McAuliffe, who always finds an elegant way to simplify a scene I thought I’d try her approach for a quick one. Maybe I should have slowed down a bit? But sometimes on the street sketching with friends that accuracy ceases to matter. It’s about the story of the moment I will definitely not forget.

At 3:30 we met in the park across from the Cathedral to share sketches and welcome our guests. I took a bit of video on my phone to capture a sense of the day. (click image to play)

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 9.05.45 AM

At this point some of us were a bit fried! Many sketchers would think this rather strange, but my default relax-a-sketch mode is people, especially when it’s people relaxing in parks on a lovely sunny day with their dogs.


This is what some city folks do when the day is not the usual blustery cold SF summer weather;  hang out on park benches with their newspapers and kids and dogs. Sketching a scene like this ways feels like a fascinating expedition into other peoples’ lifestyles, and with the advantage of no electronic screen in between!

nobhill08We ended the day with a picnic on the hill at Lafayette Park overlooking the bay, with the city spread all around us below and the trees above. At the picnic table I sat next to a sketcher from Russia who’s a scientist living in the city now and doing cancer research. . .and sketching! If I ever get to Russia I’m going to contact their UsK group and sketch with them! Sometimes it feels like we’re a little United Nations of sketchers. Do you think maybe if the Sunnis and Shiites sketched together there would be more peace in the Middle East? What about democrats and republicans here?


While the urban sketchers (and family members) tackled the landscape of trees and bay and distant hills (they never seem to tire!) I sketched the sketchers and then it got dark and we headed home.

Grace Cathedral

A lovely cold but sunny day in San Francisco last Saturday for an Urban Sketcher meet up at Grace Cathedral. At the top of the climb up to the Cathedral I was immediately rewarded by a sight more likely to be seen at the Sonoma County Fair!


Such a regal presence was this distinguished looking character with his(her) red painted toe nails and immaculate grooming that any derogatory terms often used for swine would not apply in this case.


Once inside we were told that we had 30 minutes before we had to leave so that the choir could rehearse and set up for the performance. (I caught a picture of this young elf clearing away the set from the family program that had just ended)


So I plopped down in a pew and started madly sketching until I realized the confused state of my arches. There were simply too many! It was a bit like sitting down to a feast when super hungry and eating so fast that you get indigestion.grace2

The inner voice said “pick something simpler and more contained” so I tackled the angels, saints and organ pipes.

grace4Then we were asked to leave and went across the street to a sunny spot to tackle the exterior.


It wasn’t until later that I realized that the J and the Y on the banners, along with the rose window in the middle spelled JOY!

After we’d stayed for the concert and heard the angelic voices of the Men and Boys Choir, accompanied by organ and orchestra, we floated back down the hill again on a wave of that joy.