100! and Julia Kay’s Portrait Party

How did it go with the 100 people in one week sketches? Did you see some of the wonderful people sketches that were out on the web last week? The #oneweek100people will get you there! I made my 100 over the weekend, but just got back yesterday from San Francisco, so here are some of them.


(here Tania is in color because she’s the speaker but also because she was wearing this amazing peacock vest and matching jewelry she got in Uzbekistan.)

On day 4 of last week I was at my friend Tania Amochaev’s (Romanov) book reading and opening in San Francisco. Her just published book is Mother Tongue: Three Generations of Balkan Women, available now on Amazon. The story follows the lives of three generations of women: Katarina, Zora and Tania over the last 100 years when they lived in countries that were dissolved, formed and reformed. They lived in exile, in refugee camps and in new worlds (namely San Francisco!). Tania tells this remarkable story straight from the heart. Her mother tongue is literally the language she spoke only with her mother, one of so many tongues she is comfortable speaking.

When I was just 21 years old I traveled through then Yugoslavia with absolutely no knowledge of the history and struggles of this fractured land. If only I’d read this book before I went. After reading it I’m more determined than ever to make a trip back.


I was seated on the front and side where I had a pretty good view of the faces in the audience.


Taniareads2_2Tania’s story is so moving that the audience was rapt and no one seemed to want her to stop reading!


On Friday we were having lunch in the colorful Mission neighborhood of San Francisco at a Peruvian restaurant, Alma Cocina enjoying their mouth watering rotisserie chicken! . . .followed by coffee at Philz across the street. My preference is always to sketch a variety of ethnicities and lifestyles, and I hit the jackpot. Hiding the book in your lap is good for staying undetected when up close, but it makes for some pretty wonky lines.

I ordered Jacob’s Wonder blend of “chocolate, smoke and nuts” flavors. Getting coffee at Philz is like going to a wine tasting room in Sonoma County. You get to hang out a bit with a hip young person, discuss the flavors, have them add or subtract cream and sugar, and then sip and murmur approval, watching their enjoyment at having gotten it “right”.


And not a single person there was over 30 I’m sure. Oh well, except me.



On Saturday I finished off my 100 people sketches at Arch Art Supplies at a meet up called Julia Kay’s Portrait Party. We sat in groups of 6-8 and posed for each other to sketch. We started off with 30-second poses, sketching with the non-dominant hand. The idea was to start off messing up so badly that the next ones would seem highly skilled in comparison! And so they did. My 30-second ones were a battle to even hold the pencil with the lead facing the right way in my right hand (I’m left handed), and just as I was getting used to the feel, we switched to the other hand. These (above) were the one minute poses with a brush pen.


Then we switched to the (now luxurious) 8 minute poses. I used fountain pens with red black (Noodler’s) ink which is water soluble and black ink.


These two sketches are of me, done by artists in my group. Lorna Strutt is the artist of the one on the left and Vivian Aldridge the one on the right. Don’t you just love them?! Both are so expressive in totally different ways. What they left out is as powerful as what they put in.

Well, somewhere in there I hit 100 figures, and then switched to toilets, skyscrapers and flowers. . .(to be continued)



Fire News

Everyone here in Sonoma County wants to know “Are you safe?” So first of all yes, and so is my family and home and neighborhood and town of Sebastopol. And that doesn’t go very far to describe what it’s like to live in this county on fire. Scary and sad is more like it. The air was too dense with smoke to go out and sketch it, and the first responders wanted people out of the way anyway. So I did the next best thing and sketched from our paper, the Press Democrat.


Sketched from a photo by Kent Porter in the Press Democrat newspaper.

You get the picture here. What’s left of a house and yard and buried car. We’ve been tuned to this kind of picture since Monday morning. Or rather Sunday night when I was awakened by the ding of my cell with a message from a friend “Where are you? Are you packed?” Groggily I looked out my living room window to a view of a horizon on fire. (I’ve tried sketching this from memory but the image I remember is not reproducible).

We packed the car and waited. The fire was visibly distant enough from us to wait, meanwhile realizing we were not nearly prepared for this. Over the next two days conversations ensued about what to take, how to stay informed, how to be responsible to others. It was exhausting and humbling and scary and sad, especially as the stories of evacuations and lost homes unfolded.


Meanwhile we were marooned inside where the air was filtered. Bob got a call from his sister and tried to fill her in. Our sons kept texting and calling for updates. For a couple days we had almost no phone or wifi. I was desperate to sketch to get a handle on that anxiety. I got out my new Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketch Book and grabbed a couple pens and colored pencils. This paper is so sensuous to draw on, smooth in a way that invites a pen to flow.


Finally we had Comcast cable again and the distraction of TV, Masterpiece and Poldark! Costumes and romance, and that predictable Poldark dark-browed scowl! Perfectly suited to the anxious sketcher in need of relief.

So the Sonoma County fires burn on. But you’ve heard that in the news. My sketch workshop this Saturday has been cancelled due to unhealthy air quality from the fires. I’ll regroup and try another date.

We have our minds on so many things right now. The mind actually collapses when confronted with this sort of thing. But one thing I know. Art restores.