Halloween costumes

A Week of Sketches

Catching up a bit with sketches from the past week, first a day in San Rafael enjoying the bucolic campus of Dominican University.


light pencil and watercolor in spiral Field Watercolor Journal, 8 X 8″

I was setting up my stool in the sun, planning to catch the bright morning light on the bench with the English country style building behind, when the lady in the red slippers sat down and started texting/talking. I was happy to include her and had just started drawing her in when she looked up and saw me. She immediately jumped up, thinking she was in my way, and came over to apologize and see what I was doing.

“No, no” I said. “Please make yourself at home on the bench and ignore me.” So she sat back down for a few minutes, then came back over to look again and tell me her story. . .her peaceful memories of that bench going back to when she was a young student there. . .losing her glasses. . .something about those wonderful red pom pommed slippers . .. . her own fascinating art life. Anyway, you get the picture. A delightful encounter for both of us, which would not have happened without the sketchbook.


Found a quiet spot in the sun to practice architecture, or a small piece anyway. Sitting in the direct sun with light bouncing off the white paper and sun-blind eyes is a challenge. Best to sit in the shade while sketching the sunny scene, but this is not an option on a chilly winter day.


We headed to lunch at the Flat Iron pub in San Rafael. Pork sliders and fried calamari. Yum!


Another day of sketching closer to home, at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. I wanted to catch the passengers on the train but missed the schedule.  Good thing because a costume shop down 4th St., Disguise the Limit, is a sketcher’s paradise with mannikins, masks and displays of every kind of costume for theatre and festival, including steam punk attire.


I guess I was in a Halloweeny mood with my macabre choice of subject, but I left in a much better mood than when I’d entered! Go figure.




Trick (and) Treat

As soon as we arrived at the Montgomery Village shopping center in Santa Rosa on Saturday the heavens opened up and released such a deluge that one could scarcely do anything but run for cover and watch the children with their parents under umbrellas dodging puddles. The event was for children and families: an opportunity to wear the costume, join the costume competition for your age group (we’re talking barely able to walk through primary school mainly) have some free ice cream and candy and get your picture taken with the Pumpkin Fairy Godmother.

We were there for none of the above. The colorful spectacle was our treat. After watching a little guy in a fireman outfit stand in the deluge with his mouth open and tongue out to catch a drink of rain, we decided to go to lunch and wait out the rain.


Pentel pocket brush pen and w/c in 7 X 10″ Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook

Back on the Halloween scene we found a couple benches outside Chico’s, and it was time to get started. Of course this sort of scene is a colorful pandemonium. The sketcher wants to capture it all, but how? Everything is in constant movement . . .or almost.

I started with pencil, but kept having to start over. Then moved to a light ink pen, but my subjects were just too antsy (or maybe I was too antsy). Finally I pulled out the brush pen and stood where I could see the guy standing still and handing out candy and vampire teeth. Now I was having fun!


Next subject was a couple of parents (I’m guessing here) watching the costume judging. she was leaning up against him, looking very hot in her superhero costume and he was striking the disinterested cool guy pose, so I left him white.


The line was forming for the Pumpkin Fairy, who was a bigger hit for the parents who wanted the pictures than for the kids. This father-fairy duo seemed the best bet to stand a little bit still or at least keep returning to that pose for five minutes or so. I was seated and wanted to get back to starting with the light gray ink and finishing with the Lamy Joy calligraphy pen with black ink (the painting happened after they’d moved on).


The light gray lines show the movement of this little Raggedy Ann. The kids all had these colorful rubber boots that brought the color quotient up a notch.

trickandtreat5I saved the Pumpkin Fairy for after I was home and sketched it from a photo I took with my iPhone. She was actually posing for this. I realized that she is the same fairy as the Wish Fairy last Christmas! (I hope I’m not giving away a secret.)


I did this one last December when she was standing near Santa and sprinkling fairy dust to grant wishes.  I can’t remember what mine was, but I got the wish treatment too and I’m sure she doesn’t shoot blanks!


Bettina hopped up and took pics of us. That’s her palette there. I am so lucky to have friends who are willing to accompany me out in the rain and crowds to try to capture moving targets in sketchbooks! It’s definitely not like doing flowers or buildings that sit still while you draw. You just have to plunge in and hope for the best.