Another summer concert at the plaza in Healdsburg this Tuesday. Afrolicious, as described on their website features:  inspiring lyrics, funky bass lines, and a powerful horn section while retaining the soul and feel of classic funk, disco, Latin, and Afrobeat melodies.

Carole and I immediately spotted the visuals and scoped out the possibilities of positioning ourselves so that we could have an unobstructed view. It’s the age old problem of getting close enough to see, let alone draw, without getting trampled by the dancers or blasted by the amplifiers. The volume was turned up to ear splitting levels that even our sound dampening ear plugs couldn’t handle.


But the side and back view sometimes works well enough. And the group was engaging with their music and audience appeal. They invited the little kids on stage to “help” them drum and the grown ups to sing along on the chorus. Another warm summer night of music and community spirit.

I finished it up at home with a bold glaze of underpainting and a few accents of color to finish.

Gator Nation

This Tuesday the Healdsburg Summer Concert series featured Gator Nation with their South Louisiana, Cajun, Zydeco, and New Orleans style music. They quickly revved the audience up for dancing. I moved my little stool up to in front of the dancers. Gulp. And quickly realized that my proximity meant total engagement with the music and these wonderful performers that were constantly moving around, interacting with each other, and looking like they were having so much fun. How could I sketch when I felt like joining the dancers?


Here’s the challenge. How to get them all on the spread with no time to plan it out first. But honestly, it’s so much fun to do this while the music is going on and seeping into the sketch. In the end I did just jump up and join the dancers. It felt like we were on the bayou with these guys!


This is band leader Willard Blackwell. Not only did I get to meet him and take a picture, but he gave me a CD so I could take the music home. (I think this was the best part of the evening!)

Summer is arriving

The thermostat just hit 100, so summer has officially arrived. I’m hunkered down in air conditioning with time to catch up on blogging a bit. Here’s some sketches of recent outings.


We lucked out with weather over the weekend and the Ready, Set, Sketchers (aka North Bay Urban Sketchers) met up in Valley Ford on Saturday. It was sunny-warm enough that I just looked for a shady spot to sit in a parking lot, and fell in love with this old “shack”. Did someone live there? Was it storage for the little store next door? Or maybe even the post office?

Valley Ford is a block long and surrounded by rolling grass lands and stands of trees, a big draw for plein aire painters, but also a lunch stop for cyclists and others on their way to the shoreline. The parking lot was a crowded with all of the above, but somehow none of them made it into this old-timey scene.


As you can see I didn’t get close enough to the band, Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, to sketch them at the opening of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival in the Plaza. That evening I was content to sit in my chair along with all the other folks, eating and drinking wine and people watching. If you want to see the band, you can look at last year’s sketch.


Same place, Healdsburg Plaza concert series, with the band, the King Street Giants.There’s always space to plant my mini-stool on the side or in the back of the stage to get a closer view.

And tomorrow is another concert there, but I think I’ll have to pass. Another 100 day tomorrow, and my melting point is 90.

Con Brio

Warm weather loosens one up, and a dose of music on the Plaza (in Healdsburg on Tuesday evenings) helps too. Bob and I often start out in the crowd of people in lawn chairs sipping wine and eating a picnic dinner while the performance starts. Everyone seems so relaxed. Note that in this sketch there’s no one on their cell phone!


I was a bit too relaxed (or maybe excited) at first and managed to spill my dinner and my wine on myself before even getting to the sketching. Then the parade of people was so colorful!

Have you seen these “sippy” cups that you can put a wine glass into, so you don’t risk spilling your wine (as I did, more than once)? I bet you can find them at Costco, since everyone seems to have them now.


The group Con Brio (with verve!) was lighting up the plaza with their music. I put in my loudness-canceling ear plugs and sat right below the stage to sketch. The charismatic lead singer danced up and down the stage, reaching out to the audience, which was going wild.


By the end of the performance half the plaza seemed to be standing and clapping with hands in the air.

Let the Summer Begin!

. . .with free concerts on the plaza! And the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.


Lamy fountain pen and watercolor in Hahnemuhl Watercolor Book

The Plaza in Healdsburg was jam packed on Tuesday night. We were sitting far enough back where you don’t even see the musicians but can still enjoy the music just fine. People are set up in their groupings with friends and wine and food and dancing  by the stage and on the sidelines. Everybody happy to be there on a warm almost summer night. And the music. . .ahhh, Latin Jazz!


Here’s my 30X30 direct watercolor for the day. Not the fluid watercolor paper I prefer, but I kind of like all the texture that happens with the wet application. When the musicians returned after the break, I set my little stool up on the side of the stage to get deep into the latin groove and let the percussion rule the sketch. Honestly I’d had some wine too, which might be evident in the “looseness” of the sketch. And all the while I’m thinking, oh yeah, it’s summer-groovin-time now!

Carlos Medrano, Sabor de mi Cuba

Another Tuesday evening at Healdsburg Plaza, with Carlos Medrano and his band celebrating the 19th Annual Jazz Festival.


So how do you put the tones and color and flavors of the hot and steamy Cuban jazz down on paper? Always fun to try!

Found a new spot to sit where visibility was good! It was early in the show and I plunked my mini-stool down right at the feet of the performers with my back to the dancers.  I don’t think I would have had the nerve if there hadn’t been a couple photographers with their tripods set up there.


Later there was a fair amount of dancing on stage as the singer collected people from the audience and coached them in the sinuous movements of the hips. I gave it a try for a while too, then sat again to draw the audience, mostly in movement. It certainly puts a smile on your face with so many different ages dropping their inhibitions together!


Next day I did another quick sketch from my iPhone pics, trying to keep the same freshness as the on-location sketches. I wanted another crack at capturing her movement. Trying to sketch faster and drop my tidiness in the service of energy. I sketched this same group six months ago if you want to check it out here.