ink and watercolor sketch

Sketching at home

When it’s not the season for travel or time for local event sketching, there’s always what is close at hand. I no longer sketch my food and drink, which is recommended by some of my favorite luminaries such as Danny Gregory and Liz Steel. But I’ve had my eye on the rusty mailbox next door, and then there’s always the goats at the bottom of the hill.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in soft cover Beta Stillman + Birn sketchbook

And then there’s the town I live (outside of), Sebastopol, where I’ll be teaching two workshops this spring. The first is “Introduction of Sketching in Public” on March 25th. So I’ve been wandering around town with the eyes of a tourist sketcher to find what one could capture quickly in a workshop setting.

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A lovely water fountain in the plaza and an exercise in connecting it with the background while leaving out most of the rest of what was there! That’s the hard part.

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I found a bench in the sun and had a few minutes left to doodle some people. I often end up liking these “doodles” better than the more finished ones. You’d think I’d learn.

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But another day I had more time, and a good spot to sit with a friend and kept sketching awhile after my subject had left. Of course they always leave before you’re done!

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fountain pen and watercolor in Toned Tan Strathmore Art Journal

And then there’s always the selfie. This one done while on an hour-long phone call in front of my computer (one looks for time where it is to be found), which might account for having lost a bit of the top of her head. Oh well.

I’ve had people tell me I should paint more attractive self portraits of myself, but this is so much more amusing. I think I feel a series coming on. After all, you don’t have to pay this subject to sit and she’s always available to sketch live!

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!

Day 1: 100 people sketch week

There’s a lot of sketching folks out there this week rising to the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge! So I couldn’t resist. It’s actually a five day challenge, which means 20 people/day sketched any way you want. But if you’re busy, obviously that means fast! Monday is always a very full day for me with my Mom’s group in the morning and Muse Group in the afternoon.

So sleepy-eyed in the evening after dinner I sat down to sketch from QuickPoses.com, a great online resource for when you can’t get out and sketch live. Most of these I started out with watercolor and added ink.

After finishing these I wanted to keep going but it was getting late. These poses are so great!! I think I could get addicted. And to reach the 100 goal I’m going to have to work faster and simpler. Maybe just stick to pen. Later today I’ll be in a grocery store with my sketch buddies capturing live movement with more speed and probably a lot less accuracy.

Why do this? Drawing is one of those activities that improves with quantity, like reps with those barbells or miles of walking/running/biking. And there’s a previous limitation to overcome. 100 sketches in 5 days just might do it.

I find inspiration in so many places. Here’s some of my favorites:  Marc Taro Holmes of course, and Liz Steel, and Suhita Shirodhar. They’re all blogging about this challenge this week and talking honestly about the process. Check it out! And I’ll be back every day to share my own discoveries/sketches.

#OneWeek100People2017

A Celebration of S.F. Urban Sketchers!

Saturday was a day full of jubilation. So many things to celebrate – a gorgeous sunny day in San Francisco, sketching at Mission Creek with 60 some urban sketchers – a party at Arch Art Supply afterwards to celebrate the 5th anniversary of S.F. Urban Sketchers and their generous new sponsorship of  group – ending with the official opening of the 10X10 urban sketch workshop series in the San Francisco Bay Area. This workshop series is happening in cities all over the world to celebrate yet another anniversary – the 10th year of Urban Sketchers worldwide – with 10 local workshops. I know, its a lot. But definitely an exciting time to be sketching in the Bay Area.

The workshops are filling up fast, so take a look at the offerings soon if you’re interested. I’ll be teaching workshop #10 on June 10, Sketch Vignettes to Share the Story That Interests YOU!  In this workshop, held in the picturesque west Sonoma County town of Freestone, we’ll use ink and and watercolor and explore tools for quickly getting to the story YOU most want to tell in your sketch using ideas of vignette design. Visit my website and contact me for more information and I’ll tell you how to register.

missioncreek fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ Hand.book sketchbook

I get so excited when I’m in the city and want to go for the big picture, even if there’s no time for details. Imagine the S.F. Bay right behind the stadium and entrance.

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There were soo many sketches of this houseboat! I think it was the antlers that attracted us all, along with a lovely strip of grass in the sun to perch on our little stools.

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Sketch The Medical Scene

I’ve learned to sit in the corner of the waiting room in medical offices, car repair shops, airports or any other place where waiting ensues. I cross one leg over the other make a slanted table and get out my smallish everyday sketchbook. Right now this is the soft cover  6X8″ Beta Series Stillman + Birn sketchbook.

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The “safest” place to sit and sketch is behind people, but it’s not the most interesting visually, so the conversation becomes more important. The fellow on the left, Max, was a big, loud, friendly volunteer greeter for these surgery patients, and the grease that got more than the usual amount of conversation going in the small waiting room.

“When I get up in the morning and open the newspaper, I look at the obituaries and, if my name isn’t there, I know it’s a good day!” says Max (probably whenever this is needed to give the surgery patients a good chuckle)

The other interesting subject was the fellow in the back with the bright red shirt and matching sneakers, so I abandoned the design principle of putting bright warm colors in the foreground and cooler/lighter in the background. (Red is actually my favorite color)

When all the patients were taken into another room I had the room to myself to get a bit of paint on with water brush and the pocket palette I carry in my purse.

You may have guessed, I am not the patient here, but the companion.

Urban Sketch workshops

Urban Sketching workshops near you!

If you are interested in urban sketching workshops, read through this post carefully, for
1) Workshops around the world
2) Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area
3) And a workshop I’m teaching- in Sonoma County!

Workshops Around the World

This is an exciting year for Urban Sketching! Urban Sketchers is 10 years old this year and they’re celebrating with year-long workshops all over the world. Excited? Click  this link to see where all the workshops are. Each city lets you pick from 10 workshops being held throughout the year.1010

Workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Urban sketchers is excited to be holding it’s own series of 10 workshops all over the Bay Area: 10 teachers you’ve been wanting to take a workshop with and I am one of them! And the workshops are geared to all levels of sketchers!25_usk-10classes-san-francisco-bay-area2

For more about these workshops and how to register, go to this link. We have quite a fantastic lineup of workshops, so register soon.

Whether you are signed up for a workshop, thinking of signing up, curious about urban sketching, or just want to meet and hangout with urban sketchers, everyone is invited to our launch party on Saturday February 11 at Arch Art & Drafting Supply in San Francisco. The event will kick off with a sketch meet-up at San Francisco’s Mission Bay at noon, followed by the launch party at Arch Art & Drafting Supply at 1:30. UsK classes will be introduced and individual instructors will be available for a meet-and-greet session. Come join us even if we’ve never met before, we’re a friendly bunch!

I will be teaching the last workshop of the series titled Sketch vignettes to share the story that interests YOU! on June 10 in Freestone, CA. In this three hour workshop we will explore tools for quickly getting to the story you most want to tell in your sketch. We will build the sketch out from the point of your greatest interest, connecting it to its context and leaving out all that isn’t needed to make a more powerful impact. Principles of vignette design and utilizing the white of the paper will be practiced along with simple drawing and watercolor applications. I hope you can join me ! For more information and to register visit the 10 X 10 S.F. Urban Sketchers web page.

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The Barlow

Local. Food. Art. Wine. This is how the Barlow here in Sebastopol wants to be known. The buildings share the upscale “warehouse” look. You can taste the beer and coffee where they brew and roast it, then move on to wine tasting, shopping, get your hair done and even watch a traditional Tibetan Tanka painter at work. I often meet friends there for coffee. But yesterday we were out sketching. The pink pig and orange umbrellas at Zazu caught my eye.

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 Brown deAtramentis Document ink and w/c in 8 X 8″ hand.book sketchbook

I’m really trying to stick with what interests me and leaving the rest out. It’s a tad less realistic that way, but more satisfying. When you’re standing on the street on a cold, damp day, the picking and choosing of subject matter is a necessity. Luckily I had my down jacket and knit cap on. I can’t imagine sketching in the snow like some of my Urban Sketch friends do, like Marc Taro Holmes in Montreal. Brrrr!

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I was struck by the angles on this view and propped my book on a post for a quick one. More orange umbrellas – I can’t resist! There’s room for text there at the bottom, but I was more interested in lunch at that point. Maybe the lunch at Village Bakery should go there.

If you’ve been thinking you’d like to join me to get going on some sketching, I’ve got just the thing! My Introduction to Sketching in Public workshop coming up March 25 will get us out enjoying Sebastopol, the Barlow included, with sketchbook in hand. My favorite way! For more information and to register visit my website.

#SBSADrawingADayChallenge