ink and watercolor sketch

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.

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Sketchbook in the purse

The sketchbook that travels in the purse tends to get used when you might not expect, like when you’re out with other people and there’s a discreet moment or two and something catches your eye. . .

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Lamy Safari fountain pen with water soluble ink and watercolor in 5 X 7″ w/c sketchbook

It was the ruby red lipstick, ivory skin and blue earbuds that made her a must-sketch. I tuned out my family’s conversation over coffee for a few moments to capture it. I knew that my subject, just a couple feet away, was too absorbed to notice.

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Waiting to put Andrew (Droob) and Maura on the bus for the airport I realized I hadn’t sketched him enough over the holiday. “Hold still for a moment” I said. Easy to ask of someone with a cell phone in his hand.

Intro to Sketching in Public

I love my iPhone camera as much as the next person, and whip it out to capture that special gesture, or bark texture or subtle light play. But the picture I take doesn’t capture the smells, the sounds, the conversations, the temperature and texture of the air, the thoughts that arise as I sit or stand in that moment.

It’s a bit of a mystery why, but nevertheless true, that the effort to transfer those impressions onto the page, in line, shape and color, accomplishes these things. I have found repeatedly that my sensory memory can be captured on paper, even in a rather rushed and rudimentary drawing with a bit of hasty text added.

Reading this you may sense a bit of my messianic zeal about sketching. I must say that in today’s monster rain storm, I am happy to burrow inside. But I am anxious to share what I’ve learned about sketching in public with folks who’d like to either get started or re-started, to incorporate it into everyday light or to be ready for upcoming travel.

So to get started this spring I’m offering an Introduction to Sketching in Public Workshop. With it’s lovely plaza, Main St. shops, Barlow attractions of shops, wine, food and art, not to mention colorful residents, there’s no shortage of spots for quick sketches and food to sustain the effort. I’ll be adding some of my Sebastopol sketches on the blog in the coming weeks. This one was done in an art store standing by the check out counter.

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This workshop is a way to get comfortable with supplies and approach so that you can continue in other settings.The best way to feel less exposed about the “public” aspect is to do it in a supportive group. I still prefer sketching in public with my buddies. In Sonoma Co. we have a wonderful sketch meet up group, the Ready, Set, Sketchers who meet monthly.

I will also be teaching a weekend workshop on Quick Capture Sketching April 29, 30 at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, which will provide more skills, resources and the opportunity to practice sketching on location.

Registration is open for both workshops now. For more information and registration visit my website. Hope to be sketching with you in 2017!

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

One of my favorite things about sketching in public is the public part, the friendly folks who come over to take a look and comment. Since most of the world lives on their iPhones these days – I’m sure you’ve noticed -it is quite enchanting to people when they see someone engaging in the old fashioned, folksy business of putting their experience on paper. Add the color in and they’re positively worshipful of even the most rudimentary attempts to sketch a scene.

My friends and I picked the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville for our New Year’s Eve sketch outing. If you haven’t been there, well, think – wine country gone hollywood with a combination of food, wine tasting, store, pool, film memorabilia museum. I’m sure I’ve left something out! Pure fun.

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Lamy Joy fountain pen and watercolor in 8X8″ Hand.book sketchbook

I’m looking forward to coming back on a hot summer day. The pool is gorgeous and I love the idea of changing in a cabana!  That day it was rather cold to sit outside in the afternoon shade.

My first encounter was a lovely young visitor from China  who left her table of iPhone users to join me, rather a compliment since this place is big on visual attractions of every sort.

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Inside was warm but getting crowded. Resting my sketchbook on the balcony looking down, I was soon joined by a wine bartender anxious to see my gear and sketches.

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There was a lot of wine tasting action of course and I didn’t want to get in the way with my sketching. In the corner was a vacant stool and I finally got the nerve to ask this fellow if it was OK for me to sit down and sketch there. He was delighted and even fluffed up those marvelous eyebrows (how did he guess I had my eye on him to sketch?)  It was a sketcher’s dream of being the fly on the wall (or barstool I guess), a bit dark so my colors were off, but dark enough that I didn’t notice until I got home! Of course this picture went on Chris’ phone as well as mine.

But we couldn’t leave until the first fellow brought us tastes of something divine and bubbly to celebrate the turn of the year and our most agreeable sketch venture in this place where the staff all seem intent on making you feel like a celebrity!