ink and watercolor sketches

Home in the garden

I’d planned to sketch at Sebastopol’s Apple Blossom Festival last Sunday, but it was hot and when I thought of the crowds and my lovely cool garden at home, the plan changed. From my chair on the patio beneath the redwoods there would be no musicians to sketch, no lively festival activities. Just the same old house and garden I look at every day. But I could sit in the low flight pattern of the birds on their way to the bird feeder and watch the gold finches bathe in the fountain and listen to variety of bird choruses and loud humming of the bees in the Australian tea tree.

home1

fountain pen and w/c in Hahnemuhl Watercolor Book, 6 X 8″

And of course the butterfly action, Tiger Swallowtails and Pipevine Swallowtails.

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I tend to suffer from the malady of all enthusiastic souls. . .FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) but I think I discovered for now at least a way to avoid the symptoms while staying home.

Oh, but then I guess I will have FOMO when I’m away from home too, knowing I will miss the baby quail parades and hungry caterpillars growing. I guess there’s no cure for FOMO.

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On the Embarcadero with Tania

It’s always good to start the day with a laugh! Tania and I were embarking on our third full day in San Francisco spent walking, sketching (me), photographing (Tania), talking to people along the way (mostly Tania) with some eating and drinking thrown in along the way. I follow her lead since she’s the one who has lived in the city off and on since childhood, but when I see a great place to sketch, I plunk down wherever for 15-20 min. and she starts talking to people and doing her marvelous street photography. We started the day where she lives, at the Ghiradelli Square area of Fisherman’s Wharf, walked down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, then west through the Embarcadero Center to Chinatown and north through North Beach back to her home.

LaughingSal

Tania remembered the arcade and Laughing Sal was the star, so we headed into the Musee Mecanique first. Tania loaded coins into Sal so we could enjoy her belly laughs which shook her ample figure!

birdman

(ink sketch done on site, color added later)

Usually one doesn’t sit down next to a homeless person and start sketching them. But Tania made friends with Terry. He was busy enough with the pigeons and seagulls, feeding them food that he’d probably found in a trash can, since he’d not had a proper meal himself. Tania was assigned as the “look out”. It’s apparently illegal to feed the birds in public places in the city. The pigeons were in his hands, on his lap, in the air! An orgy of love for this man.

Tania'sBirdMan

Photo by Tania Amochaev

Then the gulls got jealous and wanted part of the action!

cruise

As we proceeded down the Embarcadero there were suddenly lots of brightly dressed security guards with caution signs keeping people away from the cruise ship. I wondered about all the ruckus til I found out there were 3000 passengers who were hitting the street at the same time! Never having gone on a cruise of this sort before I was agape at the size of the ship, which looked like it could contain the residents of a small city! So while we were waiting for our lunch date friend to show up, I got a weird angle view. That’s the S.F. Bay there on the right.

ferrybuilding

After lunch we went inside the Ferry Building, a spectacular structure that among other things houses a daily Farmers Market-like offering of mouthwatering local delicacies. Committed sketcher that I am (and of course my stomach was already full after feasting on fresh sea scallops for lunch) I declined to eat/shop and took the opportunity to try to get the scope of this interior, something that many urban sketchers would find elementary. But yikes! Impossible! Tania (front figure) made a selection at the  smoked meat counter so that I could have a model.

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That was already feeling like a pretty full day, and it was getting hot, but next we walked through the Embarcadero Center to Chinatown and Portsmouth Park. On this gorgeous, record-breakingly warm winter day the park was overflowing with Chinese community members sitting in groups, playing games, enjoying the sun and even. . .having a music lesson.

The teacher here on violin was playing lovely, western sounding music that I could not identify but certainly enjoy. Meanwhile the lady in the pink hat, holding a tiny microphone attached to a red “purse” which seemed to disgorge the sounds into the park sporadically and at an alarming volume, was singing something that sounded more traditionally Chinese, or to my ears more like a high pitched screech.

A rather down-and-out looking character sitting next to us clapped enthusiastically whenever a song was finished. I couldn’t help thinking that this lady was a brave soul to expose her voice lessons, which seemed challenging at best, to the entire Chinese community! We had to interrupt the lesson to meet them and share the sketch.

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And of course they were so friendly and wanted lots of pictures taken with us. This is one of the very best parts for Tania and I about doing these “Flaneur” days where we become “passionate wanderers”.

A walk back to Tania’s home, stopping briefly to share a glass of wine in North Beach and our day’s adventure, number three in a hopefully on-going series of what I call “Tania Days” came to an end. (You can come along on the other ones here: Day One and Day Two.)

Next day I was beat and had to miss Jazzercise class and sleep in, while Tania was off early for a four hour hike.

About our day Tania wrote: “I needed a day to just wander around and let my mind roam where it wanted.” She’s busy right now preparing for the release of her new book March 1,  Mother Tongue: The Saga of Three Generations of Balkan Women, written under the name Tania Romanov.

Mother Tongue is an exploration of lives lived in the chaos of a part of the world known as the Balkans. It follows the lives of three generations of women―Katarina, Zora, and Tania―over the last 100 years. It follows countries that dissolved, formed, and reformed. Lands that were conquered and subjugated by Fascists and Nazis and nationalists. Lives lived in exile, in refugee camps, in new worlds.

This is a book you won’t be able to put down!

 

Character Sketching

You don’t have to look far to find characters to sketch! Your friends will do quite nicely. I borrowed the idea from my Urban Sketcher friend Vivian and her group and got some people together with costumes and attitude to pose for each other for 15 minute timed poses (with wine of course).

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We never got around to adding words at the time, but I stuck some in the next day.

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Actually I think I might have the wrong era here. More like Dickens era from the waist up, but who cares?! (She left the corset at home because it is after all the 21st century and California casual at that!)

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It’s all in the props. . .

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Switched to pencil here and more drawing with watercolor for a different look. Also got tired of painting in the clothing!

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This character reminded me of the cutest chick contest at the Butter and Eggs day in Petaluma!

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Becky’s character from Sweeney Todd. At this point I’d given up trying to get the whole figure into a 15 min sketch with color!

Hopefully these “characters” will be posting their sketches on Instagram and Facebook!

If you want to get some figure sketching practice and can’t get to a group set up, try these two free online resources:  the Sktchy phone app and Quick Poses

And then if you want to Put People in Your Sketches on location, join me on March 24 for my day-long workshop of that name, in Santa Rosa, CA. You’ll learn strategies for drawing people “in the act”, mixing believable skin tones, dealing with clothing, and connecting the figure with context. For more information visit my website!

Expressive Figure Drawing With Oliver Hoeller

On May 13 I took one of the 10 X 10 Urban Sketch workshops taught by one of my favorite urban sketch artist/illustrators, Oliver Hoeller.  I originally ran across him through his blog, the Visual Flanuer and have loved his zany depictions of festival life in San Francisco.

We met for the three hour workshop in Dolores Park in the Mission. It was a blustery, cool day and I still had my runny nose and cold left over from the cold week in N. Y. Nevertheless I was determined to learn his secrets for lively sketching of busy city scenes in pen and watercolor.

dolorespark2 After some contour sketch warm ups we moved on to sketching heads of the people in the park, drawing the shadow shapes rather than specific features.

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Then we went on to draw shadow shapes on full figures of people sitting relatively still.

Next we sketched parts of people, heads, torsos and legs/feet. When sketching people who are moving you often need to complete your sketch with the parts of another person who steps into your field of vision. So we also practiced putting tops and bottoms of different people together into one!

The next step was to form an opinion of what you’re interested in and then be ready to exaggerate it.

dolorespark

This was more challenging as we switched to people who were moving. It helped me to write down what I was initially interested in so I wouldn’t lose my focus.

Lastly we were to add some detail and context to the picture. (By this point I was too cold, so I took myself off to the Dolores Cafe where I nursed a latte while adding color and waiting for my friends to finish the workshop.)

I definitely think the workshop helped me loosen up and get more playful. Drawing the shadow shape first definitely helps. The white of the paper is always more lively than when you color in shapes with blocks of color.

Thank you Oliver!

60+ Art, Music, Fashion

The Sebastopol Center for the Arts was bulging at the seams last Friday with a possibly record breaking crowd to view 1) the opening of the 60+ Exhibition and two other gallery shows (all must sees!) 2) the 20 piece Ray Walker Swing Band and 3) the Aging With Attitude Fashion Show: Style and Sass at 60+.

That’s 60+ years of the artists of course! My gang, so of course I was there with my curiosity and sketchbook, trying to look between the gray haired and flamboyant hatted heads to capture some of the action.

60+artLamy Joy pen and w/c in hand.book field watercolor journal 8 X 8″

The swing band was playing what I consider my parent’s generation music. I guess that’s what’s happening with our aging population now. It comprises more than one generation! Fun to see the stage literally filled with brass instrumentalists!

60+fashion

Still peering between heads I caught glimpses of the fashion show and the appreciative audience. The styles were way beyond the usual seen here in west Sonoma County! Cell phones were busy videoing the spectacle of local friends doing the runway with a lively commentary going on.

Intro to Sketching in Public (Sebastopol)

It’s always a crap shoot to schedule an outdoor sketch workshop in March! But somehow we slipped between the rain storms for an idyllic weather day last Saturday in Sebastopol town for the Intro to Sketching in Public workshop. We took over the stage area on the Plaza for the introductions and then spread out in the plaza for the morning of demo and sketching.

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We look at bit bundled up here, but it was warm in the sun. After some drawing warm ups I demonstrated continuous line drawing and shared thoughts about how we decide what to put in and what to leave out of a quick sketch.

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I certainly left out more than I put in! All those cars and benches and things. I’d still be there sketching if I’d put them all in!

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Lunchtime and the afternoon was spent in the Barlow where there’s plenty to eat and sketch. I picked a spot across from a clothing shop for a 5 minute sketch and then added the color in a demo later, adding splatter and white pen detail with the Uniball Signo white pen. Once again I left out way more than I put into this scene, capturing only the “bling” that attracted me.

whatisit

Last stop of the day was in front of everyone’s favorite coffee shop, Taylor Maid, and the Floral Design shop. There are still areas of the Barlow that are undeveloped, like this scene from bygone years across the street  And if you can tell me what it is, I would appreciate knowing. Does it have something to do with apples? Grains? Wine? Beer? None of the above?

North Bay Urban Sketchers

Also known as the Ready Set Sketch group, the North Bay Urban Sketchers meet up on the second Saturday of each month to sketch together at a different Sonoma County location. The group is coordinated by Richard Sheppard and welcomes anyone, beginner or experienced artists who wish to get out and sketch in public alongside others. Typically there’s an initial meet up place to greet everyone, followed by time for sketching in the vicinity either alone or with others, and then a time at the end to look at all the sketches together and meet some other sketchers.

There was a fine turn out yesterday for the meet up in Occidental and sunshine to warm the art spirits!

occidentalchurch

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

Occidental is a friendly little town nestled in the redwoods between Sebastopol and the ocean and happens to be one of my favorite spots for sketching. This white church right up the road from Howard’s Cafe was back lit, which meant staring into the sun to sketch it. But I must say that after so much rain and cold, it was a delight to experience the tentative warmth of that winter sun.

barleyhops

Next spot was the pub Barley and Hops across the street, and once again, facing into the sun I zeroed in on just the porch and the elegant palm fronds.

occidentalmeetup

I can stay away from sketching people only so long til the urge takes over! And there’s few better subjects than sketchers because they are mostly still.

If you’ve been wanting to try some sketching outdoors, why don’t you join the Facebook Group, Urban Sketchers- North Bay, and come along some time?!

#SBSADrawingaDayChallenge