musician sketches

A Taste of Cuba at the Farmers Market

fountain pen, watercolor, felt tip pen in Travelogue sketchbook

Ninety percent of our Farmer’s Market here in Olympia is under permanent open air structures year round. Not so vital during our dry summers, but in the other seasons it’s essential for staying out of the rain. And that includes eating. Market days are Thursday through Sunday from April to October, and most of that time, there’s live music under a roof where the picnic tables are! A perfect invitation for a sketch lunch.

A Taste of Cuba is a group I hadn’t heard before, with a lovely young professional Cuban born flautist/singer bringing her musical heritage to life on our northwest stage. 

It’s always a treat to share the sketch with the musicians afterwards. I was happy to wait my turn after someone consulted her about booking the group for another event.


Glide Annual Holiday Jam

Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco does an annual holiday music jam to raise money to serve the people of the Tenderloin district. GLIDE is a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. So when they celebrate what they do, it’s a joyful and loving event! 

I got invited to sketch along with the S.F. Urban Sketchers. Since it was all on line of course, we exited our Zoom meet up to watch, listen and sketch on our computers. I wanted to try to capture the animation of the singers, so I paid attention to the mouths, lips and teeth. Often the eyes were closed, or almost. Sorry but I was not paying attention to the names of star performers, though I was grooving to the music. I sure would love to be in their choir!


Tiny Desk Musicians

Earlier this month I attended a Dance Party. Now before you freak out. . .it was another virtual event, meaning you get to dance by yourself pretending that you’re not. Although I actually enjoy knowing that no one is watching!

But it wasn’t even a Dance Party, but rather a sketch meet up organized by my friend Laurie Wigham of the SF Urban Sketchers group. The rest of the event title was Tiny Desk Musicians, which conjured up miniature people standing on a desk making music. I had to try this!

And it was better than I imagined. The Tiny Desk Concerts from NPR’s All Songs Considered have featured fabulous musicians performing live at Bob Boilen’s desk in the NPR Music office.  In our Zoom meet up, after introducing ourselves we broke out for an hour to sketch from the video footage, picking the groups we liked and sketching.

I did indeed have to dance for a bit with Cima Funk. I LOVE Funk and these guys had it going on, and they were so much fun to watch.

The Dirty Dozen took me right back to my pre-pandemic trip to that New Orleans!

Another favorite for listening and sketching was the Tedeschi Trucks Band, with a female vocalist and blues, jazz and more.

Bomba Estereo was not my choice of music but the singer with the orange hair and oversized white glasses was irresistible, visually speaking.

And as I was getting tired, I attempted one more, and was so mesmerized by the music, that I just kept painting and painting, trying to deepen the dark skin tones until I think I overdid it. What to do? Splatter paint, of course.

Our Town

I haven’t been to the Summer of Love exhibition at the De Young Museum in S.F. yet, but one cannot live in the greater Bay Area without being exposed to Summer of Love festivities or ads which co-opt the term.

In case you don’t know where this is coming from, here’s the explanation:

In 1967, nearly 100,000 free-spirited adventurers congregated in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood near Golden Gate Park to join a cultural revolution that created some of the era’s most memorable music, art, fashion and literature. Wearing flowers in their hair, people danced through the streets, promoting peace in a war-ravaged world. Their legacy remains, and five decades later San Francisco will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

On Sunday afternoon I was at one of my favorite sketching spots, our town Sebastopol ‘s Farmer’s Market, which celebrates the Summer of Love all year round and has been for years! Flowers in hair, children and dogs running loose, flowing hair and retro hippy attire (which is now in vogue again), drum circles and every version of healing/organic/slow/local/gluten free/nonGMO food, clothing, massage, herbal this and that.


When the market venders are winding down the musicians are warming up for an afternoon of hanging out in the shade with friends (everyone included here).


A drum circle plus hurdy gurdy like I saw in Ireland last summer! Banjo and barefoot dancers in the grass. OK, so they aren’t wearing flowers, but there were others who were! And everyone with smiles on their faces.

With a little bit of harmless anarchy thrown in.



Porchfest Musicians

Yesterday was an SF Urban Sketchers meet up for the Porchfest Musicians an afternoon of music on the porches, backyards and stoops of the Mission! The day was sunny perfection and the streets filled with relaxed and appreciative audience and the feeling of open community.


I made a concertina style “sketchbook”  for the day – 30″ X 7.5″ folded in six sides. Low and behold it worked for the four groups I heard/saw (one on the front fold)


Honestly speaking us sketchers were there as much for the visuals as for the music. This group was playing in front of an open garage door and it took a couple songs, and asking the person next to me, to realize that the Wet Paint sign, which looked so natural in this setting, ( as did their grunge style ) was the group’s name.


Ziva was in a doorway singing like an angel. I plopped down in a comfortable chair below her, a terrible angle to do a portrait (sorry), but great to watch the audience on the street corner.


For a larger venue we walked to the House of Brakes where a group called Monkey, backed up against an awesome three story mural, was working on getting the crowd engaged. I couldn’t resist the guy with the fuschia colored sideburns and beard! Eventually of course that also meant our clear view filled up with pulsating bodies.


With only minutes left before our end of day meet up to share sketches we found the Kai Lyons Jazz band and got in one more. Honestly? It was about the hat and dark glasses along with the flowered crop pants.

But the day was mostly about the personal aspect, meeting a very diverse crowd of people. The performers were sometimes as grateful to us for sketching them as we were to them for the music and visuals. There was lots of picture taking, and I even (supposedly) got on a live internet feed? which I will probably never see and that’s lucky. I’m already looking forward to next year’s Porchfest! Here’s the sketches from last year.

A Week in NYC, Part I

This California girl hit the big city last week for a visit with my son Andrew and a whole lot of sketching. I go to San Francisco as often as I can and would have to rank it as my favorite city, but New York is like, well, S.F. on steroids. I spent most of the week agog at its architecture and people and art and neighborhoods and on and on. I haven’t really done any sightseeing in NYC since I was a child living in Connecticut, so I had a lot of catching up to do.


Lamy Joy fountain pen and w/c in Stillman + Birn, Beta series 5.5X8.5″ sketchbook

First day I met fellow urban sketcher Chris Carter at Washington Square Park. Chris lives in New Jersey but has a familiarity with Manhattan which was reassuring, not to mention her city sketching skills, which I hoped she’d share with me. (Check out her blog for some of her sketches from the day!)

Right away we found a band playing in the park and set to sketching. The Animule Dance plays old-time Jazz, Blues, and country music. OK, so now I was feeling at home!


Not a bad seat for viewing and listening!


Actually, while waiting for Chris to arrive I found the chess players. My husband had given me instructions to sketch them. It was a great warm up!


The band took a break and we strolled around the area, coming to this scene of the old fashioned water tower across from a modern muraled building and we both elected to plop down on stools, hugging the stone wall by the sidewalk and give it a try. I noticed that I have trouble getting the proper scale of the “big buildings” in the city (being such a country girl!) I tend to shrink them down to manageable size. More practice needed.


After lunch we were planning to walk around Greenwich Village, but the sun was out and we headed back to Washington Square. Just to change things up a bit I started drawing with paint and then worked some pen line in.

The fountain was scintillating, the gardens in blooms, the people joyful, and the scene was so divine that I christened it “The Bliss of Fountain-eity”.

Later Chris had a turn to get a quotable from the day. “When you find your line, then you become able to share your unique experience of the external world”  (or something like that) I realized that I am forever in search of my line. It seems that others can usually see one’s “line” more easily than you yourself can.


There was soo much going on: gymnastics/break dancing (shirtless guy on the left with blue pants), tourists taking selfies, hot dog and pretzel selling, tulips blooming and musicians in every quadrant. I gave up trying to put anything in perspective and just kept drawing the stories!


Chris helped me to remember to photograph the sketch in the setting sketched. It helps to have an extra hand to hold the book up while taking the iPhone pic!

Our day ended with dinner at a bistro in Greenwich Village, much philosophizing about the abundant gifts of being an urban sketcher and a vow to meet again for more sketching, in N.Y and other world cities!

Apple Blossom Festival

Twice a year in Sebastopol we celebrate our agrarian roots with an apple festival.  In the Spring it’s apple blossoms, even though the festival lands on a day which is weeks past the actual blossoming of the apple trees. I particularly enjoyed the live music this year.


And especially this band! It was hard to sit still and sketch rather than dance to their soulful R + B music. We considered sitting in front of the stage directly in the sun and behind the dance area. But there would be little visibility , since the band was in the shade of a tent. The vantage point at the side of the stage was better, a bit closer, though we could only see part of the band.

There’s probably a story to why this wonderful band took the name Lucky Losers, but they were definitely winners in my book!


When the winner-Losers finished their set there was time to stretch and get ready for the next group. This continuous line drawing was fun, a standing sketch connecting heads in the audience, chairs, tents.  . .


Once again on the (other) side of the stage I took the strategy with this band to start with the instruments and hands/arms and attach whatever body parts I could see to them! This way I actually got five musicians in the picture, but was unable to see the lead singer Volker Strikler!  Sorry Volker. Another great band!


A little wind blew up in the late afternoon and the sun seemed more appealing. We sat down right behind this West County Sound guy who was struggling to get the system up and running for the next band, Burnside.

For memories from the fall festival here in Sebastopol, check out last year’s sketches.


Summer Concert-Going


Farmers markets used to be just about fruits and veggies, fresh farm crafted cheeses and such, but no more! Now there’s some really excellent music to tune into, dance to and of course, sketch. We caught the last 10 minutes of this engaging band so I whipped out the pen and started scribbling to the beat.

[Pentel pocket brush pen and w/c in 5.5X8″ sketchbook]


I have a strong preference for Jazz I can move to, and the Latin type knows how to make that work. The Healdsburg Plaza concerts are great for hearing the music, but the bands are in the shade on stage  with no easy visibility. There’s always somewhere to stand a get a partial glimpse though. I guess I didn’t even get the name of this group.


The Pete Escovedo Latin jazz Ensemble played a free concert at the Montgomery Plaza shopping mall and I was way too busy moving to do much sketching.  Did this one from an iPhone pic.

Railroad Square Music Festival


fountain pen and w/c in Stillman + Birn sketchbook 6X8″

If you were at the music festival at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa last weekend you may have seen two ladies plop down on their tiny collapsible stools in front of some of the bands, in the midst of surging crowds.  It’s always like plunging into an icy river (or more appropriately for last Sunday, a raging fire) , at least until you start sketching, and then there’s no awareness of the crowd or (for a few moments at least) the hot sun.

While sketching the Betty Blues and enjoying their tunes, I learned that my fountain pen ink doesn’t dry fast enough, even in the California sun and I messed up on the lovely face of the lead singer! Oh well.


brush pen, fountain pen and w/c in 9 X 12″ Mixed Media Canson sketchbook

The two figures in bold were done on site.  The moving accordion was a particular challenge!  The other figures were added later using my iPhone pics as source. This particular band, the Odd Job Ensemble was so spirited and fun! Later I caught them accompanying the circus act.


In case you can’t read the text here, it says: Too hot and sunny to stay, but the white platform “nurses” shoes and pink hat made her a must-sketch.

. . .not to mention the tattoos. But I was so anxious to get out of the hot sun that I  didn’t get my proportions right and cut off her feet! No problem!  Who said they had to be on her feet?!