pen and watercolor

Garden Gargoyles

There are many rare finds in Pat’s garden. A collection of antique garden tools, a windmill, vintage gas pump, and rusty relics from the yards of her friends who lost their homes in the Tubbs fire. And then of course the flowers so bold and outsized that you feel like Alice when she took the “eat me!” pill and shrank down. But the stone gargoyles were too wonderful not to sketch. Mine copped an attitude which I had not intended. Supercilious? gargoyle

And the rudbeckia, in another garden where I found a few inches of shade to sit. . .Giant!


The following week I got wooed by the wisteria, no longer in bloom of course, but providing lovely shade. I totally lost myself for a while in the winds and twists and when I woke up, I added the ladies to bring me out of my reverie.



Petaluma Marina

Just about the time we’d had enough of this rain (that we’d been praying for) the sun returned today. . .in time for the monthly Ready, Set, Sketchers meet up at the Petaluma Marina.

There’s always some “elements” to challenge us. Today it was a cold wind and scintillating glare from the water, but oh how lovely to get out in it and with other sketchers.


There was a lot to choose from at this spot. I was attracted to the shape of the the 101 freeway bridge as much as the boats on the water. And then there was the SMART train which whooshed past every so often, bypassing the poor drivers who were hung up on the “narrows”. How many times haven’t I been one of them!


With a half hour time left, I opted for a simpler subject to study the strange and wonderful curved lines and shadow shapes of some smaller craft.

If you want to get out and join us on the second Saturday of each month in Sonoma County go to the FB link above. Hope to see you there.

SF Sketchers 7th Anniversary Party

Did you see the skies yesterday?! It was a spectacular jaw-dropping show yesterday morning as I drove into San Francisco through mist and fog and rain and sparkling sunshine and every kind of cloud drama.

I was there for an urban sketcher teacher meeting, sketch meet up and party at Arch Art Supply Store. A pretty significant downpour was perfectly timed for our sketch meet up. But these SF Urban Sketchers, many of whom have been meeting to sketch outdoors for years now, were well prepared and unphased by the cold and rain. I headed over with some of the group to Big Daddy’s Antique store, an open emporium  of fabulous furnishings grouped in living area scenes. No heat, but at least shelter from the rain!


After an hour we headed back to Arch Art Supply for a celebration of 7 years of SF Urban Sketcher meet ups. In the capable hands of Laurie Wigham the group has grown to about 3200 members and hosts one or two meet ups in the city every week, as well as the 10X10 Urban Sketcher Workshop series which I will be a part of again this year. You can download the entire workshop flyer here. And if you want to join some SF Sketchers events you can sign in on

Arch Art Supply is our generous sponsor and was the host of the party. It is always fun to shop there for sketch supplies. I can hardly believe this, but I actually brought home a sketch palette set up that I had never seen before! (I mean I think I have a collection of every other one ever invented.) I’ll share it here at some point after I have tried it out.

An Old (Tree) Friend


dip pens with walnut ink + Noodlers Golden Brown + Japanese brush pen + w/c in Strathmore journal 8X10″

If this sunny California weather continues much longer I’ll get my spring fever out of the way before it actually arrives!  It felt like such a guilty pleasure, setting up a folding chair right there on the walkway with a cup of coffee on one side and ink bottles and dip pens on the other.

It was an “assignment”, the latest nudge from Danny Gregory’s Sketchbook Skool designed to keep us arting our every days.  Basically. . .scrutinize a tree and sketch it.

Not just any tree, this old apple tree lived behind my studio for years before there even was a studio.  In the winter it stands naked revealing it’s bizarre twists and turns.  As I got lost sketching the crooks and shoots, I found myself surrendering to the messiness of it all, adding more ink and kept going.  Meanwhile it was talking to me about all its memories.  So I wrote them down.

Pocket sketching



Tombow pen and watercolor in Pentalic Nature Sketch journal 7 X 5″

These days sketching the figure in public almost always involves an electronic device.  Good thing actually, because it renders the figure (the human being) into at least a temporarily frozen state.  While waiting for my car to be serviced I discovered that this was true even for a very squirmy child.. . at least for a minute or two!


The woman next to me, of a different generation was frozen in position by the archaic form of entertainment, the printed page, making her an excellent subject for a slow pen drawing.


Pitt Artist pen and watercolor in Moleskin pocket sketchbook

Another day recently I was at a photography opening for the work of my husband and other photographers. I sat down with my glass of wine to wait for him. Four preteen boys blew in with their skateboards and iPhones and plopped down right opposite me.  Of course I am somewhat invisible to people that age, so I brazenly whipped out my pen and book.  I did eventually “get caught” by the youngest one, but he was friendly and appreciative and thoroughly charming.


I have been listening to the news of course and feel a little sheepish showing this sketch when my east coast friends are in the deep freeze!  I am very empathetic and wish I could send a bit of sunshine your way.

Angelic Voices

The holiday season is my favorite time to enjoy choral works.  My friend Laura and I treated each other to “Angelic Voices” at the Green Center yesterday and managed to score perfect seats – perfect for listening, watching and sketching!


Tombow soft Fudenosuke Brush Pen and watercolor in Strathmore w/c sketchbook, 5 X 7″

I’ve been experimenting with some new pens, and keep changing my mind about which I prefer.  So to keep from driving myself crazy I brought just one – Danny Gregory‘s favorite, which produces a bold line.  Scary when you’re doing quick sketches without a pencil line first, but it makes a great line!  The choir totaled about 40 boys from very young (the sopranos) to teens. While they were, indeed, singing like angels, I did my best to capture the moment.


While the singers stand still providing the the feast for the ears, the conductor provides a feast for the eyes with the gesturing and subtle hand signals.


And in the case of Bruno Ferrandis, the orchestra conductor, (oh, how miserably I have failed to draw this!) the music flows through his body with such lightening speed that it feels like it must originate beneath his feet and whip through him like an electric shock.  You rock, Bruno!


And then there were the musicians. . .


grounding the music each in their own instrument.  And there was more, but I couldn’t capture it all.