Reportage Sketching

Beatles Night in Sebastopol

It was the first time back in the Sebastopol Community Center after the flood that put it out of commission. I arrived after the performance had begun and was greeted by a wall of sound. Joyous voices singing – not hymns – but hippie anthems written by our beloved Beatles!

The Love Choir was belting out the tunes accompanied by Mr. Music and Moon Puppy (aka David Klotz) and others. They seemed to take up at least a quarter of the space in the hall, dressed in exaggerated hippy attire. It was a spectacular Baby Boomer convention.

At first I was seeing it all through the eyes of my teenaged self who vowed to never get old! But these folks were old (chronologically)  – oh yeah, like me. But like me, young at heart. So I guess maybe some of us actually were sort of able to keep that promise made 40-50 years ago?

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Soon a good portion of the audience was dancing, while I just kept sketching like mad. You know, that oneweek100people2019 sketch challenge still ringing in my ears! And I kept running into friends . It was the kind of event that, although you maybe know about 1% of the people, the remaining 99% are ready to act as if they’d known you for years. That’s Sebastopol for you – “All you need is love. . .oowaoowaoooooo!” A bunch of flower children still. Gotta love it!

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As I left that night, listening to the music pouring out of the hall, it felt like I was going home from a high school dance. I mean really, do we ever totally outgrow high school?

 

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Fool-ishness

It was actually raining on our way over to Occidental for the annual Fool’s Day parade. Great weather for fools to go parading around town in costume for no other reason than – well actually – tradition, for more than a decade. (And really, only a fool would try to walk in a parade and sketch people in constant movement.)

But oh, how fun to try. And I thought today would be a good time to share the sketches since it is also the first day of the #oneweek100people2019 sketch challenge (and I was teaching today and had no time to sketch people!)

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The Hubbub Club is the marching band that shows up at so many such events in Sonoma County. They are self-described as “twenty volunteer musicians and second-line dancers who make music together in a funky, fun fashion to promote, uplift, and support local communities. . .at local rallies, benefits, farmers markets, town parades, music venues, and just jamming in the street. . . a cross between a New Orleans marching band and a Fellini movie.” They were out in the parking lot here warming up for the parade.

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Hubbub attire favors black and white and red, with a little pink thrown in.

fools3‘And in this parade pink is particularly favored by the men.

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The top side of this pink instrument is a keyboard! and she’s blowing into it ?? Anyone know what you call this?

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As you can see, anything and everything goes. Hiking foots are often paired with evening attire.

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And even the canine characters make a fashion statement.

People are very friendly. These teenaged girls started talking to me and agreed to pose to a two minute sketch.

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See what I mean about the pink fluffy stuff? Guys finally get a chance to wear it!

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There’s always next year if you couldn’t make it this time!

A Week of Sketches

Catching up a bit with sketches from the past week, first a day in San Rafael enjoying the bucolic campus of Dominican University.

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light pencil and watercolor in spiral Field Watercolor Journal, 8 X 8″

I was setting up my stool in the sun, planning to catch the bright morning light on the bench with the English country style building behind, when the lady in the red slippers sat down and started texting/talking. I was happy to include her and had just started drawing her in when she looked up and saw me. She immediately jumped up, thinking she was in my way, and came over to apologize and see what I was doing.

“No, no” I said. “Please make yourself at home on the bench and ignore me.” So she sat back down for a few minutes, then came back over to look again and tell me her story. . .her peaceful memories of that bench going back to when she was a young student there. . .losing her glasses. . .something about those wonderful red pom pommed slippers . .. . her own fascinating art life. Anyway, you get the picture. A delightful encounter for both of us, which would not have happened without the sketchbook.

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Found a quiet spot in the sun to practice architecture, or a small piece anyway. Sitting in the direct sun with light bouncing off the white paper and sun-blind eyes is a challenge. Best to sit in the shade while sketching the sunny scene, but this is not an option on a chilly winter day.

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We headed to lunch at the Flat Iron pub in San Rafael. Pork sliders and fried calamari. Yum!

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Another day of sketching closer to home, at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. I wanted to catch the passengers on the train but missed the schedule.  Good thing because a costume shop down 4th St., Disguise the Limit, is a sketcher’s paradise with mannikins, masks and displays of every kind of costume for theatre and festival, including steam punk attire.

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I guess I was in a Halloweeny mood with my macabre choice of subject, but I left in a much better mood than when I’d entered! Go figure.

 

 

A Day at the Presidio in S.F.

In the winter it’s always good to have some indoor sketch options. Last week some of us met mid-week at the Officers Club in the Presidio in S.F. on the excellent advice of our East Bay buddy Cathy.  The Presidio is a 1,500-acre park on a former military post known for its scenic overlooks, forested areas, and recreational opportunities. The Officer’s Club houses, among other things like an Andy Goldsworthy installation, a fascinating historical exhibition and restaurant.

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Fountain pen and w/c in Stillman + Birn Beta sketchbook, 6 X 8″

The lobby was an inviting place to start, especially with this relaxed lounger, waiting to start his work shift at Arguello, the restaurant which was our next stop.

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Exclusion is the title of a current exhibit in the Heritage Collection gallery which tells the story of the Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. As I sketched this desk and chair it was easy to imagine the old black dial phone being used by some officer to give the order to round up innocent Japanese Americans. It’s a story I’ve heard told and read about so many times and the injustice of it stays fresh in mind.

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Listening to the docent tell stories about the history of the Presidio, from Native American Ohlone tribes to Spanish on horseback and so on I also got to contemplate the costumes of WWII service men and women.

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and a hand tooled Spanish calvary saddle.

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At the visitors’ center we stamped our sketches after I sat once again trying (and failing at) a quick sketch of the GG Bridge while the weather and colors changed from moment to moment confounding all my efforts. Another try might have worked better. The bridge needed to dissolve romantically into the Marin hills. One of these days. . .

Smart Train

Those of us in Sonoma County who have been longing for a rapid transit system to transport us efficiently and economically to San Francisco are now realizing that our cars and the buses are our only bet. The new Smart Train (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transport) is finally up and running and apparently has riders, even though it only goes as far as San Rafael. So it was time to check it out with a bit of on location sketching.

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Derwent Graphik Line Maker pens and w/c in Stillman+Birn Sketchbook, 5.5X8.5″

The Railroad Square station, at the old 4th street Depot in Santa Rosa was rather quiet on a Saturday morning and a lovely spot for sketching in the sun.Trains departed every two hours. This first was a standing sketch behind the gate. To pull this one off I had to take an iPhone photo of the train arriving and add it to the sketch when finished since I don’t know enough about trains to catch it on the fly!

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It’s a bit of a rush to sketch on the platform and people were cold so they kept moving around. I was nervous too, knowing that the train would arrive in moments, and when it did, it stayed only briefly. And then I made the mistake of adding paint to the left side first (I’m left handed so I dipped my sleeve in it , smearing the paint around before realizing my error. (Tip! Always start painting on the side opposite your dominant hand!)

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After the 10:30am train left the station the two attentant/hosts sat down on opposite sides of the waiting area to give their attention to their cell phones and rest their feet.

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It was time for coffee at Flying Goat then and an opportunity to capture the old depot and train crossing posts along with the new.

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At home later I sketched this from a photo to practice design and perspective.

Some day I may try to get to San Francisco via the train. I can drive there in a little over an hour in my car (or get caught in traffic). Or I can drive to the station and look for parking, jump on the Smart Train, get off in San Rafael and take a bus to the ferry which will take me to San Francisco where I can board many different forms of public transportation to get me where I’m going, by which time I will need to turn around and come home. Hmmm.

The Slime Eel

This week we went to Bodega Bay in search of more crabbers to sketch and got lucky! Docked at Lucas Wharf was an unusual commercial craft devoted exclusively to harvesting the slime eel, which gets sent immediately to South Korea where the market for them is robust.

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The crew was friendly and educated us a bit about this fishing specialty. As you might imagine slime eels are not the delectable eel you find in your favorite sushi. No local chef would feature them on their menu and they are palatable to South Korean tastes only when highly spiced or chased with a stiff shot of liquor.

They are also known as Hagfish.

“Hagfish are not often eaten, owing to their repugnant looks and sliminess. However the inshore hagfish, found in the Northwest Pacific,[28] is valued as food in Korea. The hagfish is kept alive and irritated by rattling its container with a stick, prompting it to produce slime in large quantities. This slime is used in a similar manner as egg whites in various forms of cookery in the region.” -Wikipedia

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After that rather busy first sketch and a lunch of fried calamari, I decided to relax a bit and simplify. Get a load of the giant gull on the left! I guess I was feeling a bit intimidated, perched as I was on his dock.

On the way home we stopped in the little town of Bodega and caught the last bit of light of day.

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And by the way, if you’re wondering why Koreans pay the big bucks for such an unappealing fish, it has to do with that whole virility booster business.