reportage

Women’s March Santa Rosa

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Pens, colored pencils, watercolor in 9 X 12″ Multi Media Canson spiral Sketchbook

The 2019 Women’s March Santa Rosa rally yesterday was a march in support of women’s rights, human rights for all, equality for LGBTQi+, freedom of religion & press, education, gun control, the environment, science, democracy and civil rights. Have I left anything out? All the good things we want for our community, country and world. So it felt really good to be sharing those ideals with like-minded people. . .and really quite sad to hear the speakers remind us of the brutality in our world today and the fight that is still ahead of us.

I was there doing my best to draw the stories I saw unfolding, and to highlight the presence there of The Living Room, a day shelter for women and children where I have been volunteering, because I’m struck by how powerfully they are addressing the injustices of our rich land where so many people do not even have the basics of shelter and food.

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I brought along a pink gel pen and a fine point pen and did my best to capture vignettes, some interesting signage and inspiring words, and later tried to knit them together. It started to rain at one point, actually when these powerful speakers came up to the podium. I couldn’t tell whether it was rain drops or tears dripping on the page as I listened to their moving stories of rising above insurmountable difficulties to fight for the rights of all people. The rain seemed to soften our hearts, blurring some of the lines of the sketch, as perhaps it was blurring our sense of the perceived differences that have caused all these human problems we get stuck with.

 

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Stow Lake and Speed Chess

What’s all the ruckus about?! That’s what we wondered when a flock of noisy, quarrelsome Canada Geese landed near us at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park, “elbowing out” all the other, more well behaved ducks.

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So I had to put the noisy ringleader into my already under way sketch. It was a gorgeous day to be out in the park, so I can imagine what they were upset about.

Later Janet and I wandered the Richmond searching for lunch and landed at the place with the line out the door – Cinderella! a Russian bakery and cafe where every other person was speaking Russian and the menu was an enticing culinary adventure.

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Christmas day in the afternoon the house was suddenly so quiet. My sons had discovered a new way to compete. Speed chess , but not so speedy that the sketch story couldn’t be told. I need more practice with those chess men though!

Christmas Postscript

I suspect that if you want to find the happiest people around Christmastime you might head for the places where people are offering holiday cheer to folks who can use it, like at homeless shelters and such. lrrsantaandjingles_1

Places like The Living Room, a day program that service homeless and at risk women and their children. I’ve been going there for the last month as a volunteer, talking with the participants and volunteers and sketching the stories. I never leave without feeling that I have new friends and feeling a lot better about “human nature” to see the generosity of the community and the friendly welcoming-ness of the women who find solace there.

Of course the Christmas party was putting smiles on everyone’s face, with all the food and singing and treats for the kids and Santa and his elf. Not only did the kids get to sit on Santa’s knee, but the moms and other adults did too, including some luminaries who were visiting, like two young Wine Country beauty queens, tiaras and all!

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Before the hot lunch and the cookies there were Santa hats, bagels and coffee and more.

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And then Christmas carols for the adults and the children.

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The moms and kids all went home with pictures taken with Santa. (and no, I didn’t have time to sketch this one on location, but did it later from a picture!)

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Jingles and Santa Tim insisted on posing with me and surprised me with a (blush) kiss!

For our family’s Christmas card this year I sketched a Santa from about 24 years ago, with Ben on his knee.

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Hope you and your family had a very merry Christmas!

Symphony Rehearsal

The Santa Rosa Symphony’s Discovery Concert Series is a great and affordable way to hear a concert at the Green Center. As a side bonus, the open seating makes it possible to move around and get different vantage points for some sketching!

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Pen drawing on site and watercolor added later.

The soprano, Jennifer Thuman waits here for her part in Vivaldi’s Gloria. She rises then, and singing like an angel with delicate and subtle tones, guides Vivaldi’s music into heavenly realms!

Sitting in the second row one looks up at the stage and can see the violinists, the conductor and the soloists. The rest of the orchestra is heard but not seen from down below.

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How to sketch a conductor swinging a baton? Imagine many hands at once?

Listening to Christopher Fritzche sing next, once again in a voice of more heavenly realms, high and ephemeral, I had to look in the program for what a voice in that range is called. . .countertenor!

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Sketching in the second row one notices certain details. . .like the casual attire of the musicians in this practice session. The black gowns are saved for the actual concert later in the evening.

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After the intermission we moved up to the balcony for another view.  Bassoons, clarinets, French horns and cellos. A challenging angle for a nice drawing challenge.

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And then the viola soloist with the impossible name and riveting stage presense.

Symphony to Farmer’s Market

Two great ways to spend a weekend, at the symphony and a farmer’s market.

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I’m sitting in the second row, looking up to the stage at the Green Center at the Santa Rosa Symphony conducted by the marvelous Francesco Lecce-Chong. It’s an open rehearsal with various starts and stops and instructions to the orchestra, which I can hear, though the music already sounds perfect to my ears.

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The program is Dancing Across Time and I’m having trouble sitting still enough to sketch when the music demands that I MOVE! From my seat I can see only the conductor and stringed instruments, so at the intermission I move up to the balcony to get a different view.

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I am in awe of the conductor who expresses the emotion of the music with every pore of his body, and the musicians who come in on time and play the complex music and seem so relaxed!

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This morning I’m at the farmer’s market in Sebastopol, on a bench in the shade. I wonder what the Joy Pop is and marvel at the business model of this guy who cycles with his product right up to his spot by the stage.

It’s lunchtime and everyone seems to have a plate of food with something green on top. I recognize the poet (top left) who showed up at my open studio over ten years ago and wanted me to read his little books. “No charge, but you can donate.” And then the bunny shows up. . . That’s Sebastopol for you, every Sunday of the year.

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Reportage with Oliver

On weekends Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is a three ring circus, a place I would probably avoid if if were not for the superlative sketching possibilities! Last Saturday I was there for a Reportage sketching workshop with my good friend and fellow flaneur, Oliver Hoeller and a small group of “advanced” students wanting to learn his delightful illustrative style of storytelling journalism.

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Working in a 9 X 12″ spiral bound Canson Mix Media sketchbook I did a warm up here before the workshop started.

You can sit on one bench on the Wharf, as I did here, and turn your head to see all of this (that’s Alcatraz at the top) and catch a performance while watching the tourists and sailboats and being tempted by food. Here I’m going fast and trying to fit the elements together, something which I know Oliver will be teaching.

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First warm up in the workshop was to draw a composite figure using different subjects to complete it. Why? Because in a place like the Wharf everyone is moving, so unless you want to finish the figure from memory (not recommended) you may need to wait for the next subject to come along. I made it easy on myself and sketched what I could see from where I was standing, David’s head (another student) and Oliver’s body. We referred to this sketchy form of laboratory science as the Frankenstein man.

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The next exercise (my favorite!) was like a scavenger hunt! Oliver would tell us what category of subject to add to the drawing and give us five minutes to complete it. Then we would move on. (this only works in a small group!) I added color later and might have overdone it.

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In this one I’m focusing, with more concerted effort and the encouragement of Oliver, on varying and exaggerating the size of the various elements and connecting them in a “designed” way. It’s so liberating to pick and choose the story telling elements based on interest and the needs of the sketch rather than struggling to get perspective and other pictorial aspects to match the scene before you!

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Sketching within cells, graphic novel style – another great way to capture aspects of an otherwise overwhelming scene. I lasted inside the Musee Mecanique arcade for about 15 minutes before the noise drove me back outside!

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At the end of the workshop Oliver led us into the bowels of commercial Fisherman’s Wharf where the stimulation level reached a screaming pitch. But the great thing is that there is so much to choose in a setting like this.

This is not my favorite sketch of the day –  too locked down and closed up with no lost edges. And I was trying out Oliver’s grey felt pen and overdid it. But this is the kind of sketch that teaches the most. . .when you have that if-only-I-had. . . experience, because there’s always a next time, and a next. I can’t wait!

And a big thanks to Oliver!

See more of my Fisherman’s Wharf sketches here.

Halloween on the Plaza

At first glance it didn’t seem like there was much Halloween “stuff” going on at Healdsburg Plaza on a Tuesday afternoon, so my friends and I were left to find some and apply our sketches to it. After enjoying the world’s best coffee at Flying Goat we picked the north block and gave ourselves 30 minutes to put the Halloween story together.

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Walking down the block we each picked elements, found on signs and in store windows from clothing stores to bars and restaurants. The exercise ended up looking like what you would do in designing a store window at holiday season, only it’s your own assemblage story. Each element is from a different location, so fitting them together is like constructing a puzzle on the go.

I was tired after standing to sketch all this and spent my next 30 minutes seated and adding color while resting.

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Next was the south side block of the Plaza, dominated by Copperfields book store which was a gold mine of Halloween books and chotskas (sp?) Lots of Harry Potter books and games, which took me back on a nostalgic tour of those days when my boys and I enjoyed the young wizards’ adventures!