#sfurbansketchers

On the Slopes (of San Francisco)

No, it hasn’t been snowing in S.F., but I was on the slopes there last week for a few days. My husband Bob had portfolio reviews over the weekend at Photo Alliance , which is held at San Francisco Art Institute up on a hill in North Beach. It’s hard to go anywhere in S.F. without encountering some steep elevation changes.

unionsquare

We started out with some shopping in Union Square. From a sunny spot the world flowed by at big-city speed.

fortmason

Next morning we were at Fort Mason on the Bay front, checking out the SF MOMA gallery and just filling our lungs with that fresh sea air.

YerbaBuenalarge

After lunch we headed downtown to the Contemporary Jewish Museum to see the “Show Me as I Want to be Seen” exhibition, which I highly recommend. The description of the show is, “How do we depict “the self” if it is unknowable, inherently constructed, and ever changing? How does the concept of portraiture shift when categories are in crisis, and visibility itself is problematic?” (For those of you who know me, I guess it’s pretty obvious why I would want to see it.) It will be there til July 7 if you want to see it.

Sitting on the grass at Yerba Buena Gardens, enjoying the warmest sunshiny day in months, I got a bit greedy with trying to put everything in, until I got numb-butt and gave up!

Bus19

It’s such a treat to ride the bus all over S.F. It’s inexpensive for seniors:  with my Clipper card it’s only $1.35/ride, and there are no parking woes or dealing with crazy drivers and one-way streets, and more.  And if you stay  on the bus for longer than three or four stops, you move through a variety of cultural ecosystems. Friday morning on Bus 19 down Polk St. there was a sudden onslaught of wheel chairs and the necessity to quickly rearrange seating patterns to accommodate.

One gets a new appreciation of what it takes to get around the city in a wheelchair with items like. . . musical instruments, and then to board crowded buses. This keyboard, held together with masking tape and protected by a strip of cardboard, had found a spot behind its owner where it would be safe.

missionbay

Bob wanted to check out the SF Center for the Book on Portrero Hill, and next I showed him Mission Bay, and made him sit and rest while I sketched a house boat. Then down to Dogpatch to see the art shows at Minnesota Street Project.

There was lots more bus drama on the ride back, with invasions by teens, just out of school, who never looked up from their smart phones, even to talk to each other. Then more wheelchairs, and finally, the last stop at Fisherman’s Wharf where we were staying.

macondraylane

If you’re still with me here, this is the part about the real slopes of SF. On Saturday the SF Urban Sketcher Meet up was at Macondray Lane, which is itself flat – a narrow and verdant alleyway off a particularly vertiginous street with knockout views of the city and bay.

For whatever reason I woke up that morning feeling particularly shaky and unsteady, but slowly made my way up the hill, still hopeful that I could capture the city in its undulating glory. When my inner undulating wouldn’t stop, I found a shady spot in the Lane with an obstructed view, and very slowly and with great patience constructed a calmer scene until my brain cleared.

macondraylane2

It sort of worked, because minutes later I was back to my usual rough and ready style,  much relieved and enjoying the company of my beloved SF sketchers. The afternoon ended with a mini “salon” to share our sketches at STUDIO Gallery and see the current show of “Tales of the City by the Bay”.

jeffingallery

And I got to meet the handsome sketcher named Jeff who had been a subject in the sketch!

On my last day in the city, once again I hit the slopes and I trudged up the steps of Telegraph Hill to see Coit Tower up close, the murals inside and the views. It’s actually a more impressive sight from the distance as a recognizable icon of the cityscape.

telegraphhill Five days in the city, along with all the steps I’d climbed, had exhausted me, so I found a relatively quiet street to do this study. I call it that because I’m more used to sketching people and animals and country scenes and such, and city architecture requires “study” before I can attempt it. (Actually I may have studiously ignored it here!) There were few people on the street, and they were moving quickly, but the lone figure in the doorway sufficed to give scale. She came by to see my sketch, and when I showed her that she was in the sketch, she clutched her chest and shrieked with delight!

Advertisements

Golden Gate Bridge times 60!

Big turnout for the S.F. Urban Sketchers this weekend thanks to two big highlights – the always-so-sketchable Golden Gate Bridge and a well loved sketcher/blogger/teacher/author visiting from Australia, Liz Steel. Apparently last time she was in town the fog rolled in and obliterated the bridge show, so she needed to give it another try. And this time the fog and wind and sun all conspired to make for a dazzling display of the bay and bridge in all its orange-gold-red-purple-hazy-clear-appear and disappear glory!

dockofSFBay I found a spot at the end of the pier in front of the Warming Hut where the fishermen were busy and the dock was covered with crab shells and cigarette butts. Some children were screaming Octopus! Octopus! when a small one was pulled up in a crab net. As usual I was excited enough about being there myself that I started putting in all the things I don’t get to see at home, like the S.F. skyline with the Salesforce building and Transamerica Center and the Bay Bridge and sailboats. . .

And then realized I needed a foreground element and started sketching the fisherman who was directly in front of me. When he saw me looking his way he apologized and started to move out of the way. So I had to fess up and tell him that he was my subject. He loved that! So he resumed his position and let me finish. Meanwhile I got to find out he was from Fiji and it was his first time fishing for crab!

GGbridge

I did eventually join the throngs of familier sketchers in this iconic spot below the bridge and did my obligatory sketch of the bridge, putting in another fisherman and leaving out the scores of tourists standing right in front of me taking their selfies!

meetuppics

Then my sketches joined the other bridge scenes, each of which expressed a unique viewpoint of our beloved bridge. A memorable day with the best of company in my favorite city.

Festival of the Sea

You could get a pirate tattoo. watch sail raising, learn knot tying, splicing, worming and parceling, and listen to folk songs from around the world on the pier stages. It was the Festival of the Sea on Saturday at the Hyde St. Pier on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Or you could join the Urban Sketchers meet up and enjoy all of the above while sketching!

festivalofsea1

Fountain pen and watercolor in handmade sketchbook 7.5X11″

This was the most popular sketch subject. The raising of the sails on the C.A. Thayer schooner with all that sail flapping the wind and the crew suspended on the boom and cables way above the bay waters.

festivalofsea2

And such sweet and lively fiddle music from this pair, Adrianna Ciccone and Colin Cotter

festivalofsea3

I had heard the Brass Farthing sing their drinking songs at the Much Ado About Sebastopol Fair and was delighted to hear them again here. Their songs are bawdy, but not so terribly. The young son of one of them was seated next to us. It was a short set so I was drawing like crazy. Apologies to the one or two I couldn’t fit in and as always, the not quite likenesses I come up with!

festivalofsea5

I always try to show my sketches to the musicians if I can. This fellow found me later to take a peak and I asked for a picture.

festivalofsea4

There was just a bit of time left til we headed home so I picked a simple subject, a row boat on the beach which was enjoyed by children and adults in consecutive waves in the 20 minutes I sketched around them! I was too tired at that point to attempt to put the people in!

Nob Hill with the Urban Sketchers

Last Saturday the SF Urban Sketchers met at Nob Hill to sketch Grace Cathedral and top-o-the-city scenes. The icing on the cake was a visit from our Australian friends Liz Steele and Jane Blundell who perched alongside us on the streets sketching and enjoying a near perfect sunny day in San Francisco. The group swelled to 83 sketchers and there was plenty of socializing with old and new sketch friends.

nobhill02

fountain pen and watercolor in Hand book w/c sketchbook, 8 X 8″

While we perched on our stools across the street from the Cathedral we enjoyed the photo shoots of several brides dressed in the romance of white and bouquets.

nobhill06I might have to sketch this one from the picture! I was too lost in the arches and hangings and intricate architecture of the cathedral to catch on in time for a live sketch of this.

nobhill01

Sitting next to my friend Cathy McAuliffe, who always finds an elegant way to simplify a scene I thought I’d try her approach for a quick one. Maybe I should have slowed down a bit? But sometimes on the street sketching with friends that accuracy ceases to matter. It’s about the story of the moment I will definitely not forget.

At 3:30 we met in the park across from the Cathedral to share sketches and welcome our guests. I took a bit of video on my phone to capture a sense of the day. (click image to play)

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 9.05.45 AM

At this point some of us were a bit fried! Many sketchers would think this rather strange, but my default relax-a-sketch mode is people, especially when it’s people relaxing in parks on a lovely sunny day with their dogs.

nobhill03

This is what some city folks do when the day is not the usual blustery cold SF summer weather;  hang out on park benches with their newspapers and kids and dogs. Sketching a scene like this ways feels like a fascinating expedition into other peoples’ lifestyles, and with the advantage of no electronic screen in between!

nobhill08We ended the day with a picnic on the hill at Lafayette Park overlooking the bay, with the city spread all around us below and the trees above. At the picnic table I sat next to a sketcher from Russia who’s a scientist living in the city now and doing cancer research. . .and sketching! If I ever get to Russia I’m going to contact their UsK group and sketch with them! Sometimes it feels like we’re a little United Nations of sketchers. Do you think maybe if the Sunnis and Shiites sketched together there would be more peace in the Middle East? What about democrats and republicans here?

nobhill04

While the urban sketchers (and family members) tackled the landscape of trees and bay and distant hills (they never seem to tire!) I sketched the sketchers and then it got dark and we headed home.

Summer of Love at the de Young

I was a high school (almost but not quite college) student in Stockton, Ca that summer of love in 1967. Even though I could drive and had a car I was not allowed to join the hippies in the Haight in S.F. However the music, the fashion, the psychedelic/consciousness expanding (drugs secretly imbibed) were a kind of salvation as I felt boxed in and bored with my suburban existence, etc, etc.

Walking into this Summer of Love exhibition at the de Young museum last week, it all came back. And I was in good company with my sketch buddies of the same era and other museum goers who were ready to share their memories.

summeroflove3

I wanted to record it all – the hippy fashion, the posters and button art/quotes, the lights and lyrics. Most of these were sketched standing with the paint added later.

“What’s scandalous about jeans is how you outrage them.”

Denim -ocracy (We’ve still got this!)

“I’m from Berkeley, but I’m not revolting.”

One little comment here about this exhibition, which I loved! They used the same mannikins from the Oscar de la Renta show and gave them no wigs! We were the hair generation! How could they not put hair on them?! So I added it in the sketches.

summeroflove4

The fashion in the show is flea market finds – artsy, craftsy, hand sewn (we girls all knew how to sew and repurpose clothing back then) cross cultural. . .

summeroflove5

And then there was the protest art, which we are now seeing such a resurgence of. I particularly enjoyed these two pieces. Hmmm. Does this give you an idea of someone else who could be a fine subject for art pants like these?

summeroflove10

In the heart of the exhibit is an empty room with light shows throbbing on every plane and bean bags chairs on the periphery inviting weary museum goers to curl up, watch the show and listen to the music. Now this is my kind of exhibit! I always get tired feet in big art museums so I was one of the grateful ones. After a nice rest I sketched this young couple sharing a bean bag.

summeroflove7

. . .while listening to, who else! Janis. . .

summeroflove9

This is me, grooving for a few minutes. A totally natural high. By this point in the day we were all pretty giddy as years had been shorn off our ages.

summeroflove8

And we weren’t the only ones. Like this fellow who we spoke with. I sketched this later that night from a picture I’d taken. My husband came out to my studio and the walls were pulsating with Jefferson Airplane as I painted. “Remember what the doormouse said”  Or just go see the exhibit.