sketch workshops

Marin County and Sonoma Sketching

I was out scouting for locations for upcoming sketch workshops. A new series of Bay Area Urban Sketch 10 X 10  workshops will be announced soon! And I’ll be teaching one of them, so stay tuned. This spot in Sausalito right on the Bay with a view across to San Francisco and the Bay Bridge was cold and windy, with colorful layers of clouds constantly changing.

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fountain pen and watercolor in 8 X 8″ spiral Handbook Co. Field Watercolor Journal with the Fluid Watercolor paper I like!

The colors of water and sky and everything, even the values were constantly changing. You have to just decide where to set your sights and stick with it, something I’ve never been particularly adapted to. I get excited by all the changes and want to dip my brush in new colors. It can make for a mess. So I tried to reign myself in on this one.

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Then, not so far away in Mill Valley looking toward Tamalpais Valley it was hard to find a spot where the wind was not blowing us to smithereens. Finally we found a building to block the wind and settled down to sketch this lovely scene of creekbed and lagoon beyond. I even managed to get the cyclists in! And then once again the weather changed while we were sketching, and the sun came out, wind died down, and all the colors changed! (Not that I’m complaining.)

Meanwhile my friend Laurie Wigham did a lovely sketch which captured the serenity of the natural scene and illustrated the reflections on the water, a subject she taught in workshops for the Nature Journal Club series last week.

Geese

On Saturday Bob and I headed to Sonoma Plaza so that I could scope it out for the May 5 workshop I’m teaching there titled Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher.  I was immediately drawn to the ducks in the pond that were delighting the small children. And then when these geese settled down on the grass, I did a quick standing capture of them since they were relatively still for a few minutes. That is, until a small boy chased them away! Because of the softness of the scene I left out the pen did a quick pencil sketch before the watercolor.

Mission

I was looking for simple subjects of interest for students in the workshop. Sonoma is a town where California history is well represented in an historic park bordering right on the Plaza. Not only can you visit the Mission but the Blue Wing Inn, with its Gold Rush era gambling room and saloon, and the adobe barracks built to house General Vallejo’s Mexican troops. So much to sketch, indoors and out!

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But it was lunchtime, so we ordered at the Sunflower Cafe and I sketched in pencil til the food came, and later added color from memory (and imagination).

I hope you’ll join me on May 5 for the Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher workshop. For more info and to register visit my website.

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Happy Valentines Day!

So many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Eating fresh crab and chocolate cake with my honey tonight. And yesterday roaming Tomales Bay with sketch friends and finding the perfect spot for sitting in the sun and watching small town life, Marin County style.

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fountain pen and watercolor in spiral bound Field Watercolor Journal, 8 X 8″

These two ladies were talking in that best-friends-overlapping-anticipating-interrupting way that women do, so I figured they might not notice i was sketching them, even though I sat down a mere ten feet in front of them. After all the scene was so sketchable, even without them. As I was setting up my stool the lady on the left looked right at me and called out “Hey Pam!”  I looked behind me and saw no one and realized she meant me. “I’m Susan” I said, and she looked again more closely and said, “you sure look like her” and turned to her friend and kept talking, while I started sketching her. She only made that gesture with her left hand once in her expressive, enthusiastic way and I did my best to capture it! Often you only get that one chance.

In this place everyone talks to everyone without the need for introduction, and soon we had observers asking about our sketches, sketch supplies, and talking about their art, and their friends’ art and more. Everyone here makes art in one form or another. Like the two ladies in the chairs, whose lives are filled with art (I was listening a bit though trying not to evesdrop!)

Next to them in an open area was a group of about seven ladies of all ages and a couple babies, sitting in the sun around a table and knitting. That would have been another great sketch opportunity we didn’t have time for. I don’t ask permission but I always show what I’ve done before I leave, and people don’t seem to mind and are generally delighted.

saloon  I’ve been sketching a lot of people lately and probably losing my touch with buildings, so I did a quick one of the building across the street. . .a real old fashioned saloon/hotel! But no one went in or out of it on this lovely Tuesday afternoon. Doesn’t it look forlorn sitting there without people?

That’s why I wanted to teach the next workshop, Put People in Your Sketches coming up March 24 at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa, CA. I’ve learned to either start or end with figures in a sketch to tell a bit more of the story. If you want to join me for this workshop visit my website for more details, but hurry, because there’s only one spot left at this point! Also check out the next one on May 5 in Sonoma, CA, Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher.

tomales

Driving back along Tomales Bay in the late afternoon we stopped for two 10-15min. thumbnail landscapes. Putting the pen aside here and drawing with the brush. Great practice!

Spring Workshops!

My first sketch workshop of this year will hopefully respond to the requests of so many of my students who would like to be more comfortable adding people into their sketches. It’s not easy, but so satisfying when you can tell the visual story with the human angle. So I’m working on distilling the most useful techniques I’ve learned over the years (and am still learning!) about sketching and painting convincing figures! Hope you can join me this spring.

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Last year I taught the workshop on simplifying watercolor for the sketcher, another topic I love! So here it is, scheduled again in a new location this May.

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And if you’d like stir up your Muse and get your creative juices flowing, i recommend the Muse Group, which is starting a new session in March.

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I hope to be painting with you soon!

Announcing: New Workshops and Newsletter!

The Imagine With Art Newsletter is now in its 65th issue and I’m happy to offer it to you here. This issue features new workshops for the fall, some Urban Sketcher Symposium news and an Art Play lesson: Powdered Graphite. Hope you’ll take a look!

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And join me for the latest in a series of on location sketching workshops!

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For more information and to register, please email me.

Sketch with me this Spring!

To all you wonderful visitors from all over the world, I wish you were closer (or I was closer to you). But if you’re local to the S.F. Bay area or coming to visit, you are invited to our charming and slightly quirky little town of  Sebastopol (and environs) for some on-location sketch workshops with me this spring. Registration is open now! Here’s the scoop.

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To register for any of these workshops contact me.

And this is just part of what’s happening in the Urban Sketcher universe this spring. To see the rest of the workshop offerings from wonderful and diverse teachers around the S.F. Bay Area, visit Urban Sketchers.org. 

But don’t worry! Even if you live on the other side of the planet from California there will be sketch workshops closer to you this spring, in over 30 countries on several continents. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. You can find all of them on the Urban Sketch website here.

Laguna Walks and Sketch Musings

Years ago, drawn to getting outdoors to make art, I tried to be a plein air watercolor painter (among other things). I found that I was too restless by nature, especially IN nature. I wanted to move before I could finish the painting. Well, maybe I couldn’t deal with the environmental issues either, like hot sun or wind or bugs or cold or. . .

I think that’s why I found sketching with pen and watercolor to be a better fit for me when I’m outside the studio. I get very stimulated by new environments, seasonal changes, people in public and want to try to capture as much as possible in quick sketches.

With the gorgeous sunny weather this week my sketch buddies and I headed to the Laguna de Santa Rosa trail for a hike/sketch day. The Laguna is “the biologically diverse landscape of Sonoma County’s largest freshwater wetland. Internationally recognized for its ecological importance, the Laguna’s marshes, vernal pools, riparian woodland and valley oak savannah are rich habitat for wildlife and plants, including the special-status California tiger salamander, Sebastopol meadowfoam and Lobb’s aquatic buttercup.”

At our first stop I set the timer for two 15 min. sketches so we wouldn’t get too carried away.

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When we ran into too big a puddle to cross without waders, we drove around to the other end (Occidental Rd)  to walk a bit and make another sketch stop.

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When I saw this massive unclothed oak bordered by the shimmering water I forgot my intention to keep it simple and got totally and quite happily bewitched by the tree!

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Another day I brought my sketch bag and stool along on a walk near my home for a quick study of the vineyard geometry, the reds and greens, and Albert Einstein-like mops of impossibly gnarled vines. This is one of my favorite times in the vineyards when the “bones” show. I used my Lamy Joy fountain pen for the black and Uniball Signo white pen for the sun catching highlights.

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Yet another day this week I sat out by my studio, back to the warm sun and totally overworked this sketch while my cat Phil kept bumping me to elicit a more attentive response.

Just now as I was out doing some garden clipping I realized that a lot of people shy away from sketching because they mistake it for an activity that’s about making a realistic representation of what you see, like (we think) a camera does. And so of course that becomes an obstacle to doing it, because we always fall short of that. In many ways I don’t think my drawing has changed/improved all that much over the many years I’ve been doing it, but my enjoyment of sketching just keeps growing.

That’s the part I want to share, the enjoyment of telling the personal story of our lives, or as the Urban Sketcher motto says “to show the world, one drawing at a time”.  And if you’re interested in participating, there’s so much coming up this spring! There’s both my workshops locally here in Sebastopol and Urban Sketch workshops around the world and particularly here in the S.F. Bay Area. Stay tuned for more about those tomorrow. Here are the ones I’ll be teaching locally.

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Regardless of your drawing ability you can enjoy sketching with some simple tools and skills and some like minded folks to sketch with. For more information and to register, visit my website, email me or call the number above!