Urban sketch workshop

Watercolor Simplified in Sonoma

On Saturday I met with 13 sketchers at the historic Barracks in Sonoma to teach the day- long Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher workshop. The weather was warm and lovely and the sun kept dipping behind clouds and then re-emerging. I figured I better get in the demonstration of the “one-two-punch” sketch while the sun was casting lovely shadows.

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fountain pen and watercolor in Field Watercolor Journal 7 X 10″

It was also a chance to put in a “sky dash”, which is a juicy blue sky wash that leaves a bit of white for occasional clouds and doesn’t get all fussy when there’s not time to get the particular sky “right”. The one-two-punch goes in layers of darkening values, the last one of which pops out the sketch, rescuing it from ho-hum.

Of course by the time I’d finished my demo, the sun ducked behind a light cloud obliterating the shadows for my poor students, who were then supposed to paint the shadow shapes!

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When you’re learning watercolor it’s important to find a way to have fun with it so you don’t get bogged down in trying to get realism in your application. So I demonstrated the spritz-splatter method of creating a colorful sketchbook page and then drawing/painting some detail on it to tell a bit of the story. Since it is spring and the Sonoma Plaza was filled with blooming flowers, this was a good bet. And it turned out to be the most popular technique of the day.

Sonomafountain This fountain went into/behind many of the spritz-splatter floral displays!

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Some of the sketchers were putting people in, and this fellow sitting around the fountain was so still as to be an ideal model! He seemed in fact to have perfected the art of doing nothing! I used this as an example of anchoring your subject to the context and leaving out unnecessary detail.

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Then the ducks in the pond became a favorite subject! Honestly I could sit all day and watch them and the children shreeking with delight at their antics.

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I managed to work them into my spritz-splatter floral!

And then suddenly it was time to call it a day, and such a good one it was!

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Put People in Your Sketches

These on-location (urban sketch) workshops I’ve been teaching can be a challenge. Not only do I need to be prepared with the content, but there’s all the logistics, like parking and food and bathrooms and the big unknown, WEATHER. This time the weather picture changed each day this week from sun to rain to sun and then, finally to just plain damp and cold. I know this sounds whiny to those of you who live where it snows. I see the posts on Instagram of icy, snowy scenes that are sketched on site, and I’m impressed.

So I fretted right up to the minute when my workshop started on Saturday, but then this group of ready-for-just-about-anything sketchers showed up from all over the Bay Area ready to go.

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We started out with drawing warm ups in the back room of Aroma Roasters, enjoying their coffee and warmth and practicing the 30 second pencil gesture followed by pen drawing, using each other as models and later infiltrating the coffee shop proper.

The idea is to go from drawing big shapes to smaller details like clothing and facial features, but to get the gesture down first in case the person moves. We were about to move out to the train station where people stand still for only moments!

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Then things got really interesting as passengers arrived.

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Passengers getting their tickets. . . I realized that I’ve never even ridden this SMART train yet. I bet it’s fun!

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Well, I may have exaggerated the colors here a bit, but this gentleman did in fact have yellow pants and shirt. The assignment here was to give the figure some context in your sketch. We were telling people stories after all!

peoplesketch3We huddled around the bed of an antique wagon on site to share our morning’s sketches. Some of this group had completed the OneWeek100People sketch challenge and had many wonderful sketches to share from the morning alone.

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The afternoon was about adding color to the sketches. Here I’m doing a minimal treatment of skin, clothing and context, which is often all one has time for.

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On the right I mixed the yellows with the reds in my palette to get light skin tones. It’s something you just have to play around with. The basic “recipe” is to use lots more red than yellow and dilute with water. I add Cerulean Blue for the shadow shapes. For dark skin I use dark versions of the red and yellow and blue. Then if there’s bright clothing or other bright reflected light (the skin reflects everything around it!) I glaze a bit of that color over the skin when it’s dry.

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The finished demo. I wanted to show how you could draw one figure over another without worrying too much about the lines showing through (her arm)! And notice the green on his face.

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We were all a bit chilled at the end, but there were a lot of smiles and enthusiasm about doing more people sketching!

We missed the lovely warm spring weather by a couple days! But there’s more opportunities coming up to attend on-location sketch workshops here in the Bay Area if you’re interested.

My next day workshop is Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher on May 5 in Sonoma Visit my website for more details. But that’s not all! On May 26 I’m teaching Sketch the Vignette in Petaluma. It’s one of the 10X10 Urban Sketch workshops, all listed below!

URBAN SKETCHERS BAY AREA 10X10 CLASSES, SPRING 2018

The International Urban Sketchers organization and San Francisco Bay Area Urban Sketchers are bringing back the popular series of on-location sketching workshops, running from April to June 2018. (We are hoping to repeat the series in the Fall.) Workshops are designed for all levels of participants, but check class details to see if it’s a good fit for you. Class size is limited to 15 participants. Workshop cost $45 (some have an additional materials fee.) 

Info about individual classes is listed below. Click here to see a flyer with more information plus links for all the classes.

10×10 – Nina Khashchina: Gouache Your World

April 7, 10-1 

Location: Palo Alto

This workshop will give participants basic tools needed to use gouache successfully. It is geared toward people who struggled with gouache before but also to those trying this medium for the first time. We will use small-scale exercises to cover transparent and opaque methods available with the gouache and learn techniques for working with shape and color, creating interesting textures, and details of urban landscape, on location, using gouache as the main tool. There is a materials cost of $15, paid to the instructor on the day. 

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Mark Simmons: Your Storytelling Kit

April 14, 1-4

Location: San Francisco

We’ll look at a variety of comics and cartooning techniques that can be applied to urban sketching, event reportage, and storytelling. The workshop will be held at San Francisco’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival, where we can practice our comic art tricks; we’ll start with a presentation and demo of comic devices like word balloons, captions, and sound effects to capture dialog and incorporate text, pen and ink rendering, with emphasis on monochrome art, use of line weight and spot blacks and organizing a visual narrative into sequential panels. We’ll apply them at the event, and then regroup to compare notes in a brief show-and-tell.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Bill Russell: Procreate Digital Sketching

Location: Larkspur

April 21, 10-1

Finally, with the Procreate drawing app and the Apple iPad Pro, artists have the best quality technology for urban sketching. Join Bill at Marin County Mart in Larkspur Landing for a fast-paced primer, starting with a one-hour tutorial, where he will share his own digital sketching knowledge and skillset. He will teach you how to simplify the process, so you can make beautiful pictures fast and easy. You will create some of your own digital sketches of their farmers market, cool stores and live entertainment. Each person must have a basic understanding of Procreate and have it installed on their iPad Pro. An Apple Pencil is also required.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Diane Olivier: Chinatown Drawing & Eating Adventure

May 6, 11-2 

Location: San Francisco

An outdoor/indoor workshop with a bit of walking. We will meet up at Portsmouth Square Playground for a demo of a few concepts to capture and organize information from our adventure. From there a 2 minute walk through the heart of Chinatown on Grant Avenue to eat lunch and sketch our meal. Diane will detail what to look for: the space, the wait staff, the customers, and the food! After lunch we’ll take a 2 minute walk for dessert at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Here we’ll see the tiny shop, the product and how they are made. We’ll end with a show-and-tell in the alley to share our stories and our drawings. 

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Uma Kelkar: Landscapes, Quickly!

May 13, 12-3 

Location: Millbrae

This workshop will teach you how to look. That’s right, learn how to see a landscape. Learn how to reduce a scene into no more than 3 shapes and 3 values. Experience agile sketching by using limited tools, single pigment, and letting go of some details. At end of the 3 hours, you should be able to do a direct brush sketch (with a single color) and yet capture a landscape. The lesson plan of the workshop is active, thus settling down to draw in balmy weather will not happen. Participants will move, sketch, move, make mistakes, make more sketches. Sketches will be be spontaneous, lively and the sketcher will be mentally energized.

Workshop full. Click here to be added to waitlist.

10×10 – Susan Cornelis: Sketch the Vignette

May 26, 10-1

Location: Petaluma

In this workshop we will explore tools for simplifying and designing your sketches on location to quickly get to the visual story you most want to tell. We will build the sketch out from the point of greatest interest, connecting it to its context and leaving out all that isn’t necessary to make a more powerful impact. Principles of vignette design and using the white of the paper will be practiced along with simple drawing and watercolor applications.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Oliver Hoeller: How to Build a Strong Sketch out of Weak Elements

June 2, 12-3

Location: San Francisco

Often we see things that appeal to us—a lamp, a button, a watch—but we don’t sketch them because they may be a weak motif by themselves. In this workshop we will learn strategies to combine many weak elements into an interesting hodgepodge that tells the story of a place. We will practice this skill at the Asian Art Museum, where we assemble personal spreads out of the individual pieces on display. We will start outside to practice contour drawing and discuss 10 strategies to form a rich picture out of individual elements. Participants will then select from the tools presented and draw their own 2 spreads in the museum. Half way through, one-on one feedback will help to solidify the approaches. In the end we will add (water) color to the work and discuss our results. 

Workshop almost full. Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Carlos Almeida: The Sense of Urban Spaces

June 9, 9-12 

Location: Palo Alto

The workshop is about process and the understanding of the urban space as a first approach through quick observation of massing, scale, proportionality of elements, textures, light, shade and shadow and how all these aspects can be incorporated in the frame to achieve a good sketch composition in order to clearly and effectively convey what is seen in a specific period of time.

Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Suma CM: From Line to Design

June 10, 1-4

Location: Redwood City

This will be an energizing class! We’ll explore the downtown with a minimal kit, stopping for demos and exercises. We’ll start by learning how to frame compact, pleasing vignettes on the fly, with an emphasis on shapes and balanced design. Then we’ll review techniques for adding vibrant color to bring the compositions to life. Beginners will be able to focus on objects and simple structures, while experienced sketchers can use the concepts to work on more complex streetscapes. Register here on Eventbrite

10×10 – Richard Sheppard: Unraveling the Complexity of Travel Sketching 

June 23, 10-1 

Location: San Francisco

The best souvenirs are not the things you buy or the photos you take while on vacation, but drawings you create in a sketchbook. Sketching allows the artist to slow down enough to get acquainted with surroundings that are so often overlooked while framing the world through a lens. Yet sketching in public can be a daunting experience for the self-conscious sketcher, or for those that are just unprepared. The first part of this class will cover tips on getting beyond the emotional roadblocks that keep us from sketching. Then we’ll discuss materials, styles, and techniques that are best suited for travel sketching. We will learn how to get the most out of our sketchbooks while on the road.

Workshop full. Click here to be added to waitlist.

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.

sausalito

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.

millvalley

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!

Sunflowercafe

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.

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.

Tobys

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!

Character Sketching

You don’t have to look far to find characters to sketch! Your friends will do quite nicely. I borrowed the idea from my Urban Sketcher friend Vivian and her group and got some people together with costumes and attitude to pose for each other for 15 minute timed poses (with wine of course).

character01

We never got around to adding words at the time, but I stuck some in the next day.

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Actually I think I might have the wrong era here. More like Dickens era from the waist up, but who cares?! (She left the corset at home because it is after all the 21st century and California casual at that!)

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It’s all in the props. . .

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Switched to pencil here and more drawing with watercolor for a different look. Also got tired of painting in the clothing!

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This character reminded me of the cutest chick contest at the Butter and Eggs day in Petaluma!

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Becky’s character from Sweeney Todd. At this point I’d given up trying to get the whole figure into a 15 min sketch with color!

Hopefully these “characters” will be posting their sketches on Instagram and Facebook!

If you want to get some figure sketching practice and can’t get to a group set up, try these two free online resources:  the Sktchy phone app and Quick Poses

And then if you want to Put People in Your Sketches on location, join me on March 24 for my day-long workshop of that name, in Santa Rosa, CA. You’ll learn strategies for drawing people “in the act”, mixing believable skin tones, dealing with clothing, and connecting the figure with context. For more information visit my website!

Apple Press and Petaluma Sketching

If you live in Sebastopol there’s still time to bring your apples over to the free apple press and enjoy the nectarian pleasure of your own fresh apple juice. The volunteer crew will help you out and even clean the press after you and all with enthusiastic smiles. I guess I was too busy with art and such this season to bring my own apple harvest in, so instead I harvested some sketches last Saturday morning.

applepress

The sponsor of this is the Slow Food Russian River group. For those of you who don’t know, the term Slow Food refers to “an alternative to fast food and strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.” Slow however is not how I would refer to the folks doing the apple press procedure. So my pen was moving pretty fast!

And then I got totally distracted by a little girl who was washing apples and then feeding them into the press. When she came over to check out my paints I couldn’t resist loading up a brushload and handing it to her. She knew what to do with it of course. Here’s Adeline’s version of the activity.

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Then last week we were checking out the scene for the upcoming Watercolor Simplified for the Sketcher workshop in Petaluma on October 14. We were delighted to find the most appealing spots for sketching, not to mention eating, easy parking etc. So I’m quite looking forward to offering this workshop. For instance there’s the Great Petaluma Mill and the backdrop of those, are they grain shoots?

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and the cutest bistros, bakeries etc to go for the lunch sketch which is always assigned.

wildgoatbistro

Check out the meal I had. And yet even so I was tortured by the men sitting across from us who ordered a spectacular gluten free chocolate cake and only ate a bite or two! They were so friendly that I know they would have given me the rest, but truly I was already full. I’m quite impressed with these urban sketchers who draw and paint their food when it comes. I’m always too ready to dig in.

There’s still one spot left in the workshop. If you’re interested, visit my website for more info and to contact me.