urban sketch

Captured!

It’s eerily quiet around our house today. I mean there’s still the usual birdsong and occasional car, but no cocky bird fellow pecking and crowing throughout the day. I must admit I miss Mr. Peckerdoodle a bit, even though we spent days trying to  locate his owner and then when we couldn’t, stalking and trying to catch him. Have you ever tried to catch a rooster that wasn’t roosting and asleep? None of the help that Google had to offer was working.

It’s not like he was unfriendly either. In fact he was frequently to be found with his beak to our front door, anticipating our company or at least our bird seed.

Finally though, yesterday morning the Hav-a-heart trap worked!

MrPeckerdoodle

And you bird lovers, do not despair! Our gardener picked him up and took him to the ranch where he will not only be well treated but will have an instant harem of eight hens awaiting him. Bye bye birdie.

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Wine Country Fire Evacuees

Our wine country fire evacuees are plentiful just now, 10% of the population of Sonoma County I heard this morning! I am not one of them. I am also not one of those heroic first responders. My lungs cannot tolerate smoke and I’ve been spending a great deal of time fretting and checking on friends and neighbors and just sharing stories and of course fears as the fires rage on.

I was happy to see that someone in our rural neighbor of a shared water company had found an old fire hose to attach to the simple fire hydrant which sits next to my driveway.

firecountrystyle

We’ve all been watering around our homes in hopes of preventing fires here if the wind changes directions and blows the embers our way. I could go years and not have so many conversations with my nice neighbors as I’ve had this week. I learned for instance that you can plant native plants that burn up and out quickly and then sprout again the next year! And then there’s the Scotch broom which makes for a more deadly fire.

Today I visited my friend Liz who has welcomed evacuees in her home (inside and out) so that I could meet and then sketch them. The air was more clear today thanks to winds from the north overnight so I climbed inside the pig pen with Madeline and Liam while Barbara enjoyed the sun and serene country setting.

pigs5You can also see Zoey in the picture to the left. She’s the only one who actually lives here ongoing. Barbara, in the chair, was evacuated from a senior living center which luckily did not burn (although her son’s home in Santa Rosa did) and the miniature pigs are the beloved pets of other people who needed a temporary place to house them. Normally they are actually indoor pig-pets, so these accommodations were a bit of a come down for them. But they were adapting admirably. They were not however the best models for sketching.

pigs1

I spent my first few minutes trying to understand their various parts as they were in constant movement. These little pigs look more like miniature warthogs without the tusks.

pigs2

They had the annoying habit of burying the parts of their body I was sketching in the straw where they were finding something delectable to eat. Nevertheless I was rapidly becoming enamored of them, particularly their gross lip smacking snorting sounds and gorgeous curly tail swishing. They really are the epitome of bad table manners when eating, which seems to be non stop and it’s hilarious! Madeline has these long white eyelashes and bright pink halter (for if you would want to take her for a walk), and Liam is small and dark and they’re both so friendly. Here’s a picture of Liam when he got interested in painting and gave my palette a good wet snort-sniff.

pigs6

I wasn’t feeling particularly successful with the sketching, but thought I’d give it one more try. And after a while they actually stopped eating and got kind of mellow.

pigs3

and I had more time to observe.

meetmadeline

But once home I had try one more from a photo. My heart goes out to all the fire evacuees, but these little piggies totally stole my heart.

Potrero Hill

potrerohill

fountain pen and brush pen and watercolor in Strathmore mixed media sketchbook, 8 X 10″ spread

It was sizzling hot at Camp Winnarainbow in Laytonville, 2 hours north of my home in Sebastopol (northern California).  The day after I got home Bob and I went to San Francisco for the day.  As you can see in the picture, it was cold and windy, at least 50 degrees cooler than at Camp.  I dropped Bob off for a workshop at the S.F. Center for the Book and had the day to wander and sketch.  Potrero Hill was a brand new area for me to explore, so I set off with a map, not realizing that every two blocks or so I would ascend and then descend another hill.

I found these gentlemen, possibly homeless, in a small park bundled up against the cold wind and sound asleep.  Rather than turn and head on, I sat down nearby to sketch the scene and contemplate their lives. . .with compassion. I have slept in parks in the daytime, clutching my purse to my breast.  I have slept curled up on seats in airports with my legs wound around my luggage.  It was a nice neighborhood.  They would be safe there.

potrerohill2Sitting outside a popular restaurant on a narrow retaining wall, I had an unobstructed view of a different kind of crowd in this gentrified neighborhood.  The challenge was to tell the story in a short period of time, leaving out 10 times more details than I put in.  The dog was my favorite part.  Luckily the wait for a table was rather long, so I had some good models!

potrerohill3Here I actually had a bench in the sun which was so welcome as the wind was still blowing off the sea.  Once again so much detail to choose from, so I just started and worked my way around.  Something I’m learning about urban sketching in S.F. is that most of the streets go abruptly up or down, like the sidewalk in this scene which disappears.  I need more practice with the visual cues to quickly describe the scene.

When I’d finished the sketch I stopped in at the Open House in the residence next to where I was sitting, curious about what one could buy in S.F. for $1,150,000.   A great view in a trendy neighborhood and a place to park your car off the street.  Highly desirable in a city like S.F.  Otherwise a tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath flat.

If you like adding watercolor to your drawings, I wouldn’t buy the Strathmore mixed media sketchbook.  I like the 5.5 X 8″ size which gives you the choice to draw across the gutter if you need more space, but the paper is not sized like w/c paper so it’s harder to do washes of color.  So once again I’ll be looking for the perfect sketchbook!