watercolor sketchbooking

Coupeville on Whidbey Island

fineliner pen, watercolor in mixed media sketchbook

Each of the small towns I’ve visited so far in Washington has it’s own character. Coupeville on Whidbey Island is no exception. I went back to my pictures from that trip in late May and picked this one of store fronts on the single main street on the harbor. I was practicing a style taught by Albert Kiefer in his Domestika workshop titled Expressive Architectural Sketching. I figured this style would meet with my desire to be freed from the rules of perspective and accuracy! After I’d finished my drawing I realized that I’d missed one of the basic lessons in the course which is to avoid drawing straight lines in order to create more movement and energy in the drawing. Haha! You’d be surprised how hard that is to do. (The course uses markers for color, but I used my favorite, watercolor) The “false wall” in the front of the building reminds me of architecture in those towns in western movies, where the walls seem to tip a bit precariously. 

A Veggie Recipe


Pen and watercolor in Strathmore watercolor sketchbook

My husband and I have been eating more vegetables and protein lately and fewer carbs.  He’s not a steamed veggies kind of guy.  So I’ve learned some ways to make them tastier.  But really, the secret ingredient here is Mirin.  The red and green vegetables together reminds me of the Muse Group lesson today, which was GREEN.  More on that later.

This was the first assignment in the Sketchbook Skool’s online Kourse which started last Friday, to illustrate a recipe. The theme of the course this time around is “Storytelling” , which I find very exciting!  Years ago I took a course in Children’s book writing and illustrating and illustrated a picture book “The Great Hiss” about a mean old snake. This drawing and painting with watercolor now feels like a guilty pleasure, which I plan to indulge while also getting ready for my open studio show which starts this coming weekend. More info on Art TRails Open Studios here.

More Free Concert Sketching


 Pitt Artist pen and watercolor in Handbook brand watercolor sketchbook, 4″ X 8″

Hundreds of people on the Windsor (CA) town green in lawn chairs or on blankets, eating and drinking and listening to a free concert – Slim Jenkins playing Voodoo Blues.  After a glass of wine I just pick up my pen and go at it.


Something about the live music and relaxed summer evening and the only ones working are the musicians and food venders. . .allows random lines and deliciously sloppy watercolors. . . and then I get up and dance with the crowd in the still sunny evening light.


Then later in the week, we went to the Rivertown Revival in Petaluma on the river.  These Petaluma folks are rightly proud about their town and its lively spirit.  Lots of them were in Steam Punk regalia too.  Using the full spread I sketched the Incubators on one side and The Sam Chase on the other.  They were both seriously rocking! (the painting got done next day at home) I didn’t get all the members of either group but just the ones I could see from my seat.  Drummers missing!


Tombow brush pen which bleeds when wet – good for instant shading.

But I wasn’t done so at home I did a couple more sketches from Bob’s photos.



Some day I’ll get some Steam Punk attire. . .maybe. . .at least now I have one of those parasols!

Juniper Lake Camping


pen and watercolor in Handbook brand watercolor sketchbook, 4 X 8″

I have a habit of many years now, that I take my sketchbook and the tiniest little watercolor palette with me on trips. Over time it’s become less about making art and more about recording events so that I don’t forget.  I also take photos, but they never seem to reflect my experience like my haphazard sketches do. I want to remember things like my campsite number and the wildlife I saw and the things I forgot to bring, like wildflower identification books.

My good buddy Katya and I met up at Lasson Volcanic National Park this year, where she had been camping for 10 days before I got there.  She had the campsite already set up and I sat the first morning while we drank our tea and coffee, and sketched some of that camping paraphernalia.


Each day we hiked up to a different lake or lookout point, with me huffing and puffing from the altitude.  The birds and insects appeared to be in a frenzy of mating – the birds calling out passionately to each other in song, the insects joined in embraces that were not broken by winged flight or even hopping!


Bending and bowing to the elements of nature over time, the trees took on personalities and attitudes that made it impossible not to anthropomorphize them! (or maybe I was hallucinating from the lack of oxygen at the mountains altitudes!) I wanted to name them and assign stories.


Without a doubt the highlight of the trip was at the top of Mt. Harkness where we could see mountain ranges in all directions, all the way to Nevada and Oregon and learned how the ranger spots possible fires and deals with lightning strikes!


Uncle Sam, Music and Art


Uncle Sam and I, Healdsburg Plaza, CA, Tuesday Night Summer Concert Series

Happy 4th of July!  Have you ever seen such a cute Uncle Sam?!  I ran into him at the concert in the plaza where he was spreading good cheer.   Bob and I showed up at show time and walked around to find a place to park our chairs when a friendly fellow named Danny (previously unknown to use), who’s a local wine rep, poet and actor, invited us to take two of his seats and even offered us dinner and wine!  The band was jazz trio, Lao Tizer.  After settling into the music, some people watching, dinner and wine, I got out my sketch book to try to capture a taste of this lovely evening.


Tombow brush pen, watercolor and Sharpie pen in watercolor sketchbook

Got most of the drawing and painting in before I attracted a small friendly audience.

We also went last week to hear a bluesy jazz band at the Healdsburg Plaza and I was able to sketch the lead singer, Frank Bey. (also good to dance to!)


(Sorry about the nose, Frank.  Didn’t get it right the first time!)  Man, could he sing!  I think musicians and free concerts are my new favorite sketch subject.

Next week though I’m going off to “the wilds” on a hiking and camping trip with my friend Katya.  Sky, mountain, lake, wildflowers will find their way into my sketchbook.

Festival of Feathers


Tombow pen and watercolor

This weekend I stopped in at the Festival of Feathers at the bird rescue center in Santa Rosa to soak up some of that marvelous bird wildness.  I just had a few minutes, but many of the birds were out on the arm of their volunteer handlers and I had my camera with me.  Later I did some quick sketches from my computer and put some color on.

The Barn Owl glows golden in the sunshine and has the most unusual, disc-like face – difficult to draw because it seems so unlikely, even while being so exotically lovely.


This Great Horned Owl is named Wowl!  How perfect is that?  And yes, he’s rather big, but still only a couple pounds of weight because of those hollow bird bones and super light feathers.


This little guy is a Pygmy Owl, tiny but oh so wise looking!  I think I drew him bigger than he was because of his gravitas.

Back from Camp Winnarainbow


watercolor and Uni-ball Vision elite pen in 5 X 8″ Strathmore Watercolor sketchbook

Q:  What did the earth say after the earthquake?  

A:  Sorry, my fault!

Q:  How do you keep a bagel from getting away?

A:  Put lox on it.

Yes, this third grade humor helped to set the tone for the last week of adult camp with Wavy Gravy, where it’s never too late to be a kid again. But there was the Hip Hop dancing and the singing and walking the labyrinth and trapeze and stilts (I watched) and painting and Zen clowning and well, I guess you had to be there.  Each morning Wavy on the rainbow stage got us chuckling and I had moments to do a bit of sketching.  So here they are – of Wavy – and the backs of other campers as they sat and listened.

campwinn2Wavy read Neruda’s poetry each morning, along with birthdays of famous people and exerpts from his book Something Good for a Change:  Random Notes on Peace Through Living.


Some campers showed up in costume each morning.


Another camper listens quietly. . .


. . .while another videotapes.

One camper shared her vow:  “Variety is the spice of life.  And when I die I want to be well seasoned.”  Each day at camp provided ample spicy fare!

Jazz Sketching


Sharpee ultra fine pen, watercolor in Strathmore watercolor 5″ X 8″ sketchbook

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival started this week and Bob and I went to the Healdsburg Plaza on Tuesday evening for a free concert with the Roger Glenn Latin Jazz Ensemble.  The plaza was packed, so while Bob was wandering around with his camera, I scored a bench spot where I could listen, watch the dancers and be enthralled by the steady procession of humanity walking by.  I’d brought my sketchbook and, though I felt a bit rusty, got it out and sketched the few folks in front of me who were standing or sitting still. . .in between the people walking by.

jazz2Many people come in big friendly groups and stake out their territory with blankets and chairs, wine and  finger foods.  A rather large percentage of the people there were filming/taking pictures or texting/playing games on their phones.  The red hat guy was a thoroughly Latin dude who really knew the moves and had partner after partner dancing with him, all of them giggling and loving it.  (impossible to sketch!)

jazz3I’m not sure how this lady’s head got so wide, and those ears. . .!  Since you asked. . .I added the paint after I got home and while my feet were up and I was watching reruns of Foyle’s War.

It’s great to be sketching again.  There’s a perfect spot for my sketchbook and paints in my new yellow purse. . .