watercolor sketching

Sketching in Portugal: Arrival Lisbon

Back now from two weeks in Portugal, sightseeing and sketching and participating in the annual International Symposium of Urban Sketchers in Porto. Carole and I arrived in Lisbon after 15 hours of travel with a whole day ahead of us to try and stay awake so that we could go to sleep at the “right” time. Since we couldn’t get into our AirBnB apartment yet, we had the taxi drop us off at a cafe.


A lucky break for us, the waiter was a friendly young man who enthusiastically started our education right away, with a focus on food and drink. Another barrista suggested I try a mouth watering pastry made by his mother.


He handed me a gift of a chocolate truffle, also mother-made as we left to trudge up the street with our luggage and drop it off while the apartment was being cleaned.


And then more wandering in our zombied state. The sketching seemed to help to keep the eyes open!


And later, after we’d moved into our lovely apartment we discovered that the street behind ours was lined with intriguing tiny restaurants and shops such as this and even


a Museum of Marionettes, which we vowed to visit. (more on this later)


We chose this restaurant and were unfashionably early at 7pm, so once again we had three young waiters all to ourselves, and a fabulous dinner served with flair. This vacation was after all not just about sketching.


Next morning we took the bus to an area along the river called Belem.


The Museum of Arts, Architecture and Technology is an architectural wonder that we explored, on the outside at any rate, since we were anxious to start sketching while also seeing as much as possible.


We had not really done our homework of reading the guidebooks in any detail and I assumed I’d found the famed Tower of Belem, only to have sketched a more modern monument to the Explorers, which I loved for its simplicity.

Lisbon23I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle sketching the infinitely intricate Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, also in Belem!

Well, that’s day one and two. Jet lag has set in at the moment, but please stay with me. There’s lot more coming up!



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.

Beyond Cafe Sketching


For years I’ve been in a group of mothers, sometimes referred to as “Coffee Girls” Every Friday we meet at a cafe, where we sip coffee while getting a perspective on our lives. Sometimes I also can sneak in a sketch.


Petaluma Pete plays his piano on a street corner in that town.(Don’t ask me how it gets the piano there!) I happened to be hanging out, waiting for my son to check out the guitars and sheet music in Tall Toad music shop. Leaning against the corner I got to listen to some of Pete’s extensive repertoire and watch him greet people, while I sketched.


An evening performance of a jazz group at a local art gallery. . .


and on a very stormy day, sitting in the cafeteria of Snoopy’s Ice Arena, sketching the mostly inexperienced skaters, lots of little kids and their parents.


Turning 90 degrees to the left was this view, which I needed in order to rest the eyes after following the constant motion of the skaters!

Then the children started checking us out.  I find that art supplies are like magnets to them. Most children under a certain age still recognize themselves as artists. So little Peter would not leave until I handed him a brush loaded with paint.

Packed. . .almost


I’m driving myself a bit crazy trying to make decisions about what to take.   Tomorrow I leave for Italy and a month’s artist residency in Assisi.

I’ve been trying out various bags and pens and books for months now, and here is what got juried in:  an Eagle Creek day pack that even has room for a water bottle and my tiny collapsible stool and secret compartments for money, etc. The sketchbook is handmade by my husband with the hot press watercolor paper.


These are the basic art supplies which will go in the checked luggage.  With clothes for the month and more, it’s getting a bit heavy.  I picture myself dragging two (they’re small, but. . .) suitcases through the chaotic Rome train station. . .but they are on wheels!

There’s some last minute looking through a phrase book to get some basic Italian phrases, Google translate app, podcasts downloaded for listening while traveling.  If you are one of the many friends who have offered advise for the trip, thank you!  I think I’m ready.

Please join me on this trip – next post will be from Assisi.