Monday, August 24, 2015

Birthday at the Beach

Santa Cruz, California

Before I lived in Connecticut I wasn't really a beach person. Now that I'm living inland, I crave a glimpse of water from time to time. It's a good thing we don't live too far from the ocean.

M. surprised me on my birthday with an impromptu trip to Santa Cruz, the original California surfer town. Our lovely B&B, West Cliff Inn, overlooked the boardwalk and the beach.

Just a few minutes' drive away is Natural Bridges State Beach.


Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz, California

Both of these sketches were done on a Fluid 100 hot press watercolor 8x8 block. I'm really enjoying the way paint behaves on this smooth surface.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Play Ball!

It's not easy to draw people playing volleyball (though it's easier than drawing people bowling).

Sand volleyball, Mountain View, California

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Getting to Know My Part of the World

San Jose sprawls from urban to practically rural; I've only just started to explore it. From the hill behind our house you can see a panoramic vista of towering palms and carved-out hills, drought-parched grass and tile-roofed homes.

View from Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose, California

Sunday, August 2, 2015

6th Urban Sketchers Symposium: Singapore - Part 2

You can't go to Singapore without eating ... or shopping. Although I didn't get to see Orchard Road (inexcusable, I know - will have to go back), I did make one purchase: a Hero pen with a bent nib, from Straits Art. It's similar to the Sailor bent nib pen I already own, but shorter and heavier. Its nib lets you make thin and thick strokes by varying the angle of the pen.


I filled its cartridge with the super5 ink that we got in our symposium goodie bag. This is my kind of travel souvenir -- something I'll be using for several years that will remind me of a great experience!

After registration and an opening sketchwalk, the symposium's packed schedule of activities and workshops got underway.

This year, I led an activity for the first time. It was called "Putting the 'Urban' in Urban Sketching." The task was to incorporate found materials -- both as drawing tools and as paper/substrate -- into our sketches, in order to tell the story of a place. I was concerned that Singapore's famously clean streets would yield no interesting scraps to use, but I needn't have worried.

At Albert Mall Trishaw Park, Singapore

I was blown away by the creativity of the activity participants. One found a scrap of cardboard at Albert Mall food center; another used a splayed joss stick to do a great ink drawing.

I used a palm twig dipped in watercolors to draw this -- not easy!

Twig and watercolor sketches, Albert Mall, Singapore

In this sketch, I used a stray price label, a dried leaf, and coin rubbings to evoke the atmosphere of the vendors.

Vendors at Albert Mall, Singapore

Virginia Hein's excellent workshop, "Light and Dark with a Punch of Color" was a good challenge for me. I'm so used to working with line that it's hard for me to see just value shapes.

Value sketches at Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

Value sketches around SAM, Singapore

In Nina Johansson’s workshop, "Light in the Spaces Between," we learned to look at the areas between planes, to seek out the changes in value between surfaces.

Value sketch near Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore

Nina also showed us how to make subtle warm and cool shifts to our watercolor mixes without creating muddy colors.

Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore

Shophouses near Selegie Arts Centre, Singapore

Melanie Reim's workshop, "Found In Translation: The Influence of Calligraphy in the Figure and Environment," was inspirational. I loved "collecting" faces and figures with economical strokes of the brushpen in and around the Sri Krishnan Temple on Waterloo Street.

Collecting figures, Singapore

Collecting many faces with calligraphic strokes, Singapore

Collecting faces, Singapore

Worshippers, Sri Krishnan Temple, Singapore

Lady in green, Sri Krishnan Temple, Singapore

Priests in Sri Krishnan Temple, Singapore

The final sketchwalk was at the Singapore Management University courtyard. It was a tranquil oasis of green, with ample space for sketchers to spread out and choose different views. Some sketched the Singapore Art Museum across the road:

Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

I decided to complete my symposium experience with a sketch of the other sketchers.

Open sketchwalk participants at SMU, Singapore

And who could resist drawing our youngest participant, who patiently held this complex pose?

Our youngest sketchwalk participant, Singapore

All the energy from Singapore will carry us through the rest of the year and onward to our next symposium: USK Manchester 2016 here we come!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

6th Urban Sketchers Symposium: Singapore - Part 1

Skyline from National Library, Singapore

Singapore surprised me: Outstanding food, a heady mix of modern and vintage, walkable neighborhoods and infinity-pool views. Apart from the relentless saunalike weather, we had a great time at this year's event. Can't believe I've now attended my fifth USk symposium -- and this time as a participant, activity leader and board member!

We flew SFO > NRT > SIN. I started with a drawing on the airline's food tray placemat:

Sketching on flight to Narita, Japan

And then, sketched travelers during our layover in Narita, Japan:

Carts and people at Narita Airport, Japan

Before the symposium got underway, we got to do a little sightseeing. It was so hot and humid that even my eyes were sweating. We visited Little India and then walked to Kampong Glam, with hipster boutiques in the shadow of the Sultan Mosque.

Leong San See temple, Singapore

Sultan Mosque, Singapore

Dinner was at Lau Pa Sat market, which specialized in satay.

Lau Pa Sat hawker market, Singapore

After a traditional hawker breakfast of roti prata and kaya toast dipped in soy sauce-drizzled soft-boiled eggs, we went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It's hard to imagine wearing uniforms with full sleeves and rubber boots in that stifling weather.

Workers at Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore

In the evening, I sketched people hanging out in the hotel lobby.

People in the Carlton Hotel lobby, Singapore

Carlton Hotel lobby, Singapore

To be continued ... read Part 2

Friday, June 5, 2015

A Windy Day in Pescadero

A windy day in Pescadero, California

You can walk the length of the main street in this little coastal town in a few minutes. The stiff breeze didn't stop us from enjoying a hearty lunch at Duarte's Tavern. And of course we stopped in at the little boutiques, visited the goat farm and watched tiny crabs in the tide pools at the beach. Later we feasted on Arcangeli Grocery artichoke bread and fresh Harley Farms goat cheese and tomato sauce.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cross-Country Road Trip, Part 3

After leaving Nebraska we made our way up to Cheyenne, Wyoming, for a night, before heading south into Colorado and then west to Utah.

Moab, Utah, was a highlight of the trip. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the intense red sandstone against the azure sky was a revelation.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah

Moab is a cyclist’s paradise, with its expanses of slick rock and challenging singletrack.

Mountain bikers, Slick Rock Trail, Moab, Utah

Ely, Nevada, is mostly a waystation on Highway 50, dubbed the “Loneliest Road in America.” I sketched its main drag just before the sun went down and the casinos lit up below the snowcapped mountains.

Ely, Nevada

By the time we got to Eureka, it was raining. While M. went in search of coffee, I tore out a page from the “official guide” to Highway 50 and tried to capture the mood with a white gel pen.

Eureka, Nevada

Our last stop in Nevada before crossing the California state line was Lake Tahoe. We marveled at the clear aquamarine water and, after all that rain, bright sunshine!

Lake Tahoe, Nevada