Monday, July 18, 2016

A Week in Japan

Ginkaku-ji Kyoto Japan

Just got back from a weeklong trip to Tokyo and Kyoto. Sadly I was a bit sniffly -- and the weather was by turns hot/humid and rainy (at times torrential) -- so I didn't get to sketch as much as I would have liked. Some highlights:

-The drool-worthy art supplies at Tokyu Hands and Sekaido.

I got a new supply of my favorite Rotring Tikky Graphic pens, a fine-tipped brush pen, and a flat-tipped waterbrush. I also bought some watercolor-paper postcards and a book on watercolors by Japanese master Hideshi Katoh.

-Also bought two traditional brushes at a small shop in the narrow lanes near Tokyo's Senso-ji temple.

-Had great tofu and noodles at O-men (below) in Kyoto, and visited Ginkaku-ji (the "silver" pavilion -- pictured at the top of this post).

O-men Kyoto Japan

-Took a Japanese calligraphy workshop, where the facilitator gave us a choice of various words to practice. I chose "dream."

dream - Japanese calligraphy

-Shopped at Itoya, the ultimate stationery shop. Every floor is perfectly curated and designed.

-Sat in our room at the Keio Plaza Hotel flicking channels and tried my hand at sketching sumo wrestlers. It was a challenge, since the matches only last a few seconds!

Sumo wrestlers drawn from TV in Japan

-Had a sketchbook custom-made for me at Kakimori, with two types of paper. It was fun to pick out the paper, the binding, and the covers and watch it being made on the machine.

And now I have just one week to prep for USk Manchester!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Making Waves in Pacifica

Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, CA
(8x8, ink and watercolor on Fluid 100 block)

The wind was fierce yesterday at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica. I was glad to have my Helly Hansen jacket -- stood up well to the gale! M. took this picture of me while I was painting.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Taste of Pine & Crane, Los Angeles

Pine and Crane Los Angeles

LA was a mercurial teenager on our most recent trip. The wedding we attended was absolutely lovely, but we spent hours on the freeway getting from home to Santa Monica (expected), then hours again just getting from Santa Monica to Long Beach (not expected).

Biking in Long Beach from our hotel (the Westin) to the shopping strip in Belmont Heights seemed like a fun jaunt, but the day started off oddly chilly and drizzly, and carrying the bikes down to the beach was a slog. Then there was an incident with a less-than-accurate eyebrow shaper at a nail salon, and a display of after-dark public road rage that seemed truly out of place for a seaside community.

But again, the wedding was delightful, and I did love riding my bike along the Pacific with nothing to worry about other than sand and sea (and a dozen groups of people sporting matching walkathon T-shirts).

On the last day we chose to meander back north via Los Feliz and Silver Lake, two LA neighborhoods we hadn't explored yet. Things were looking up! We stopped to get dessert at House of Pies and wandered through Skylight Books.

The friendly proprietor at Mission Workshop put us on to his fave casual Taiwanese-Chinese eatery just up the road, Pine & Crane.

It was fast, simple and delicious. And I finally got a sketch in! Just what we needed before we got on the road home.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Workshop Recap: Strait Color with Randall Sexton

Was excited to take Randy Sexton's workshop "Strait Color," hosted by Arts Benicia, last month. I've been a big fan of his work, plus it was an excuse to explore a new part of the Bay Area.

Randy began the class with a demo of a building in Benicia.

He asked us to concentrate on simplifying shapes into just two values, to start. Painting outdoors, he noted, is like a shorthand language -- it's important to step back and see what works from a distance.

After his demo, we chose locations around the Benicia waterfront to set up and paint. I decided to try a challenging scene of boats and cranes, with Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oils. This was my first time using them for plein air painting. My Strada easel held up well, though the gusty winds meant I had to clamp or secure everything very carefully.

My verdict? I think I could have brightened my colors a bit. I'm happy with the blending on the clouds, which incidentally chased the sun all afternoon and made it difficult to figure out light and shadow.

Benicia, CA - work in progress

The next day, we visited Randy's studio in Crockett, a few miles away. We painted an urban scene this time, and then gathered for a critique and another demo. It was a hot day, so I found that my paints were getting thick as the hours wore on. (Still figuring out how to handle these water-mixable oils!)

I'm fairly happy with the result, especially the composition. The only part I couldn't do on location was the lettering on the sign; I ended up doing that with an oil-based pencil later when I touched up the painting in the studio.

Downtown Crockett, CA: work in progress

Oddly I find oils/acrylics difficult to paint with outdoors -- they are much more forgiving than watercolors, but it means I have to think backward. With watercolor I think about which parts of the page I need to leave blank, but with oils the darks generally go on first.

I'll just have to keep on practicing with both!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Spreading the (Sketching) Love

Sketches from Google Take Your Children to Work Day

I love to sketch, but I also love to share my passion with other people. Recently I led two activities to help promote art in the local community.

For Google's Take Your Children to Work Day, I facilitated a sketching scavenger hunt. The kids had to solve riddles and then find and draw objects around the campus. I encouraged them to create a visual journal of their visit to Google.

As the kids sketched, I drew the activity around me on a flip chart using the same Scholastic washable markers that everyone was given -- an early morning volleyball game and some people taking a break from work outdoors. The weather was perfect -- bright and sunny. I hope the children had as much fun as I did!


Last weekend, I led an outdoor sketching workshop for Art in Action, a Menlo Park-based nonprofit that provides schools with art education programs. I had donated this "art experience" to their fundraising auction earlier in the spring, and the winning bidders were the participants.

We chose the Mountain View farmers market as our meeting point and muse. I talked a little about the basics of sketching outdoors and then sent the participants off to do several studies describing the story of the market. Our humble materials were:
  • a Bee Paper Pen Sketcher's sketchbook
  • a Sharpie fine point pen
  • Yarka pan watercolors
  • a Pentel Aquash waterbrush
Not the best of tools for watercolor (we were trying to keep costs down), but we still captured some great moments.

Here's what I sketched while everyone was off drawing.

A collage of perspectives on the market:
Sketching on the Go1

A sketcher drawing a vegetable stand:
Sketching on the Go3

The parrot guy:
Sketching on the Go2

A quickly drawn tableau of a mom and her kid:
Sketching on the Go4

Hope everyone (kids and adults alike) fills up the remaining pages in their sketchbooks over the summer!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Studio

I said last fall that I would post pics of my studio soon ... aaaand now it's May of the following year. (Oops.) Well, better late than never!

The studio is 8'x10' and is right next to the house. It was built by The Shed Shop in Fremont, California. They were great to work with from beginning to end. We opted to have it built unfinished, so we did the interior walls, flooring and exterior painting.

Come on in!

I've reused much of the shelving and organizing solutions I had in our Connecticut house.

Two windows let in a lot of light, and I can even see the hills in the distance when I'm sitting at the desk.