horsing around

We Have Polo!

Saturday, September 09, 2017

South Bay Polo Club - Garlic Cup, Gilroy, CA

Yep, we do indeed, just 20 minutes away. Sketched this during the heat wave, at the South Bay Polo Club's Garlic Cup a few weeks ago. (It's in Gilroy, where everything is made of garlic.)

Interestingly, the announcer didn't proclaim "We have polo!" every few minutes as seemed to be the norm in Saratoga. Also unlike at our previous polo experiences in Saratoga and Greenwich, the attendees seemed to be a more diverse and laid-back crowd. Fewer UFO-size hats, more coolers. Plus there were tacos and margaritas - fun!

So far I've sketched golf and polo and yoga and ballroom dancing around the Bay Area. Still on the list to sketch: fencing, cricket. What else?


That Time My Birthday Was Eclipsed by ... the Eclipse

Saturday, September 09, 2017

So the whole country decided to throw a party for me this year. Woot!

Yep, I'm one of the lucky ones who happened to be celebrating a birthday at the same time we all collectively stopped in our tracks to gaze at the sun. For one brief moment we forgot about all the crazy.

I celebrated by hitting not one but two national parks. First stop: Lassen Volcanic National Park. What's that, you say? Oh, only the awesomeness of steam vents and sulfur and bubbling springs without the crush of people at Yellowstone.

We hiked around Manzanita Lake. I stopped to sit on a log and paint.

Manzanita Lake at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Direct to watercolor, no sketching first, in a Hand Book Field Watercolor journal.

Then we trekked to Bumpass Hell. The back way, involving a steep, muddy hike, because the easy trail was still closed. Because of snow. In August!

It was exhausting, but so worth it. This painting doesn't really do the scene justice, but it's the best I could eke out with what little energy I had.

Bumpass Hell at Lassen Volcanic National Park

We drove onward to Crater Lake National Park. Sadly, we could barely see it because of the smoke from all the wildfires. We spent the night in the town of Jacksonville, Oregon, near Ashland. It has a very lovely downtown.

Jacksonville, Oregon downtown

For the main event, we went to Roxy Ann Winery in Medford, which was hosting a viewing party. Yes, we didn't see totality, but ~90% while sipping fresh-from-the-orchard peach mimosas? Yes, please!

Eclipse watching at Roxy Ann Winery, Medford, OR

Austin (or Cleveland?) 2024, here we come!


Sketching at the Zoo

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Took advantage of our office summer picnic a few weeks ago at the San Francisco Zoo to sketch. Because, flamingoes!

flamingos SF Zoo

And parrots (I think?).

parrot SF zoo

So what is this awesome toned paper? It's that Daiso kraft paper scrapbook I'd previously used for gouache.

Here's a roadie I had done a few weeks earlier, in the same sketchbook.

Sketch from the road


Camera Ready in Denver

Monday, August 21, 2017

A week after I got back from Chicago, I was off to Denver for a video shoot with Craftsy. More details on the project will be coming soon, but here's a behind-the-scenes look at my days in front of the camera in Colorado.

M. and I arrived in Denver on Sunday. We took light rail from the airport to Union Station (it's the city's transport hub, meeting place, and living room) and got lunch.

We went to the two main shoot locations so I could get familiar with them. We also went to Meininger, the local art materials shop, so I could get some supplies. Next to their pen section, they have this handy guide to tell you which ones are waterproof -- so clever!

Monday was spent prepping. I got my hair and makeup done by the lovely Danica, who's also done makeup for President Obama.

My producer, Stephanie, and I scouted locations and went over the script. I met the crew and learned that the first order of business each day was ordering lunch. (Hey, everyone's gotta eat!)

I also got a look at the studio where we would be shooting the indoor portions. I learned a ton about video production, such as the reason that a clapperboard (slate) is used for each take (the black-and-white pattern and sharp noise help synchronize sound and video).

Tuesday was spent on location in a park, getting as many sections done between raindrops as we could. We'd ordered Mediterranean food for lunch, but while we were wrapping up the first walk-and-talk, a squirrel got into our pita bread! It was quite the picnic.

The afternoon shoot was even more challenging -- we shot that inside a car. The crew had to MacGyver the camera to the dash, which mostly worked except when the car lurched and the whole rig would fall forward. Talk about extreme sketching!

Wednesday, we were back at the park to shoot another section and then returned to the studios to do the last outdoor part. No squirrels this time, just extremely loud cicadas whose music would wax and wane in the background.

The last day was all indoor studio -- had to finish up the remaining portions plus record intros and outros. Time for a few final pics with Danica and Stephanie before heading off to the airport.

Stay tuned: I'll be sharing more about all of this in the coming weeks!


8th Urban Sketchers Symposium - Chicago

Sunday, August 13, 2017

OK Chicago, you won me over this time. Sort of.

Previously I'd see it and think, meh. Yes, it has architecture with a capital A, and a lakefront that pretends to be a seafront. Somehow I didn't gel with it. Well, maybe it was the symposium magic, or because we stayed in a more interesting area, but I could actually see myself visiting again by choice.

25 July
We landed at Midway around lunchtime. My first sketch was on the CTA Orange Line train we took to get to the city. And I got my first glimpse of Willis Tower.

En route to Chicago - CTA

We dropped our bags at the Hotel Blake and had lunch.

From Hotel Blake, Chicago

Then it was time to meet Anna, my editor from Craftsy! (Yes, I'm doing a project with them -- more on that in a later post.) We headed to Navy Pier so I could practice talking about my techniques while drawing on demand. Note: It's hard!

Navy Pier, Chicago

That was followed by dinner and the highlight of the trip: seeing "Hamilton" at the PrivateBank Theatre. The show was amazing.

26 July

After breakfast and a wander around the hotel, Anna and I were off to Wicker Park, where I drew at a cafe and practiced talk-and-draw some more before lunch at Big Star (mmm, tacos de papas con rajas).

In Wicker Park, Chicago

The symposium began with a sketchwalk at the Art Institute gardens, where I did a few quick drawings.

In this one, I tried out the fat Lyra graphite crayons I had received in the goodie bag.

Sketchwalk, Art Institute Gardens, Chicago

Statue in Art Institute garden

I met M. at Metropolitan Barbershop and sketched him getting a shave. My god, if only I could have recorded the conversation! As M. would say, it would have been a YouTube sensation. It was all, "Here's why you should drop everything and watch Game of Thrones," interspersed with "here's why it's absolutely nauseating and like a trainwreck you can't tear your eyes away from" but "OMG you just. have. to. watch. it. is. so. good."

I just cannot do it justice. Watching the barber and his clients talk about it was probably better than anything on TV. And I really have no desire to watch GoT now.

At Metropolitan Barber Shop, Chicago

The day ended with the official start to the symposium: founder Gabi Campanario's keynote address for Urban Sketchers' 10th anniversary celebration.

Gabi Campanario keynote at Opening Reception of USk Chicago 2017

27 July

The first workshop I took was James Richards' "The Grand Illusion." He explained his approach to breaking down the depth of a scene by isolating the foreground, middleground, and background.

Near Art Institute, Chicago

Unfortunately I used a watersoluble pencil to draw this one, so it bled into the color.

View of the el from Art Institute, Chicago

After the workshop, I went to the Art Institute to look around and have lunch. I did some super fast sketches from the Nichols Bridgeway.

From the Art Institute's Nichols Bridgeway, Chicago

While waiting for people to assemble for the afternoon demo, I did a quick sketch of the view from Congress Plaza.

View from Congress Plaza N, Chicago

The demo I attended was Uma Kelkar's -- she's a brilliant watercolorist, and she wowed us with her sweeping, brooding rendering of a scene she'd photographed in Hawaii. I did a quick brush pen sketch of her as she painted.

Uma Kelkar demo at symposium

Dinner that evening was at Fat Rice near Logan Square. We waited for our table a few doors down at their cocktail lounge. Named "The Ladies Room," it has a Macau opium den vibe, so I just had to sketch it.

The Ladies' Room at Fat Rice, Chicago

Do you see the bit of collage I added? I'd brought along some vintage calendar pages, and they were perfect for this drawing.

28 July

My morning workshop was near the Chicago Board of Trade with L K Bing, who uses watersoluble marker and watercolor and other media to create light washed scenes.

I wasn't very happy with my attempt, so here's a crop of my sketch.

Chicago Board of Trade

The afternoon workshop with Pat Southern Pearce was a mix of lettering and roofline shapes. I enjoyed sketching on toned paper (why don't I do this more often?) and did some quick drawings from the window of the American Academy of Art building where the class was held.

View from American Academy of Art, Chicago

There happened to be a protest march on the street below, so I got that in too.

Protest march, Chicago

29 July

My last workshop was with Rob Sketcherman, a digital pro. He showed us tips and tricks for using Procreate on the iPad. So fun -- and, the iPad can go into museums where wet media are often forbidden. Nice! I practiced during the class and then used Procreate to sketch our final gathering in the afternoon, where all 500+ sketchers posed for a group photo!

Practice sketch with Procreate

Final USk group sketchwalk at Logan Monument, Chicago

Another year, another symposium. Next time in ... Porto, Portugal!


Prep for USk Chicago 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Counting down to the start of this year's Urban Sketchers Symposium! This year it's in Chicago, and here's what I'm bringing along.

USk Chicago 2017 - symposium prep

This will be my seventh symposium - missed the first one but have been to every single one since. This year, I get to sketch in Chicago AND see "Hamilton" - squee!

I've gotten the symposium packing mostly down to a science. Basically, I copy the materials lists from all the workshops I'm taking into one document and then go through my studio pulling items. Then I edit. I add some of my own favorite supplies. Then I edit some more.

This year's haul includes:

  • Hahnemuehle sketchbook and watercolor block
  • Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
  • A few toned paper sketchbooks, for Pat Southern Pearce's workshop
  • Several palettes with watercolor half pans, mostly filled with tube paints
  • Neocolor II crayons
  • Brushes, waterbrushes
  • Nalgene bottles and empty Talenti gelato container for water
  • A tube of white gouache
  • Fountain pens, fineliners including white, silver & gold, and some watercolor pencils, pencil sharpener
  • Pastel sticks in gray, white, and cadmium orange, for LK Bing's workshop
  • An iPad Air 2 and Adonit Pixel stylus, for Rob Sketcherman's workshop
Of course, I'll also take along a waterproof tote/backpack, an ammo belt (for pens!) a folding stool, hat, water bottle, etc.

What are you packing?

Sunday drive

Escaping the Heat in SF

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Unlike in Connecticut, there's barely any highway traffic here on weekends. So when our part of the South Bay gets toasty, it's nice to know we're just an hour away from lovely cool temps in San Francisco.

Last weekend we explored Noe Valley and Bernal Heights. A comfy 70 degrees, with lovely architecture and boutiques and bookshops and no hordes of tourists in sight - heaven.

Noe Valley

Bernal Heights SF


Quick Captures

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I've been working on speedy sketches of all kinds of subjects for an upcoming project.

Here's one from a recent Content Magazine Lab where we built insect hotels (little habitats for insects in a garden) at Bay Maples, a company that installs sustainable residential greywater systems. Basically, they enable you to use your laundry water to keep your garden green.

Content Lab Wood Water

Here's one that I did while on the move, during California Walks' downtown San Jose art tour. I learned so much during the nearly two-mile walk! Had no idea there was so much art hidden in plain sight on the streets I pass nearly every day.

SJ Art Walk

I sketched M. putting insulation around our air conditioning in/out ducts.

M working on AC 2

M working on AC 1

And finally, a quick capture while M. was putting gas in the car near our house.

Parking lot sketch


Mystic Holiday

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Charles W Morgan Mystic

M. and I surprised my father-in-law for his birthday by showing up at the house in Mystic, CT, for the Fourth of July holiday. During our stay, we walked downtown, ate at some favorite restaurants, and got in a boat ride. I also got to sketch the whaleship Charles W. Morgan again (above) at Mystic Seaport.

One morning, we went out to breakfast at M Bar, a place that used to be an old gas station. The food was fantastic.

M Bar Mystic

I love the scenic roads around Mystic and Westerly, RI, especially the ones with old stone walls that suddenly appear and disappear.

Road in Mystic CT