East Bay

Sketching at Urban Ore

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Okay, let's face it - we all came for the toilets. 😂 So. Many. Toilets. And bathtubs and sinks and doors, oh my! Yesterday's sketch outing with SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers was at the salvage yard Urban Ore in Berkeley, CA. What a mind-blowing assortment of goods. There was nearly too much to take in, but it was good practice for narrowing focus and being selective. I decided to draw a few different subjects - from wider shots to pattern-forward abstractions. Featuring, naturally, toilets. 210904 Urban Ore with SF Bay Area USK 4 210904 Urban Ore with SF Bay Area USK 3 210904 Urban Ore with SF Bay Area USK 2 210904 Urban Ore with SF Bay Area USK 1

hello again

Back at it

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Yeah, it's been a while! Was toying with the idea of moving this blog to another platform, and then the pandemic happened, so I mostly focused my efforts on Instagram. But I've realized that no matter how few people read blogs these days, it's still helpful as an archive for me. So I might populate the missing months, and in the meantime, I think I'll start posting here again.

mountain high

Early Morning Sketches: Colorado

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

A quick sketch of the Flatirons from the Boulder office before breakfast, when I was in Colorado for a few days last November.

191105 Flatirons Boulder

And a capture of some buildings near Union Station, earlier that week.

191104 Denver near Union Station


Santa Cruz afternoon

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

From October (yes, I have several months of posts to catch up on!) -- Seabright State Beach in Santa Cruz.

191020 Seabright Beach Santa Cruz


Going North

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Daytrip north, on a Monday a few weeks ago. Summer eats and a bike ride in Bodega Bay, then a longish drive home with a stop in Marshall (Tomales Bay).

191014 Bodega Bay CA

191014 Marshall CA 2

191014 Marshall CA 1


Dinner at Nyum Bai

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Had been wanting to visit Nyum Bai, the storied East Bay Cambodian restaurant, so we popped up there for dinner last night. Sketched Fruitvale Public Market while waiting in line to be seated.

191005 Fruitvale Public Market Oakland

Open kitchens are an invitation to draw, so I quickly sketched the cooks while the food was being prepared.

191005 Nyum Bai Oakland

And yes, the food was delish. Ended our meal with ice cream/sorbet from the vendor inside the Public Market. Mmm.


Getting Out of a Rut

Sunday, October 06, 2019

People: I stopped drawing for a while. I came back from Labor Day weekend and just stopped. I had my sketchbook and pen with me all the time, but I didn't take them out. I had a block. Work was all-consuming. And nothing was coming out of the pen onto the page. Every day I told myself, I'll draw tomorrow. And then tomorrow would come, and then... and then it was October! Which, in the drawing world, is Inktober!

So I decided it was time for tough love.

Recall that I have all those inks from the workshop I took at A Verb for Keeping Warm with Judi Pettite. I parked myself in the studio, put on some music, and got them out.

191005 natural inks studio shot

And I did, and got caught up on my Inktober debt.

191005 fig leaves in light

191005 Carmel beach ink abstract

191005 lime purple inks abstract

191005 red inks abstract

191005 red purple inks abstract

Sometimes you're in a drawing drought. It happens. Just have to drag yourself out through sheer force.


Join Me in Italy Next May!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Want to come back from your travels with a sketchbook full of memories? In this dynamic 4-day Urban Sketchers workshop co-hosted by La Romita School of Art, you’ll learn techniques for quickly capturing scenes in ink & watercolor as you explore Umbria, Italy. You’ll use gestural line to sketch the essence of fleeting moments, whether it’s people at a cafe in the piazza or clouds over a sweeping landscape. Then you’ll add vibrant color to bring your drawings to life.

Each day will bring new places and subjects to inspire and challenge you: markets, ruins, even vineyards. There will be a mix of demos, exercises, and individual instruction in each location. You’ll come away energized and excited to draw!

Participants will learn to:

  • Choose and frame a subject, using compositional principles
  • Simplify architecture and people using gestural, dynamic line
  • Use appropriate marks for both close-up as well as wide-angle scenes
  • Tailor their sketches to the place, using a localized palette of colors and textures
  • Add color to their sketches with loose washes, not bound by the lines drawn.
  • Selectively “break the rules” of color, tools, and paper to get a fresh perspective
  • Create a visual narrative of their travels
All you have to do is get yourself to Rome; everything else is taken care of! Learn about dining and accommodations at La Romita School.

Workshop details

Day 1

  • Arrival and orientation
  • Transfer from Rome to workshop location
  • Showcase and intro to the workshop
  • Survey of sketchbooking styles - words, pictures, collage, textures

Day 2
Outdoor Sketching Basics

Morning [San Gemini or nearby]

  • Warm up, getting loose
  • Choosing a subject
  • Principles of composition
  • Close ups, wide angles

Afternoon [Studio]

Techniques for proportion, angles, and perspective
Measuring and capturing proportional elements and angles

Day 3
Gesture, Place, and Values

Morning [Todi or nearby]

  • Using gesture for suggestion: buildings, people
  • Localizing your sketch - textures, unique features
  • Simplified scenes, a sense of place

Afternoon [Studio]

  • Simplifying values
  • Focus on light and shadow
  • Ink and wash value sketches; coloring sketches

Day 4
Paint the rainbow

Morning: [Montefalco or nearby]

  • What color is that? Seeing color in a beige world
  • Pushing colors to extremes
  • Complementary colors and how to use them for vibrant scenes
  • Compositions using contrast and vibrant colors

Afternoon: [Studio]

  • Explore options for limited color schemes
  • Using different 3- or 4-color palettes

Day 5
Day trip [Assisi or nearby]

  • Putting all the elements together
  • Creating a narrative and adding notes
  • Series of sketches to tell a story of a place
  • Use a sketch as template for “breaking rules”
  • Sketching scavenger hunt

Day 6
Departure - Transfer to Rome for travel home


Minimum 10 participants. Beginners welcome. Scholarships available; please inquire when you register.

Fee: $2,100. Includes all instruction, airport transfers from/to Rome, dining & accommodations. Pay in full by 30 November 2019 to get 10% off the workshop price. Register for the workshop >>

East Coast

From City to Beach

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Traveled to New York for a work conference the week before Labor Day, so I got in a few sketches before breakfast/between meetings:

190828 New York City 2

190828 New York City 1

Spent the long weekend in Mystic, CT, with family. Just as we did last year, we spent a morning watching the waves roll in at Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island. (And cooling off with a Del's frozen lemonade, naturally.)

190831 Misquamicut Beach RI 1

190831 Misquamicut Beach RI 2


Recap: Sketching Techniques

Sunday, September 08, 2019

My workshop last month -- Sketching Techniques: Layer It On! at Arch Supplies in San Francisco -- combined outdoor sketching with indoor exercises. It was great to see everyone's exploration of mixed media, including layered watercolor and colored pencil.

Here's a peek at some of the demo sketches.

Thanks to everyone who joined!

Sunday drive

Hiking at Big Sur

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Woke up a few Sundays ago craving a leisurely pre-birthday weekend drive, a hike, a swimming hole. Big Sur River Gorge, accessed through Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, checked all the boxes, plus rock scrambling and wading, to boot. How had I not known about this??

190818 Big Sur River Gorge

But we didn't stop there. The one-mile hike to the beach at Andrew Molera State Park gave us this view, below. In the sky, gulls and swooping pelicans. On the sand, just a smattering of people and several driftwood beach shelters. Bliss.

190818 Andrew Molera State Park Beach

local colors

Playing with Inks

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Last month I took a workshop with Judi Pettite called "Wild Ink" at the knit/sew/dye boutique A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. We learned all about the process for turning materials such as indigo, buckthorn, black walnut, and eucalyptus bark into saturated inks.

I've been thinking a lot about creating a sense of place in a drawing through the palette of colors used, and it's even more interesting to consider local plants as a source of those pigments.

We had fun testing and playing with the various inks, and got to take six bottles home.