Upcoming Class in San Francisco

Monday, February 18, 2019

Are you in the Bay Area? Get ready for spring/summer sketch walks (yes, the rain *will* someday end) with this dynamic workshop! First, we’ll learn to use line to simplify an outdoor scene and lay out balanced compositions. Then we’ll go over how to add vibrant watercolor to bring your designs to life. Weather permitting, we’ll use these techniques to create a progressive series of sketches as we explore the local area. A premium sketchbook, fineliner, and kit of hand-poured watercolors are included in the class fee.

We'll cover:

-How to choose a focal point, and where to place it on the page
-Drawing expressive lines to depict urban scenes
-Mixing a range of colors from just a few primaries
-Using notes of color to unify your sketch
-Creating a narrative with your sketches

Spaces are still available. Sign up now.

Speaking of San Francisco ... a few weeks ago I was up there to take some headshots and I took advantage of the time to dash off a few quick ink sketches of the views from Crissy Field. I colored them in later with watercolors; you can probably tell that I didn't keep my water clean, as the colors got mighty muddy. Lesson well learned!

190127 Crissy Field San Francisco

190127 Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco


Art, Love & Wine

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Two of my paintings will be included in Central Coast Plein Air Painters' upcoming show, "Art, Love & Wine," at Wargin Wines in Watsonville, CA.

Yesterday M. and I went to drop off the paintings, and we ended up shopping for antiques in Soquel and watching the waves at Rio Del Mar Beach in Aptos.

190126 Rio del Mar Beach, Aptos, CA

Here are the two paintings in the show:


Almaden Lake Park

The opening reception is on Friday, February 1, from 4 to 7 pm. The show runs through March 22.

mountain high

Colorado Sketchbook

Sunday, January 27, 2019

I had to be in Boulder last week for work, so M. and I took advantage of the long MLK weekend to plan a trip to the mountains. We flew into Denver Friday night and stayed at the Maven Hotel at Dairy Block, a hipster hotel not far from Union Station. The plan was to take Amtrak's California Zephyr -- reputed to be one of the most scenic rail routes in the country -- westward the following morning.

Well. We knew the previous night that the train would be delayed, as it was several hours late leaving Chicago. But as the hours went on, the delay just grew. And grew. And grew. The morning came and went. So did noon. We watched people play shuffleboard at Union Station.

190119 Union Station Denver

190119 Union Station Denver 2

Finally, around 4:30 pm, the train slowly backed into the station. We were disappointed; the sole reason to take the 5+ hour train instead of a rental car was to see parts of the mountains otherwise hard to get to especially in the winter. With the late departure, we were barely climbing into the rockies at sunset.

190119 Entering Rockies Colorado

Nevertheless, it was an adventure, albeit an overpriced one given the late hour; we had a roomette to ourselves, dined in the dining car, and sat for a few minutes in the lounge car.

In the morning we took a dip in the vast, steamy hot-springs fed pool at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort and then picked up our rental car to drive east.

190120 I-70 E Vail Denver Colorado

We stopped in Vail for lunch. I sketched the view from the window at Pepi's, an Austrian restaurant recommended to us by the Enterprise rep. So many colorfully dressed skiers and snowboarders in the town. And yep, those are the ski lifts in the background!

190120 Vail Colorado

190120 Skiers Vail Colorado

When we got back to Denver, we had dinner at Ace Eat Serve. It's food ... plus ping pong. Genius!

190120 Ace Eat Serve Denver 2

190120 Ace Eat Serve Denver

After M. left for home on Monday morning, I went shopping and then to the Christian Dior fashion exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. I used a few Zebra Zensations mechanical colored pencils (bought at Meininger, of course) to draw while in the museum, as they don't allow pens there. I used watercolor to color them later.

190121 Dior at Denver Art Museum

Dinner with friends at Avelina and then drinks across the street at the Oxford Hotel's Cruise Room rounded out the weekend before I headed off to work in Boulder for the week!


A Weekend in SLO County

Sunday, January 27, 2019

For the holidays, M. got me tickets to see musical virtuoso (and Late Show bandleader) Jon Batiste performing live at CalPoly, so we made a weekend out of it. After meandering through wineries and lunching at Cass Wines, we made our way to Estero Inn at Morro Bay. Got there just in time to capture the sunset over Morro Rock.

190112 Morro Rock

We proceeded to the town of San Luis Obispo, where we had dinner at Vegetable Butcher. Then it was time for the main event. What a treat! Jon Batiste started off on stage but then brought the music to the audience, playing his signature melodica. For a while he stood directly next to us.

I had a hard time sketching him since it was dark, but I made a few attempts.

190112 Jon Batiste at PAC SLO

In the morning, I did another quick sketch of Morro Rock. Hard to fathom that this volcano remnant's been around for some 23 million years!

190113 Morro Rock


The Red Coat

Monday, January 14, 2019

Stopped in for lunch last week at Hannah Coffee on the Alameda in San Jose and was captivated by this customer in a bright red coat.

190111 Hannah Coffee San Jose

Nothing like strong colors to fight the January blahs!


More House Love

Monday, January 14, 2019

Here's a zoomed-in detail of a commission I worked on last year.

Detail of commissioned house sketch

I remember every house I've lived in, the little secret spaces and places that made each one special. I hope this sketch brings back such memories to the recipient.


Child's Play

Monday, January 14, 2019

190105 SJ Diridon morning

Best way I've found to overcome fear of the blank page? Use materials that aren't precious. Kids' art supplies are a great way to "break the ice." Decided to break out these Ooly Chunkies children's paint sticks to start off my new sketching year.

190105 SJ Diridon with Ooly Chunkies

Oh my, are they a challenge! They are so imprecise that I had to use a piece of cardstock as a stencil to get anything resembling a sharp edge. And all those bright, not-really-blendable colors meant I had to be very creative in my use of white overlays in this scene of San Jose's Diridon Station platform in early morning light.


Happy New Year!

Friday, January 04, 2019

Just back from a whirlwind holiday trip to New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Most of my time was spent with friends and family -- there was much reading, cooking, eating, shopping, playing of games, and visiting. And dodging raindrops!

Still, I managed to get a few sketches in.

After we took M.'s family to Sunday Eve of Christmas Eve brunch at the Weekapaug Inn, we stopped in downtown Westerly, Rhode Island, to visit the lovely Savoy Bookshop & Cafe. We ended up staying in Westerly longer than planned though, since the car battery gave out! I parked myself on a bench and sketched this while we waited for AAA to arive.

181223 Westerly Rhode Island

It's a mishmash of mixed media: ink, watercolor, colored pencil, gel ink.

This next sketch was also done while waiting -- this time, for the train from Boston's North Station to West Concord, Massachusetts, where we were meeting friends for dinner.

181227 North Station Boston

Only when we'd settled into our New Year's Airbnb rental did I have time for a more leisurely sketch. Here's the view of Indian Lake from the window of our rental house in South Kingston, Rhode Island.

181231 Indian Lake Rhode Island cropped

Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. Wishing you all a happy and prosperous new year!


Devonshire Sketchbook

Saturday, December 15, 2018

I had to be in London last week for work, so of course I looked for excuses to do some art-related things (and extend my trip)! I was pleased to be able to attend the Mall Galleries Christmas Carol Concert and Party, held during the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition. It was so fun to see the fantastic paintings, sing carols, and nibble on mince pies.

Toward the end of the week, I took off with a friend on a minibreak in Devonshire. It's not quite Cornwall -- ergo no Poldark sightings, sorry! -- but the coast is similarly raw and dramatic and windswept. Despite the on-and-off showers, we managed to do quite a bit of shopping and hiking. (And of course there was a good deal of sitting in pubs sipping hot beverages and reading Agatha Christie by the fire!)

We covered a lot of ground: Totnes, Hope Cove, Salcombe, Plymouth, Dartmouth, and Kingswear. Sadly I only really sketched in Hope Cove, where we were bracing against gale force winds as we walked on the beach.

I skipped hiking on the clifftops and found a somewhat sheltered place to draw instead!

Hope Cove UK

Hope Cove UK 2

We stayed in Newton Abbot, at the Dartmoor Halfway Inn, which had a view of sheep grazing on green hills crisscrossed by hedgerows.

Sheep in Newton Abbot

I'd love to go back to these towns in more favorable weather, maybe with a set of gouache paints to capture the pastel-hued buildings and steeply pitched hills and cliffs.


Recap: Mindful Sketching

Saturday, December 15, 2018

181201 Mission Bay street 2

What a great group we had for my Mindful Sketching class two weekends ago at ARCH Art Supply in San Francisco! We practiced ways to focus and simplify a scene, and then we leaned into bold colors using double-tipped markers -- a departure from the usual ink-and-watercolor routine.

Here's a selection of my demo/prep sketches for the workshop:

181201 demo

181201 demo sketches

181130 Diridon demo

It's so liberating not to worry about the actual colors!

181201 Mission Bay street 3

181201 Mission Bay street

We used Staedtler Brush Letter Duo double-ended lettering markers on a Bienfang Mixed Media wirebound sketchbook.

Thanks to everyone who joined! I'm starting to plan workshops for next year, so stay tuned!

national parks

Thanksgiving in Utah

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Utah is, so far, my favorite state to stare at.

181122 Springdale Utah

Waking up to orange-red rocks against the sky is like opening a present. I was in love when we visited Arches and Moab three years ago, and I couldn't wait to go back. Sure, I would choose ocean over mountains all day long, but when the mountains are rusty monoliths and creamsicle spires and golden slot canyons ... let's just say it's easy to forget the allure of crashing waves for a few days.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, we went to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

We started our trip in Springdale, Utah, just outside Zion National Park. Our first day in the park was chilly and rainy, but we still managed to do a bit of the Riverside Walk (though not the Narrows as we'd planned), Weeping Rock, and the Lower Emerald Pool trail before retreating to our hotel for a nap.

Friday, however, brought better weather. We got an early start for our hike up the trail to Scout's Lookout. M. went up there but I stopped in the middle of Walter's Wiggles (a series of switchbacks) to sketch the valley below.

181123 Zion NP Utah

After lunch we headed to Bryce Canyon, where we saw the sun slowly sink over the snow-dusted hoodoos.

Our destination that evening was Escalante; I did a quick watercolor of the view outside our hotel room window the next morning as the sun rapidly rose.

181124 Escalante Utah

Following a long drive on an unpaved road and a rather taxing rock scramble, we arrived at Dry Fork slot canyon, one of several at Grand Staircase. It was quite an experience to wander through it as the walls narrowed and opened up by turns.

In the afternoon we backtracked on Route 12 on our way to Cedar City.

181124 Hwy 12 Utah

I sketched the area near Bryce Canyon this time, and did some quick captures of the otherworldly formations all around us on the highway.

181124 Hwy 12 near Bryce Canyon

181124 Hwy 12 Utah formations

We had to stop in Cedar City because it's the home of SUMA. Not me, the other SUMA. :)

I was sad to leave Utah on Sunday (though I will admit that our relaxing afternoon at Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo in Vegas was the perfect chaser to all that hiking). On our next visit, I'd love to bring my easel and oils and spend more time painting the breathtaking landscapes in this state.


Till Next Time, Inktober!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

You know I wouldn't let October end without a marathon of ink drawing on Halloween night, right?

Here in one catch-up post are the rest of the drawings I did over the course of this month.

This pumpkin farm about 15 minutes south of us is the real deal -- rows upon rows of pumpkins grown just in time for carving. I only had a few minutes to capture it in a sketchbook, but I'd love to go back down to the area with a proper kit.

181015 pumpkins Morgan Hill

Some persimmons, because everyone draws them and eats them out here:

181012 persimmons

And an assortment of other things -- a fake skull missing its lower jaw, from our Halloween box:

181030 skulls

Some stylized cacti:

Cactus illustration - Inktober

Completely random doodles that may or may not have been inspired by the official Inktober prompts:

181031 inktober end

During the final stretch, I resorted to thumbnailing from photos I had taken.

181031 thumbnails

To color my thumbnail sketches, I used QOR watercolor dot cards. I have been accumulating them at conferences, and it was really cool to put them to use. What's neat about these cards, unlike similar ones from Daniel Smith, is that the pigment is on a coated stock; none of the paint is wasted. I can wipe down the dot cards so they don't get too muddy.

181031 inktober end 2

That's it for Inktober 2018! Overall, it was still a good experience to participate in this challenge. I used a range of different pens, so that was a win. And yes, I couldn't resist adding some watercolor in there; I do love how it complements the ink lines.

How did you Inktober?