It's Baaaaack!

Monday, October 01, 2018

Yep, the turning of the leaves means only one thing for us sketchers: Inktober time has arrived! Thirty-one days, 31 drawings. Post with the hashtag. Use the prompts provided by the website or do your own. Anything goes. This year, I may take a week and do a series of themed drawings. Or not. Will see where the muse tells me to go.

181001 still life inktober

Today's effort was a hodgepodge of the stuff lying on my coffee table. Props if you can figure out what everything is.


Album Art: Strange Curses

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Excited to share a recent commission: cover art I created for San Francisco singer-songwriter Laura Paragano's debut full-length album, "Strange Curses." Follow her on Spotify/pre-order on Amazon: It's out tomorrow, September 17!

Strange Curses album art


Weekend in Mystic

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Spent Labor Day weekend relaxing with family in Connecticut. It involved reading, wine tasting, wading in the ocean, going for a boat ride, listening to the Coast Guard Band, shopping, eating, napping and, of course, sketching. Perfection.

Misquamicut State Beach, just across the state line in Rhode Island:

180901 Misquamicut Beach RI

Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington:

180901 Saltwater Farm Vineyard Mystic CT

View of the Thames River in New London, from Fort Trumbull:

180902 Thames River New London CT

Quick captures from the boat, in Mystic:

180902 from the boat Mystic CT


Castle on the Hill

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Last weekend, we roadtripped down to San Simeon to visit Hearst Castle, the Julia Morgan-designed residence of erstwhile publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. It's a confection of a house, perched on a hill overlooking the California coast.

The buildings and grounds are a California State Park, with a choice of guided tours offered. We chose the Grand Rooms tour, which took us through the main building, Casa Grande. We were one of the first to see the newly repaired Neptune Pool refilled, as it had been drained in 2014 due to massive leaks.

After the tour, we had the run of the exterior, so I found a bit of shade and did a quick sketch of the main building.

081818 Hearst Castle exterior


House Love

Monday, August 20, 2018

Recently I had the pleasure of working on a commissioned gift - sketches of two houses that meant a great deal to the recipient. Something old, something new.

180709 CR houses composite - commission

We may live in several places throughout our lives, and some are more special or memorable than others. Photographs are helpful memory aids, but I like to think that a sketch or a painting offers something intangible, something more than what the camera alone can capture.


9th Urban Sketchers Symposium: Porto

Friday, July 27, 2018

Porto! Seems like just yesterday that we were in Chicago. The anticipation has been building for months.

Day 1: Wednesday

I flew in from London Gatwick, got to the Symposium hub at Alfandega do Porto and checked in, passing dozens of sketchers already capturing Porto on the way. I got my goodie bag and promptly went back to the hotel (InPatio Guest House - highly recommended!) to look through it. Sketchbooks, watercolors, pens, pencils, and more spilled out as usual thanks to the generous sponsors. I returned to the hub in time for the welcome reception, and then did my first sketches of the city on my way out.

Opening day vignettes

Porto is cobblestones and steep hills, a lively riverfront and modern boutiques, azulejo-covered churches and narrow alleys, port wine houses and water taxis. In short, a sketcher's paradise.

Day 2: Thursday

My first workshop was with UK-based artist Lynda Gray. I loved her technique of delicate, layered washes on crisp lines. We drew three vignettes on hot press paper, letting the pale colors run and puddle over the drawings.

Two sides of the Douro River, Porto

I took the afternoon off to explore the city a bit and go shopping. Of course I stopped at the art supply stores; I loved the facade of this one.

I had to visit Livraria Lello, often held to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world (and reportedly a source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series).

After I'd bought two(!) pairs of shoes and gotten myself a local cellphone SIM card, I stopped at the twin churches - Igreja do Carmo/Igreja dos Carmelitas -- for a quick sketch.

Igreja do Carmo Porto

After dinner, I wandered down to the Praca da Ribeira, by the River Douro, which was the venue for the nightly "drink'n'draw." I sketched and chatted w/ other artists as the light slowly faded.

Praca da Ribeira Porto

Day 3: Friday

This was a two-workshop day. In the morning, I had a pastel session with Daniel Green. He had stepped in to substitute for William Cordero, who wasn't feeling well. Daniel did a fantastic job leading us through the exercises. It was great fun to trot out my vintage pastel set and get my fingers dirty.

Pastel workshop 1

Pastel workshop 2 narrow alley Porto

Pastel workshop 3

After lunch, I took a workshop with Fred Lynch. Fred challenged us to think like an illustrator, considering what we were communicating in our sketch and what we were focusing on. Truth be told, my energy was flagging by this point in the day even though we were sitting in the shade. I could barely get my fingers to draw.

Miragaia Porto

Dinner that evening was at a restaurant on the river, Bacalhau. As we waited for our food, I took the opportunity to do a few more quick captures.

From Bacalhau Porto

Day 4: Saturday

I was really looking forward to the morning workshop: Maru Godas' "Gouache Like a Child." I'd heard great things about it last year, and it did not disappoint. After some exercises on mixing our paint and getting the right consistency, we were encouraged to go big with a panoramic sketch of Gaia, across the river from the Alfandega. Using gouache with colored pencils was delightful! I'll definitely experiment with these media more in the future.

Gaia gouache Porto

Had a lovely lunch with friends at a swank restaurant and somehow missed the final sketchwalk and photo (this is what happens when you wake up too late for the morning announcements). Since I'd walked up the hill to the Praca da Liberdade anyway, I decided to pause for a sketch.

Praca da Liberdade Porto

Then it was time for one more brief drawing, of the Old Convent of Nossa Senhora da Serra do Pilar as seen from our riverside restaurant, before heading to the closing reception.

Old Convent Gaia Porto

That's it from Porto; see you all next year in ... AMSTERDAM!!


UK Sketchbook: London, Lewes, Seaford

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Just got back from a weeklong jaunt in Europe. When I lived on the East Coast of the US, we'd go to Europe quite frequently, often multiple times a year. Now that we live in California, I feel compelled to maximize every trip there. So when we booked our travel for the 9th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto, it made sense to stop in the UK first, to see friends and visit places familiar and new.

We stayed with friends northwest of London the first night, and to warm up I sketched a few vignettes from the car as we were driving around the next day.

Around Chalfont

That night we were in for a treat. It's been a dream of mine to go to the BBC Proms, the legendary classical music concert series that takes place each summer in London. We were fortunate enough to have a friend apply for and snag tickets to Prom #3, featuring winners of the BBC Young Musician competition (including Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the cellist who played at Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's wedding!).

We made it to Royal Albert Hall just in time for the start of the concert. The venue was bathed in lights for dramatic effect. The space right in front of the stage was reserved for prommers, those who queue for hours to get inexpensive standing-room tickets.

BBC Proms 1

I especially liked sketching the percussionists. They were intense!

BBC Proms 2

The following day, I went museum hopping. First I stopped at the National Gallery to see the beautifully curated Monet & Architecture exhibition. It was amazing to see how Monet rendered the built environment in Antibes, Rouen, Venice, London, etc., with his trademark strokes of broken color. See information about the exhibit, and read Google Arts & Culture's interview with a curator.

I also went to the National Portrait Gallery next door, to see the BP Portrait Award 2018 show. Wow, wow, wow. I'd seen the winning painting previously in a magazine, but to see it and the other finalists up close was a revelation.

Of course, no trip to London would be complete without visits to art supply stores. I was able to hit three: Cass Art, at Charing Cross; the warehouse-like Atlantis Art Materials, which recently moved to London Fields; and Great Art in Shoreditch. Great Art was new to me, and I was impressed by the selection.

On Tuesday, we took the train south to Lewes, a Sussex market town that was our base for a hike along the coastal path. Its high street has a diverse selection of boutiques and retailers, including my new crush, Seasalt Cornwall.

Lewes 2

Lewes 1

In one of the charity shops along the road, I picked up a copy of Nubia: Sketches, Notes & Photographs by Margot Veillon, a reportage-like account of the author's experiences in a culture that was later displaced due to the building of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt.

Our base in this area was the lovely Blue Door Barns B&B, just outside of town.

As we waited for the taxi to take us to Seaford, I rapidly sketched the view from the patio.

from Blue Door Barns

We walked along the beach and the coastal path east from Seaford until the white chalk forms of the Seven Sisters came into view. I sat on the trail and sketched, dodging an incessant hail of chalk particles kicked up by the sea breeze.

Seven Sisters from Seaford Head

While at the Seaford train station, we happened to catch the filming of the upcoming movie "Hope Gap," starring actor Bill Nighy. It was odd to see the guy from "Love Actually" standing not 10 feet away from me on the platform!

Our coastal sojourn was very relaxing, and it was my first time walking along a seafront while in the UK.

Next stop: Porto!