Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Used a section of this abstract watercolor of poinsettias (inspired by a workshop I took at the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto) for our holiday card this year. Hope everyone has a relaxing holiday and a very happy new year!


A Weekend in Joshua Tree

Sunday, December 11, 2016

After our Friendsgiving in LA, we drove out to Joshua Tree for the rest of the long weekend. We stayed in a cabin close to the park entrance.

Dinner on Friday evening was at Crossroads Cafe. It was packed! I liked the pulleys hanging by the window, so I did a quick sketch of the hungry crowd.

Crossroads Cafe Joshua Tree

There are few good options for fine dining in the immediate area of the park, which is surprising since Palm Springs is a good 45 minutes away and there is no concessionaire in the park itself. Note to self: If I ever have enough money to invest in restaurants.... :-)

The park was vast and beautiful, filled with joshua trees, cholla cacti, and massive boulders. We were surprised to have the landscape to ourselves for much of the time; we expected many more visitors given the holiday. Perhaps the chilly weather put off the climbers.

JT Hidden Valley

I was glad to have layers, a hat and gloves as we hiked in Hidden Valley.

JT rocks

The joshua trees had unique "personalities." Even the desert rock formations were picturesque, especially near Skull Rock. This one had a top that looked like E.T.!

Joshua Tree JT

We meandered down the remote Black Eagle Mine Road before the swiftly setting sun forced us to turn around. The watercolor on the bottom was done from our cabin window -- that was the view out back!

Black Eagle Mine Road

We drove all the way through the park and had dinner at the Purple Palm, at the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs. The dining room boasted vintage decor, including tasseled drum shades and detailed wallpaper.

Purple Palms Colony Palms Hotel PS

In the morning I spied a jackrabbit in the yard so I sketched it while M. went on a bike ride. I don't know what it was eating, but it seemed very focused.

Jack rabbit

Unfortunately the wind was too intense for a second day's foray into the park, so we headed home. After some torrential rain as we neared LA, the skies cleared up again. And this happened:

I managed one final sketch during our molasses crawl northward on the I-5, of the intense post-storm light and thick clouds over the flat farmland.

Road home from LA


Thanksgiving, LA-Style

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Once again we found ourselves in balmy southern California for Thanksgiving. We left for LA very early in the morning, driving through thick fog. It soon gave way to the green and gold hills of Pacheco Pass.

Pacheco Pass

I put away my sketchbook and settled in to listen to Mindy Kaling's audiobook. It made the monotony of the I-5 somewhat tolerable.

After a quick stop in Van Nuys to see M.'s cousin, we headed to Venice where we wandered along the canals and stole glimpses of fancy turkey day feasts taking shape in the waterfront homes.

Venice canals LA

Then we made our way to the beach, because what's Thanksgiving in LA without sandy toes and a balmy breeze?

Venice beach LA

Dinner was Korean BBQ at Genwa with an old friend, followed by drinks at the Culver Hotel. The next morning, we headed to Wi Spa for a soak and sauna before heading to downtown LA to meet USk friends Virginia Heim and Shiho Nakaza. We wandered around The Last Bookstore while we waited for them, and then had lunch at Bar Ama.

Bar Ama DTLA

After lunch, Shiho and I sketched at Grand Central Market's G&B Coffee before we hit the road to Joshua Tree.

GB Coffee Grand Ctrl Mkt DTLA


Sketching SoVoSo

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Saw the fantastic "Nutz Re-Mixed" at the Hammer Theatre a few weeks ago, featuring the a cappella group SoVoSo.
SoVoSo Nutz Remixed SJ
Their singing was a perfect complement to the acrobatics of the performers.


Sketching History: Cubs Win the World Series!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

World Series watercolor 1

I don't usually watch baseball, but it was the Cubs. In the World Series. In Cleveland! So yeah, we tuned in to see the last inning. And yeah, it was nice to watch it from California, because it didn't end in the middle of the night for us.

World Series watercolor 2


Roundup: Last of Inktober

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Unlike in 2015, I wasn't as diligent about sketching every single day for this year's Inktober. Distractions included the ongoing soap opera that is our election. Still, I managed to crank out a good number of drawings.

Here's a quick portrait of M. done with a bottle of Higgins Blue waterproof ink that I found at a tag sale ages ago.

portrait in blue

A quick one of Santa Teresa County Park on an overcast day.

Overcast Day Santa Teresa County Park

And the KQED building in downtown San Jose.

KQED building San Jose

The interior of a deli in Carmel.

Carmel deli

The third and final Clinton-Trump debate.

Clinton Trump 3rd Debate

Faces from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Sketching from The Late Show

The corner of 18th and Guerrero in San Francisco's Mission district, while waiting for a dinner reservation.

18th and Guerrero San Francisco

A carpet beetle, to serve as the reference for my Halloween costume.

carpet beetle

A quick prep sketch for a commission I'm working on.

J house prep sketch

The Mountain View train station, while waiting for the MVGO shuttle to the office.

Mountain View train station

Inktober wouldn't be Inktober without some surreal word association sketches (M. opens vintage National Geographic magazines and gives me five words at random; my task is to tie them together in a drawing).

Iditarod tea party

dentist snowplow

phone operator

Some faces from TV.

inktober faces1

faces2 inktober 2016

And last but not least, a little Halloween sketch.

halloween 2016

That's it for this year's installment of Inktober!


More Inktober Sketches

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Only a few more days till we're in November! Need to catch up on my scanning and posting. Here's Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE magazine & Maker Faire, being interviewed by science writer Kara Platoni at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park.

Dale Dougherty at Kepler's Books, Menlo Park

We have lots of deer in our neighborhood (though none in our yard, thankfully). I sketched this one from a photo I took.

deer from photo

And here's a little corner of our study/guest bedroom.

corner of study

Yes, I confess I've been a bit on-again, off-again with my Inktober sketches this year.


Mendocino Coast

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Spent a day last weekend meandering along the Mendocino Coast (psst... just as beautiful as Big Sur, fewer cars). It was a challenge to capture the light and shadows on the rocks.

Mendocino Coast1

Mendocino Coast2


Viva Calle SJ: Open Streets in San Jose

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Viva Calle SJ - Bikes at Japantown

Last Sunday, San Jose closed six miles of streets to car traffic, creating a pedestrian- and bike-friendly urban playground. M. and I took our bikes and joined in the fun. The heat was intense, so I only got a few sketches in. Here are my impressions of Japantown, where we visited vendor booths and watched San Jose Taiko, our local kumidaiko (Japanese ensemble drumming) troupe.

Viva Calle SJ - Japantown hub

Viva Calle SJ - San Jose Taiko

Later I sketched the flea market near Burbank Antiques on W. San Carlos Street while M. fixed a flat on his bike.

Viva Calle SJ - Burbank antiques flea market

I noticed that there were more bikes than pedestrians this year -- perhaps due to the expanded route. Hope they increase the frequency of the event -- we discovered a lot of businesses along the way that we didn't even know existed!