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


Dual Model Life Drawing

Monday, July 17, 2017

On Monday nights, the School of Visual Philosophy in San Jose has an open life drawing session in the evenings. One night they featured two models instead of one.

The models took poses that were interactive and challenging and held them for just a few minutes each. I was impressed and intimidated, because I had to rely on observation -- I couldn't "cheat" by pulling from my memory any shortcuts for drawing people in those poses.





I was seated on a high stool, so I had to balance my drawing pad and tools on my lap. Next time I'll choose a drawing horse or a table.


USk 10x10: Putting the Urban in Urban Sketching

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The heat wave broke and the breeze was fine at San Pedro Square in San Jose for my Urban Sketchers 10x10 Workshop on June 24. The idea was to consider different ways of putting the city into a sketch. We talked about:


  • What colors are in the environment? Is there a dominant color?
  • Sunlight/clouds: Are there shadows, or is the color flat?
  • What are the textures in the scene (marble? concrete? cobblestone? wood?)
  • What are the marks we could use to express the different textures (stippling, hatching, wash, etc.)?
  • Can we use found materials to draw on? To draw with? To add to the scene via collage?
  • Are there right angles? Curves?
  • Is everything up close, or are there sweeping views?