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?


Sketching - and Standing - Together

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

There was some comfort in making art this past weekend, in being with our South Bay Sketchers/USk family including our friend Liz Steel, who was visiting from Australia.

We sketched at History San Jose, and after all the drawing and chatting there we gathered at the recreated O'Brien's Ice Cream Shop for treats.

181027 History San Jose SBS

181027 History San Jose SBS 2

I had family in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh; I remember thinking how lovely it was when I was there many years ago. The city was family, too, for many of us East Coast Indian Americans: we'd drive hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to visit the S.V. Temple in Penn Hills, to attend events. I'd like to go back some day and draw this lovely city, with its funicular and bridges and rivers (the Monongahela, the Allegheny, the Ohio).

If we stop making, if we stop creating, they will have won. #StrongerThanHate


Weekend in Tahoe

Monday, October 22, 2018

It's only four hours away, so why did it take us so long to go back to the Sierra Nevadas and Lake Tahoe? The last time we were there was during our cross-country roadtrip, in 2015.

Better late than never, and October is the off season (after the summer crowd, before ski season). We stopped in Truckee, California, for lunch and then headed straight to Sand Harbor State Park across the border in Nevada, with its fabulous boulders and Caribbean-teal water.

181020 Lake Tahoe - Sand Harbor

181020 Lake Tahoe - Sand Harbor Beach

181020 SUPers on Lake Tahoe - Sand Harbor

My favorite spot, though, was Fallen Leaf Lake, southwest of the built-up resorts of South Lake Tahoe. It was like suddenly being transported to Alaska. It was pristine, and largely deserted, and beautiful.

181021 Fallen Leaf Lake

181021 Fallen Leaf Lake

I would love to know what these two men were doing with all this equipment (and one was in a wetsuit), but I just had to draw them.

181021 Workers on Fallen Leaf Lake

What are your favorite places near Tahoe?



Monday, October 22, 2018

Well, not really trainspotting, but rather spotting things from a train. This is what I saw and sketched as I rode the train from San Jose to Oakland two weekends ago: mounds of salt. Where does all this salt go? Is it part of Cargill's salt works in the Bay Area? Possibly; I have no idea, but it was fun to get some more Inktober drawing in.

181013 Salt flats from Amtrak

I colored the sketch with a waterbrush (yes, my favorite Pentel Aquash L) and one of those Daniel Smith watercolor dot cards I seem to accumulate from USK symposium goodie bags and sponsor giveaways. I think this was the Jane Blundell palette. The dot cards are a great way to test out new pigments and color combinations.


Special Places

Saturday, October 20, 2018

I'm so honored whenever people ask me to do a commissioned sketch or painting. I can only hope my interpretation of the subject comes remotely close to capturing what's in their head and heart. Here's one I did recently of Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

181004 CR Ocean Beach San Francisco

Lots of love from me to those who love this special place.


Playing Catch-Up

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sometimes life gets in the way of Inktober. I've still been drawing in the margins, but this month has been overfilled with Big Work Things. So I snatch minutes here and there.

Waiting for a Lyft car...

181004 Heaton Moor waiting for Lyft

The view from Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve...

181006 View from Sierra Azul OSP

A stylized cactus...

181007 cactus illo

A head, from TV...

181003 head inktober

A rooster, from a photo I took in Kauai...

181002 Kauai rooster inktober

Sometimes ambition is bigger than reality, but don't lose hope. The month isn't over yet!


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