at the beach

Exploring the O.C.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Took advantage of a work trip to Anaheim to play tourist in L.A. and vicinity. Following a whirlwind of sightseeing in DTLA upon arrival (including the Jasper Johns show at The Broad), I took a day off at the end of the week to relax in Costa Mesa, shop at South Coast Plaza and see Alvin Ailey at the Segerstrom Center. Since no trip to SoCal is complete without getting sand between your toes, I went to Newport Beach on Friday morning to bask in the sun.

180420_Newport Beach

180420_Newport Beach 2

180420_Newport Beach 3

Before my flight home, I stopped at The Lab Anti-Mall for lunch and sketched Creme Tangerine -- a music store housed in an Airstream trailer -- while I waited for my table at Seabirds Kitchen.

180420_The Lab Costa Mesa

road trip

A Day in Yosemite

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Last weekend we decided on a whim to take a drive out to Yosemite National Park. Why? Because it was after spring break, before Memorial Day, and during the first weekend of Coachella. Our gamble paid off: While everyone else was competing for a glimpse of Beyonce in the desert, we had the park entrance practically to ourselves.

We brought bikes and a picnic lunch. Went to Mirror Lake and hiked the Mist Trail as far as the Vernal Falls Footbridge.

As Michael was stowing the bikes in the car, I sketched Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

180414_Yosemite Falls

180414_Yosemite Half Dome

San Jose

Stop & Smell the Roses

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Had a leisurely paintout a few weeks ago with a few local friends. It was my turn to organize, so I chose the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden and nearby Rosicrucian Park as the venue.

Most of the roses weren't quite in bloom yet, but the garden was a lovely setting for painting and a picnic on the lawn.

180408_SJ Muni Rose Garden Fountain

180408_SJ Rose Garden 2

My energy was flagging in the afternoon, so I only managed a quick ink sketch of the trees and succulents in the labyrinth at Rosicrucian Park.

180408_Rosicrucian labyrinth 2


Around Here

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The view from my studio, a few weekends ago. Used only a Pentel Aquash water brush and a Winsor & Newton Cotman Sketchers Box, with the colors it came with. And a Bee Paper Aquabee Super Deluxe ringbound sketchbook. Not my fave, but I made it work!

View from my studio

Here's another sketch, from a week later: Went up to the Fortini Trail on the other side of our park to shoot some video and dashed this off. The poppies were gorgeous!

180407_Fortini Trail

golden hour

Yard With a View

Monday, March 26, 2018

The view from my backyard swing this windy evening. Yes, that's Lick Observatory way out there atop Mount Hamilton.

180326_View from Heaton Moor

Direct to watercolor, in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook using a Da Vinci Casaneo brush and a Rosemary & Co dagger brush.

While I was painting, M. snapped this picture of me as I spied a hummingbird hovering in the air.

Suma sketching on swing

mountain high

A Sketch Over Breakfast

Monday, March 26, 2018

Our new office location's cafeteria in Boulder, Colorado, has a lovely view of the Flatirons. I drew this with a Sharpie pen and a few Scholastic kids' markers in a Stillman & Birn Nova toned sketchbook.

180322_Flatirons from Altitude Cafe

I'm still getting used to this paper. Will have to try it with gouache or opaque watercolor soon.

old school

A Slice of History

Sunday, March 18, 2018

180318_History Park San Jose 1

Went to History Park in San Jose for the first time today, to see Suhita Shirodkar's exhibition of vintage sign sketches. It's a fantastic show -- go see it if you're in the area.

Lots of us urban sketchers turned out today for her show, book signing, and associated sketchcrawl. The venue is a gem of a park, with all kinds of stuff from the past: train engines, trolleys, an old gas pump, buildings, and more.

For one sketch, I tried out my new Stillman & Brin Nova toned sketchbook. Unfortunately I didn't have my tube of white, so I had to make do with a white gel pen. I found that the paper is a bit thin for wet washes; will have to try a more opaque, gouache-y technique next time.

180318_History Park San Jose 2

Santa Teresa

Slow and Steady

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

M. discovered a pond in our park not far from our house. With turtles! How could we not have seen this earlier??? We biked over there on Sunday afternoon so I could sketch them. They were practically camouflaged.

180311_Turtles Santa Teresa County Park

San Francisco

Two from the Car

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

After the portrait party on Saturday, I did a few street sketches as we drove along San Francisco's hilly streets.

180310_San Francisco from the car

180310_San Francisco from the car 2


A Circle of Faces

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Yesterday I participated in a meetup for Julia Kay's Portrait Party at ARCH Art and Drafting Supply in San Francisco. We sat in circles of 5-6 people, and everyone took turns playing model. We warmed up with 30-second sketches using our non-dominant hand and progressed to 10-minute captures.

Here are a few of my sketches from the session.

180310_JKPP 2

180310_JKPP 3

180310_JKPP 4

180310_JKPP 1


OneWeek100People Day 5

Saturday, March 10, 2018

And that's a wrap! I sketched on my commute, at breakfast, and after work to get my remaining people in.

180309_OneWeek100People Day 5a

180309_OneWeek100People Day 5b

180309_OneWeek100People Day 5c

180309_OneWeek100People Day 5d

180309_OneWeek100People Day 5e

180309_OneWeek100People Day 5f

Lots of work, but so much fun! Thanks, Marc and Liz for the inspiration!


OneWeek100People Day 4

Saturday, March 10, 2018

On Day 4, I celebrated International Women's Day by sketching women.

180308_OneWeek100People Day 4a

180308_OneWeek100People Day 4b

180308_OneWeek100People Day 4c

M. and I went out to dinner at a fairly large restaurant -- I thought it would be a quick way to get lots of sketches of women done. As it turned out, we were surrounded mostly by men. I had to crane my neck to see and draw the women. It made me reflect on how far Silicon Valley still has to go when it comes to gender parity.


OneWeek100People Day3

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Today I focused on the narrative for #OneWeek100People2018. What were the subjects doing? What did I observe? Everyone has a story.

180307_OneWeek100People Day 3a

180307_OneWeek100People Day 3b

180307_OneWeek100People Day 3c

180307_OneWeek100People Day 3d

Still working with a Sharpie pen and watercolor in a Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook. Forty-two done, a lot more to go!


OneWeek100People Day 1 & 2

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

It's a busy time at work, so I'm a bit behind on my people sketching for #OneWeek100People2018! Still lots of time to catch up, though.

180305_OneWeek100People Day 1

180305_OneWeek100People Day 1a

180305_OneWeek100People Day 2

180305_OneWeek100People Day 2a

180305_OneWeek100People Day 2b


A Sketching 'Century'

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Bicyclists brag about finishing a century. We sketchers have our equivalent, thanks to the lovely Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes.

The task is simple: Draw 100 people from March 5 to March 9. Post with the hashtag #OneWeek100People2018 so we can all see one another's work. That's it!

I did it successfully last year, and I'm excited to participate again.

Here's what I found to be helpful:

  1. Drawing while I waited around, and on my commute
  2. Drawing both small and large
  3. Varying my tools and paper, to keep it interesting
  4. Drawing women on International Women's Day (March 8)
  5. Drawing just heads and faces, or drawing people from the back
  6. Pacing myself and completing ~20 per day

I'm also taking advantage of All You Can Watch Weekend on Craftsy to view Lynne Chapman's "Expressive Picture Book Characters." It's quite different from urban sketching, but it's a fantastic guide to symbolic shortcuts that can help when drawing people on the move. Her book, Sketching People: An Urban Sketcher’s Manual to Drawing Figures and Faces, is also excellent.

And of course, Suhita Shirodkar's "Figure Sketching Made Simple" and Marc Holmes' own "Sketching People in Motion" are must-sees on Craftsy as well!

So, are you in for the challenge? What are *your* tips for getting it done?


View from Skyline Boulevard

Sunday, February 25, 2018

I missed the start of the Nature Journal Club's field trip to Peters Creek Falls (near Saratoga, California), so M. and I set out to find the waterfall on our own in the afternoon. We parked at the Peters Creek trailhead on Skyline Boulevard, and M. brought along his mountain bike. Unfortunately I didn't research the actual location properly so we hiked the length of Peters Creek trail not realizing we should have turned off on another trail. No cell signal to look it up en route = no sighting of the falls.

Instead of hiking all the way back, I turned up a side trail to the main road and got a quick sketch in of the hillside while waiting for M. to bike back to the car and pick me up.

180225_From Long Ridge OS Preserve

The dark line work was done with my much-loved (but neglected of late) Lamy Safari fountain pen, filled with Noodler's Lexington Grey. It had started leaking a bit after airplane trips, so I'd put it away intending to clean it. Recently I brought it out and topped up the ink. Glad I did -- it has such a lovely, responsive line quality. Before the next refill I'll flush it out with pen cleaner.

crypt currency

Among the Memorials

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A friend organized a painting session at a nearby cemetery. It was quite a peaceful place, with stately mature trees and weathered headstones. The day started off sunny, but the clouds (and wind!) rolled in after lunch.

180211_Santa Clara Mission Cemetery 1

I was sitting in the shade, so my work took a long time to dry. Of course I also got impatient and dove into the wet areas too quickly. Consequently, mud -- and some overworking. It was a challenge to leave all the white spaces for the headstones, too.

Santa Clara Mission Cemetery 2


Music and Mountains

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Saturday evening we went to see the Cambrian Symphony's concert "Metamorphosis," featuring soloist Julio Elizalde playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. I sketched some of the musicians as they warmed up while waiting for him to take the stage.

180203_Cambrian Symphony San Jose

It was a treat to hear Elizalde. He was visibly tired after the performance -- not surprising, as the Rach 3 has been called the equivalent of K2 for pianists.

On Sunday, we took a day trip to Sacramento. I didn't have a chance to sketch in the city, but we did have a lovely lunch at Skool and went to the Crocker Museum for some inspiration. What a gem! I especially enjoyed the E. Charlton Fortune exhibit. It's there till April 22, so go see it.

On the way back, we took a meandering route along the Sacramento River. I sketched vignettes from the passenger seat while listening for updates on the Super Bowl score - #FlyEaglesFly.

180204_En route from Sacramento to San Jose

I'm not much of a football fan, but I did enjoy the "Museum Bowl" on Twitter put on by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Did you follow it? Even the Franklin Institute and Boston's Museum of Science got into the act! Mad props to their marketing departments!


What Happens in Vegas

Sunday, January 28, 2018

I've finally been to Las Vegas! Only for 24 hours, for a work offsite, but still. Was able to squeeze in dinner at the Cosmopolitan, a stroll past the Bellagio fountains, and a jaunt through the Canal Shops at the Venetian.

My colleagues and I stayed at Lucky Dragon hotel, which seems to be headed for foreclosure. The windows were all tinted red, but I had a lovely (rose-colored?) view of the mountains.

180125_View of Las Vegas

San Francisco

Models and Views

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Bay Area Models' Guild hosts drawing marathons from time to time. They offer several rooms, with a variety of models both clothed and nude. Poses range from a few minutes to several hours long. Last week they held a marathon at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

I joined them for a few hours during the morning session.

180121_Model Guild Drawing SF 1

180121_Model Guild Drawing SF 2

180121_Model Guild drawing SF 3

Afterward, I stopped into Readers Bookstore (operated by Friends of the San Francisco Library) where I found some classic art technique books by Alwyn Crawshaw, John Blockley, and Charles Reid. Of course I also popped into Flax Art next door.

On the way home, I sketched a few of the hilly city streets from the car.

180121_Vignette of Street SF 1

180121_Vignette of San Francisco 2