All Posts On: California

Sierra Sketches   August 11th, 2008

Horsetail Falls (larger)
Sierra Cabin (larger)

On our recent cabin trip I had plenty of time to seek out sketching subjects. For some reason though I always have trouble finding things to sketch there.

The forest is teeming with detail; it can be overwhelming. There are not a lot of large shapes or distinct value patterns either.

Or maybe they are there and I just can’t see them? I’d like to be able to sketch more of the natural areas, but it seems I can’t see the forest for the trees!

At any rate, these were fun to do and I intend to go back soon and sketch some more.

Old Garage (larger)
On the Deck (larger)
Pyramid Creek (larger)

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Cabin Daze   August 5th, 2008

Five Days at the Cabin (larger)

We recently spent five days with good friends at our cabin in the Sierra mountains, eating, relaxing and inventing cocktails. Inspired by Amanda Kavanagh’s wonderful travel pages, I decided to make a chart of our grand adventures.

This was was a blast to do, especially adding the watercolor. I laid out the page the first day, then filled in a new column each evening. I really like how it came out.

Coming up next, sketches from the trip!

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International Moleskine Exchange   May 27th, 2008

   The Moly_x_20 Project

moly_x_20 Book, Napa Sketch (larger)

This is my first contribution to the popular International Moleskine Exchange (aka moly_x) mail-based art exchange project. The idea is that artists work in small groups filling accordion-style Pocket Moleskine notebooks that are mailed, round robin fashion, around the group. Thus far there are 29 groups formed: I am in group 20 (aka moly_x_20). Each group has an individual blog to track partipation and communications, and all projects post images to the unified Flickr group: a great place to monitor the progress of the project at large.

For my own book I decided to do a variation of a sketch I did recently in Napa. I’d never really reprised a sketch before but found it a lot of fun to figure out what to change and add to make it work in the new format. The paper in these Moleskine books has a waxy finish which is resistant to watercolors (which is why I rebind Moleskines for my own use), so I also had to do some experimentation to find a similar way to add color.

I discovered that watercolor pencils work fairly well in both wet and dry form. The pencils I used are Caran d’Ache Supracolor II, of which I happened to have a few assorted colors on hand. I think it’s time to go out and round out my collection of colors, in anticipation of this project!

Lisa (rightside) has done a beautiful next entry in my book.
Check it out!

More Entries in this Project:
     My Moly_x Drawings

For More Online Information:
     Moly_x Explained [requires Flickr login]
     Moly_x Image Pool
     Moly_x_20 Project Blog

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Napa Sketchbook: In Search of Bubbles   April 13th, 2008

Sketching and Champagne in Napa Valley

Domaine Carneros (larger)

At Domaine Carneros

True to the “Crawl” part of SketchCrawl, Lisa and I recently spent a day in Napa sketching and visiting champagne wineries. We had a great time! We started at Domaine Carneros, where it was sunny and the views spectacular. Quite sketchable, and the champagne is divine!

Tulips in the Napa Valley (larger)

We moved on the Mumm Winery and on the way stumbled upon an estate filled with thousands of tulips. It was absolutely stunning and we went back later for pictures and further investigation. By then it was raining, so we did our tulip sketches later from photographs.

Domaine Chandon (larger)

We finished up at Domaine Chandon, tired but determined to sketch!

It was a wonderful, adventure-filled day. The weather was dramatic and the bubbles divine. It was Lisa’s idea to make the trek, and I must say it was inspired! She is moving to Texas now, in fact she’s on the road today, so our sketching adventures are on curtailed for now.

I will miss you Lisa!

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Monterey Sketchbook, Part Three   March 12th, 2008

Out and About

Continued from: Monterey Sketchbook, Part Two

Pacific Grove, Coast (larger)

I finished up the Monterey/Pacific Grove trip on a brisk day with a couple of outdoor sketches. There is a fantastic walking path along the coast with inspiring views at every turn. I took a refreshing walk from Pacific Grove to Monterey and back, and did a sketch at each end of the route.

Monterey Aquarium (larger)

See Also:

     Monterey Sketchbook, Part One
     Monterey Sketchbook, Part Two

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Monterey Sketchbook, Part Two   March 9th, 2008

Sketching at the Aquarium

Continued from: Monterey Sketchbook, Part One

Kelp Forest (larger)
Giant Tree Frog (larger)
Sea Otters (larger)

Our sketching adventures continued with more exotic subjects at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can’t miss the aquarium’s signature 28 foot tall Kelp Forest tank. And we found these frogs that looked exactly like they were made out of vinyl, except that they moved, so they’re not. The adorable and comical Sea Otters are a favorite of mine, and of everyone else’s too: the exhibit was packed all day.

I was most intrigued by the Giant Octopus, glued to the glass of his aquarium: he seemed to know that was his most impressive view. I was able to get a photo of him and ink in a sketch as well, which I painted later that day. It came out rather abstractly, but I like it.

Sketch, Giant Octopus (larger)
Photo, Giant Octopus (larger)

See Also:

     Monterey Sketchbook, Part One
     Monterey Sketchbook, Part Three

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Monterey Sketchbook, Part One   March 3rd, 2008


Last month I went on a weekend trip to the Monterey/Pacific Grove area with some friends, including my sketch buddy Lisa. It’s a beautiful coastal area about a two hour drive south of San Francisco. Although it rained heavily off and on, we somehow managed to get our activities in between bouts.

Sea Nettle Jellyfish (larger)

Lisa and I found time to do quite a bit of sketching. The first day we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a fantastic place with an amazing display of jellyfish in every shape, size, and color. As you can see, the displays are beautifully lit. But the rooms are dark, which made sketching a bit tricky!

Photo, At the Aquarium (larger)

Having spent the morning drawing our sketches, we spent a lovely and relaxing afternoon at the cozy Works Cafe in Pacific Grove with another buddy, Deborah, painting and chatting and relaxing as the rain came down outside.

Lion's Mane & N.
Sea Nettle Jellyfish
"Blue" Jellyfish (larger)
Young Moon Jellyfish (larger)
"New Acquisition" (larger)

See Also:

     Monterey Sketchbook, Part Two
     Monterey Sketchbook, Part Three

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The Cottage   February 19th, 2008

At Carneros Inn (larger)

Here is a cottage that we stayed in recently at the Carneros Inn, a "retreat" in the Carneros Valley. It was a cold, foggy weekend, and the cottage was quite cozy. We didn’t stay long: I’d like to go back on a sunny weekend and tour around the area. There are several champagne wineries nearby.

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SketchCrawl 11: Sausalito   January 21st, 2008

The San Francisco SketchCrawl group had over 80 people for SketchCrawl 11 on September 23, 2006. We met up at the Ferry Building and rode over to Sausalito in Marin County for a fine day of sketching. The weather was perfect!

Here are my sketches:

Ferry Building Tower

Book Cart at the Ferry Building

Courtyard Fountain, Sausalito

Across from Starbucks

Boat at Dunfy Park

On the BART Ride Home


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SketchCrawl 01: Berkeley   January 21st, 2008

On Sunday November 21 2004 the first worldwide SketchCrawl event was held. The idea is that all over the world people go out and spend the day sketching, then share their results online. Although not everyone is together, the idea that others are pursuing the same activity is encouraging. It’s sort of like a Pub Crawl, but (not necessarily 🙂 ) without the beer.

UC Berkeley Champanile

We spent the day around our town, Berkeley, and had a blast. The day was clear and sunny, but unusually windy and cold. It is hard to draw with numb fingers and hair blowing across your face!

Our local North Berkeley neighborhood is known as the Gourmet Ghetto and is loaded with great restaurants and food stores. Berkeley is a “foodie” town, and this area is the center of the action.

Tapas at Bar César”

Yum! We had a wonderful lunch at Bar César. I realized after I finished this sketch that it is heavily influenced by the lively food sketches in the New Basics cookbook. Update: I made note cards for myself from this Cesar sketch, which have proved quite handy.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea

It was just too cold to sit outside in the wind, so we sought further refuge and more caffeinated fortification in Peet’s Coffee at Walnut & Vine. This is the original Peet’s location.

Arlington Fountain

I love this fountain and pass by it every day. It sits in the center of the Marin Ave. traffic circle and is a reproduction of the fountain that stood there from 1911 to the 1950’s. The critters are supposed to be baby grizzly bears (symbol of California and U.C. Berkeley, and a reference to nearby Grizzly Peak), but I think they look more like hyenas. Cute hyenas.

Post Office

French Hotel & Cafe

North Berkeley Shops

Bay View

From Left to Right, Back to Front: San Francisco, Golden Gate bridge, Marin County, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Berkeley Marina, Berkeley Flatlands, Berkeley Hills.

My Sketching Kit

I have been drawing lately with a Namiki Falcon fountain pen with a fine nib. The book is a pocket Moleskine, but I don’t like the paper it comes with so have rebound it with Fabriano Artistico Hot Press 90lb. My watercolor box is an old-style Winsor & Newton Bijou Box with tube paints squeezed in, and a Niji Waterbrush completes the kit.

Update: For information on my current sketch kit, see:
How I Sketch: Materials

Other Related Articles:
Other SketchCrawls
How I Sketch: Demo
Rebind a Moleskine Sketchbook

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Stan’s Labyrinth   March 12th, 2007

Labyrinth in Sibley Park (larger)

Last weekend was cool, but sunny. A friend and I took a hike in the East Bay hills, in the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. From the top you can stand in one spot and see San Francisco, Mt. Tamalpais in Marin, and Mt. Diablo to the East all at the same time. That’s hard to do from the ground!

The park is the site of several small dormant volcanos and an old rock quarry. It’s a geologist’s dream. There are also at least four man-made rock and grass labyrinths. Here is a view looking down on one, with the Bay and Mt. Tam in the distance.

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Road Trip: a Sketching Workshop   February 21st, 2007

Pasadena Street Corner

Classes and workshops solely focused on sketching are rare, but I love to take them when they pop up. Over time I have managed to take quite a few. Some are great, some are terrible, most are in between. However, the right class at the right time is a great boost to my motivation and resolve.

Last October I was lucky enough to take a wonderful workshop towards the “great” end of the scale, a three day intensive called Road Trip! Travel Sketching for Designers, taught by Richard Scott. The photo of me sketching over on the right was taken by Richard during that class.

Here are more sketches and a full report.

The next Road Trip class is a streamlined two day version in San Francisco this June. The workshop is not cheap, but I found it rich and inspiring: well worth it for me.

Huntington Library Botanical Gardens

A word about other classes that are less than ideal; I often find that something important comes out of them too. I may meet someone interesting, get turned on to a new book to tool, or just get more focused on what I really do want to be doing.

Related Post: “Road Trip!” Workshop: a Review

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