Sketchcrawl 46 – Bernal Heights, San Francisco

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl (original) ink and watercolor in XL WC Moleskine

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl, ink, watercolor, gouache, 7.5 x 11″

When it was time to leave for the Sketchcrawl in San Francisco I couldn’t find my sketch kit containing all my favorite sketching tools. I scoured the studio and the house. No sketch kit. I feared I’d left it at my figure drawing class the day before at the community college where it had probably already been adopted by a needy art student. Sad and frustrated, I cobbled together some pens, pencils, brushes and paints, threw them in a bag and drove across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Catching up with my friend Susan Cornelis who came down from Sebastopol for the day, and connecting with some other local sketch buddies helped me forget about my missing precious pens and paints for a little while. Since I was so late, after a quick walk around the neighborhood, I decided to sketch what I could see from a bench on the porch in front of the library where the final meet up would be. The lamp post in the sketch above was up on the porch too, which is a little confusing perspective-wise, being up about 8 steps from the sidewalk in this hilly neighborhood.

The good news is that I had a great time at the sketch crawl AND the next day when I was getting ready to go out to the studio I picked up the basket I use to carry things back and forth from house to studio and my sketch kit was in the basket! YAY! And I put a “Reward for return” note in the bag with my name and phone number on it in case it ever disappears again.

I think I like the sketch better broken into two separate ones (below). What do you think?

Brazil Room, Tilden Park, Watercolor Painting Commission (steps in process)

Brazillian Room, Tilden Park, Watercolor, 22 x 30 in

Brazilian Room, Tilden Park, Watercolor, 22 x 30 in

When I received an email from a woman in Switzerland, asking if I’d be interested in a commission to paint the site of her wedding (the Brazilian Room in Tilden Park) as a 10-year anniversary gift for her husband I said an enthusiastic, “Yes!” We agreed I would have the painting completed when she visited the Bay Area a couple of months later so that she could hand carry it back to Switzerland.

Brazillian Room, Tilden Park, Original Photo Reference

Brazilian Room, Tilden Park, Original Photo Reference

I visited the site, took photos and we agreed I would use the one above as reference for the painting. Since I shot the photo in late spring it wouldn’t really match the colors and light of her August wedding so I also used my imagination and memory of the park in summer to capture the warmth and strong light of August in the Bay Area. Below are some of the steps in the painting process. Read More

Change Is…

Stege Marsh, ink and colored pencils in pocket Moleskine

Stege Marsh, ink and colored pencils in pocket Moleskine

I started to title this post “Change is Good” and then I thought, yeah, but change can be difficult too. As I thought of all the things change is (hard, exciting, scary, growth) I realized that if nothing else, change is constant, it just IS; thus the title.

So what about change? Well, the most obvious change is my blog’s appearance. I’ve begun the process of converting it to a website that will host both this blog,, and my art portfolio website, now at It’s a work in progress so please, if you notice any bugs, let me know.

The sketch of Stege Marsh above reflects another change in my life; it’s one of the first sketches I did while out walking my pup. I waited until after we’d walked about 3 miles through the huge off-leash dog park at Pt. Isabel (well I walked 3 miles, she was off leash and probably ran 10 miles running off and coming back). By the time we got to this spot she was happy to rest while I sketched this view along the Bay Trail. I carry a little bag of colored pencils and a small Moleskine sketch book in my bag all the time as it’s lighter than my watercolor kit for long walks so that’s what I used to color in the ink drawing.

Spring Things and not so Spring-y Things (Self-Portrait)

Figgie 2014, ink and watercolor, 8x5.5 in

Figgie 2014, ink and watercolor, 8×5.5 in

This little fig tree has survived so much: being transplanted, then a killer frost, and then transplanting again after sewer line work. As soon as leaves sprouted this year so did two figs. Sadly the crows or squirrels (or the toddler next door?) took them before I could even post this.

Little Rose Studies, ink and watercolor, 7.5x5.5 in

Little Rose Studies, ink and watercolor, 7.5×5.5 in

I sat in the driveway and quickly sketched some roses but had to stop when the shadow of the house took away the light.

End of Journal Self-Portrait, graphite, 5x7.5 in

End of Journal Self-Portrait, graphite, 5×7.5 in

And then there’s my not so spring-y self, frowning into the mirror, with hat-head and something wrong with the mouth. And yes, it’s intentionally buried at the bottom of this post. It feels good to be drawing again, after what seems like months away from it. It’s also a little frustrating feeling rusty at it. But the only fix for that is more drawing!

Endless Summer Continues: Flowers from Christina’s Garden

Christina's Garden-Echinacea, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Christina’s Garden-Echinacea, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

While the rest of the country is dealing with icy cold, we’re having a warmer-than- summer winter in Northern California. Instead of hunkering down and getting “rainy-day” tasks done at the computer I’m out walking for hours every day in the 72 degree sunshine with my pup. I love it but I miss winter!!!

Christina's Garden 3: Kangaroo Paws, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Christina’s Garden 3: Kangaroo Paws, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Although these flowers were sketched in a friend’s beautiful garden during the actual summer months of 2013, my roses are still blooming and spring flowers and fruit tree blossoms are bursting out everywhere, despite the lack of rain. It’s weird to see brown dry hills in January.

Christina's Garden 1, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Christina’s Garden 1, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Every day I look at the weather report, hoping to see rain in the near future, but it’s just not there. They’re saying this may be the driest year in 500 years. I read it’s already the driest winter in California recorded history. Since last winter ended I think all we’ve had are 2 days of minimal drizzles.

Until we get some winter weather, my semi-drought of blog posting will probably continue along with the sunshine that pulls me outdoors and away from the computer.

Urban Avians and the Highway

Birdwatching at Albany Bulb 1, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Birdwatching at Albany Bulb 1, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

While I was having my car’s oil changed at Toyota Albany I took a hike down to the SF Bay Trail to sketch. I followed a confusing bike and walking path that goes up onto an overpass and then down under the freeway. It leads to the marsh on the way out to Albany Bulb, a spit of land homesteaded by the homeless that the city is constantly trying to reclaim. There were birds everywhere, including the beautiful, delicate white Snowy Egrets that always delight me (above).

Pigeons on the Freeway, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Pigeons on the Freeway, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

I even spotted birds living right on the freeway walls; the family of pigeons above didn’t seem disturbed by the constant roar of cars. The hike was a bit isolated, and it felt spooky walking under the freeways, even on a sunny weekday morning. Fortunately the few people I saw along the way were polite bicyclists. No trolls living under these bridges like the Brothers Grimm fairytale I remember with horror from my childhood.

Birdwatching at Albany Bulb, ink, 5x7 in

Birdwatching at Albany Bulb, ink, 5×7 in

While I was sketching, a man was photographing birds nearby and he told me the names of the birds we were seeing, and how to differentiate them. I made notes on my sketch as I tried to figure out the basic shape of the birds.


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