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Sketching at Martinez Waterfront Park

Martinez Hot Dog Depot, Ink & watercolor
Martinez Waterfront Park, Ink & watercolor in watercolor Moleskine, 5x7"

I arrived late and lazy (due to my efforts to decaffeinate myself) for our paint out at Martinez Waterfront Park today and decided to sketch in ink and watercolor instead of setting up my easel and oil paints. It’s a great park, with a marina full of boats on the bay, fields, trees, ponds, an historic train station and old train (pictured above), a nearby river and marshlands and much more. It’s right on the edge of the older part of town and the Amtrak train station is just outside the entrance to the park.

I sat on a very hard stone bench at the old train station about 20 feet from the tracks.  On the sketch above, I drew without much of a plan, just picking things I saw that interested me and sticking them somewhere on the page, drawing in ink and hoping it would all fit together somehow. I added the watercolor on site.

The two artists in the sketch were standing between the west and east Amtrak tracks. Every 15 minutes a train would roar by about 2 feet of where they were standing, sounding it’s horn so loudly it was painful, but they stood their ground like the dedicated plein air painters that they are.

Martinez Hot Dog Depot, Ink & watercolor
Martinez Hot Dog Depot, Ink & watercolor in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, 5x7"

I turneda bit to the left at the end of the day and quickly sketched this wonky old Hot Dog Depot (named because it’s adjacent to the train depot. The perspective is all wonky but so was the building. It has a weird corner section where that second smaller window is. So the building isn’t a rectangle, it’s a pentagon (5-sided). I didn’t have time to worry about perspective as the group was convening for a critique and I had to hurry to finish this at all.

7 replies on “Sketching at Martinez Waterfront Park”

Oh Jana! You did it again. Made me miss all my favorite places! Old Martinez has such a great flavor, doesn’t it? Before we left Martinez, I sketched on the waterfront, too. Nothing worth posting–so I will enjoy your sketches! Thanks again for capturing another place I love! Now–how about Benicia?! Lisa


What great little sketches. Mostly I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your off the cuff stories. I often feel like I’m there with you, enjoying the sights and sounds, and having a glimpse into your thoughts. Thanks!


Have been thinking over “Martinez Park” again, and wondering why it struck me so much. I think this is a real breakthrough for you, Jana, in composition. I remember a month or so back you tried to get rid of the strong horizontal shape, a stone wall, at the bottom of the canvas. Personally, I thought that shape was just you, and I liked it. I loved the stonework. But now you’ve returned to that strong shape, but with the strong intervention of the V shape going, roughly, from the palm to the standing men and back up to the lights and cross. All this is a container for the heavy, dark shape you like to put in the middle–only this shape (the train) has more confidence and heft than ever before. All this has energy and stability, a kind of sophistication, plus the detail (especially mechanical) which you enjoy.

I’d love to see you do more machines, too.


Great sketches! And if architects knew what pentagons and octagons and all those other non-square buildings did to us artists … well … let’s just say that I know what you mean about perspective angst! ;-D
This looks great!


Great shadow over red door, the cutest door I have seen, looks very real. I do sometimes look at things others don’t look at, my blam. I love the shadows here.


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