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Nature Hike: Sketchercize

Nature Hike, ink and watercolor
Nature Hike, ink and watercolor, 5.5"x9"

Sunday was a glorious day in the Bay Area; sunny, breezy and in the 70s. A perfect day for some “Sketchercize.”  I packed up my sketching gear and hiking poles and headed on foot through my hilly neighborhood and up to the El Cerrito Memorial Grove and the Hillside Natural Area above it; nearly 80 acres of nature with spectacular views.

I intended to walk for at least 30 minutes before sketching but was stopped after 10 minutes by some seed pods hanging from a tree, glowing red and green in the sun that I had to sketch. Next stop was for some California poppies along the road. Then the view of the giant hill that I’d be climbing came into view so I added that with an “X” marks the spot where I was going, all on the same sketchbook page.

View from above Memorial Grove, 5.5x9"
View of SF Bay and Golden Gate Bridge from hiking trail, 5.5x9"

At last I reached the top of the hill and hiked along the skyline trail until I reached a bench where I could sit and admire the 180 degree view–a great reward for the 2 mile, mostly uphill hike. I ate my apple, sketched and then began the trek back home, which just happened to pass by Payoff #2: Baskin Robbins, where I got an ice cream cone to eat on the way (a bit counterproductive, I suppose, but quite yummy). I pasted the cone wrapper in my sketchbook when I got home.

Ice cream cone lunch
Ice cream cone lunch

The view with my house marked:

Hike Start and End
Photo at destination; Red spot points to my house

15 replies on “Nature Hike: Sketchercize”

So you’re not going for the weight reduction version of Sketchercise? 😉

I suppose the other way of looking at it is that you can eat what you want if you remember to do some exercise too!

I find the one of the huge benefits of walking and sketching is that your eyes get a real visual workout. I’m looking all the time and seeing everything between the micro level of detail and the big panoramic views – as you so well exemplify in your post!


Well, I would like to lose another few pounds, but I’m OK with doing it slowly and being able to savor the occasional treat. I saw a fitness trainer on TV who did something called the cake walk with his client: He made her walk around a track holding a boxed slice of chocolate cake until she’d walked the amount of time it would take to burn off the calories in the cake. It took THREE HOURS! I probably barely broke even with my cone, but got the needed exercise and had fun sketching so it’s all good. Jana


What a great place to walk and sketch. I resisted sketching all the things that caught my eye the first two walks, as I was afraid I’d run out of subject matter after a while, but I realise now that’s unlikely! Love those little details with the ‘big picture’ next to them. Unfortunately (or not) – no ice cream shops on my route.


Hi Cathy, Isn’t that a funny thought? I wondered about that, but quickly realized I see so many new and visually exciting things every single time I step out the door! Jana


Hi Ronell, I have to admit I’m usually the one trying to fight the urge to visit such dens of iniquity but sometimes a girl’s just gotta have a chocolate chip ice cream cone on a sunny day and that’s all there is to it! Jana


A great trip, going along with you, Jana, and seeing the world that you saw. I agree with Katherine that this really stimulates our seeing, and I liked the photo showing your place and the view from your destination. Of course, my favorite part, like Ronell’s,, was the Baskin Robbins stop.


Oooh. I’m with you there. We could draw the funny little pink spoons, the fancy ice-cream cakes, the hungry people standing in line…. Jana


Hi Jana, It’s good to know you will be a part of this Sketchercise blog. I love your work and will be following your Plein Air paintings as always.


I seem to recall that you allow yourself the entire month to celebrate your birthday, so: Happy June, Jana!
And great sketching, too. Those views!


I highly recommend getting a pedometer which counts miles travelled and calories burned as well as steps

I was absolutely amazed at how far I had to walk to burn 250 calories once I got it. Made the decision not to eat anything naughty so much easier. I’ve developed very healthy eating habits since I got my pedometer.

But I agree – taking it more slowly with a few treats along the way works well for some people.


Such a gorgeous balance of hot and cool colors…love the mountains, the light, and the water…this brings back memories of Astoria, OR…especially fine handling of blues…

Cheers, everybody…


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