Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Places Sketchbook Pages

Sketching Normandy Village in North Berkeley

Gargoyles on Spruce, ink
Gargoyles on Spruce, ink

This week we headed to Spruce Street in North Berkeley to sketch “Normandy Village,” a 1920s blueprint copy of a village in rural France. For some reason I did all of the village sketches on one spread in my sketchbook so I’ve separated them to post here. I started with these funny gargoyles on one of the cottages, experimenting with a Penstix Indian ink pen that bleeds a bit when water is added.

Normandy Village on Spruce Street #2
Normandy Village on Spruce Street #2, ink & wash

After the gargoyles I walked back into the little village and sketched the towers. While I was balancing on my 3-legged stool on the cobbled road, some residents drove up to unload some stuff from their car. A young man showed me his large pencil drawings he’d done at school that day and said he was an illustrator and a “Concept Artist.” Actually he’s a student at SF Academy of Art but with that kind of confidence will likely go far.

Normandy Village Gnome house
Normandy Village Gnome house, ink & watercolor

While most of the cottages in the village look like Hobbit houses, one of the “Village People” as the residents are known, is a gnome collector. Her kitchen window is lined with small gnomes, and the backyard just visible through the archway above, is loaded with gnomes large and small. This one was resting in a chair.

A friendly couple who lived in one of the apartments in this building came out with a plate of produce scraps to put in the recycling bin near me. We chatted about drawing and which was more difficult, drawing people or architecture. I showed them the trick for getting angles approximately right when sketching.

When it got too dark and we were walking up the hill to our cars we saw this home below and realized that in the open on the top of the hill here there was still enough light to do one more sketch

Spruce Street Sketchcrawl #4, Ink & watercolor
Last sketch on Spruce Street Sketchcrawl #4, Ink & watercolor

4 replies on “Sketching Normandy Village in North Berkeley”

“I showed them the trick for getting angles approximately right when sketching.”

Do tell – please! ‘Everything radiates from the vp?’ or ‘squint at a pencil?’ or ‘draw what you see?’ or something else?


The two tricks I showed him that I use are: 1. lining the pencil up with the angle and then holding it in that position, moving it down to the paper 2. holding the pencil perfectly vertical or horizontal and comparing the “negative space” between the angle you’re trying to get and the vertical or horizontal line and then using the mental image of that shape to draw the negative space shape on the paper. (a little hard to describe).

There are also tools made for this purpose, sort of like little rulers connected at one end made of transparent plastic that you can hold up and move the two ruler thingees to the correct angle and then put that on the paper, but I find the two sighting methods above work fine for me.



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