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Sketchercizing My Grocery Shopping

El Cerrito Natural Grocery, Copic cobalt multiliner & Polychromos colored pencils
El Cerrito Natural Grocery, cobalt Copic multiliner and colored pencils

I had to make my morning coffee with the last drops of non-fat milk (yuck, 1% is OK but non-fat in coffee just doesn’t cut it) and there were no peaches or milk for my Cheerios. A trip to the market couldn’t be put off. But I had a full day of experiments in the studio planned and I needed some exercise. Easy solution:

  1. take the long way around, up and down big hills, to my favorite grocery store, El Cerrito Natural Grocery (cardio)
  2. sketch the market using the cobalt Copic Multiliner I wanted to experiment with (I think I prefer the sepia)
  3. shop
  4. carry groceries home in a loaded backpack plus another full bag (weight lifting)
  5. add colored pencil to the sketches to try out the new Polychromos colored pencils (LOVE THEM!)
BART riders, cobalt Copic Multiliner and colored pencils
Quick subway sketches with the cobalt Copic Multiliner and colored pencils

I’m trying to simplify my choices with my art supplies, wanting to narrow down the pens, ink, pencils and colored pencils to keep handy and those I’ll give away. I did tests today on drawing pencils, sepia liquid inks and sepia pens and will post them and my preferences tomorrow.

I’m also working on painting a grid of 16 different acrylic painting techniques to improve my understanding of acrylic techniques and possibilities. It became clear this was needed when I started a series of paintings in acrylic and realized I didn’t have the “chops” to accomplish what I wanted. I was trying to use oil painting techniques and was getting nowhere fast (and ruining brushes with all the scrubbing I was doing with them which seemed the only way to get the smooth transitions I wanted).

Each medium has its own capabilities and pitfalls. Why not make good use of the characteristics of the media instead of trying to force it to be something it’s not? Despite people claiming acrylic can be used like oils and like watercolor,  I’m going to try to learn to use it like acrylics instead and have fun with all the crazy stuff it can do. This series of large paintings wants to be in acrylic and so it shall, and soon I hope.

11 replies on “Sketchercizing My Grocery Shopping”

Really great sketches, love the people ones in blue. I agree about the acrylics, you have to let them BE acrylics, and that’s another whole system of painting. When I was struggling with them, you told be to look for the book “Acrylic Revolution”, do you have that one?

I’m surious what it is you love about the Polychromos? Soft maybe, pigment rich, what? I’ve never used them.
Thanks Jana.


Hi Nel, Yes, I have that book and another good one, plus I just got a video that takes you through16 different techniques in a grid of sixteen 4.5″ squares. There were many aha’s when I watched it. It’s one thing to read about and see photos of a technique, another entirely to see it in action. It really got me enthused to make good use of the fun things you can do with acrylic instead of just forcing it into something it’s not. Now that the intensity of the past two weeks is over I can get back to starting that project.

It seems like your class went well and your students got a lot out of it. I hope it was rewarding to you too. Jana


Hi Jana! I so admire the way you can work art into all your activities – I tend to be a one thing at a time sort of person. These sketches are wonderful, as always. I love the blue line in your subway sketches, it gives a nice soft feel. I will be in touch at great length soon -things are calming down here a bit, my Mom has gone back home and Claire will be off on Monday – and we’re all hoping that Paul will get back safely from China today…….


Hi Casey, It’s good to hear that things are settling down in your corner of the world. I’m hoping things are settling down here too, after a crazy work week and preparing for and attending a funeral today. It will be nice to just focus on art and have time to reply to comments and visit blogs again. Jana


Hey Alison, It’s so good to hear from you. I’ve been thinking about you lately (and often as your blanket book page hangs over my bed and is the first thing I see every time I walk into my room). I just finished the grid and will be posting it soon. It was at first frustrating but halfway through I really started enjoying it and having fun with the many ways to use acrylics. Jana


Well, I found this after almost two years and thought I’d comment. I work at El Cerrito Natural Grocery and it’s neat to see it from the eyes of an artist. You really captured what the store looks like on a beautiful sunny day. Thanks for sharing your image!


Hi Timothy, Thanks for writing! I shop there every couple days and love the store–it’s one of the best things about living in the neighborhood. I’ll have to do another sketch of the store …that one doesn’t quite do it justice!



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