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A Sketchy Christmas

Sketching at the Claremont Hotel, ink & watercolor
Sketching at the Claremont Hotel, ink & watercolor

The Claremont Hotel in Berkeley is all decked out for the holidays and a good place to sketch when it’s cold outside. We met there Tuesday night and had our choice of comfy places to sketch. That’s Sonia in the sketch above, drawing a piano that is just off to her left.

I found a spot near their fancier bar and restaurant with another grand piano where (I thought) a talented jazzy piano player was entertaining the diners. I really liked the way he riffed on holiday music (although his repertoire seemed not too extensive as he began repeating the songs after about an hour).

Outside the bar at the Claremont
Outside the bar at the Claremont

At the end of the evening I walked into the bar  to thank the piano player, having imagined what it must be like playing holiday music in a bar, night after night, the same tunes over and over, while people celebrated. The bench was empty! The piano was playing itself, the keys popping up and down on their own.

I liked both of these sketches more as ink drawings before I overworked them with paint. I’ve been really tired this week which often leads to mucking around when I should be moving on to the next page.

9 replies on “A Sketchy Christmas”

Hey, Jana. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Know what you mean about pushing it too far, and then wishing you hadn’t. Oh, well, they’re still good sketches, and I always love your little stories.


Happy Christmas!

Your sketches are charming!

Some day you will have to visit Rochester, NY, where several of our local grocery stores feature — you guessed it — player pianos! Wegmans (the grocery store chain) is unique. I sometimes go there to escape the rest of life, buy some tea, and sit in the cafe and sketch whatever is near me.

Last week I figured out something about overworking watercolors: the longer you paint, the wetter the paper gets, and the more pigment disappears into the paper. Problems, by the way, that your sketches DON’T have.

Enjoy the holiday!


What beaut paintings in Christmas colours. Loved the story about the piano player (missing). What a let-down to find it’s a player piano! Have a happy week and New Year.


That’s a bit weird, a paino playing itself!

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas Jana, and here’s wishing you a Happy New Year, I hope 2010 is a great one for you!


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