Berkeley Building Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Interiors Landscape Life in general Painting Places Shop windows Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Alcatraz Liquor Deli and A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley

Alcatraz Liquor Deli, Berkeley; Ink & watercolor
Alcatraz Liquor Deli, Berkeley; Ink & watercolor

We met at the corner of Alcatraz and College on a warm evening and sat at tables outside A Cuppa Tea to sketch. Two women sat down beside me with cups of tea and began talking about prison while counting passing dogs. They asked about our sketching group, noticing us drawing, and then shared that this was their Tuesday night routine, and they were up to a dozen dogs already.

Although I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, hearing them talk about life in prison and the girls in their halfway house was just too interesting. It seemed ironic that having recently gotten out of prison they chose to meet on the corner of Alcatraz (the infamous  prison located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay).

A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley, Ink & watercolor
A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley, Ink & watercolor

It was great having the light of the cafe to sketch by as it got dark. When I could no longer see the street scene I turned around and drew the inside of the cafe through their window.

When we all finished sketching we went inside to see each others sketches. There were  signs all over saying, “Tables for customers only!” (To fend off the students who clog all the cafes in town with their computers and piles of books).  So Sonia bought another lemonade and when we left a few minutes later we left tips for the waitress.

6 replies on “Alcatraz Liquor Deli and A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley”

Counting dogs? That strikes me as a little sad. As if time “inside” has dulled their creative senses. Perhaps they’ll graduate to sketching dogs?;-)

Nice “glow” in the final cafe sketch, Jana.


Always a wonderful Happening when we stroll along with you,
Jana. Love the inside sketch and the light hitting the side of the
other building. Interesting how differently people pass time.
Some love to count cars or license plates or certain makes or colors
of cars.


Thanks so much Annie. We used to count cars and colors when I was kid and we were on one of our marathon drives across country or just to visit grandma a hundred miles away. Nowadays I guess people just plug their kids into their in-car TVs. Ick. I saw a family driving a mini-van and the kids in the back seat were wearing huge soundproof type headphones and had tv screens on the back of the parents head rests. So much for seeing the country while traveling. Although I often had my nose in a book when we were traveling (if I wasn’t bugging my sister). Jana


I do love to eavesdrop. I just can’t help it, really, and I figure if they are talking out in public anyway about anything important, well, then it is fair game!

Great sketches as always (wish I was there). The counting dog thing reminds me of one of my favorite writers, Charles Baxter(Feast of Love). He has a knack for capturing these little everyday things that help to build his charcater sketches.


I love to eavesdrop too, especially when I’m sketching. It adds to the flavor and memory of the time to be invited into someone else’s life story that way. jana


Comments are closed.