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Sketching at the Teddy Bear Fountain

Teddy Bear Fountain, ink & watercolor on hot press paper, 6"x4"
Teddy Bear Fountain, ink & gouache on hot press paper, 6"x4"

Teddy bears hold hands in a circle in this wonderful, historic fountain* in North Berkeley on Marin Circle. We sketched there on a warm Tuesday evening as the sun was setting.

I did the one above very quickly at the end of the evening when just as I was about to pack up a worker came and switched on the fountain’s lights and adjusted the water so it sprayed up from the top. I had to give it one more try.

Teddy Bear Fountain, ink & watercolor, 5 1/2 x6 1/2"
Teddy Bear Fountain, ink & gouache, 5 1/2 x6 1/2"

This one was done first and I spent a longer time with it—more than I should have probably, as it began to get overworked. My friend Cathy did several wonderful sketches while we were there, which you can see here.

*An interesting bit of history about the fountain: In 1908, a real estate developer came up with the idea to make Berkeley the state capitol and lobbied hard for his proposal. The Circle and the fountain were to be part of a grand entry to the new capitol building to be built nearby. The California Legislature passed the proposal and the governor signed the bill, but Berkeley was a dry city and the liquor lobbyists were successful in convincing the voters to narrowly defeat the bill.

8 replies on “Sketching at the Teddy Bear Fountain”

Oh, fun, Jana! this Teddy Bear Fountain is a perfect Jana Place. What a wonderful fountain Arthur Putnam created. I love your sketches and will now go over to Urban Sketchers to see Cathy’s.


You’re so right about it being a perfect Jana place! One of my fondest childhood memories is my grandfather taking me for an evening ride in his big boat of a Buick with his felt fedora carefully moved to the ledge behind the back seat, (“Don’t sit on Grandpa’s hat”) to see “my” fountain that changed colors. It was a tradition whenever we visited my grandparents in L.A. and was always followed by one of his special homemade root beer floats. Jana


It is a whimsical and delightful spot. I want to go try again since I’m not satisfied with either of these attempts. It’s a busy traffic circle but in a really nice area so it’s pleasant to sketch there. Jana


I love the first sketch on top with it’s quick marks and loose color. I’m getting inspired to pick up my paints and sketchbook. I did some sketching in Yosemite a couple of weeks ago and now have 2 new sketchbooks and no more excuses. Casey was here for a visit and we wandered the Norton Simon in Pasadena. I am feeling quite inspired! Enjoyed visiting your blog again! marta


I love that fountain — driving around it, not so much. How lovely to think that you were there, serene, while everyone else was rushing around it. I’ll think of you next time I’m in that part of Berkeley, and I’ll tell myself to take a breath and relax. xo


You are so right about the State Capital project in that area – that’s also why the streets around there are pink cement and the names of some of the streets are county names!


They are both wonderful drawings and there’s something really whimsical about the road sign in the second version — in relation to the teddy bear theme and the delight of the fountain.


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