Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Happy Lunar New Year at Ranch 99 Market

Happy Lunar New Year ink & watercolor sketch
Happy Lunar New Year, Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted, ink & watercolor 5x7.5"

The shoppers at Ranch 99 Chinese supermarket were in festive spirits and the store was decked out in red and gold for Lunar New Year. There were red envelopes, red lanterns, brilliant green Narcissus in fuchsia foil wrappers, special treats in red and gold boxes, and bunches of simulated fire-crackers hanging from stop-sign shaped objects that said something in Chinese, but probably not “Stop.”

I found an empty corner in the produce section to sketch from and used a shopping cart as a table for my paints. It was an odd juxtaposition to see the “Shoplifters Will be Prosecuted” sign on a post right below the huge “Happy Lunar New Year” banner.

Whenever we sketch at Pacific East Mall, the Asian marketplace where Ranch 99 is located, I’m always surprised how the shoppers show absolutely no interest or curiosity in our odd activities. We might as well be invisible.

Chuckle Fish and Mullets, ink & watercolor
Chuckle Fish and Mullets, ink & watercolor, 5x6"

Even though I was tired at the end of the evening, I couldn’t resist drawing the fresh fish on ice when I saw their names: Chuckle Fish and Mullets. I wonder what Chuckle Fish is in Chinese?

Their huge fish department always smells as fresh as the sea, unlike the horrible ammonia scent at my local Lucky’s. The live crabs and lobsters swim in tanks and the fish are displayed whole. The fish mongers cut them to order and will even deep fry them for you.

You can see Cathy’s great sketches from the evening here and Micaela’s here on our Urban Sketchers blog. Being graphic designers they both have such wonderful design sense!

P.S. I just discovered that the store’s name is “99 Ranch” not “Ranch 99” although neither makes much sense to me. According to Wikipedia, in Chinese numerology, 99 means “doubly long in time, hence eternal; used in the name of a popular Chinese-American supermarket chain, 99 Ranch Market.”

9 replies on “Happy Lunar New Year at Ranch 99 Market”

I love the fish painting. It’s fun to sketch in market places, the food and the people. As for the sign ‘shopliters will be prosecuted’ there’s an op shop a few blocks from us here in Geelong – run by church ladies – with a notice ‘shoplifters will be prayed for!’


Oh that is a fabulous sketch post! I love lanterns in any form, and now I think I will have to visit my local Asian market to see if they are similarly decked out for the New Year celebrations to come.


Thanks Cynthia, There was a lunar new year parade yesterday in Oakland’s Chinatown that seemed like it would be fun to sketch but I didn’t get to it since I chose another event — a new museum opening in Berkeley. I got all dressed and ready to go and then checked my calendar as I was leaving and discovered the opening was the next day. I gave up, put on my painting sweats and stayed in and the next day it was pouring rain. Two sketching opportunities missed but a good time in the studio anyway. Jana


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