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Sketching North Berkeley with Carole Baker

Carol holding my Earthly Goods sketch
Carol holding my Earthly Goods sketch

Carole Baker is an amazing painter in remote northern Alaska who I’ve known through our blogs and correspondence for years. When she was in Berkeley for a visit we met in North Berkeley to sketch. Above is a photo of my wonky sketch (held by Carole so that I could photograph it) of Earthly Goods, the store on one corner of Vine and Shattuck.

Carol holding her sketch of the corner of Shattuck and Vine
Carol holding her sketch of the corner of Shattuck and Vine

We sat on the same bench but looked in opposite directions. Here is Carole and her sketch of the produce market on the opposite corner of Shattuck and Vine.

I was so inspired by Carole and her art on the beautiful greeting cards she gave me as a gift. You can see Carole’s art on her blog Carole Baker’s Art Journal.

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Boring? Not!

Peet's Coffee Corner, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
View north from Peet's Coffee, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

At first glance, the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson in El Cerrito is boring, boring, boring: a wide busy avenue with boxy buildings. But when viewed on a lovely summer day from a cafe table outside Peet’s Coffee with pen in hand, it transforms itself into a sketching delight full of fun details and color.

San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
View South down San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Looking the other way down San Pablo, the Wells Fargo Bank building holds little hope for drawing inspiration. But start sketching and it too transforms itself. There are trees of all kinds and colors. A cerulean sky with only a hint of clouds, a pink apartment building and a gold dentist office. Sun, shadows, banners.

Not boring! I don’t think I’ve ever felt bored when I was sketching. Years ago a friend told me that when I was sketching I looked like I was roller-skating. Whee! Let’s skate!

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Bay Area Parks Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Other Art Blogs I Read Outdoors/Landscape Painting People Places Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Golden Gate Park with Laurelines and JanasJournal

Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

When Laura Frankstone of Laurelines was in San Francisco for a long weekend I had the great pleasure of joining her for an afternoon of sketching in Golden Gate Park. Laura and I had corresponded and participated together in many art blogging activities since 2006, but this was the first time we met in person. She is a brilliant artist, a delightful person and great fun to sketch with.

Below are our sketches of the Conservatory. I added watercolor to mine (above) in the studio later since it was windy, foggy and cold sitting on the grass and so were ready to go explore the (way too hot) conservatory.

Laura's on left, Jana's on right
Laura's on left, Jana's on right (click to enlarge)
Photo of the Conservatory with my sketch
Photo of the Conservatory with my sketch

After getting all steamy inside the Conservatory of Flowers’ jungle-like atmosphere, and touring the Wicked Plants exhibit, we came back out to sketch people on the lawn.

Girls Picnic  in Golden Gate Park, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
Girls Picnic in Golden Gate Park, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

We agreed to paint these later too, since time was short and we wanted to keep moving. Below are our two sketches.

Girls in the Park; Laura's above, Jana's below
Girls in the Park; Laura's above, Jana's below

If you click the image above to enlarge it you can see how Laura even captured the girl on the left’s cheek bulging with her snack.

Our last stop was the Tea House in the Japanese Tea Garden. The garden is an absolutely beautiful place with incredible plantings, sculptures, buildings, ponds, trees, moon bridges and more. I wanted to live there.

View from Teahouse in Japanese Tea Garden, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
View from Teahouse in Japanese Tea Garden, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

While our tea was the most delicious jasmine tea we’ve ever had, our experience was not exactly the “meditative cup of tea overlooking the peaceful waters of the garden” because men were doing construction and running a small but loud and smelly bulldozer back and forth on the path behind what I sketched above. The combination of noise and exhaust were less than ideal but unlike me, Laura didn’t complain once.

Moments after we sat down in the Teahouse another woman sat down beside us and pulled out a sketchbook (before we had ours out). She was an art history student visiting from Boston and we all sketched happily together. The waitresses kept coming over to praise our drawings. I said, “You must see people sketching here all the time.” She said no, we were the first she’d seen.