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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
We agreed to paint these later too, since time was short and we wanted to keep moving. Below are our two sketches.
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.
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.
The El Cerrito Honda dealership was kind enough to allow our Tuesday night urban sketchers group to come and sketch in their showroom. There were chairs and tables for us to sketch and paint in comfort and interesting architecture and cars to draw. I remember boys drawing cars all the time but never thought that someday I’d go out of my way to draw cars too.
I drew this car at the end of the evening and it was so close to me that it got way out of proportion and then started looking like a shark with whatever that thingee was on top. It’s good to develop the ability to see and draw cars because they’re everywhere, and leaving them out of a scene can look strange.
Artist Beth Bourland told me a funny story about this car sketch on her blog. She kept working on her drawing after the cars drove away. Some passerbys looked at her sketch and then at the empty street in front of her, and back at the sketch, wondering if she was seeing things.