Drawing Every Day Matters Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Painting Plein Air Sketchbook Pages Still Life Watercolor

Sketchcrawl of a Day: Racing to Complete Sketchbooks by January 1

Bedside Table Morning
Bedside Table with Coffee & "An Illustrated Life" - Morning
morning walk
DeLuxe Parked - morning walk
Poodle Waiting at Trader Joes, El Cerrito - Midday
Busby Napping After Dinner
Busby Annoyed, Trying to Nap - After Dinner
Fiona "As Seen on TV" Evening
Fiona "As Seen on TV" (literally) - Evening
Messy Desk - Evening
Messy Desk - Late Evening

I challenged myself to do a sketchcrawl of my day, making a 10 minute drawing (almost) every hour, wherever I was at the moment.  I was surprised by how many times during the day I saw things I’d like to draw. But I waited for my timer to tell me,  “Now!” and then started drawing.  If I was out and about, I added the watercolor at home in the evening.

Reading Danny Gregory’s book, An Illustrated Life,  inspired me to get back to my sketchbooks which I’d been neglecting while I focused on oil painting this past year. As a result of that neglect, I had half a dozen unfinished sketchbooks that I’ve challenged myself to complete by the end of the year. Hence the sketchcrawl above (and more to come as the year draws to a close, or should I say, “as I draw the year (and my sketchbooks) to a close!

More sketching = more fun!

Art supplies Every Day Matters Ink and watercolor wash Sketchbook Pages Still Life Watercolor

Salad Remains with Danny: Finishing Sketchbooks

Salad Remains with Danny's Book (ink & watercolor)
Salad Remains with Danny's Book (ink & watercolor)

I was feasting my eyes on Danny Gregory‘s new book, “An Illustrated Life” while I was eating a delicious salad in my big yellow salad bowl for lunch today. When I finished eating I had to sketch the colorful remains. The first drawing didn’t work (partially seen on the previous sketchbook page above), though I took it as far as I could and then drew it again and painted it (happily using up two pages in this sketchbook I don’t like).

I love reading about all the other sketchbook artists in Danny’s book and the way they think about sketching and their sketchbooks. It inspired me to finally finish off all of the random sketchbooks I have going. I have at least half a dozen unfinished sketchbooks, some that I’ve made (like the one used above) and some that I’ve bought. I keep them in a special open box and grab the one that calls to me.

There are several that I don’t like for a variety of reasons (e.g. don’t like the paper, don’t like the dimensions, don’t lay flat, don’t scan well, too fancy…) and they’ve been partially used and abandoned. I’m making it my goal to fill them all by January 1 so that I can put them on a shelf and start working in one book at a time in a chronological order. I like order.

Ink and watercolor wash Other Art Blogs I Read Sketchbook Pages Still Life Watercolor

Not Wood Roses

Wood Roses or Pine Cones? (ink & watercolor)
Wood Roses or Pine Cones? (ink & watercolor)

I found these taking a walk (I was walking, not these thingees) which I thought might be called Wood Roses…but I looked it up and learned that Woodrose is “a parasitic plant endemic to New Zealand.”  Since these fell from a pine tree in Berkeley, they’re definitely not woodrose, but they do look like Wood Roses!

Faces Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Painting People Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Sketching as an Antidote to Insanity

Marcy calling home, ink & watercolor
Marcy calling home from Mom's porch, ink & watercolor

It wasn’t an easy weekend in L.A. visiting family but sketching really helped me to avoid going completely bonkers. There were some lovely moments: walking on the beach in the misty morning with my sister Marcy, taking a tour with Mom and Marce of an historic house (now a museum) in Santa Monica where a huge retrospective of Milford Zorne‘s amazing paintings were on display (more about that in another post).

Mom cooking stinky cabbage, ink & watercolor
Mom cooking stinky cabbage, ink & watercolor

My 85 year old mother doesn’t cook much anymore, but she got inspired to make Pracas (sweet and sour meatballs in cabbage).  But despite not having some of the ingredients or being able to see the recipe in the cookbook well enough to follow it, and despite the jar of ancient fossilized onion flakes she substituted for the actual onion in the recipe (demanding that I use a sharp knife to break the clump up so it could be extracted from the jar), and the house stinking like cabbage all afternoon, dinner wasn’t that bad, really.

Guy sleeping holding his boarding pass; hanging out at Mom's
Guy sleeping holding his boarding pass at Oakland airport; hanging out at Mom's
Grateful for my pen & sketchbook
Grateful for my sketchbook

It’s amazing how sketching can calm my nerves and put the whole dysfunctional family thing at a distance while still being physically present.

Josh reading
Josh reading

It’s really good to be back home.

Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Other Art Blogs I Read Outdoors/Landscape Painting People Photos Plein Air Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Sketching with Martha & Shirley (St. Patrick’s San Francisco)

St. Patrick's Church, ink & watercolor 8x6"
St. Patrick's Church, San Francisco, ink & watercolor 8x6"

Shirley (Paper and Threads) was visiting San Francisco this week and Martha (Trumpetvine) and I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon sketching with her in the park. Poor St. Patrick’s Catholic Church isn’t really falling over despite the many earthquakes it has weathered over the years. It’s just my usual wonky drawing. Martha and Shirley will post their drawings on their own blogs eventually but here is a snapshot of our work lined up together.

Shirley's, Jana's and Martha's sketches
Shirley's, Jana's and Martha's sketches

And here we are lined up, with me a head taller and trying to take a photo and holding my iPhone at arm’s length.

Jana, Martha and Shirley
Jana, Martha and Shirley

We were joined virtually on our little art blogger sketchcrawl by phone  from Lisa in Texas and via Facebook (where I posted an update and photo while we were sketching) by Marta (MARTa’s Art) and EJ (Rose-Anglais) .

After sitting on cold concrete steps to sketch we were ready to warm up. We walked back to Shirley’s hotel, and she treated us to a glass of wine on the 39th floor of the Mariott Hotel (also known as the “Jukebox” building because of its unique architecture). Here’s the view from the bar just before sunset.

View from the hotel bar
View from the Marriott Hotel bar

It was such a treat to spend a Friday afternoon with these two very talented and beautiful women.  After the sun set in golds and pinks, and the lights of the city came on, I had to leave while they went off in search of dinner.  I BARTed to Oakland for the monthly Friday night “Art Murmur” gallery walk where my sister and niece had pieces in a show. Walking from BART I passed the grand old Paramount Theatre and set my camera to “burst” mode so I could capture the changing lights of the neon marquis.

Paramount 5
Paramount 1
Paramount 4
Paramount 2
Paramount 3
Paramount 3
Paramount 2
Paramount 4
Ink and watercolor wash Painting Plein Air Still Life Watercolor

Bananas in a Debbie Meyer Green Bag

Bananas in a Bag, Watercolor & acrylic on hot press paper, 6x8
Bananas in a Bag, Watercolor & acrylic on hot press paper, 6x8"

I’m usually skeptical of anything that says “As Seen on TV” on the label, but I heard someone raving about how “Debbie Meyer Green Bags” keep fruit fresh longer and decided to give them a try. They actually do work. I used them during the summer with tomatoes from my garden and very few of them went rotten. They seemed to last for weeks without putting them in the refrigerator. I used the bags successfully with bananas and peaches too.

They supposedly can be reused 8 to 10 times but I’ve found that each time you reuse the bags they seem to have less potency.  The package says they are “made with a “a natural mineral ‘Oya’ that absorbs and removes the ethylene gases that cause normal deterioration.” Oya is made from zeolite, a kind of clay found in Japanese caves.

You do have to keep the contents of the bags dry and I found putting them in the refrigerator means they get moisture inside and you have to keep wiping the inside of the bag. I hope I don’t find out later

About the watercolor:

I wanted to use masking fluid to preserve the white highlights and shiny spots on the bag but when I opened my bottle of masking fluid I found it had turned into a solid lump of white rubber. So I tried using a white colored pencil as a resist on the white areas, but when I painted over it it didn’t repel the paint. I could have drawn the whole thing out really, really carefully and saved the white areas by painting around them, but I didn’t have the time tonight.

So I just painted, planning to use my white gel pen for the highlights but discovered it too had dried up.  In the end I made the highlights with liquid Golden acrylic, drawing straight from the little squirt bottle of paint, blobs and all.

Debbie Meyer Green Bags
Debbie Meyer Green Bags

P.S. WordPress rolled out it’s new version today with a beautiful, pwerful and simple new user interface that makes blogging a joy! Yay WordPress!

Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Other Art Blogs I Read Outdoors/Landscape Painting People Plein Air Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Sketching at Martinez Waterfront Park

Martinez Hot Dog Depot, Ink & watercolor
Martinez Waterfront Park, Ink & watercolor in watercolor Moleskine, 5x7"

I arrived late and lazy (due to my efforts to decaffeinate myself) for our paint out at Martinez Waterfront Park today and decided to sketch in ink and watercolor instead of setting up my easel and oil paints. It’s a great park, with a marina full of boats on the bay, fields, trees, ponds, an historic train station and old train (pictured above), a nearby river and marshlands and much more. It’s right on the edge of the older part of town and the Amtrak train station is just outside the entrance to the park.

I sat on a very hard stone bench at the old train station about 20 feet from the tracks.  On the sketch above, I drew without much of a plan, just picking things I saw that interested me and sticking them somewhere on the page, drawing in ink and hoping it would all fit together somehow. I added the watercolor on site.

The two artists in the sketch were standing between the west and east Amtrak tracks. Every 15 minutes a train would roar by about 2 feet of where they were standing, sounding it’s horn so loudly it was painful, but they stood their ground like the dedicated plein air painters that they are.

Martinez Hot Dog Depot, Ink & watercolor
Martinez Hot Dog Depot, Ink & watercolor in Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, 5x7"

I turneda bit to the left at the end of the day and quickly sketched this wonky old Hot Dog Depot (named because it’s adjacent to the train depot. The perspective is all wonky but so was the building. It has a weird corner section where that second smaller window is. So the building isn’t a rectangle, it’s a pentagon (5-sided). I didn’t have time to worry about perspective as the group was convening for a critique and I had to hurry to finish this at all.