Aztec Dancer waiting; wearing animal head (coyote? wolf?), fur and feathers, ink & watercolor, 8×5″ (drawn from Micaela’s photo, not on site)
LOUD DRUMMING! Brilliant Colors! Aztec Dancers! Smoke from sage (and other “herbs”) and grilling meat! LOUD Bands! Dancers! LOUD Spanish radio stations broadcasting live! Sugar skulls! Costumes and painted faces! Marigolds everywhere!
I followed the man in the sketch above after he finished dancing, trying to get a photo or a sketch of him and failed, meanwhile losing my fellow sketchers in the crowd. Micaela managed to get a photo which she let me use for this sketch.
People of all descriptions lined up to be blessed with sage smoke and feathers, (drawn from my photo, not onsite) ink & watercolor, 8×5″
It was the Dia de Los Muertos celebration in East Oakland and I felt like I was in Mexico. Spanish was the language heard everywhere. Families came to celebrate and honor their loved ones who had passed on with beautiful altars filled with marigolds, fruit, religious imagery and mementos of loved ones.
1948 Chevy Fleetline, drawn in ink on site, painted at home (5×8″)
I was finding it difficult to sketch at the festival since it was so LOUD my ears hurt and so crowded we kept losing each other. Being tall, I didn’t want to stand in front of someone’s booth or altar and block the view. Then I found the wonderful old low rider car show at the edge of the event which was much quieter and less crowded. I set up my stool and started sketching directly with a Micron Pigma pen.
People stood behind me and watched me draw. They said nice things about my sketch, including the owners of the car, Jose and Denise, even though my sketch turned their meticulously restored, beautiful work of art into a jalopy.
My first car when I was in high school was a ’49 Plymouth (it was already an antique) and looked a lot like this sketch. To get to school in the morning my sister would have to push it until I could “pop the clutch” to start it. Then she’d run after me and hop in. I was afraid to tell my dad that it wouldn’t start on its own—I thought I’d broken something but it just needed a new battery. I was sad when the motor died.
Boy who likes to draw cartoons watched me (in blue hat) sketch
This young man stood behind me and watched me draw so I offered him a notebook to try his hand at sketching the car but he declined. He said he didn’t know how to draw cars but liked to draw cartoons. I said I didn’t know how to draw cars either, but just did it anyway.
There were booths selling decorated skulls made of sugar, beautiful little skeletons in fancy dress, paper cut-outs, hats, jewelry and even paintings on black velvet of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis as skeletons.
Aztec Dancers, brush pen ink
Sugar skulls, little skeleton ladies and a view looking down from BART tracks when we were departing
Painted faces everywhere
Sugar candy skulls; they added your name on top for free
Pretty skeleton dolls
One of the many amazing altars at the festival