Happy Face? Donuts?

Dream Fluff Donuts, ink and watercolor, 5x7.5"

Dream Fluff Donuts, ink and watercolor, 5×7.5″

Do you have a happy face right this moment? I didn’t until I received a blog comment/email from a German blogger whose email and blog name is happyface313. It made me wonder what it would be like to be that committed to a happy outlook.

She inspired me to lose the grumpyface I’ve had the past few days while working on helping a loved one with difficult challenges, and to try out being Ms. HappyFace instead. I put on a smile, made the mental shift from grumpy to grateful, and surprise! It worked!

Happy Donuts, watercolor painting (sold)

Happy Donuts, watercolor painting, 15×22″ (sold)

What does all that have to do with donuts? Well, “Happy Face” made me think of Happy Donuts and my old painting of their shop (above), which reminded me I needed to post my recent sketch of Dream Fluff Donuts (at top). And donuts used to be my shortcut to happiness but I stay far away from those deep-fried, greasy sugar bombs now.

Molly B’s and the Imperial Tea Court

Molly B's Window Display, Ink & Watercolor, 8x6"

Molly B’s Window Display, Ink & Watercolor, 8×6″

Molly B’s is a shop in North Berkeley’s Walnut Square with great window displays. They were closed but the window was lit up when I was there sketching. I think they sell ladies clothes and underwear. According to one Yelp reviewer, the store has “Beautiful fabrics, witty designs, and some amusingly bizarre skirts and trousers.”

ourt Still Life, Ink & watercolor

Imperial Tea Court, Ink & watercolor

After I finished my sketch at Molly B’s we met upstairs at the Imperial Tea Court for a little more sketching and sharing. These were a couple of large containers on the counter (and a guy sitting at a table).

And if I’m ever going to get caught up on my blog posting (I’m not even out of September yet!), I am going to have to learn to keep it short. So that’s it for this post.

LuluLemon, Corner of Ashby & College, Berkeley, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Turning Corners, Looking Back (plus Lightroom, LuluLemon and Dynamite)

LuluLemon, Corner of Ashby & College, Berkeley, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

LuluLemon, Corner of Ashby & College, Berkeley, ink & watercolor, 5×8″ (I don’t know what that huge loudspeaker thing is on the roof–maybe for the neighborhood’s emergency alert warning signal? There’s one in my neighborhood that runs a test every Wednesday at noon)

I’ve spent the past couple of days looking back over my artwork from the past decade while sorting and labeling it in the process of learning to use Lightroom* for managing my digital files. It’s been interesting to see what has changed (mostly for the better), and what has stayed consistent.

Along with turning a major corner in my life (more about that next week), I’ve also been looking back (and forth) through my current journal to find the pages I haven’t posted yet.  So I thought it would be appropriate to post sketches of two corners I pass often. The sketch above shows LuluLemon where I bought my periwinkle runner’s hat (photo, sketch) that I wear whenever I go out sketch or walking.

Peet's Coffee and Albany Hill, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Peet’s Coffee and Albany Hill, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5×8″ (shape on right near bottom is the roof of the Old West Gunroom)

Peet’s Coffee in El Cerrito is a one mile walk from my house, a pilgrimage that I make often. Albany Hill is immediately behind it: an odd uprising in an otherwise flat area. The hill is forested with eucalyptus trees.

In the late 19th century Judson Powder Works manufactured dynamite at the foot of the hill and planted the trees to catch debris and muffle the sound of their many accidental explosions. The stop on the transcontinental railroad tracks just to the west was called Nobel Station, after the inventor of dynamite.

*If you’d like more information about Adobe Lightroom, leave a comment and I’ll either write about it here or send you the information directly. I discovered some great free resources for learning why and how to use it and set up a solid workflow for editing and managing digital image files.

Burger Depot, Ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Evening Outside the Burger Depot

Burger Depot, Ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Burger Depot, Ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Trying to get in one last outdoor evening sketch session of the season, we sketched at the bottom of Solano Avenue in Albany. I stood under a street lamp and by the time I finished drawing it was dark out.

The proprietor of the Burger Depot who has owned the shop for over 30 years saw me trying to paint standing, with my palette and water on the ground, and brought over a plastic chair and a little table for me. The street light and light from inside the shop gave me just enough light to see what I was doing.

I was initially drawn to the scene by two seedy looking guys sitting in a window seat but they left before I could draw them. Fortunately the other two guys eating there were wonderful models who kept returning to the same positions, making it easy-ish to draw them.

Zut! Undies! Fourth Street at Night, Berkeley

Zut Restaurant, 4th Street Berkeley, Ink & watercolor

Zut Restaurant, 4th Street Berkeley, Ink & watercolor

When I saw that a restaurant named Zut! opened on Fourth Street, I remembered Zut the dog, who lived next door to me in Berkeley in the 70s. Zut and his owner Denny lived in a tiny cottage behind a two-story house owned by a man named Huckleberry that he shared with the Arkansas Sheiks‘ (Karana Drayton’s folk group whose fiddler was Laurie Lewis.)

Denny and Zut were also musical; Denny played piano and Zut sang (howled) along with him. Zut and my dog Kangaroo were good buddies and liked to wander the neighborhood together, usually ending up at Bulky Burgers on the corner, cruising for hand-outs.

So when we were sketching on 4th Street last Tuesday night, I asked the hostess about the name. She showed me their mural that included a wonderful portrait of good old Zut and told me that Denny Abrams was indeed an owner of the restaurant.

A La Folie, Undies on 4th Street, ink & watercolor

A La Folie, Undies on 4th Street, ink & watercolor

I always enjoy sketching manikins in shop windows and this one at A La Folie displaying expensive undies didn’t disappoint.

Fourth Street Holiday Lights, ink & watercolor

Fourth Street Holiday Lights, ink & watercolor

Fourth Street’s holiday lights were hung so we expected they’d also be lit but only these two were. I guess they are waiting to light them until after Thanksgiving when the shops stay open evenings. Even without the grand lighting, we were grateful for the relatively warm evening that allowed us to sketch outdoors at night in November.

Alcatraz Liquor Deli and A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley

Alcatraz Liquor Deli, Berkeley; Ink & watercolor

Alcatraz Liquor Deli, Berkeley; Ink & watercolor

We met at the corner of Alcatraz and College on a warm evening and sat at tables outside A Cuppa Tea to sketch. Two women sat down beside me with cups of tea and began talking about prison while counting passing dogs. They asked about our sketching group, noticing us drawing, and then shared that this was their Tuesday night routine, and they were up to a dozen dogs already.

Although I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, hearing them talk about life in prison and the girls in their halfway house was just too interesting. It seemed ironic that having recently gotten out of prison they chose to meet on the corner of Alcatraz (the infamous  prison located in the middle of the San Francisco Bay).

A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley, Ink & watercolor

A Cuppa Tea, Berkeley, Ink & watercolor

It was great having the light of the cafe to sketch by as it got dark. When I could no longer see the street scene I turned around and drew the inside of the cafe through their window.

When we all finished sketching we went inside to see each others sketches. There were  signs all over saying, “Tables for customers only!” (To fend off the students who clog all the cafes in town with their computers and piles of books).  So Sonia bought another lemonade and when we left a few minutes later we left tips for the waitress.

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