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Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Interiors Painting People Places Shop windows Sketchbook Pages

Sketching Solano Ave. in the 1700s and 1800s

La Farine Bakery, ink & watercolor
La Farine Bakery, ink & watercolor & piece of business card

Not the years 1700s-1800s, but the addresses. We started our Tuesday night sketchcrawl at La Farine Bakery (above), 1820 Solano Ave., Berkeley and two and half hours later we’d traveled only one block, ending at Kirin Restaurant, 1767 Solano Ave. Berkeley. It’s amazing how many interesting details there are to be seen and drawn on a street I’ve walked hundreds of times.

We only had 15 minutes to draw in the bakery since they were closing but the workday was just beginning for the baker who was tantalizing our noses with the mesmerizing scent of carmelizing sugar and butter. People rushed in and out, buying their bread for dinner. This lady (above) was in and out in less than two minutes.

Then we headed outside and were captivated by the art deco signage on the Powder Box Beauty Salon which will probably be gone soon since they are moving around the corner.

Powder Box Beauty Salon, ink and watercolor
Powder Box Beauty Salon, ink and watercolor

The wall is maroon tile and I spent way too much time drawing all the lines to indicate tile and then goofed when I drew the car parked in front of the building. I didn’t pay attention to how things lined up and accidentally parked the car on the sidewalk, halfway into the store.

This shop reminds me of one we used to pass on the way to my grandmother’s house when I was a kid. I used to get so annoyed at that shop’s name: “Lipstick Beauty Salon,” because it didn’t make any sense, and that started my life-long pet peeve of dumb business names.

Of course this was before the internet and the REALLY stupid business names that seem to be required for the web. They all sound like baby talk to me (picture a baby prattling, “Google, twitter, hulu, lulu, vimeo, gowalla.” (All successful web-based companies.)

Sue Johnson Custom Lampshades, ink & watercolor
Sue Johnson Custom Lamps, ink & watercolor

The sun had set and all the lit lamps at Sue Johnson’s shop were glowing in the windows. I’d never noticed the wonderful Spanish tiles and other decorative elements above the store windows, including a delicate mural of ivy leaves that I forgot to draw because I got so interested in the tree.

We finished up at Kirin Restaurant when it got too cold outside. Cathy eats there regularly so felt comfortable asking the host if we could come in and sketch and he graciously agreed. (That’s my cartoony version of Cathy on a bar stool, still wearing her gigantic. arctic puffy down jacket and signature baseball cap.) The kitchen is visible behind glass walls.

Kirin Restaurant, ink & watercolor
Kirin Restaurant, ink & watercolor
Categories
Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Places Plants Shop windows Sketchbook Pages

Tuesday Night Sketchcrawl on Solano

Nature map, ink and watercolor
Nature map, ink and watercolor

After having a rough day, I met Cathy in front of the Northbrae Church at the top of Solano in Berkeley to sketch. I considered staying home, feeling crummy, but knew if I went out sketching I would start feeling better. So I sat on some steps and drew a sort of map (above) of all the nature around me to get warmed up.

Next I sketched the street signs in front of my parked car (below).

Parking at Northbrae and Ferrari Foods, Ink & Watercolor
Parking and Ferrari Foods, Ink & Watercolor

Then we walked a block north to Solano and sketched the interior of Ferrari Foods (above), which was closed. One worker was inside cleaning up. When he finished and turned off the lights we walked around a bit looking for our next target, realized we were freezing and moved indoors to Cactus Taqueria.

Don't Play With the Fountain, ink and watercolor
Don't Play With the Fountain, ink and watercolor

Despite the sign on the fountain telling parents not to let their children play with the fountain, children wandering around while their parents finished dinner in the family-friendly Mexican cafeteria found it irresistable. One tot helped himself to a nice long drink of water from one of the streams while the young man sitting beside me yelled “No!” and asked around whose kid it was, dismayed to see him drinking the recycled water. Nobody responded and the kid eventually wandered back to his family, who seemed unworried.

Categories
Ink and watercolor wash Painting Places Shop windows Sketchbook Pages

Sketching at the Plaza Coin Laundry

Plaza Coin Laundry, Ink & watercolor
Plaza Coin Laundry, Ink & watercolor

Tuesday night sketchcrawl was at  the El Cerrito “Plaza Coin Laundry” (where the machines do not accept coins, just cards and dollar bills!). The sketch above was my last for the evening, done in my car after my sketch buddies had departed. I had struggled mightily with perspective and repeated shapes while we were sketching so it felt good to sit quietly in my car and make one final drawing that worked.

Folding Forever, Ink and watercolor
Folding Forever, Ink and watercolor

She was there folding clothes the whole time we sketched while her adult son hung around chatting on his cellphone and not helping.

Making use of a bad sketch
Making use of a badly sketched page

Above is a page where I totally messed up the sketch so instead of just leaving the ugly drawing, I used the page to write notes to myself about how to improve my sketching. Then I painted over it for fun. It’s still messy, but not wasted.

Perspective and pattern
Perspective and pattern

This is what I’d been trying to draw in the previous “bad” sketch. I’d totally messed up the perspective the first time, not believing what I was seeing, but did better on the second try. I also had trouble understanding and drawing the odd shape of the dryer doors on the back wall. Cathy solved that problem by drawing the row of circles first so they were all the same and then adding the trim afterwards instead of starting with the oddly shaped trim like I did.

Categories
Berkeley Ink and watercolor wash Shop windows Sketchbook Pages

Love the One You’re With: You! (Happy Valentines Day)

Valentine Window at Sala, Berkeley, ink & watercolor
Valentine Window at Sala, Berkeley, ink & watercolor

I spotted this store window and loved the mannequin’s attitude amidst the cupids, hearts and flowers at “Sala,” a little shop in North Berkeley. I’d parked in front of the shop to go to my son’s Superbowl party. Then I left before halftime because I just couldn’t sit and watch more rude commercials about beer and junk food when I could be in the studio. Before I got in the car, I had to stop and sketch the window.

Love the One You’re With

As the old song goes, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.” Back in the hippie days the song encouraged us to hookup with whoever was handy. Of course we know how well that era turned out. But there is one person we’re always with who it’s good to love, and that’s ourselves.

I used to dread Valentines Day; afraid I’d be alone, or afraid the “one I was with” would somehow disappoint on that portentous day. Then one year I was alone and I had the best Valentine date ever.

I took myself out for a Valentine’s date. I went to a book store that had a pretty café inside and spent the evening gathering great art books from the shelves and devouring them over a latte and sweet treat at the café, picking one book to buy as a gift for me. I also came across a funny kids book, “Play with your Food,” which I read to a bored little boy who was waiting for his mom to finish shopping. We both had a good laugh and the mom was grateful for some time to herself.

Full page in sketchbook
Full page in sketchbook

Since then I’ve had many other fun dates with myself, when friends or lovers weren’t around. One New Year’s Eve when I’d made no plans because I was supposed to be taking my sons to Yosemite, but it hadn’t stopped raining for two weeks and we’d decided to stay home (which was a good thing because Yosemite flooded and people were stuck there for two weeks without fresh food or working bathrooms) I went to a café that stayed open late and sketched people coming and going all evening. One of those people was a tall, dark, handsome artist who was out doing the same thing. He asked to join me at my table and we had a fun evening of sketching together and then a few months of interesting dating

I imagine this all might sound weird to those who enjoy fancy dinners out and expensive gifts of shiny bling but I guess that’s the point of loving yourself. You get to pick! If you want bling, get yourself some bling. If you’d rather have books or draw in them, make it happen!

Categories
Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Painting Shop windows

It’s a Beautiful Life! New Year’s Reflections (Not Resolutions)

Bella Vita Window, Oakland, Ink & Watercolor
Bella Vita Window, Oakland, Ink & Watercolor

Yesterday I was taking a walk from the art supply store (where I bought some bookbinding supplies for my first attempt to bind my own journal) to a tea shop on College Avenue in Oakland, when I saw this window display at a store called Bella Vita, whose tagline begins “Unexpected Inspiration…”

Bella Vita Unexpected Inspiration, ink & watercolor
Bella Vita: Unexpected Inspiration, ink & watercolor

The display carried me away, especially the amazing yellow chiffon dress that inspired thoughts of everything from lemon meringue pie to Marilyn Monroe. I pictured myself in the dress, and wondered what kind of party I might be attending and who I would be if I were wearing that happy frock.

It was New Years eve day but my evening would not include flirting at parties in a heavenly yellow dress. I planned to spend the evening in the studio, reflecting on years coming and going while tearing and folding paper to begin my bookbinding project.

So as I gazed into the window I knew I had to sketch it. When I finished drawing I noticed their other window: equally imagination-inspiring outfits for little girls: a tutu, ruffly-necked tee-shirts, tiny cowboy boots and an embroidered Indian Kurta paired with ruffled leggings. Had to draw that window too.

Oh to be a little girl again! Ruffles and Cowboy Boots!
Oh to be a little girl again! Ruffles and Cowboy Boots!

I looked up Bella Vita to make sure of the translation and landed on this page about the dangers of getting tattoos written in foreign languages:

Exercise caution when it comes to the popular Italian phrase “life is beautiful” which many people, including Lindsay Lohan, have been getting recently. “La vita e bella” is the correct translation, and even though it uses the same words, some people have been getting “la bella vita” which actually translates to “the beautiful life“, and is used in Italy to describe someone who is living a life of wealth, throwing parties and spending extravagant amounts of money. [oops!]

New Years Reflections

I was inspired by my friend Barbara who, in early retirement, has nearly mastered the Zen art of goal-lessness and learned to enjoy each day doing what pleases her, whether it’s making art, reading, gardening, cooking, hiking, or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. So instead of a list of my accomplishments (artistic or otherwise) in 2009 or a list of goals for 2010, here are my New Year’s Reflections from my journal, written at the end of my rather bumpy, grumpy, slumpy holiday vacation (so it’s a bit of a pep talk to myself).

  • When the time is your own, don’t ask “What should I do…” Ask:  “What will make me happy?” It might be art making, playing, watching clouds float by, learning and challenging myself or doing things that aren’t fun but that will make me happy when I can enjoy the results. It’s my life and I get to pick.
  • I’ve moped over not getting done most of what I wanted to do in the studio over this two-week vacation. But the truth is, there will NEVER BE ENOUGH TIME to do it all. So instead of regretting what didn’t get done or worrying about not having enough time tomorrow, enjoy THIS precious moment.
  • Time is just an arbitrary construct. It’s useful. Without time, everything would happen all at once. This moment is fleeting. Live it and love it.
  • Buddhists say that attachment (wanting what you don’t or can’t have) is a cause of suffering. So don’t suffer: look around now at all the abundance and be grateful.
  • Winter is dark, but the days are getting longer. Soon it will be Spring and…. Oops, don’t long for spring, enjoy this precious, wintery day.
  • Are you enjoying NOW? Ask yourself what you need to enjoy it and then go after what you need: Acceptance? Gratitude? Courage? Action? Inaction? Knowledge? Rest? Help? Hugs?
  • Turn off the panel of critics and quit judging and comparing your work to others. The best work you can do is YOURS to do. It’s too late to ever be as good as so-and-so at this and that. Just be as good as YOU at what YOU do and keep getting better…and have fun getting there.
  • It’s a beautiful life!