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Celebrating 3 Years, 600 Blog Posts… and a winning book cover

Cactus Taqueria, Berkeley, ink & w/c, 4x6"
Cactus Taqueria, Berkeley, ink & w/c, 4x6"

On Monday night I completed another sketchbook and three years of sketch-blogging. Cathy and I had dinner at Cactus Taqueria on Solano Avenue in Berkeley and sketched the other diners.  Then we started walking to see what else looked like fun to draw.

It was cold and foggy outside, and the lobby of the old Oaks Theatre looked warm and  inviting so we walked in and asked if we could sketch. This confused the woman working there who had nothing to do but sit and chat with a younger woman. It was a Monday night and they were showing a French movie and it was a bad French movie and so there were few customers. She told the manager we wanted to sketch (with a tone of voice that implied we might be deranged) and he said it was fine.

Oaks Theatre Popcorn Machine, Berkeley, ink & w/c
Oaks Theatre Popcorn Machine, Berkeley, ink & w/c

We sat on carpeted stairs (the only place to sit except the already occupied bench) and sketched the  popcorn machine directly in front of us. At first it seemed like a stupid, boring subject, but within minutes I was captivated by all the odd mechanical bits inside the machine. Oddly, despite the strong scent of hot popcorn, the machine was completely empty.

At first we sketched listening to the inane conversation of the two women which even they seemed bored by. They left and the manager came over and asked us whether drawing can be learned or if is just an inborn talent (definitely can be learned!). Then he wandered off and we listened to him being lectured to by a customer (inspired by the movie she’d just left?) about race, culture, history, and her philosophies on life,  while he listened patiently, saying “OK.” I jotted down a few of her pronouncements on the sketch.

Three Years of

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My Art on Winning  Bookcover

White Lilac Love Book Cover
Winning bookcover

About a year ago, I received an email from Croatian poet and author Sonja Smolec, asking for permission to use one of my watercolors on the cover of her new book of poetry, “White Lilac Love.” Of course I agreed, and was delighted when she sent me a copy of the book.

A week ago I received an email from Sonja telling me that her publisher had held a bookcover contest and her book had won! The 73 poems in White Lilac Love weave a beautiful and tender love story with all the soaring emotions from hope to despair to true love along the way. One of the poems was so evocative and full of wonderful imagery that it inspired a painting (in progress — more about that later).

It’s been a great three years!

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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.

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