Categories
Art Painting People Portrait Watercolor

Maya Angelou Watercolor Portrait

Maya Angelou, from photo reference circa 1972, watercolor, 8×6′

I saw Maya Angelou at the Rainbow Sign, a former Berkeley mortuary on Grove Street, a year after the publication of her book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” (Link to event announcement).

We sat around her on the funky carpet in the former chapel, and listened raptly as she read and spoke about her life’s journey so far. At that time she was the first ever African-American best-selling author and like me, was living in Berkeley.

Maya Angelou, reference photo circa 1972

I used the photo reference above from around that same time for my preparatory sketch below.

Preliminary sketch on Xerox paper

I painted her twice, using a limited three-color palette of DS Quinacridone Gold, WN Perylene Maroon, and DS Indanthrone Blue. Below is the first (failed) painting attempt.

First failed painting

In the painting (above, Yuck!) I made her skin too dark and too orange, plus when I added Rose of Ultramarine for her dress and Winsor Blue to a gold background, I made a green that clashed with the purple dress.

Color testing before painting and scratch sheet for testing strokes as I painted

For some reason this snippet of her talk 50 years ago has always stayed with me. She said:

My grandmother always told me,
“You don’t always get what you pay for,
but you always pay for what you get.”

Maya Angelou
Categories
Food sketch Gouache Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Susan’s Sausage at Gaumenkitzel

Susan's Dinner at Gaumenkitzel, graphite and gouache, 7x9.25"
Susan’s Dinner at Gaumenkitzel, graphite and gouache, 7×9 inches

When we met a Gaumentkitzel for sketch night I’d already had dinner so just ordered a decaf and sketched Susan’s dinner instead. I added gouache when I got home.

Categories
Berkeley Building Ink and watercolor wash Other Art Blogs I Read People Photos Sketchbook Pages

Sketching North Berkeley with Carole Baker

Carol holding my Earthly Goods sketch
Carol holding my Earthly Goods sketch

Carole Baker is an amazing painter in remote northern Alaska who I’ve known through our blogs and correspondence for years. When she was in Berkeley for a visit we met in North Berkeley to sketch. Above is a photo of my wonky sketch (held by Carole so that I could photograph it) of Earthly Goods, the store on one corner of Vine and Shattuck.

Carol holding her sketch of the corner of Shattuck and Vine
Carol holding her sketch of the corner of Shattuck and Vine

We sat on the same bench but looked in opposite directions. Here is Carole and her sketch of the produce market on the opposite corner of Shattuck and Vine.

I was so inspired by Carole and her art on the beautiful greeting cards she gave me as a gift. You can see Carole’s art on her blog Carole Baker’s Art Journal.

Categories
Berkeley Gardening Ink and watercolor wash Sketchbook Pages

Empress Hornblower and the Wanna Be Cantaloupe

Empress Hornblower at Sunset, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in
Empress Hornblower at Sunset, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Sounds like a great title for a children’s book, no? The Empress Hornblower (above) is part of a fleet of party boats moored behind the ritzy hotel at the northern Berkeley marina, an area long-time residents remember as the old Berkeley dump.

Before “ecology” and “global warming” were common words, cities dumped their garbage, old cars, construction rubble, etc. in the San Francisco Bay. As they filled in the bay with garbage, they created new land on which they built housing, freeways, and, when they finally closed the dump, parks and hotels.

Wanna Be Cantalope
Wanna Be Cantaloupe, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

My tenant (I own/live in a duplex) loves to garden so I put in a raised bed for her and we prepared the soil along the side of our property for flowers and veges. When she  planted cantaloupes I warned her they wouldn’t thrive in our foggy climate but she ignored me.

They were cute but never got bigger than chubby  cucumbers, and probably most of that was skin. She pulled them out before she left on vacation in October. I didn’t have the heart to ask her if she ate them or put them in the green bin for recycling.

Categories
Berkeley Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Outdoors/Landscape Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Endless Summer #1: Clark Kerr Campus, World News Box

World Journal News Box at Clark Kerr Campus,  ink and watercolor, 7x5x5.5 in
World Journal News Box at Clark Kerr, ink/watercolor, 7x5x5.5 in

Although cold autumn weather and even snow already arrived in much of the western hemisphere, always radical Berkeley begs to differ. We had an unusually unfoggy and warm summer, a toasty fall, and now, with temperatures in the 70s we’re back to summer again. So far 2013 is the driest year in Bay Area history with less rain than any year in recorded history, all the way back to the Gold Rush.

After a delay posting work from the summer due to various health issues, at least it doesn’t feel awkward to be posting them now, thanks to our seemingly endless summer.

In the sketch above, this bright red Chinese newspaper box on the Clark Kerr Campus immediately drew my attention. Clark Kerr was built in the 1930s as a residential school for the blind. When blind students began mainstreaming into regular public schools, the University of California Berkeley bought the complex for student housing. Clark Kerr’s beautiful, serene grounds and Spanish style buildings provide an oasis of sketching opportunities in the middle of a busy urban area.