Swingin’ at Caffe Trieste, Berkeley

Tuesday Night at Cafe Trieste, ink & watercolor, 8x10"

Tuesday Night at Cafe Trieste, ink & watercolor, 8×10″

We’ve been going to Caffe Trieste in Berkeley for our Tuesday night sketching once or twice a year and each time we’ve been lucky to be there when the Randy Craig Trio is playing. I love their assortment of classic jazz and swing with piano, standup base, guitar and two women singers.

They seem to have a regular following because each time we go I see many of the same people in the audience.

Is Your Style a Mistake? How to Find Your Style as an Artist

Caffe Trieste before the band, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Caffe Trieste (she's saving seats with her backpack) before the band (then six people crowded around those 2 tiny tables, sitting on laps), ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Caffe Trieste was crammed with people when we went to sketch  and listen to the wonderful Randy Craig Trio—probably double the little café’s legal limit. The title of the post: “Your Style is a Mistake…” comes from a  Robert Genn quote that I noted in my journal below:

People at Trieste and Genn note

People at Trieste and Genn note

How to Find Your Style as an Artist

In an interviewRobert Genn was asked, “How does an artist find their own style?” His answer was brilliant. He said (paraphrased here) that typically what makes your style yours, what makes it unique, is the thing you do “wrong;” it is the way you break the rules intentionally or just don’t do something “correctly” that defines your style.

In other words (mine), quit hating and start embracing those wonky lines that won’t behave, that paint applied differently than those artists you aspire to emulate or the hard edges or soft focus or pale washes… Keep studying and learning and practicing, but appreciate what you can do now and cherish those quirks. (Talking to myself here!)

Randy Craig Trio guitarist, ink & watercolor

Randy Craig Trio guitarist, ink & watercolor

You don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful and neither does your art. As a matter of fact, “perfect” art (in my opinion) is boring art.

When you make mistakes, think about how you’ll do it differently next time, but also look for the bit that worked even if it’s just a small passage. For example in the sketch above, the music stand didn’t work at all, nor did the singer I cropped off on the right, but I did a much better job with the guitar this time than I did last time I sketched at Trieste.

Good Enough For Jazz (at Caffe Trieste, Berkeley)

Randy Craig Jazz Band's guitarist, Terry at Caffe Trieste, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Randy Craig Trio at Caffe Trieste, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

On a rainy Tuesday night (in June! it never rains in June here!) we met at Caffe Trieste, a small very “North Beach” coffee house in Berkeley. The place was packed, but Micaela arrived early and saved a great table for us. Soon the wonderful Randy Craig Trio squeezed their equipment into a corner and started playing, accompanied by a woman singer.

Gelato at Trieste, ink & watercolor

Gelato at Trieste, ink & watercolor

I loved getting to sketch accompanied by live music! The musicians were great and their choice of songs was really interesting and brought back memories of the records my dad used to play, including a great rendition of Twisted, made famous in the 50s by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (seen here playing with Count Basie at the Playboy Club):

and later by Joni Mitchell. We ended up staying later than our usual Tuesday night 6:30-8:30 because we didn’t want to leave while the band was playing (and we probably couldn’t have squeezed out between the crowded tables anyway).

Warm up sketches

Warm up sketches, the singers and the audience

So I used the extra time to add to the warm-up sketches page above. They’re nothing special, but as my boss often says, “Good enough for jazz!”

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