Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Electric Owls and Giant Rats: Pest Control at Pastime

Pest Control at Pastime Hardware, ink & watercolor, 5x8". Sketch of artificial owls and other pest control devices
Pest Control at Pastime Hardware, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

When we made our annual sketching pilgrimage to Pastime Hardware on a cold winter evening I picked the Pest Control department. I was attracted by the big, ugly, inflated hanging rat and the artificial owls who seemed to be discussing who was going to nab the rat.

The names of the products seemed inflated too: Pest Chaser Pro and Sonic Pest Chaser (both made me imagine cartoon critters that jump out of the box and chase critters away). And then there’s the Tom Cat Mole Trap (contains cat? that chases moles?) and Cat Stop (do you need Cat Stop after you’ve released the Tom Cat Mole Trap?)

I know someone who is courting real owls by putting up owl houses in her yard. That solution might be worse than the problem. My son has a family of screech owls living in a tree across the street from him and they keep him awake, screeching all night long.

Building Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Outdoors/Landscape Sketchbook Pages

Mira Vista Country Club Golfcarts

Mira Vista Country Club Putting Green and Carts, ink & watercolor, 5x16"
Mira Vista Country Club Putting Green and Golf Carts, ink & watercolor, 5×16″

My plein air group held our annual season kick-off meeting at the Mira Vista Country Club on Saturday where one of our painters has a membership. Afterwards, I sat on a bench in the sun and sketched the clubhouse, putting green and all the cute little golf carts.

Mira Vista, left side of spread, 5x8"
Mira Vista, left side of spread, 5×8″

Although I prefer jeans to dress up and agree with Thoreau’s quote: “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” the club has a dress code that prohibits denim. So it was fun seeing how nicely the paint-spattered artists I’m used to seeing at our painting sessions can clean up, even if it meant I had to dress up too.

Mira Vista, right page, 5x8"
Mira Vista, right page, 5×8″

Our plein air schedule starts up again next month. Last year I only sketched at our paintouts but this year I’ve committed to dragging my oil painting supplies again and giving actual plein air painting another try. But if I still find it too frustrating to stand in one spot instead of exploring the locations, I’ll go back to sketching.

Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Places Sketchbook Pages

Urban Angel & Exciting News!!!

Urban Angel, ink & watercolor, 8x5"
Urban Angel, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

I sketched this scene at the Sundar Shadi holiday display on Moeser Lane in El Cerrito. More about that in a minute but first the…

Exciting News

Katherine Tyrell of my favorite art-related blog, Making a Mark, has selected my painting, UPS Delivers at Night, as one of four portraits up for “Best Picture on an Art Blog 2012: The Making a Mark Prize for Best Artwork – Person.”

Katherine invited nominations and then selected 4 paintings in 4 categories (still life, people, places, nature). Now the public has 4 days to vote for their favorites. Click here to visit Making a Mark, see the beautiful work in each of the categories and vote for the ones you like best. The deadline for voting is Sunday, December 30 at 6:00 a.m. London time (10:00 p.m. in California).

Sundar Shadi

Now back to Sundar Shadi’s holiday display. Mr. Shadi was born in India but moved to the Bay Area to attend college in 1921. In 1949 he put up a holiday display on the large empty lot next door to the home he built in El Cerrito.

Sundar Shadi Holiday Display
Sundar Shadi Holiday Display (at sunset between rainstorms)

Every year until he was 96 he added to the display, building figures, animals and a whole village. He passed away but his family and volunteers continue to assemble the display each year. Sundar Shadi was a Sikh not a Christian, but created the display as a gift for the community.

View looking down the hill, Moeser Lane, El Cerrito
View looking down the hill, Moeser Lane, El Cerrito

The view looking down the hill from the display is pretty nice too!