Sketching at the Laundromat

Solano Laundromat, ink and watercolor 10x8 in

Solano Laundromat, ink and watercolor 10×8 in

I haven’t been doing much urban sketching or dream drawing lately, while I try to complete a couple of commissioned dog portraits (that are taking forever) and attend figure/portrait drawing sessions and do other life stuff. But here’s a quickie from sketch night at the laundromat, a favorite place to sketch. I’m glad I have my own washer and dryer so I don’t have to go there to do laundry, but I do enjoy the perspective challenges and patterns of rows of rectangles, circles and black and white shapes, as well as the little still life of soap and baskets.

A Slew of Sketches

Tacubaya Awning and 4th Street Berkeley, ink and watercolor, 5x8 in

Tacubaya Awning and 4th Street Berkeley, ink and watercolor, 5×8 in

I’m going to post often for the next couple weeks to get caught up on all the things I haven’t posted because of continually choosing painting over posting. I’m also going to try to write less and keep it simple so that I can get the images online quickly and get back in the studio. So here are 4 sketches that got orphaned from last year. Above is the view from a table under the awning outside Tacubaya on 4th Street in Berkeley.

Rocking Horse and Junk at Pallet Space, ink and colored pencil, 5x8 in

Rocking Horse and Junk at Pallet Space, ink and colored pencil, 5×8 in

The Pallet Space was a junk shop going out of business in Oakland where we sketched one evening. An amazing collection of junk and trash ripe for sketching.

Cow Glass Found, ink and watercolor, 7x5 in

Cow Glass Found, ink and watercolor, 7×5 in

Someone wrote and asked for a print of a previous sketch of my cow glass that I’d sold so I offered to paint it again but still haven’t gotten it just the way I want it.

Leaf Sketch with QOR watercolors, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Leaf Sketch with QOR watercolors, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

I was experimenting with some sample QOR watercolors. I haven’t fully explored their possibilities since I got seduced by gouache and haven’t looked back at the QORs since then.

Sketchcrawl 46 – Bernal Heights, San Francisco

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl (original) ink and watercolor in XL WC Moleskine

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl, ink, watercolor, gouache, 7.5 x 11″

When it was time to leave for the Sketchcrawl in San Francisco I couldn’t find my sketch kit containing all my favorite sketching tools. I scoured the studio and the house. No sketch kit. I feared I’d left it at my figure drawing class the day before at the community college where it had probably already been adopted by a needy art student. Sad and frustrated, I cobbled together some pens, pencils, brushes and paints, threw them in a bag and drove across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Catching up with my friend Susan Cornelis who came down from Sebastopol for the day, and connecting with some other local sketch buddies helped me forget about my missing precious pens and paints for a little while. Since I was so late, after a quick walk around the neighborhood, I decided to sketch what I could see from a bench on the porch in front of the library where the final meet up would be. The lamp post in the sketch above was up on the porch too, which is a little confusing perspective-wise, being up about 8 steps from the sidewalk in this hilly neighborhood.

The good news is that I had a great time at the sketch crawl AND the next day when I was getting ready to go out to the studio I picked up the basket I use to carry things back and forth from house to studio and my sketch kit was in the basket! YAY! And I put a “Reward for return” note in the bag with my name and phone number on it in case it ever disappears again.

I think I like the sketch better broken into two separate ones (below). What do you think?

Shower Flowers Sketches: Dahlias, Pansies and Paper Bootie

More Shower Flowers: Pansies, ink and watercolor, 8x5"

More Shower Flowers: Pansies and Paper Bootie, ink and watercolor, 8×5″

My daughter-in-law’s mother (Why is there no name for this important family relationship: “Son’s Mother-in-law” and “Daughter-in-law’s mother” are so awkward!) decorated Brittney’s baby shower so brilliantly. She covered the tables with colorful vases filled with dahlias and a little pot of pansies at each place setting. She decorated the walls with banners hung with pages from all our favorite old Little Golden Books classics.

I took home my pansies to sketch (above) and a vase of dahlias to sketch (below) and paint (see previous post). Each place setting also included a little baby bootie (in sketch below) that she made from different decorative papers and filled with chocolate.

Shower Flowers Sketch: Dahlias, ink and watercolor 2-page spread in Moleskine 16x5"

Shower Flowers Sketch: Dahlias, ink and watercolor 2-page spread in Moleskine 16×5″

Lilly Pond at Ruth Bancroft Gardens


Water Lilies at Bancroft Gardens, sepia ink and watercolor, 5x8 in

Water Lilies at Bancroft Gardens, sepia ink and watercolor, 5×8 in

It was a gorgeous day at Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek when my plein air group visited. I walked around looking at all the beautiful plants, sculpture exhibit (and buildings in the private area we were given access to, where the 105 year-old Mrs. Bancroft still lives). With less than an hour before our session end I finally settled on sketching at the lily pond.

I painted the old barn the last time I was there and that barn sketch is one of my favorites ever.

Here is my sketch with the scene behind it and artist Catherine Fasciato painting a lily with oil paint. I sat right between her and the sculpture, choosing shade first and subject matter second on this very hot, sunny day.

Sketchcrawl #44, UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Center Street Entrance, ink and watercolor, 5x8 in

UC Berkeley Center Street Entrance, ink and watercolor, 5×8 in

I had a great time at Sketchcrawl 44 on the University of California, Berkeley campus. I missed the starting meet up at 11:00 because I stopped at the entrance to do the sketch above (and to be honest, because I arrived an hour late due to my seeming inability to get out of the house on time in the morning no matter how hard I try). Most of the students are gone for the summer but there were hundreds of visitors from all over the world and families doing campus tours with their high school students and large groups of teens in summer programs on campus.

UC Berkeley Sather Tower Campanile, ink and watercolor 8x5 in

UC Berkeley Sather Tower Campanile, ink and watercolor 8×5 in

At lunchtime I met up with Cathy and some other sketchers, and had lunch sitting on white chairs set up for a wedding in front of the Faculty Club. Then I sketched at our meet up spot, Sather Tower, aka “the Campanile,” a tall clock tower in the center of campus. I rode the elevator up to the top and was going to sketch the panoramic view when I noticed someone looking up at the huge bells just over my head. I would have totally missed that sight (until the bells sounded excruciatingly loudly at 2:00 as I was drawing the one bell above). I skipped drawing the panorama since it took so long to understand and draw the bell. Then I took the slow elevator back down and sketched the tower. I only got the top 3/4 in the sketch on the right so added the base with a statue and stairs on the left.

Gary Amaro, Pete Scully and Me

Gary Amaro, Pete Scully and Me

At our 3:00 meet up time I was delighted to spot my friends and fellow Urban Sketchers Pete Scully and Gary Amaro. It was such a treat to see them again and get a chance to look through their amazing sketchbooks. I told Pete I wish I could live in the world he draws. I so love the light and depth and detail in his sketches! Gary’s gouache and ink sketch of a campus building is really gorgeous in person.

Living Room with 2 Rolls of Shredded Paper Towels

Living Room with 2 Rolls of Shredded Paper Towels (my couch isn’t really that yellow…ick)

I’ve missed going out sketching all the time like I used to. 2014 so far has been the year of the dog. Unfortunately, having been rescued from the streets of Taiwan, Millie is not fond of urban environments, making urban sketching with her rather difficult. She shivers and shakes on busy streets so much that her teeth chatter. Even though she did get into trouble while I was out (see above) in the hour before the dog sitter came to take her to the park, I’ve really enjoyed the time I spend with her and she’s becoming a great studio dog (see below).

Studio Pup Millie

Studio Pup Millie

Oakland Aviation Museum Sketches

P-51 Mustang. Ink and watercolor, 5x15 inches

P-51 Mustang. Ink and watercolor, 5×15 inches

A visit to the Oakland Aviation Museum was a great opportunity to sketch. The museum was the site of the original Oakland Airport and is full of interesting history and planes. This one was a 3/4 scale replica of the P-51 Mustang, a World War II long-range, single-seat fighter plane. This is the plane used by the Tuskegee Airmen.

I recently read several books about World War II that had parts about fighter pilots including The Caine Mutiny and Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (both brilliant and fascinating). Seeing these flying tin cans up close brought home how terrifying their flights must have been and how courageous those pilots were.

Hiller 1099 Helicopter and N45LE Plane. Ink and watercolor, 5x15.

Hiller 1099 Helicopter and Sea Plane. Ink and watercolor, 5×15 inches

The people who work/volunteer at the museum were really into old planes and their history. They were enthusiastic about sharing information with our group. I’d like to go back and sketch there again.

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