Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Kensington Painting Places Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Street Light Battle and Dinner at the Gas Station?!

Kensington Street Lights, ink & watercolor, 8x6"
Kensington Street Lights, ink & watercolor, 8×6″

The little village of Kensington is battling over their streetlights. According to El Cerrito Patch, “A number of residents in the upscale community complained in late July when PG&E began removing the distinctive old streetlights on wood poles and replacing them with generic “cobra head” lights on shiny steel poles.” The replacement project was put on hold and community meetings planned to sort it.

I wanted to sketch the controversial street lights so we met on The Arlington, Kensington’s main street for our Tuesday night sketch-out. I found a spot to sketch where I could see all three of the street light types (though of course not so close together as in the picture above).

Kensington Chevron with Whip-Out Food Truck, ink & watercolor 8x4"
Kensington Chevron with Whip-Out Food Truck, ink & watercolor 8×4″

It got dark quickly so we sat outside the Sugar Cone Cafe at their sidewalk tables and sketched by the light from their windows. Across the street at the Chevron Station, people were lining up to get dinner from the Whip-Out Food Truck. It’s funny how food trucks have gone from being “the roach coach” that served awful food to factory workers to the new gourmet thing.

You can see some of the delightful sketches my sketch buddies Cristina and Ceiny did that evening of the festive cafe and the food truck on our Urban Sketchers blog. I give Cathy credit for the pool of light in front of the gas station that I added to my sketch after I saw it in hers (which I’ll link to when she posts it).

Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Kensington People Sketchbook Pages

Kensington Harvest Parade

Boy Scouts Waiting to Parade, ink & watercolor 5x7"
Boy Scouts Waiting to Parade, ink & watercolor 5x7"

I was supposed to go to a plein air paint-out but woke up in an ornery mood with a headache and decided to stay closer to home. Kensington, a nearby community of hills, big houses and trees was having their annual Harvest Parade so I drove the mile or so up there and perched on a low wall outside the combination drugstore/post office. These boy scouts above were fooling around on the bench beside me, waiting for the call to line up. They were constantly moving but I somehow managed to draw them as if they were holding still.

Lining up to begin the parade, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
Ready to march, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Across the street in front of the Sugar Cone Cafe in the hardware store parking lot staging-area, people started lining up. The El Cerrito High School Gaucho’s marching band practiced their flute and drum routines, cub scouts hug-wrestled, and a girl in a fairy costume twirled.

Once the parade started moving I followed along the six blocks to the library/community center destination. It was a charming, small-town event that had everyone smiling.

Drawing Faces Ink and watercolor wash Interiors Kensington Painting People Places Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Sketching at Kensington Circus Pub

Kensington Circus Pub, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
Kensington Circus Pub, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

It was a cold and rainy night so we met indoors at the cosy Kensington Circus Pub (named for the traffic roundabout it faces in Kensington, on the Berkeley border. It’s a very pleasant place to sip a beer and sketch. After eating a delicious sandwich I spent most of the evening facing the bar and doing the sketch above. I wore my L.L. Bean flashlight hat to see to paint and it worked great.

Old friends plotting at Kensington Circus Pub, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
Old friends plotting at Kensington Circus Pub, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Then I turned to face the other direction and sketched these gentleman who were in a booth a few feet away but didn’t seem notice or care that we were drawing them. They were meeting to dine, drink and plot a business venture from what I could overhear.

Art business Art supplies Bay Area Parks Building Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Kensington Landscape Painting Places Sketchbook Pages

Amazing Art/Materials Resource Site + How to Store Paintings

Kensington Hilltop School, ink & watercolor
Kensington Hilltop School, ink & watercolor (a beautiful school above a wonderful park at the very tip-top of Kensington hills)

In my last post I asked for advice on sorting and storing completed oil paintings on panels. Along with the good suggestions from readers,  I found a fantastic website that provides the answers to these and many other questions about proper handling of artwork and art materials of all kinds.

The website is (Art Materials Information and Education Network), “a resource for artists dedicated to providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased factual information about artists’ materials.”  They are part of the education department of the Intermuseum Conservation Association.

AMIEN’s forums are the place to find information to all our questions about proper use, handling, storage, shipping, application, etc. of art materials and finished art work or all kinds. Here is a portion of what they say (more here) about storing oil paintings on panels:

Store your paintings standing on edge, one next to the other, with a piece of acid-free paper loosely covering the face of each painting. You can tape the paper to the back of the panel and fold it over the front.

Ideally, you will put these paintings in a rack, elevated off the floor, in some location that is relatively dust-free and not subject to wild swings of temperature and relative humidity. Even more ideally, each painting ought to be separated from the others, but that would take a very large rack. Second best: You should not have more than about 5 paintings leaning against each other; separate the groups of paintings.

AMIEN’s forums cover topics like Watercolors, Pastel, Encaustics, Acrylic Paints, Supports, Grounds, Solvents and Thinners, Varnishes, Pigments, Color charts, Oil Paints and Mediums, Alkyds, Mural Paints and Techniques, Colored Pencils, Printmaking, Photography and Printed Digital Media, Matting, Framing and Labeling, Picture Protection, Crating, Shipping, Storage, Conservation, Hazards and much more.

About the sketch at top: Friday afternoons I have the pleasure of spending time with two lovely 11-year-old girls who still like to swing and play make-believe games on playground equipment. I discovered Kensington Hilltop School while hiking in the hills on the weekend and brought them there the next week. They played, I sketched, we had fun.