4th Street Berkeley Sketches during New Apple Store Grand Opening

This Old Band on 4th Street, 7x5", ink & watercolor

This Old Band performing on 4th Street, 7x5", ink & watercolor

Waiting in Line at Apple, Waiting to Play in Front of Peets, 2 page spread

Waiting in Line at Apple, Waiting to Play in Front of Peet's, 2 page spread

When the new Apple Store opened in Berkeley, I played hooky from my plein air group’s scheduled paint out and went down to 4th Street in pursuit of sketching opportunities and one of the free t-shirts Apple was giving out to the first 1,000 customers.

When I arrived an hour after the grand opening, the line was barely one block long and moving quickly. By the time I sketched a few people and balloons (above) I was in the store. I got my shirt, bought a gizmo for my gadget and went across the street to Peet’s Coffee.

This Old Band

This Old Band playing on 4th Street

I enjoyed an iced coffee at a sunny table on their front patio as “This Old Band” set up to play. The music was wonderful, with a sweet, sensitive, gentle feel to it including some Otis Redding, The Drifters and other great oldies played by talented musicians.

There were some interesting (?) conversations going on around me.

Peet's Patio People, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Peet's Patio People, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

This guy was actually sitting at a table with another woman beside him on his right blabbing away, but he seemed more interested in this one.

A chubby, balding, dorky-looking, baby-boomer guy sitting behind me pompously talked non-stop about his life as a rock star and the book he was writing about it. His wife never said a word, and the guy he was talking to was obviously someone he was paying to help him with the book, though he barely got a word in either.

After dropping dozens of famous stars’ names who he supposedly shared a life with, he admitted it was “Better to be a Has Been than a Never Been.”

Boring? Not!

Peet's Coffee Corner, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

View north from Peet's Coffee, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

At first glance, the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson in El Cerrito is boring, boring, boring: a wide busy avenue with boxy buildings. But when viewed on a lovely summer day from a cafe table outside Peet’s Coffee with pen in hand, it transforms itself into a sketching delight full of fun details and color.

San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

View South down San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Looking the other way down San Pablo, the Wells Fargo Bank building holds little hope for drawing inspiration. But start sketching and it too transforms itself. There are trees of all kinds and colors. A cerulean sky with only a hint of clouds, a pink apartment building and a gold dentist office. Sun, shadows, banners.

Not boring! I don’t think I’ve ever felt bored when I was sketching. Years ago a friend told me that when I was sketching I looked like I was roller-skating. Whee! Let’s skate!

Boxed Coffee Scoop (A Silly Purchase)

Boxed Coffee Scoop and Cork, oil on panel, 5x7"

Scoop and Cork, oil on panel, 5x7"

Peet’s Coffee is selling coffee scoops in three sizes that measure exactly the right amount of coffee for their French press coffee makers. Although I was happy with my French press pot and coffee scoop, I couldn’t resist the promise of the perfect cup of coffee.

Haha. It holds exactly the same amount that I already use. And it’s too wide to dump the coffee into my little French press pot without some of it landing on the counter and the handle is too short to comfortably scoop out of the bag or canister. So, while useless in the kitchen it is earning its keep as a model in the studio.

Value study/under-painting for Scoop and Cork, oil, 5x7"

Value study/under-painting for Scoop and Cork, oil, 5x7"

This week’s Daily Paintworks challenge is to do a value study using only burnt umber, and to vary the amount of dark, medium and light so that there is a majority of one, some of the other, and a smidgen of the other. This is done by applying a thin layer of burnt umber, wiping it down for mid value, painting in the darks using only burnt umber, and wiping with paper towel or q-tips dipped in mineral spirits for the highlights.

I was going for a majority of dark, some middle, and smidgen of light. Not sure if I accomplished that. It seems like there’s almost as much middle as there is dark. I’ve done plenty of value studies and monochrome paintings, but I’d never done it this way before and enjoyed it. I like the way the finished study kind of glows but used it as a the under-painting for the painting at the top of this post.

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