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.

When Being Behind Is a Good Thing

Slowing Down With a Latte and Mini-Scone at Peets

Slowing Down With a Latte and Mini-Scone at Peets

Falling behind and worrying about catching up can be stressful when it’s about work not accomplished, tasks not completed. But in the case of my blog, being behind on posting is a good thing. It just means I’ve been doing lots of painting and sketching with less time for the computer (a goal for this year).

I did the sketch above on the day I was preparing to leave for a weekend painting workshop. I reminded myself that I was officially on vacation, which allowed me to slow down enough to stop and sketch while out walking to do errands instead of rushing back home to get packed.

This sketch came in handy last week at work, when I wrote and illustrated a blog post for our literacy organization’s blog. My post’s subtitle was: “Two birds with one stone” (intentionally leaving off  “kill”). Our clever editor suggested changing it to “Feed two birds with one scone.”  So then I needed a sketch of a scone to accompany my two birds. Since I always have my sketchbook with me I was able to scan the scone sketch. You can see the result on our Reading Apprenticeship blog here.

And I will get that backlog of artwork posted soon!

Sketching People Close Up at Peet’s

Handsome Guy at Peets, Lamy Safari pen with Carbon Platinum Ink in Moleskine

Handsome Guy at Peet's; Lamy Safari pen, Carbon Platinum Ink in Med. Watercolor Moleskine

I could have reached out and touched his face. But he was so absorbed in his computer he didn’t notice me drawing him at the next table, our knees almost touching. The lady at the table on my other side was watching me and said I captured his likeness perfectly and should show him. I didn’t though, just in case he might not find it flattering. Our own ideas of our appearance often don’t match others’.

Older Guy at Peets, same tools as above

Older Guy at Peet's, same tools as above

This gentleman was sitting at the table after the guy above. I think he might have noticed me sketching but didn’t seem to mind. I think he needed the coffee as he dozed off reading his newspaper at one point. I missed on the shape of his head and just redrew it taller. And then in drawing his large ear lobes I’m afraid my shading there might have made it look like a big hole.

Some fashion victims actually do have big holes in their ear lobes that they intentionally create by inserting devices that gradually stretch them so they look like this. What a weird fad. There are many websites like this one that sell such devices. Why would anyone want to do that?

Cool News (Urban Sketchers) and Albany Hill Sketch

Peet's Coffee El Cerrito and Albany Hill, ink & watercolor

Peet's Coffee El Cerrito and Albany Hill, ink & watercolor

Our Tuesday night sketch group is now an official Urban Sketchers group, known as Urban Sketchers SF Bay Area. If you’d like to visit our Urban Sketchers blog, you’ll get to  meet my fellow Bay Area sketchers and see the different ways we interpret scenes in our sketchbooks, often from the same viewpoint.

The sketch above was done while sitting on the steps of the Pier One across from Peet’s in El Cerrito. It was the first sunny day in ages and it felt so good to enjoy a latte and some sketching in the sun. Albany Hill sticks up right behind Peet’s. It’s an odd bit of geography that resembles a very tall cupcake (sprinkled with trees instead of jimmies) in an otherwise flat landscape.

Albany Hill’s “Dynamite” History

In the late 19th century, the Judson Powder Works used the hill for the manufacture of dynamite. The company was forced to move from San Francisco and then Berkeley because of continuing accidental explosions. They planted the eucalyptus trees on the hill to catch debris and muffle the sound of their explosions. The stop on the transcontinental railroad tracks just to the west was called Nobel Station, after the inventor of dynamite. Read More

Where Did the Day Go?

Where did the day go? Ink & watercolor pencil

Where did the day go? Ink & watercolor pencil

Does this ever happen to you? You start off the morning feeling optimistic about everything you’ll get done today and then suddenly it’s evening and the To-Do list has only grown? Not only the day flew by, but given the date on this sketch, so has a week or two.

I sketched this sign while sipping an afternoon latte at Peet’s Coffee. Two women at the next table seemed so intrigued by my watercolor pencils and water brush that I said, “Here, try it!” and let them color and paint (on their napkins).

I’ve been so busy with working, teaching watercolor, and squeezing in a little time for painting and sketching that I’ve gotten behind on posting. But my number one priority today is finishing binding a new journal as I’m down to the last two pages in my current one and they’re reserved for my end-of-sketchbook self portraits.

%d bloggers like this: