Categories
Building Landscape Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Places Plein Air

Alvarado Bar, Grill and Pupusas: Painting Plein Air in Gritty Richmond

Alvarado Bar and Grill, San Pablo; oil on panel, 8x10"
Alvarado Bar and Grill, San Pablo; oil on panel, 8x10"

I recently began painting twice a week with the East Bay Landscape Painters whose members are preparing for a show of urban paintings of unexpected, nothing-special spots. For two Saturdays we painted on the unlovely corner of McBryde and San Pablo Avenue in Richmond.

I set up my easel by the air and water pumps at this gas station and set to work. I sketched out the composition and started painting the building when a huge semi truck double-parked right in front of it and began unloading produce for the market next door. My view was just about like this so I started on the empty lot next door. Half an hour later the truck left and I could finally paint the bar. I was happy with the above painting; a rare occurrence when I paint plein air.

Pupusas and Desayunos; oil on panel, 8x10"
Pupusas and Desayunos; oil on panel, 8x10"

The next Saturday afternoon we returned to the same corner. It was hot so I set up in a shady spot under this tree in front of a used car dealership and painted the Pupusas place across the street. Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez also painted the Pupuseria, except she worked on an enormous canvas (maybe 24×30″) and her painting was fantastic! She also tells a funny story here about the day and the idea behind painting nothing-special spots.

While we were having our critique in the shade of the Fish and Chips place, one of the artists who’d left her chair and easel set up across the street by the pupusas shop just happened to look over her shoulder. She saw a guy jump out the side door of a van and pick up her folding chair. She started yelling at him, ran across the street and grabbed it back before he could stick it in the van. He took off and returned to our critique.

Categories
Building Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Life in general Places Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Mississippi Catfish and Smog Check

Mississippi Catfish and Smog Express, ink & watercolor
Mississippi Catfish and Smog Express, ink & watercolor

Would you eat dinner at a place that also offers smog testing? I didn’t take a chance on the food while my car was getting its smog test. Instead I stood out in front and sketched. The car was finished and certified in 10 minutes—before I could finish painting.

The mechanic couldn’t figure out what I was doing. Twice he stuck his head out of the garage and called out to me that my car was ready. Finally, he came over and asked, “Are you still doodling? Your car is ready.”

He looked at my sketch but still couldn’t really comprehend the concept that I was drawing his humble establishment. But he said, “Nice picture. Take your time.” And I did.

And if you’re looking for a quick, easy smog check at the best price around, Smog Check Express in Richmond was great.

Categories
Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Outdoors/Landscape Painting Places Plein Air Sketchbook Pages

Sketching at the BoilerHouse Restaurant, Richmond

Boiler, Sanguine Ink & Watercolor
Old Boiler in the restaurant, Sanguine Ink & Watercolor

Last Tuesday evening we sketched at the BoilerHouse Restaurant in Richmond’s Craneway Pavillion on the San Francisco Bay. The building had been a Ford automobile factory until World War II when it was converted to military use. Now it holds a restaurant and a huge venue for dance, music and other events and is on the Bay Trail, a walking and bike path around the SF Bay.

BoilerHouse Restaurant, ink & watercolor
BoilerHouse Restaurant, ink & watercolor

The architecture is really complicated and the big smoke stack was very tall so after a false start (the black lines still visible) I switched to a brown pen and started over on the same page. I marked the top of the stack and the bottom of the building so I could get it all on the page. I also used the “plumb line” technique (where you imagine a line straight down from one thing to see what lines up along that line below it).

Sunset View from Craneway Pavillion, ink & watercolor
Sunset View from Craneway Pavillion, ink & watercolor

It was getting cold and windy as the sun was starting to set. The boat at the end of the pier is the restored Red Oak Victory Ship which served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was built by the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond.  That’s the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out from behind the hills.

Tree at Dusk, ink & watercolor
Tree at Dusk, ink & watercolor

At dusk we moved inside the restaurant to warm up and sketch and this huge tree filled my view through the wall of windows. The window panes provided a convenient grid for drawing the tree.

I’d read reviews saying the service was slow (which is perfect for sketchers) but our water was very nice and conscientious and my salad was good. Other reviews said the restaurant serves strong cocktails and that seemed true: While we were outside sketching a couple of different departing diners (drinkers?) stopped to say alcohol-fueled “funny” things to us and once inside there were occasional bursts of uproarious laughter and the sound of crockery falling to the floor and smashing.

P.S. This Saturday, May 15 is the 27th International Sketchcrawl and I’m planning to attend the San Francisco event. If you’re going too, I’d love to meet up with you there so let me know to look for you!