San Francisco Sketchcrawl Part 2: Ferry Building, Ferries & Ladies Room Lines

Ferry Building Clock Tower, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Ferry Building Clock Tower, ink & watercolor, 7×5″

While I waited for the Sketchcrawl to begin I started drawing the Ferry Building clock tower. The clocks weren’t really set for different times. It looks that way because I drew what I saw: by the time I got to the right clock it was 7 minutes later.

Sketchers Sketching on the Embarcadero

Sketchers Sketching on the Embarcadero

Next I tried to draw the sketchers on the little plaza across from the Ferry Building (above). My perspective got way wonky on the street on the right. Although there are many hills in San Francisco, this street is actually quite flat.

Marin Ferry, ink & watercolor 5x14"

Marin Ferry, ink & watercolor 5×14″

Behind the Ferry Building I watched the huge Marin ferry arrive. I knew I only had about ten minutes to draw it while passengers got off and on. I nearly finished the drawing before it headed back out so added the colors I remembered afterward.

Standing in Line for the Ferry Building Restrooms, ink & watercolor 7x5"

Standing in Line for the Ferry Building Restrooms, ink & watercolor 7×5″

I’m glad I didn’t wait until the last minute to use the restroom in the Ferry Building. There were 35 women in line for the ladies’ room and only about 3 for the men’s. Why? It was interesting drawing the women right in front of me because of the odd foreshortening I perceived looking down their backsides. Next time you’re waiting in line, try to draw the person right in front of you and you’ll see what I mean.

Later someone gave me a valuable tip I’ll share with you: there’s a little used ladies room on the second floor of the building. I wonder why the Ferry Building management doesn’t include that information in the signage directing people where to stand in line for the downstairs restrooms.



Sketchcrawl San Francisco Part 1: Coit Tower

Coit Tower, from Levi Plaza, SF Sketchcrawl 40, ink & watercolor 7x5"

Coit Tower, from Levi Plaza, SF Sketchcrawl 40, ink & watercolor 7×5″

The San Francisco Sketchcrawl was so much fun and had a great turnout of around 75 people. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. This was actually my last sketch of the day, finished just before our 4:00 meetup.

Micaela and I were going to walk the hundreds of stairs up to Coit Tower to draw it but got distracted by all the other events going on along the Embarcadero on our way. We realized there a was a great view of the tower from inside Levi Plaza, a beautiful, somewhat hidden park that I’d like to return to for more sketching.

El Volado, The Mexican Bus; plus 3 Museums in 1 day: Rembrandt, Vermeer and Wiley

El Volado the Mexican Bus, ink & watercolor, 8x11"

El Volado the Mexican Bus, ink & watercolor, 8×11″

There’s a non-residential street a couple blocks from my house where this bus and its two colorful sisters are often parked. I sat on the corner and sketched my favorite, named “El Volado, The Mexican Bus” (as is written on the bus) on the first page of my giant Moleskine. I did a little preliminary work in pencil to get the basic dimensions and then continued in ink and watercolor.

After spending yesterday traveling around on public transit, a bus seemed a good subject to post today. I took the subway and then a streetcar to visit a friend and her toddler in San Francisco. We walked from her house to the California Academy of Science in Golden Gate Park. It was fun seeing penguins and beautiful fish in the huge coral reef aquarium through the eyes of a delighted 20 month old. At nap time I walked them home and then back to the park.

I ate lunch in the more peaceful atmosphere of the De Young Museum cafe across the plaza from the Academy which had been crammed with hundreds of noisy school kids on field trips. After lunch I visited the “blockbuster” Girl With a Pearl Earring: Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis and Rembrandt’s Century shows. The museum was fairly empty, with easy access to close-up views of all the amazing work.


After a brief, failed attempt at sketching in the plaza (just too tired) I walked back to the streetcar, stopping for a coffee for fortification along the way. My next stop was the Jewish Contemporary Museum downtown to see a show of portraits by Kehinde Wiley, who is known for his grand portraits of black urban men from around the world. This show, The World Stage: Israel features Israeli Jews, Ethiopian Jews, and Israeli Arabs and elaborate religious Jewish designs.

Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Alios Itzhak

Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Alios Itzhak

I had looked forward to seeing this show but was disappointed by how much the oil paintings looked like slick digital art, with no sign of the artist’s hand. That was validated when I found this article that says, “…his actual paintings are created by teams of assistants in China…But great portraits are not about formulae; they are about expressing something about an individual.” And hopefully there is something in them of the artist too, like the Rembrandt and Vermeer portraits I saw earlier in the day!

S.F. Cable Car Museum Sketches

Sketch of Ticket Machine and Street Lamp, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Ticket Machine and Street Lamp, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

We rode BART and a cable car to the Cable Car Museum in San Francisco to sketch. I  had to first draw some of the antique street “furniture” on display—an old Cable Car Ticket Machine and a street lamp with cable car line sign on it (California St. Line). The tickets were only 25 cents then. Now they are $6.00 a ride!

Cables that still power the cable cars, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Cables that still power the cable cars, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

I was surprised to discover that the museum was built around and above the massive cable system that still runs the cable cars. The guy in the sketch above stands on a platform about 20 feet up to supervise (?) the cables that run through multiple sets of huge gears in the basement level of the building and then go out under the streets to pull the cable cars up the steep hills.

Cable Car Museum, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Cable Car Museum, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

It was extremely LOUD in the museum since it’s on a second floor mezzanine completely open to the cable machinery (see picture) so it felt great to get outside again and sketch the brick museum building from across the street. It was a grey, drizzly winter day but never outright rained so we had a great walk back to BART up and down the hills.

For more sketches of cable cars and the museum, click here to see Cathy’s.

Rigoletto: SF Opera at the Ballpark, ink & watercolor

San Francisco Opera at the Ballpark

Rigoletto: SF Opera at the Ballpark, ink & watercolor

Rigoletto: SF Opera at the Ballpark, 5×8″, drawn in ink then watercolor (and a bit of digital paint) added later. NOTE: Flags at half mast for slain diplomats.  Also, appalled by all the corporate advertising, I replaced their signs with generic ones.

My first trip to the S.F. Giant’s ballpark was for a simulcast of the San Francisco Opera’s production of Rigoletto. Our plan was to sketch this annual tradition where 30,000 people attend the opera for free and picnic on the field or feast on hot dogs, beer and garlic fries in the stands.

Public transit was jammed. I stood all the way to SF on the BART (the subway), then we transferred to a SF Muni streetcar so tightly packed my bag got closed in the door and my big feet barely had space to stand. Read More

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