Saturday was the 31st Worldwide Sketchcrawl and I joined the San Francisco group to explore the Mission District and sketch. I tagged along with my friend Pete Scully who had mapped out a route that included stops at two famous S.F. comic book stores.
While waiting for the crawl to begin everyone sat and stood around drawing everyone else. See Pete’s sketch of me seriously sketching here.
Later, while Pete climbed up a set of stairs to draw a Victorian house, I sketched him sketching and then picked up some lunch at a cafe up the street.
Since I was sketching with Pete, of course we had to stop and draw a fire hydrant (see Pete’s fire hydrant series here). I was amused by the similarity of shapes in the tower atop Mission Dolores and the fire plug.
I don’t know what these guys were waiting for but they never did play.
The theater is defunct, the sign peeling and is dwarfed by neighboring Giant Value big box store. I bet the theater was beautiful when it was new.
Below, some BART people on the very bumpy ride to SF. I’m finding that as much as I love my fountain pen for its smooth flowing, I have less control, especially when drawing on transit or when standing.
It was fun to meet the South Bay members of our Urban Sketchers SF Bay Area group Suhita and John, and to meet some of the members of Sketchcrawl Silicon Valley at the Stanford sketchcrawl on Saturday. Cathy and I made the hour plus drive down there and met at noon. We started with lunch at the outdoor cafe with a view of the Rodin Sculpture Garden (sketched above at the end of the day after everyone left and it is my favorite because I love those funny, imperfectly groomed trees).
My first sketch was the one above, of a statue called “Faith” in front of the Cantor Center for Visual Arts. Starting with “Faith” seemed good, since it helps to have a little faith that the sketching will go well. By 1:00 there were about 10 of us and everyone went off to follow their muses with a plan to regroup around 3:00. I followed Cathy who knew her way around, since my muse, like me, has no sense of direction.
The sign on the building said “Memorial Arch and Court Erected by His Mother, 1898 in Memory of Leland Stanford Jr. Born to mortality May 14, 1868…” I ran out of room to record his year of death but he only lived until age 16 so his mother donated the land Stanford was built on to create a memorial for her son.
From a distance the front of the chapel appears to be glowing gold but when you get closer you can see it’s covered with a stunning mural made entirely in mosaic. Coming from an urban environment where things are crowded, noisy and grungy, Stanford was amazing. The Stanford campus is tremendously spread out (over 8,000 acres), with most buildings only one or two stories, but massive nonetheless. Everything is immaculately clean, with amazing gardens, gazillions of trees (well, officially 43,000), and quiet. At $51,000 a year for tuition, room and board I suppose one should expect a lovely environment!
For Worldwide Sketchcrawl 27 today I headed to San Francisco on BART for a 10:30 meetup at the Ferry Building, sketching along the way. The couple at the top of the picture seemed to be on an unsatisfactory date. The woman seemed passive-aggressive: she’d gone along with bringing her clunky bike on BART and her stupid, ancient, ill-fitting helmet, but wasn’t going to have fun. Her date adjusted her helmet straps for her but while he kept his on all the way to the city (complete with duct tape patch), she wouldn’t put hers on.
The guy in the middle above is Pete Scully, sketched outside Peets’ Coffee at the Ferry Building. I had a great time sketching with him and my friend Sonia and other sketchcrawlers wandering the Financial District of SF.
There were too many people at the Ferry Building, shopping at the upscale foodie shops, being annoying tourists, and/or waiting for ferries. I waited in a line of 20 women for the restroom and didn’t even bother trying to get a cup of coffee at Peets. While we waited for Enrico to give us the “Go,” we sketched the scene. Yes, I exaggerated the crowds and the closeness of the Bay Bridge.
There’s a clarinetist (see Sketchcrawl 21 sketch) who is a permanent fixture at this spot, playing annoying screechy “music” that he segues into “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Popeye” whenever a kid approaches. Moms and their tots stop and dance while dads take photos and stuff money in his case. I couldn’t wait to get away from the crowds.
Pete had the brilliant idea of going to the top of the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel to sketch the view from above. We tried to go to the top floor (17) but the elevator would only take us to 14. We met a bellman on 14 and he said you had to have a key card to get there. I brazenly asked if he had one and he said yes. “Could you take us there?” I asked. He opened the door and swiped his card and sent us on up. What a sweetie! I wish I’d thought to tip him.
When we got off the elevator a gentleman informed us that the 360 degree-view-Regency Lounge was only for Regency Members and asked if we were members. I said no, but asked if we could just look at the view and draw pictures. He asked “For how long?” and I said “Oh, about 10-15 minutes” and he said OK. We were there for nearly an hour and nobody bothered us. We did tip him when we left and he invited us to help ourselves to any of the complimentary food and beverages but we declined.
Sonia and I were hungry so while Pete started sketching a cable car we bought lunch at a deli across the street. We ate sitting at a bus stop, the only seats around. People kept coming up to us and asking about buses. Then I tried sketching the cable car and the hill it goes up and down. I was doing pretty good until I somehow planted a street light in the path of the street car.
Heading north, Pete sketched an old German hofbrau that didn’t inspire me (though his sketch did, which I will link to when he posts it) so I drew him from across the street, sitting on his stool in front of McDonalds.
I was tired and about ready to call it a day but managed one more sketch. I was more interested in the almost spiral staircase, the shadows, and odd architecture than the mannequins in their jungle print undies. I’m not a fan of the Victoria’s Secret brand or their ads and I think maybe it shows in the way I subconsciously made the mannequins look like they were giantesses, trapped in the store window and trying to get out.
It was 4:00 and although the end-of-Sketchcrawl meetup was happening at 4:30 in Union Square I decided to just go home and relax rather than head towards more crowds. It was a great day!
Cathy and I met at Shattuck and Vine to sketch, and started with this historic building, now a wine shop called Vintage Berkeley, converted from the former utility district’s Vine Street Pumping Station. Actually we’d started a little further up the street, but my sketch was terrible so no point in posting it.
By the time we finished drawing there, I was getting hungry so we looked around for somewhere to sketch and eat but that ate up sketching time too. We ended up at Dara Thai/Lao Cusine where we sat outdoors and sketched and I ate grilled calamari on shredded lettuce with cilantro sauce. It was warm, filling and delicious.
I didn’t get to finish this sketch because it got dark and cold…and because I spent so much time drawing details in the fancy roof of the little shelter. Despite hearing from great art teachers, “Simplify, reduce details, draw only what you see when squinting, see how much you can leave out,” I love details. That’s just how it is.
But the funny thing is that because I got so absorbed in the details on that one roof, I didn’t have time to draw all the roofs of all the shelters behind this one, which would have filled the whole page with details.
Today was International Sketchcrawl 22. Martha had a morning event to attend so instead of joining the San Francisco group we met at 2:00 and sketched around the Colusa Circle in Kensington/El Cerrito. The sketch above is of my favorite grocery store, Colusa Market. Their produce is always fresh and delicious.
After a visit to pet the bunnies at Rabbit Ears, a pet store specializing in rabbits, and taking a peek into the Kensington Circus Pub (which was closed but would have been fun to sketch in) we took a hike through the nearby Sunset View Cemetery. I’ve painted there before and love the hilltop bay views and peaceful surroundings.
The fog rolled in and what had been a hot day turned chilly. Martha was cold and my butt fell asleep from sitting on a cement block so we headed back down to our cars. It was after 5:00 and time to say good bye. Not an all-day sketchcrawl this time but a good afternoon with excellent company on a beautiful day.