Art theory Colored pencil art Drawing Life in general Outdoors/Landscape People Places Sketchbook Pages Sketchercize

Sketchercizing My Grocery Shopping

El Cerrito Natural Grocery, Copic cobalt multiliner & Polychromos colored pencils
El Cerrito Natural Grocery, cobalt Copic multiliner and colored pencils

I had to make my morning coffee with the last drops of non-fat milk (yuck, 1% is OK but non-fat in coffee just doesn’t cut it) and there were no peaches or milk for my Cheerios. A trip to the market couldn’t be put off. But I had a full day of experiments in the studio planned and I needed some exercise. Easy solution:

  1. take the long way around, up and down big hills, to my favorite grocery store, El Cerrito Natural Grocery (cardio)
  2. sketch the market using the cobalt Copic Multiliner I wanted to experiment with (I think I prefer the sepia)
  3. shop
  4. carry groceries home in a loaded backpack plus another full bag (weight lifting)
  5. add colored pencil to the sketches to try out the new Polychromos colored pencils (LOVE THEM!)
BART riders, cobalt Copic Multiliner and colored pencils
Quick subway sketches with the cobalt Copic Multiliner and colored pencils

I’m trying to simplify my choices with my art supplies, wanting to narrow down the pens, ink, pencils and colored pencils to keep handy and those I’ll give away. I did tests today on drawing pencils, sepia liquid inks and sepia pens and will post them and my preferences tomorrow.

I’m also working on painting a grid of 16 different acrylic painting techniques to improve my understanding of acrylic techniques and possibilities. It became clear this was needed when I started a series of paintings in acrylic and realized I didn’t have the “chops” to accomplish what I wanted. I was trying to use oil painting techniques and was getting nowhere fast (and ruining brushes with all the scrubbing I was doing with them which seemed the only way to get the smooth transitions I wanted).

Each medium has its own capabilities and pitfalls. Why not make good use of the characteristics of the media instead of trying to force it to be something it’s not? Despite people claiming acrylic can be used like oils and like watercolor,  I’m going to try to learn to use it like acrylics instead and have fun with all the crazy stuff it can do. This series of large paintings wants to be in acrylic and so it shall, and soon I hope.

Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Outdoors/Landscape Places Richmond Annex Sketchbook Pages Sketchercize

Teepees in the Hood: Sketchercize

Teepees in the 'Hood, ink & watercolor
Teepees in the 'Hood, ink & watercolor

I went out for a bit of “sketchercize” today, trying to get unsluggish. My plan was to walk 30 minutes, sketch wherever I landed at 30 minutes and then walk 30 minutes back. But 15 minutes out I came across this odd montage and had to stop right there. Up a few stairs just past some lovely native drought resistant plantings, and a miniature pagoda was a full sized authentic teepee in front of a wall of bamboo. Somewhere behind that was a house.

Why would someone have a teepee in their front yard? Is it for houseguests who have overstayed their welcome? A mother-in-law apartment? A garden shed? A kid’s playhouse? An art studio? A meditation room? A dog house? A place to just get away?

One nice thing about living in the San Francisco Bay Area, or at least in this part of it, is the feeling of “Anything goes,” and “Live and let live.” Slightly (?) odd artists like me fit right in. I definitely found my tribe when I moved to Berkeley, and while I live a few miles north of there now, apparently it’s close enough for teepees.

And now off to watch the season five finale of Project Runway on DVD. Since I’ve finished all 5 seasons of The Wire, and caught up on Project Runway, I’m excited to get back to more drawing and reading and much, much less time in front of the TV!

Animals Bay Area Parks Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Outdoors/Landscape People Places Sketchbook Pages Sketchercize

Pt. Isabel Sketchercize

Pt. Isabel Sights, ink & watercolor
Pt. Isabel Sights, ink & watercolor

No those aren’t circus dogs stacked up in a doggie pyramid, I just drew them that way as dogs came and went, begging for scraps at the table where the couple was eating lunch.

I’d planned to spend the day in the studio today, but when Barbara called to invite me for a walk at Pt. Isabel, I couldn’t resist. Since it was sunny and not too windy (or so I thought) I also brought along my plein air gear, thinking I might set up to paint there after our walk.  But we took a L-O-N-G walk on the Bay Trail with an equally long walk back, and then had a late lunch at the Sit Stay Cafe in the dog park.

The wind had picked up and I was getting cold and didn’t really feel like spending 3 hours standing in the wind (see top left picture with poor bent over tree from the constant ocean winds). So while I was trying to decide, Barbara took out her sketchbook and I decided to do the same. By the time I finished it was already 4:00 and another weekend was nearly over.

But a day with good solid exercise and a little sketching is a good day and it counts. (Unlike some days that just suck and don’t count.)

Animals Bay Area Parks Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Outdoors/Landscape Places Richmond Annex Sketchbook Pages Sketchercize

Amazing Grace: “Sketchercizing” on the S.F. Bay Trail

Amazing Grace, ink and watercolor 6x9"
Amazing Grace, ink and watercolor 6x9"

The weather is gorgeous in the S.F. Bay Area today, sunny and warm with a gentle breeze. It inspired me to drag my old bike out of hiding and go for my first bike ride in two years. Of course the tires were completely flat. I got my first bit of exercise pumping up the tires (while managing to get chain grease all over myself working from the wrong side of the bike.) Finally took off down the street and 3 blocks later realized that when the front tire pointed straight ahead, the handles bars were turned to the left.

Rode back home, called bike store, got directions to fix it, used wrong little L-shaped wrench thingee which got stuck in the hole, called bike store again, found the correct metric wrench they said to use in my son’s tools he left behind in my garage, got the stuck one out, tried again, but couldn’t loosen the bolt. Looked around to see if there were any men home on the block who could strong-arm it for me. No men home.

Called sons  (both avid cyclists). Son #1 not answering. Son #2 was working from home and was  so sweet, came right over and fixed it for me.  Finally, two hours after I first planned to leave, I was on my way, down to the Bay Trail.

It was glorious! I rode through Richmond Annex, crossed over the freeway on the pedestrian bridge at Sacramento St., over to Central, down to the Bay Trail, and rode all the way to the Rosie the Riveter Monument and National Park in Richmond. I stopped to paint the ship “Amazing Grace” (above) in the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor.

Sit Stay Cafe at Pt. Isabell, ink & watercolor, 6x9"
Sit Stay Cafe at Pt. Isabell, ink & watercolor, 6x9"

My reward on the way home was lunch at the Sit Stay Cafe at Pt. Isabel. I was sitting under a bright red-orange umbrella there when I painted this and so all the colors came out really weird (that’s the bay and SF in the distance on upper right). I loved the body language of the people and the dogs.  Pt. Isabel is an enormous dog park along the bay with spectacular views. The cafe is next door to Mud Puppy’s Tub and Scrub dog bathing shop, so the patio and cafe are dog friendly.

Then I cycled home happy, if a bit sunburned. Tonight is the El Cerrito Art Association meeting, with a demo by artist and Liquitext rep Michele Theberge.

What a great day! The views of the bay, the harbors, the city, were spectacular, the sun hot and the breezes cooling. Doesn’t get much better than this! Definitely an Amazing Grace kind of day!

(Some of this also posted on