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

Nature Hike: Sketchercize

Nature Hike, ink and watercolor

Nature Hike, ink and watercolor, 5.5"x9"

Sunday was a glorious day in the Bay Area; sunny, breezy and in the 70s. A perfect day for some “Sketchercize.”  I packed up my sketching gear and hiking poles and headed on foot through my hilly neighborhood and up to the El Cerrito Memorial Grove and the Hillside Natural Area above it; nearly 80 acres of nature with spectacular views.

I intended to walk for at least 30 minutes before sketching but was stopped after 10 minutes by some seed pods hanging from a tree, glowing red and green in the sun that I had to sketch. Next stop was for some California poppies along the road. Then the view of the giant hill that I’d be climbing came into view so I added that with an “X” marks the spot where I was going, all on the same sketchbook page.

View from above Memorial Grove, 5.5x9"

View of SF Bay and Golden Gate Bridge from hiking trail, 5.5x9"

At last I reached the top of the hill and hiked along the skyline trail until I reached a bench where I could sit and admire the 180 degree view–a great reward for the 2 mile, mostly uphill hike. I ate my apple, sketched and then began the trek back home, which just happened to pass by Payoff #2: Baskin Robbins, where I got an ice cream cone to eat on the way (a bit counterproductive, I suppose, but quite yummy). I pasted the cone wrapper in my sketchbook when I got home.

Ice cream cone lunch

Ice cream cone lunch

The view with my house marked:

Hike Start and End

Photo at destination; Red spot points to my house

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