This lady carefully marked up her cheesy crime novel, “Guns Before Butter” with her pencil as she read. The train ride was really bumpy and so my ink line got pretty squiggly. I switched to drawing her after a big guy with a bike got on and completely blocked my view of the man above her.
I experimented some more with the brown craft paper sketchbook, drawing with a black brush pen on BART and (above) adding white pen and colored pencil at home.
And below, some ink drawings done on BART with watercolor added at home later.
I’m not a fan of crowds, blockbusters or standing in line, but I put up with all the above to visit the Birth of Impressionism show in San Francisco’s De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. I had planned to sketch in the park after the show but various delays only left time for these done while traveling there and back on BART and SF Muni.
I made a number of discoveries at the show and am looking forward to seeing it again, hopefully at a time when it will be less crowded. I really enjoyed many of the exquisite pre-impressionist paintings, and especially loved seeing the quite large “Whistler’s Mother” in person. Although the mother’s face appears soft and doughy, I could see in her eyes the universal worries, hope, dreams and sorrow all mothers experience.
I liked the detail of the little foot stool her son provided for her comfort but my niece and I chuckled about the ugly shower curtain hanging to her left. (Seriously, it looks just like a plastic shower curtain I saw on sale recently.)
I was also struck by how unskillfully made some of the early impressionist paintings appeared to me. I found myself thinking that if I’d painted them I wouldn’t have been satisfied with them. That made me consider what a harsh judge I must be of my own work. Then I wondered whether all the paintings in the show (and in museums generally) are considered fine works of art or are included in collections simply because they are historical records of work by famous artists?
And now for an abrupt change of topic….
Have you ever seen a gopher close up?
As we left the museum I saw a gopher pop his head out of a hole in the grass. He continued popping up and down, busy pushing dirt out of his hole. I thought he was so cute until I saw the close up (below) on the screen.
Yikes! We had gophers in my first San Francisco house. I kept planting things in the garden and the next morning they’d be gone, pulled under ground by a network of gophers. I finally gave up gardening at that house. Between the fog and the gophers it was hopeless.
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!
Warm sun, green hills, blossoming trees and a great Peet’s cappuccino to sip at an outdoor table while sketching was made even better by a pen that actually worked in my sketchbook. After struggling to find a pen that would not skip, scratch, smear, show through or bleed on the Arches 90 lb cold press paper I’d bound in my journal, I discovered that my Lamy Safari fountain pen was just right.
All of the pens I normally use were giving me problems. The Sakura Pigma Micron skipped, scratched over the textured paper when drawing, and was even worse for writing in the journal, whether I used my favorite .01 or a fatter-tipped .05.
I tried using an Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie since it would at least produce a strong line (above). But I found that the ink flowed too quickly, bleeding and spreading if held in one spot and worse, showed through to the other side. I also tried the Pitt Artist Brush Pen on this page, which worked OK but was a thicker line than I like for general sketching. The black ink in the finer-point Pitts seemed paler than the Microns, but it might also be that they resist the sizing on the paper more.
Prismacolor Illustration pens are similar to the Sakura Pigma Micron and Pitt Artist Pens and are very nice and comfortable to hold. But they too performed poorly on the Arches CP. In the sketch above I was trying to do a contour drawing of what I saw on the BART train but my lines were barely visible until I redrew them with a Sharpie.
Then I tested my Lamy Safari F-point fountain pen and was delighted to see that it was a pleasure to write and draw with on the Arches CP paper.
I’d last filled the Safari with Noodlers Black Bulletproof ink, which is supposed to be waterproof but actually bleeds a fair amount when a wash is applied after it’s dry. I used a dip pen to test Platinum Carbon Ink and it held up better, barely bleeding at all.
So I squirted out the remaining Noodlers in my Lamy and refilled it with the Carbon Platinum ink. I’ve been a happy sketcher ever since. The ink is a rich black, doesn’t bleed, is great to write with on this bumpy paper, and is comfy to hold. Yay!
Now that I’m halfway through my journal it’s time to prepare for binding the next one. I’ve been testing papers and I think I’ve found the one. When I finish my tests I’ll post them. I have a feeling I might have found the perfect paper for ink and watercolor journaling.
Yesterday’s rainy-day post was a bit dreary so I wanted to post something bright and cheery today. When the first camellia on the bush bloomed I painted her directly in watercolor, without drawing in pencil or pen first. This little vase looks as intended; it is nearly flat in really life, probably intentionally squished by the potter, with just a sort of slot in the top.
I think this sketch makes good use of the watercolor paper in “The Mutt” (the name I’ve stenciled on the outside of the sketchbook I bound with watercolor paper.) I named it that because it’s a little homely and imperfect but still perfectly lovable.
Here is the page where the above sketch resides. I like to make good use of my sketchbook pages. Lately I’ve been grateful for messed up sketches because they become pages that I use for journaling right over the bad sketch. More about that in another post.
And if you were wondering about the post title “Innocent Vixens,” it was from something I heard on the radio. Someone said “innocent victims” and for some reason my mind wandered to “innocent vixens.” It seemed like a concept that might be fun to sketch someday and I wanted to remember it, so into the journal it went, above these innocent (though a bit dorky) BART subway rider guys.
Despite the rain I had a great walk to the Farmers Market at El Cerrito Plaza last Saturday. When the rain stopped I sketched and painted at an outdoor table at Peet’s Coffee across the street. Then I continued my walk to do half a dozen errands. One was to pick up the second disk of “Five Days” from the video store.
I’d rented the first disk from Netflix and couldn’t wait for it to go back and part two to arrive. I had to find out what happened. Five days is an incredibly suspenseful, well-written and perfectly acted British TV mini-series about a woman and her kids who go missing. I’d had this movie sitting around for two weeks when I finally sat down to watch it and then couldn’t turn it off. If you like suspenseful police procedurals with great character development, this one is great!
In Louise Stanley‘s “Rules for Keeping a Sketchbook,” her rule number two is “Start on the third page to get your courage up.” Number three is “Go back to the first page and do a self-portrait when you’ve got the nerve.” At her exhibit it was great seeing some of her (often comical) self-portraits from journals spanning decades.
For my own journals, I preferred the idea of making the last page a self-portrait instead. That way it still creates a record of the YOU that put all that stuff in the journal, but it’s not there staring back at you every time you open the book. So this is my self-portrait on the last page of the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook.
And this is the second to last page. Just a couple of subway riders with a bit of watercolor added later. I’m about a quarter of the way into the new journal I bound myself and am really loving it. My next posts will be from that journal.
And now it’s Friday night and what has felt like a very long, exhausting work week is finally over and I get to transition back to my art life. But that will be tomorrow. Tonight I’m just interested in a good night’s sleep.