Sketching at the Laundromat

Solano Laundromat, ink and watercolor 10x8 in

Solano Laundromat, ink and watercolor 10×8 in

I haven’t been doing much urban sketching or dream drawing lately, while I try to complete a couple of commissioned dog portraits (that are taking forever) and attend figure/portrait drawing sessions and do other life stuff. But here’s a quickie from sketch night at the laundromat, a favorite place to sketch. I’m glad I have my own washer and dryer so I don’t have to go there to do laundry, but I do enjoy the perspective challenges and patterns of rows of rectangles, circles and black and white shapes, as well as the little still life of soap and baskets.

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Sketchcrawl 46 – Bernal Heights, San Francisco

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl (original) ink and watercolor in XL WC Moleskine

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl, ink, watercolor, gouache, 7.5 x 11″

When it was time to leave for the Sketchcrawl in San Francisco I couldn’t find my sketch kit containing all my favorite sketching tools. I scoured the studio and the house. No sketch kit. I feared I’d left it at my figure drawing class the day before at the community college where it had probably already been adopted by a needy art student. Sad and frustrated, I cobbled together some pens, pencils, brushes and paints, threw them in a bag and drove across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Catching up with my friend Susan Cornelis who came down from Sebastopol for the day, and connecting with some other local sketch buddies helped me forget about my missing precious pens and paints for a little while. Since I was so late, after a quick walk around the neighborhood, I decided to sketch what I could see from a bench on the porch in front of the library where the final meet up would be. The lamp post in the sketch above was up on the porch too, which is a little confusing perspective-wise, being up about 8 steps from the sidewalk in this hilly neighborhood.

The good news is that I had a great time at the sketch crawl AND the next day when I was getting ready to go out to the studio I picked up the basket I use to carry things back and forth from house to studio and my sketch kit was in the basket! YAY! And I put a “Reward for return” note in the bag with my name and phone number on it in case it ever disappears again.

I think I like the sketch better broken into two separate ones (below). What do you think?

Sketchcrawl #44, UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Center Street Entrance, ink and watercolor, 5x8 in

UC Berkeley Center Street Entrance, ink and watercolor, 5×8 in

I had a great time at Sketchcrawl 44 on the University of California, Berkeley campus. I missed the starting meet up at 11:00 because I stopped at the entrance to do the sketch above (and to be honest, because I arrived an hour late due to my seeming inability to get out of the house on time in the morning no matter how hard I try). Most of the students are gone for the summer but there were hundreds of visitors from all over the world and families doing campus tours with their high school students and large groups of teens in summer programs on campus.

UC Berkeley Sather Tower Campanile, ink and watercolor 8x5 in

UC Berkeley Sather Tower Campanile, ink and watercolor 8×5 in

At lunchtime I met up with Cathy and some other sketchers, and had lunch sitting on white chairs set up for a wedding in front of the Faculty Club. Then I sketched at our meet up spot, Sather Tower, aka “the Campanile,” a tall clock tower in the center of campus. I rode the elevator up to the top and was going to sketch the panoramic view when I noticed someone looking up at the huge bells just over my head. I would have totally missed that sight (until the bells sounded excruciatingly loudly at 2:00 as I was drawing the one bell above). I skipped drawing the panorama since it took so long to understand and draw the bell. Then I took the slow elevator back down and sketched the tower. I only got the top 3/4 in the sketch on the right so added the base with a statue and stairs on the left.

Gary Amaro, Pete Scully and Me

Gary Amaro, Pete Scully and Me

At our 3:00 meet up time I was delighted to spot my friends and fellow Urban Sketchers Pete Scully and Gary Amaro. It was such a treat to see them again and get a chance to look through their amazing sketchbooks. I told Pete I wish I could live in the world he draws. I so love the light and depth and detail in his sketches! Gary’s gouache and ink sketch of a campus building is really gorgeous in person.

Living Room with 2 Rolls of Shredded Paper Towels

Living Room with 2 Rolls of Shredded Paper Towels (my couch isn’t really that yellow…ick)

I’ve missed going out sketching all the time like I used to. 2014 so far has been the year of the dog. Unfortunately, having been rescued from the streets of Taiwan, Millie is not fond of urban environments, making urban sketching with her rather difficult. She shivers and shakes on busy streets so much that her teeth chatter. Even though she did get into trouble while I was out (see above) in the hour before the dog sitter came to take her to the park, I’ve really enjoyed the time I spend with her and she’s becoming a great studio dog (see below).

Studio Pup Millie

Studio Pup Millie

Emergency Response: Propane Tanker Overturns

Emergency response vehicles after double tanker truck overturned. Ink and watercolor, 7x5 in

Emergency response vehicles. Ink and watercolor, 7×5 in

A propane double tanker truck lost control and turned over at a freeway entrance/exit near my home around 3:00 in the morning. The emergency response teams evacuated people from nearby homes and businesses, including a nursery school, and then cordoned off two blocks on either side of the freeway. Oddly, they allowed traffic to continue flowing on the overpass right above the truck.

I didn’t realize any of this was going on until I tried to drive somewhere and couldn’t get on the freeway. I figured out another route, did my errands, and when I got home walked down to the scene with my sketchbook, paints and stool.

When I finished my sketch and headed home at 5:00 p.m. the fleet of emergency vehicles (including police, fire, utilities, and the Red Cross) and the small army of responders were just beginning to leave. Some of the evacuated residents were sitting on the curb, still waiting to be allowed back home. Fortunately nobody was hurt and the propane tanker didn’t leak. I’m so glad I live outside the evacuation area; I don’t know where I would have gone at 3:00 in the morning!

Sketchcrawl 38 and Urban Sketchers Show

Masonic & Solano, Albany, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Masonic & Solano, Albany, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

We had a fantastic time hosting sketchers from around the Bay Area at our sketching event last Saturday. There were at least 30 sketchers and a total of around 100 people who joined us at the reception for the show afterwards. It was great seeing so many local scenes captured in many different styles. You can see photos of the exhibit, the reception and tables of sketchbooks on the library’s blog here.

In the sketch above I enjoyed seeing and drawing all the details that normally go unnoticed. Then I  disregarded my plan to put the paint down and leave it alone. Instead I repainted the right side of the building several times and even removed the paint with a wet paper towel (in the restroom of the Sophia Cafe above, left) and then painted it again, finally getting the “right” color but ultimately ruining the paper surface.

Bart Tracks on Masonic, ink, 5x8"

Bart Tracks on Masonic, ink, 5×8″

I got in one last quick sketch of Masonic Ave. with the BART tracks and train before I had to zip down to the Albany library/community center at the end of the block for the reception. We made lots of new sketching friends and some will be joining us for our Tuesday night sketch outings we will be hosting the first Tuesday evening of each month.

If you’re interested in sketching with us, please visit our Urban Sketchers blog’s Event page or join our Urban Sketcher’s Facebook Events page.

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