Bookbinding Drawing Illustration Illustration Friday Monoprint Other Art Blogs I Read photoshop Quick Sketch Still Life Virtual Paint-Out

Boring? Not!

Peet's Coffee Corner, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
View north from Peet's Coffee, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

At first glance, the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson in El Cerrito is boring, boring, boring: a wide busy avenue with boxy buildings. But when viewed on a lovely summer day from a cafe table outside Peet’s Coffee with pen in hand, it transforms itself into a sketching delight full of fun details and color.

San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
View South down San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Looking the other way down San Pablo, the Wells Fargo Bank building holds little hope for drawing inspiration. But start sketching and it too transforms itself. There are trees of all kinds and colors. A cerulean sky with only a hint of clouds, a pink apartment building and a gold dentist office. Sun, shadows, banners.

Not boring! I don’t think I’ve ever felt bored when I was sketching. Years ago a friend told me that when I was sketching I looked like I was roller-skating. Whee! Let’s skate!

Building Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Life in general Places Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Mississippi Catfish and Smog Check

Mississippi Catfish and Smog Express, ink & watercolor
Mississippi Catfish and Smog Express, ink & watercolor

Would you eat dinner at a place that also offers smog testing? I didn’t take a chance on the food while my car was getting its smog test. Instead I stood out in front and sketched. The car was finished and certified in 10 minutes—before I could finish painting.

The mechanic couldn’t figure out what I was doing. Twice he stuck his head out of the garage and called out to me that my car was ready. Finally, he came over and asked, “Are you still doodling? Your car is ready.”

He looked at my sketch but still couldn’t really comprehend the concept that I was drawing his humble establishment. But he said, “Nice picture. Take your time.” And I did.

And if you’re looking for a quick, easy smog check at the best price around, Smog Check Express in Richmond was great.

Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Life in general Outdoors/Landscape Painting People Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Sketching at the Berkeley Pier

Fishing & Strolling the Pier, ink & watercolor
Fishing & Strolling Berkeley Pier at Sunset, ink & watercolor

It was the hottest August day in the history of San Francisco, smack in the middle of the coldest summer since 1975. So for our Tuesday night sketch-out we headed for the cooling breezes coming in off the Pacific Ocean through the Golden Gate Bridge (in the center of the picture above, to the right of the San Francisco skyline). We weren’t alone. The pier was full of people strolling and fishing and enjoying the rare warm evening.

Men's Bathroom on the Pier at Sunset, ink & watercolor
Men's Bathroom on the Pier at Sunset, ink & watercolor

Although my sketch buddies selected a more scenic perspective from the same vantage point (which you can see on our Urban Sketchers Bay Area blog here), the men’s bathroom and shoreline rocks glowing pink and orange in the sunset attracted me instead. Apparently I was holding my sketchbook at a strange angle as I was drawing and painting (or else the world temporarily tilted) causing the wonky slanted horizon and bridge.

The sky turned indigo blue as we walked back down the pier towards land, and a huge full moon rose over the hills. Then a group of half a dozen kayakers with little headlights on their boats paddled right under the pier and out the other side below us. It is special sights like this that make getting out in the world to sketch so special.