Sketching In The New Year

Sketching in the New Year

I spent New Year’s Eve drawing caricatures for party-goers at Harrah’s Reno hotel and casino. I couldn’t help but sketch this little woman sitting for hours at a Poker game machine on New Year’s Day, still wearing her party hat from the night before.

Wanting to avoid being caught driving through the mountains in a blizzard, I traveled by Amtrak. That required two buses and a train going, but only one bus and a train coming back. So, I did a bit of sketching in station waiting  rooms.

amtrakwaiting

I walked to the Nevada Art Museum, which had several cool exhibits, and stopped for a few minutes on the way back to sketch this colorful parking structure near Harrah’s.

renoparking

San Miguel De Allende Sketches

San Miguel de Allende sketches

black-catrinaJust returned from my week-long sketching workshop in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. So many fascinating people, places and things to draw! This was the week of Dia de los Muertos, so we got to see a wide array of displays associated with this holiday. Decorated skulls, Catrina figures (those glamorous skeletons, with the wide-brimmed hats) and more.sma-parroquiabistro-mi-casa

dia-de-los-muertos-1

Cafe Society

Cafe Society

The San Rafael workshop took shelter from wet weather by sketching people at the Aroma Cafe. Just two doors down from our Rileystreet Art Store HQ, this location is excellent for finding people sitting in one spot for extended periods….working on their computers, mostly. Drawing people waiting in line to place their order provides more of a challenge….the line moves pretty quickly.

Student work is shown here, using a combination of aquarelle pencils and ink pens. nathalie-cafemichael-cafepatti-cafepatty-cafestephanie-cafe

Beach Beasts…and More

Beach Beasts…and more

I visited the Exploratorium in San Francisco just in time to observe the amazing Strandbeesten, or “Beach Creatures” before the exhibition is returned to Holland. These kinetic marvels are the invention of the Dutch visionary Theo Jansen. Made mostly of ivory-colored PVC pipes, they are complex arrangements of tubes, connectors, some fabric wind-catchers, and a variety of feet. Sketching them is a challenge requiring the willingness to let go of accuracy.SF ferry bldg-1

On my way back to catch the Ferry, I stopped long enough to sketch the Ferry Building and some of the crowd strolling the Embarcadero on this sunny Sunday. Stages of the sketch show a quick layout in water-soluble colored pencil, followed by an ink layer. Finally, a couple of additional colors, some water effects, and….voila!SF ferry bldg-2SF Ferry bldg-done

Sketching People At The Market

Sketching people at the market

After some warm-up sketching at Rileystreet Art store, seven of us went on location to the Safeway store on B street in San Rafael. There are special challenges when sketching people live: working quickly of course, choosing a moment when there is action (such as, reaching or bending down), and expressing that action with only a few pen lines or pencil strokes. I prefer a wide colored pencil stroke to achieve the gesture. Shopping carts or hand baskets, along with some rough indications of shelves or display cases will help establish the setting. Student work is shown here, as well as my own.Safeway-student2Safeway-1Safeway-student3

Lisbon

Lisbon

Lisbon was the last stop on our concert tour. Sketch above shows a section of the huge Jeronimo’s monastery in the Belem neighborhood. The OLA frozen treat stand was actually on the opposite corner, but it made a great contrast to the monumental architecture.

Lisbon rooftops Bairro Alto 72Pauline and I stayed an extra four days in a 3rd story flat that she found through airbnb. Here’s a view from our bedroom window in the Bairro Alto neighborhood.

Lisbon flea market 72After riding on the famous tram #28, we stumbled upon a flea market, at the foot of the Panteao Nacional.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rua Augusta Arch is the center of a lively commercial district, where we had an elegant lunch.Lisbon Rua Augusta Arch2 72 On the opposite side of the arch is the waterfront, the site of Eurocup activity, including jumbotron video of matches. During our visit, Portugal beat Croatia, and there was quite a bit of yelling, cars honking and whatnot. Several days after we returned home, Portugal actually won the Eurocup! YAY!

Lisbon Eurocup

Portugal!

Portugal!

Our first stop in Portugal was the town of Sintra. I stood in the middle of a busy intersection, surrounded by tourists, many of whom took an interest in my work. Several Japanese folks followed me as I moved from this location to our bus, adding color and detail as I went.Sintra-Japanese tourists

Sintra street

Sketching People In A Cafe

Sketching people in a cafe

The sketching workshop in San Rafael yesterday focussed on people. After a refresher on basic proportions of the human head and body, we warmed up by drawing from photos, then went to the Aroma Cafe for practice “in the wild.”

The blue and green couple, above, was created by a new student with no prior experience. I did add some finishing touches, using an indigo colored pencil.

That big guy with the beard and curly pony tail was an attractive subject for several of us. Here’s my version, in purple and gold.

bearded guy-computer

Sketching people without their knowledge is a skill worth developing. Find an advantageous point of view at just the right distance. Work very fast to lay out the basic “line of action” of the pose (Thanks to Suhita Shrodkar for that term). People sitting by themselves are likely to move around less than folks who are sitting together. Hand gestures while talking are a challenge. You can choose one position and draw it from memory, or make the moving hand deliberately out of focus.

man with sunglassesThis fellow was waving his right hand around quite a bit as he talked. A collaboration between me and a student ended up with a closed hand held up to his face.

Another collaboration, below, shows a man with white hair seated against a black background. Using that dark area for contrast made the white hair stand out nicely.

white haired man

San Rafael sketches: people, places & things

One of my favorite venues for sketching people is the Aroma Cafe on 4th street in San Rafael, CA, a couple doors down from the award-winning Art Supply store, Rileystreet. This sketch was done with colored pencil.figure sketches 4-2-16I love this colorful victorian building on B street @ 3rd. There is a guitar store on the ground floor, and I was delighted to see this old Chevy pickup truck parked in the perfect spot.

guitar store photo

guitar store 1-2

First, I began with dark red aquarelle pencil, then added blue and green, to establish the basic structure and lay in some of the darkest values.

Guitar store 3-4Then I added some line work with a Micron black ink pen, size .08. More color, including yellow ochre, was applied. A few strong black accents were added with a Faber-Castell B (brush tip) pen. Finally, water from a Japanese water brush was used to release pigment from the colored pencil strokes.

guitar store 4-2-16