Chicago, my home town, hosted the 8th annual Urban Sketching Symposium, with over 500 sketchers attending worldwide. What a great opportunity to return after 25 years, to see the familiar as well as new architecture and art.
The Falkirk Mansion in San Rafael is just a few blocks away from our workshop HQ at Rileystreet Art Supplies. It is a favorite venue for us, due to the amazing architecture of the mansion and the breathtaking variety of plant life in the gardens. The scattering of sculpture and found-object artwork adds even more to the array of choices to draw. Here are some sketches by students.
Jean Gjevik’s delightful sketch of a section of the mansion has a fairy-tale quality.
Patty chose to feature the decorative glass on the veranda, in the shade!
Stephanie chose a whimsical sculpture, paired with an aloe plant. She makes them look as if they are dancing together
Kimberley manages to combine three views very successfully: a large stone planter, a front view of the mansion and a section of the veranda.
Anne captured the colors and curves of the mansion.
I spent several hours enjoying the sights and sounds at the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival in San Francisco on Sunday. In this sketch I began with some of the onlookers, using a Micron 08 pen. That woman with the backpack on the left is Jean, one of the two students who came with me for the event. For contrast, the band is drawn with a bolder pen, the Faber Castell SB (small brush) pen.
The singer was wearing a bright red outfit, so I continued that theme for color. A yellow stripe on the street suggested the secondary color. I figure most sketches can be done successfully with a minimum number of colors. Unless, you’re using a rainbow pencil, as I did for the lively dancers, here.
Continuing to work with tan paper, on a handy 5.5 x 8.5 inch spiral-bound sketchbook that fits snugly into one of the pockets on my “gardeners’ vest.”
I like to stick with black and white as much as possible. The Farmers’ Market sketch benefits from a dash of color.
Here are some sketches created during a choral concert. Some lines were done “blind”, that is, without looking down at the paper. That is a great method for practicing eye-hand coordination.
Once a month, throughout most o the year, there is an outdoor Antique Market at the Civic Center complex in San Rafael. It’s a great place to find a wide variety of objects, artifacts, vintage bits and pieces to draw! Working with tan paper, using a thin pen (Micron 08) and a Brush Pen, along with a Prismacolor white pencil. I had a white gel pen with me, too, but it had dried out.
When working with toned paper, I like to stick with black-and-white as much as possible, but sometimes the right color can make quite a difference. A bit of yellow ochre pencil helps to sketch the brass objects.
I had the opportunity to practice working on toned paper at a birthday party for a fellow sketcher. Several other urban sketchers were guests, and we all enjoyed drawing each other in the dim light of the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel. The tropical umbrella drinks may have helped!
The San Rafael Thursday sketchers had their first session working with toned paper. After a warmup at the Rileystreet Art store, we went on location to Knimbles, a resale shop that features clothing, shoes, jewelry and a wide variety of ornamental objects. The challenge in working with tan or gray paper is to allow the paper color to be the mid-tone, while using black for darker areas and white for highlights. Choosing an appropriate subject is also part of the process.
Here are some sketches on tan paper, from several years ago. Using black ink and a white Prismacolor pencil (or white gel pen) works well to create highlights and shiny bits. I apologize to my students for the symmetry of the sketch with a fountain! I keep telling them that “symmetry is for sissies!”
I prefer to omit color and stick with black and white. The color of the paper provides the mid-tones. I added the Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook 5.5 x 8.5 inches to my materials list for workshop students.
Another fine day for sketching outdoors. Just two blocks away from our workshop HQ at Rileystreet Art Supply is the magnificent Mission San Rafael Arcangel. I encouraged students to divide their sketchbook page into two or three sections and to zoom in on interesting elements of the main church or adjunct structures.
Student work shown here is by Michael, Nathalie and Kimberly. We also see Victoria working on a sketch of the bronze bells with their wooden support.
Five students joined me on a road trip down the coast to sketch Hearst Castle, with stops in between for sketching in Capitola and Old Monterey. Capitola features a brightly colored motel complex, as well as a beach scene. We had a delicious lunch at Zelda’s. We arrived at our airbnb house in Cambria, which featured sweeping views of forest and the ocean. After breakfast, sketching on the main street of Cambria, with a variety of cafes, galleries and store fronts to draw.
Hearst Castle offered us a rich variety of subjects! Architectural elements from the Mediterranean, marble statues, and a breathtaking collections of artifacts from all over the world.
On the way back home, our last stop was Monterey, for lunch at Rosines’ and sketching the outer walls and decorative elements around “Orientations”, an Asian antique store. We all tackled the challenge of the “wavy wall” and carved stone lamps. Along with my sketch, here’s an excellent one by Patty.
Today was the second (and last) session for my sketching Fast & Loose offering as part of the Urban Sketchers 10 x 10 series. Here’s a photo with all 8 students displaying the terry-cloth wrist-bands I provide for dabbing their water-brush.
The only supplies used were aquarelle (water-soluble) colored pencils and a water brush to release pigment and create color blends. Students were encouraged to be bold and fearless, using the minimum number of strokes. I shared tips for achieving good compositions: zoom in on just a few items, create variety wherever possible: tonal range, amount of detail, sizes and shapes.
Wonderful energy in our sketches of fruit and vegetables, then after a break, fish and baked goods. Here are some samples by members of the class….bon appetite, or buen provecho!