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“Life is Short…Buy the Shoes”

That advice is posted in the window of “Foot Traffic”, a great shoe store on 4th street in San Rafael. My Thursday workshop finds many styles to sketch, along with some hats and handbags. Here is some recent work at Foot Traffic (left) and Macy’s (right). The green line drawing of a sneaker was done “blind” (except for the two areas of quick shading). By “blind”, I mean keeping my eyes on the shoe and my pencil (or pen) on the paper. Part of the process involves drawing the object in one continuous stroke, if possible. This is a powerful exercise for learning to draw what you see, and it is the essence of eye-hand coordination.  Also, when you can’t see your drawing, you can’t be judgmental of your skill!

Foot Traffic-2Macys shoes

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

Sketching people in a scene

Oxbow Public Market in Napa, CA
Oxbow Public Market, Napa, CA

This sketch was created as part of my demonstration of techniques for improvising a scene by combining elements that are not necessarily visible at the same moment.

The blue wash is the result of my dissolving a couple of tiny figures at the bottom of the page. Then I began again, with two people who were seated in different areas of the market. The whimsical sheep and goat are papier mache creatures hanging from the high ceiling. Signage, a striped awning motif and light fixtures were added, to represent several similar items scattered throughout the market scene.

Drawing people from behind is often advisable, in order to be sneaky, and to avoid having to depict the face.

Exotic arts and crafts

Oaxaca birdThe San Rafael sketching group has found another great venue for sketching on location — The Folk Art Gallery on 4th street. Owner Sharon Christovich graciously welcomed us into this amazing shop, where we enjoyed sketching carvings, masks, textiles, figurines and a variety of ornamental objects from around the world.



On the Street….developing a sketch

There is interesting architecture on B Street in San Rafael, around the corner from Rileystreet Art Supplies, where my Thursday drop-in sketching workshop meets. Here are the stages in my sketch of part of a building.

The first “pass” is done with a dark red aquarelle pencil, to put the basics down as quickly as possible. Then I used a Micron .08 pen to add some line work. Next I added turquoise pencil strokes  and used water to blend color. The final version includes some dark accents made with a Faber-Castell B (brush) pen.

B street stages


Wet, but wonderful weekend

All seven of us had a great sketching trip down the Pacific coast to Monterey and Cambria/Hearst Castle. Although the weather was cloudy and drizzly most of the time, we still managed to find (mostly) indoor subjects for sketching. From the ornate pool table legs at Asilomar’s social hall to the collection of tchotchkes at our airbnb Victorian house. After the breathtaking tour of the Upstairs Rooms at Hearst Castle, we found out way to the lavish indoor pool to sketch the marble sculpture and mosaic tile decor. One the way back to the bay area, the elephant seals provided yet another opportunity for sketching.

Hearst Castle 2

Sketch Workshop – Monterey & Hearst Castle: January 9-10, 2016


Join me and a small group of sketchers for a weekend road trip down the Pacific Coast: January 9-10, 2016. We’ll carpool from the Bay Area, stop in Monterey for lunch and sketching (possible locations include Point Lobos and Carmel).

Then we’ll head down to the charming town of Cambria for more sketching, dinner and check into our lodgings (to be arranged). The following day we’ll take the Hearst Castle tour and then sketch the amazing architecture and sculpture.

Workshop fee (instruction, demonstrations and personal coaching) is $120.
A deposit will confirm your space in this sketching adventure.
$60  deposit
 (Fully refundable if the trip is cancelled for any reason.)
Please reserve your space by December 1st!
This event is fully booked!

Jellyfish Art Car At Burning Man

Burning Man sketches

Now that the dust has settled (literally!) I’m ready to post some of the sketches I created during my first trip to Burning Man. And what a trip it was! As an Urban Sketcher, I was astounded by the array of choices: people in fantastic costumes, stationary art installations and a breathtaking variety of Mutant Vehicles (aka Art Cars).
rhodadraws 2people rhodadraws-3peoplerhodadraws-4people rhodadraws-5people rhodadraws bar_n_car rhodadraws Claude_Dragon rhodadraws-El-Pulpo-Mecanico rhodadraws jellyfish_car

Santa Rosa sketching workshop

AromaRoast-1construction-site metal-sculpture

We had a lively session yesterday, beginning with a visit to a construction site around the corner from the Rileystreet store. Even though we were careful to stay out of the way of he heavy equipment, we were approached by an agent of the company who made sure we were safe and advised us to check in with the office next time.

Next, back to the Railroad Square area for some drawings at the Aroma Roastery, followed by sketching window displays on 4th street. Finally, a quick sketch of the metal sculpture near the cafe. Quite a variety of subjects!


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