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Day of the Dead 2018

The students who joined me for my third annual Day of the Dead sketching workshop in SanMiguel de Allende came from as far away as California, British Columbia and New Zealand!

Our visit to the Mask Museum in San Miguel provided a fascinating look at about 600 authentic masks used in indigenous festivals and rituals.

We had opportunities to sketch people preparing themselves for the costume parties and parades, as well as the collection of folk art at Galeria Atotonilco. 

My sketch of the colorful scene in El Jardin on the night of November 1st features a fat mariachi horn player, and just a few of the many costumed revelers, with the illuminated Parroquia church as a backdrop.

On the following day we went to a large cemetery, where we could respectfully observe the tributes to dead relatives prepared by families. Flowers and snacks were arranged around graves and monuments. I improvised a sketch using elements plucked from the scene.

A glorious climax to the day was a performance of Mozart’s Requieum inside the Parroquia. I arrived almost 2 hours early to be sure of a seat. This is music I know intimately, as a choral singer. I was able to capture an impression of the audience during this sublime event.

 

San Miguel Urban Sketchers

Meeting with the Urban Sketchers every Tuesday is a great way to sketch, socialize and learn more of the nooks and crannies of this town.

Here’s that tall palm tree I was looking up at. I wasn’t satisfied with the section of dead leaves hanging down, so I just used the right half of the page for a close-up study.

 

This double page has my sketches done at Plaza Civica. The equestrian statue of General Allende is a challenging subject, and there are several iconic churches to include.

San Miguel de Allende sketches

So busy preparing to actually MOVE to San Miguel in a few weeks, I have neglected to post sketches from the November Day of the Dead workshop. Well, here, at last, are some of my favorites;

Sketching Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

A large group of urban sketchers met in Nob Hill yesterday to sketch the enormous and breathtaking Grace Cathedral. Featured sketchers were the Aussie women, Liz Steele and Jane Blundell. Notice my “leaning spire” in one of the sketches below. After seeing some of the sketches by others, I decided it is a feature, not a bug!

Student sketches

On Thursday, August 3rd, I gave my San Rafael workshop students a challenge that I learned from the recent Urban Sketchers Symposium. After a warmup with photos from great Chicago architecture, we went to City Plaza down the street. The task— combine three points of view into one sketch. (Thanks to Veronica Lawlor for that exercise). Here are some of the results. Thanks to Anne, Kimberly and Stephanie

Urban Sketcher Symposium: Chicago

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.

Sketching Falkirk Cultural Center

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 sketch

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!

Patty’s sketch of the veranda

Stephanie’s sketch in the garden

Stephanie chose a whimsical sculpture, paired with an aloe plant. She makes them look as if they are dancing together

Kimberley’s composite sketch

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.

Anne sketches the mansion

Fillmore Jazz Festival, San Francisco

Fillmore Jazz bandI 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.

More toned paper sketching

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.

Antique Market sketches

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.

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