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What’s Black and White and Tan all over?

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.

sketching on toned paper

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.

Mission San Rafael Arcangel

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sketching the Central Coast of California

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.

Whole Foods Market – Berkeley

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!

Guitars! Guitars!

The Players Guitars store at 840 B street in San Rafael is on the ground floor of a colorful Victorian building, and a favorite subject for sketching when the weather is fine. Seven students and I did a series of sketches of the building, from different points of view.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had permission to sketch inside the store, which is so small only two of us could work at a time. The array of instruments was breathtaking…so many shapes, designs and colors! Here is some excellent work by students.

Sketching Folk Art

This week our San Rafael workshop went on location to one of our favorite places—the Folk Art Gallery on 4th Street. Along with other artifacts, we had the opportunity to create quick studies of some delightful carvings of animals, with intricately hand-painted surface designs. Here are some samples of student work, as well as my own.

Oakland Museum

Sunday! Free day at the Oakland Museum and a chance for about 35 sketchers to descend on the special exhibit, “the Rise of Sneaker Culture.” For a change of pace, I went downstairs to the natural history section, where I improvised a composite of California wildlife. Using my new Stillman & Birn softcover sketchbook. I found out that I’d better stick with the hard-cover series, because I work standing up with no support for my drawing surface.

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

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

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