Beach Day

At Capitola beach on what turned out to be a super hot Saturday. Perfect people sketching weather with lots of sunbathers.

Little people studies are my warm-up. It’s amazing how many of these sunbathers were on their phones.capitola_0_beach

Its not always possible to start with a page of people studies, but when I can, I do: I don’t always draw the same people or poses into my sketches, so I’m not sure what it is: maybe it just takes a little while to ‘see’ well enough to compose a sketch?

This next sketch is done standing at the water’s edge, looking down the beach. Feet in cold water, and the sun on my back. A good place to draw.


On the pier, where people spend hours casting their lines. These guys caught a couple of small mackerel.


And this guy caught a really big halibut but didn’t know how to clean it…


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More from the Farmers’ Market

This might just turn into a summer of sketching the Farmers’ Market every Sunday.
Here are this week’s sketches. Usually I choose what to focus on: is it the produce that’s the focus of the sketch? Or is it the people? But today it was both those and more. It was color and texture, rhythm and pattern.

With this first sketch, I wanted to capture the alternating layers of produce and people without losing the different textures of all the vegetable. Or the individual people in the sketch. I started by drawing at the bottom of the paper, at the bin of produce nearest me. One of the keys to capturing depth and perspective is realizing HOW MUCH LARGER things  in the foreground look than those far away: those foreground bins of vegetable are about half the height of this composition. All the activity that is layered in behind them only occupies the top half of the page.


































This second sketch is a simpler composition. As my fellow sketcher Virginia said ( if you’ve never seen her sketches, they are gorgeous and you can see them here ), I “get right in” with my composition. I do this by literally standing right at the stall , probably in the way of the shoppers. It helped me capture that figure I needed right in the foreground to make this piece work. Luckily for me, the guy wanted 16 ears of corn, so it took a couple of minutes to select them all and I had time to capture him.


















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Summer is… Fruit from the Farmers’ Market

We’re lucky to have year-round farmers’ markets in California, but in the summer, the market REALLY comes alive. It’s summer fruit that I really enjoy painting: the peaches and nectaries, strawberries and melons, all in big, colorful, messy piles on tables across the market.


Summer Fruit

And I love watching people carefully pick over and choose their vegetables. It’s something you never see at the grocery store. It can take quite a while to examine and choose every okra and eggplant, which works really well for me because it gives me time to sketch people before they move on.

And when I bring home bags and bags of stuff from the market? I sketch it :)






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Summer is… Kayaking with the kids

Last weekend, we kayaked with the kids at Shoreline Lake in Mountain View. I was really surprised by how easy it was to get around in a kayak. Which made me wonder: could I sketch from one? (I’d brought my sketchbag onboard, just in case) But sketching and paddling proved too much to do ( I tried), so after we kayaked, I jumped into a paddle boat with my son, and he got to paddle and steer while I sketched the kayakers from aboard the paddleboat. I had to keep it quick and almost calligraphic. A bobbing boat doesn’t make for smooth, flowing lines. Neocolor watersoluble crayon for dashes of color. Added a little later from ashore.
Summer is... Kayaking with the kids

Once we were done, I did two more sketches: one from the pier, watching the action on shore as kayaks and canoes were pulled ashore and stored away. I left the figures uncolored in this sketch: the boats are such bright primary colors that the people looked almost drained of color by contrast.

And another one from onshore, looking down at the lake with it’s sailboats, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats.

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Summer is….

Summer is my favorite season in California.
Summer is when school is out and I get to hang out with my kids a whole lot of the time.
Summer is all the things we’ll do and explore over the next few weeks.

Last week it was Snap Circuits and Cal Academy, San Francisco.

Snap Circuits have really colorful components that let you build all sorts of circuits. These are my kids, with hundreds of  little parts scattered around. For once, I was sure they would stay where they were long enough for me to sketch them. So I sketched this piece really large: 24″x18″ (my sketches are usually about 8×10 inches). It was fun to work the line with  a bamboo pen, but hard to move freely around such a big sketch. I don’t think I took a longer time over this piece, even though it was much larger: it’s just that a line that would have taken a flick of the wrist in my sketchbook took a big sweeping arc of my arm at this scale.

Summer is....
We spent the first day of summer vacation at the Cal Academy Skulls exhibit. The exhibit is dominated by a wall with over 400 sea lion skulls. Most of these skulls are collected and cleaned by a biologist called Ray Bandar.

There are skulls of large and small animals at the exhibit. I loved the really strange skulls: those of the spoonbill, the hummingbird, the curlew and the sailfish. The little boy in the sketch below spent a lot of time making a very detailed sketch of the skull of a white-tailed deer.


My kids and I all sketched the fish at the aquarium, and we guesstimated their sizes and discussed their colors, but forgot to note down their names. So there you have it: A bunch of colorful but nameless fish that we drew.everyone_sketch

More summer adventures, coming soon!

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Drawing People

I’m working on putting together my workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Paraty this year. It’s called ‘Never Fear the People!’. We’ll discuss tips and tricks to capturing people, and ways to get over being afraid to draw them, but nothing will substitute for loads and loads of practice. So I’m taking my own advice and filling my sketchbooks with pages of people sketches, whenever I can. Here are some recent ones.








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Oak Trees. 3 takes.

3 sketches of old oak trees, sketched over 2 days in Templeton Gap wine country near Paso Robles. All but one tree was hung thick with curtains of Spanish moss.

This first tree was a perfect climbing tree. I enjoyed drawing the scraggly tree with a bamboo nib. The rough, textured line lent itself well to the tree’s character. The kids among the branches provided great pops of color. And scale.

Oak Trees. 3 takesThis second tree was surprisingly free of moss. It stood at the edge of a slope with a lookout point under it.

And this third grove of trees had everything going for it: a thick canopy of criss-crossing branches, veils of Spanish Moss, and even a tiny cabin under it to complete the picture.


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