Somedays, I have no words. It is best then, to pick up my brush or pen and leave the words to a poet. And how beautifully Tammi Traux puts it.

May Her Memory be a Revolution

Some say notorious.
We’re told the most righteous souls
pass with the setting of the sun
on the eve of Rosh Hashanah,
a sign that all is as it should be.
Let’s say glorious.
Let us grieve, as we must, as we should.
Cry, curse cancer, curl up in a comforter.
She’d condone that, briefly.
But do not descend into it,
for she would expect, instead,
Let’s say meritorious.
Remember her.
Get up, rise up, speak up.
Do twenty push-ups.
Study something complex.
Eat some Chinese take-out.
If so inclined, adorn yourself
with baubles or lace, then
Let’s be victorious.
Honor the tiny giant
who fought for us, for justice.
Quiet as a thunder clap,
make your voice heard.
She did all she could
so that we can

— Tammi J Truax
Portsmouth Poet Laureate 2019-2021
Maine Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2020

Posted in Activism, people, Portrait | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Crissy Fields, San Francisco

A few weeks ago, we drove up to San Francisco to Crissy Fields to get away from a heatwave in San Jose. I did a couple sketches that afternoon as we lazed around.

Golden Gate Bridge in the background and a field full of dogs in the foreground.

We moved from the grass to the little strip of beach for a bit. I sketched what might be my only ‘beach people’ sketch for the summer.

I love capturing city life, but haven’t done enough of that in the time of covid so this really felt like a little treat of an afternoon.

Posted in california, people, san franciso, Sketch Journal | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

So many workshops and online classes to choose from! (and not all mine)

If you have been looking to dive deeper into art making these last few months, there has been no dearth of workshops and classes you can take online. I know I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve signed up for and I have also really come to enjoy my interaction in the classes I teach: the one I’m teaching currently has been so much fun that I am running it again in November. Here’s a partial list of things I’m teaching, and things I’m watching and following and looking forward to.


The Art of Capturing People, Places, and Objects

Four Wednesdays: November 4, 11, 18, & 25  •  Zoom class from 4 – 5:30pm, Pacific Standard Time. Personal feedback and reviews included. 

Register here, class size limited:



In this workshop Suhita will teach you to see in both line and shape and to find a balance of the two and use it in exciting ways. We will learn to observe key shapes and simplify them. We will also learn to really see and sketch in contours. Then, we’ll explore combining these two approaches in our sketches to bring a new sense of dynamism and excitement. Suhita will teach you to apply these techniques across interpretations of people, places and objects, creating rich and colorful sketches.

Each weekly session will be taught in a 1.5 hour Zoom session which will be recorded in case you miss  it. We will cover concepts related to drawing objects, people and places, with a focus on experimenting and combining line and shape for dynamic sketches. We will work from photographic references and objects on our desks in our Zoom sessions. Each week will also include an assignment where you will use these concepts in your own work and will receive personal feedback. 

Date and Time

The workshop will be held online on Zoom , once a week, for 1.5 hours, for 4 successive weeks. The dates and times: (All dates and times are Pacific Time)

• Wednesday, November 4th, 2020: 4 pm to 5:30 pm

• Wednesday, November 11th, 2020: 4 pm to 5:30 pm

• Wednesday, November 18th, 2020: 4 pm to 5:30 pm

• Wednesday, November 25th, 2020: 4 pm to 5:30 pm

Recordings of the workshop are available 24-48 hours after the workshop and will be available for 7 days. You can watch a recording of a session and do the exercises and turn them in for feedback if you cannot attend a session. (I don’t recommend this as the standard way to attend class but if there is a session you miss, this works)

Registration and Cost

The 4-session workshop costs $235.
Register here:

Here’s a quick little video, a small part of the demo did today, in a segment on sketching people using shape:


Fun and Free Florals

Saturday, October 10, 2020  •  Online from 10 – 11:30am, Pacific Standard Time

Register here:

Come join in a no-pressure, fun way to play with watercolor as you interpret and paint poppies in a loose and fresh style.

In this 1.5 hour session, we will work from multiple photo references and create a small watercolor painting. The techniques you will learn in this session are applicable to loose and free florals, botanicals and even abstract painting, so you can continue to play with what you learn even after this session.

Suhita will guide you through this piece in a step-by-step fashion with demos and will answer questions that come up as you paint. Though we will loosely follow one technique, it is open to interpretation and you are encouraged to experiment and play with it and make it your own.

This is a small, personal session on a Saturday morning with a maximum of 12 participants. Only a few seats left.


Register here:


What I’m excited about:

Shari Blaukopf’s new class, “Sketching Fresh Flowers: Late Summer Blooms”

Who doesn’t love painting florals. My favorite bit about this class? Watching how much wet-in-wet painting Shari does with these blooms and the beautiful effects she gets with this technique. I’m saving the bit of this that I think will be the best part for the weekend: the final piece, painted as a negative painting with a bold background.

Want to know more? Read more about it here:


James Gurney’s “Triads: Painting with Three Colors”

James Gurney’s new video is fascinating not only because he paints these incredible pieces with only a triad each, but also because he expands the idea of a triad beyond the “red, yellow, blue” most of us paint with. One of the most amazing pieces he paints uses a triad of secondaries: purple, orange and green.

Intrigued? Get the workshop here:


Liz Steel’s “Sketchbook Design”

This course is only coming out in early 2021. But I know it’s one a lot of people have been asking for: design for sketchbookers. If you know Liz’ work, you know every spread in her book is a balance of sketches and writing that you can spend time looking at and wandering around.

You can sign up for updates here:
And if you’ve never done a course with Liz, then this might be the time to sign up for a group run-through of her Foundations course, happening soon:


Sketching PlayLab with Paul and Suhita

6 months ago, if you’d have told Paul Wang and me that we’d still be playing around with paint and pencil at our fun little venture we call Sketching PlayLab, we’d have been amused. But here we are, past the 6 month mark, still enjoying ourselves as we create new play-based sessions in creativity and discovery.

For each online play session (60-90 mins), we pick a concept, technique or medium to experiment with. Our weekly Zoom sessions are all donation-based so everyone can join in. Your generosity has helped build an awesome community of hundreds of participants. You can see the collective of fascinating work produced by searching the hashtag #sketchingplaylab on Instagram:

​If you haven’t joined us for a session yet, but would like to, get on our mailing list by emailing us at We announce new sessions every few weeks.

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Orange Skies

With so much of California burning, a strange phenomena descended on the San Francisco Bay Area. An apocalyptic orange pall with no sun in sight descended on us all day. Colors ranged from burning orange-red in San Francisco to a more ashen-yellow version in San Jose.

I tried spending the morning not painting this bizarre scene, but even my sketches of stuff on my desk, my ink bottle and phone, looked like the day.

So I caved in and drew what I saw from my window . I tried to convey how everyday and not-everyday this scene was. And just the utterly uncomfortable silence that went with the scene.

This version below was from the day before, when the sun still blazed an eerie color in the evening. We were just getting used to that version of dystopia before our all- orange day arrived.

Today is a less dramatic day, the sky is still an opaque yellowing color with no sun. But just the hint of blue skies possibly returning sometime in the future, I’m hanging on to that.

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, reportage, san jose, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Too Quick

The hardest stuff to sketch is something that happens only once and for not very long at all. Like this truck stopping in front of my house to deliver some chairs for the backyard. You’d think it takes a while to unload a big box of chairs. Nope.

A quick continuous line drawing is all I caught from the front window before the truck was gone. Thank goodness my sketchbook is always with me!

I added the color immediately after from mental notes made as soon as I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get very far. Looking back, I’m not sure the sketch needed color.

Edit: In answer to a question about coloring in the sketch with my source gone.
I colored this in AS SOON as I had sketched, it, but without the men and truck there of course, they left. I did make mental notes and the light wasn’t particularly interesting, so I didn’t not anything about shadows.

If I had more time, but wasn’t going to color right then, I would have made more notes, of color and light and shade, like this :

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

The little sketches

Sometimes it seems silly to post yet another sketch of a mug. But these simple little sketches are where I often experiment the most and find new ways to combine mark-making techniques. Here are three recent ‘little ones’ from the pages of my sketchbook.

My chai mug appears regularly on a sketchbook page. I often pull out a book feeling an urge to draw but without a subject in mind. Given that my chai is never far from me, my mug gets to be the subject of a lot of sketches. The techniques and media I get comfortable with when drawing the simple stuff makes its way ( Eventually, for the most part) into more complex work.

Continuous line ink drawing, washes in ink.

A friend brings over goodies from her garden. They get sketched before they get cooked. Texture, mark-making, mixing media. All things I love.

Pen and ink and graphite on paper. Apache Sunset ink from Noodlers and Blackwing pencil

A mug with utensils on the picnic table in my backyard as I wait for friends joining us for dinner. No paintbrushes involved, inky fingers at the end of this.

Ink and watersoluble colored pencil on toned paper. Spray bottle and finger painting.

Posted in Close to home, Doodles, Drink, Everyday Sketches | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Drawing the Kids

For over 10 years now, I’ve drawn my kids whenever I could. They’re used to me hanging around them, sketchbook in hand. I can’t walk into their rooms during Virtual-school right now, so I catch them on break sin between, lazing around: It’s a real contrast to quick action sketches: with my kids I try to slow down and capture how they can just be. I have one kid that takes forever to eat so he gets sketched a lot more than the other 🙂

I don’t seem to tire of drawing them over and over, even when there’s only so many angles I can catch the (same) action from. Sometimes I’ll change paper or drawing media to keep it fresh.

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, Portrait, san jose, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Finding Action, from a Distance

I’m learning to catch them anytime I can, even if it is just drawing from a distance, from my car. Always having my sketchkit handy when I’m running errands helps.

I pulled up across from this construction on my way home last week and did this quick sketch in pen and ink, wax crayon, and watercolor.

This one is from my car, in the parking lot outside my local Trader Joe’s store. Just pen and ink and wax crayon (in three primaries, red, yellow and blue) as I layer in people all over the page when they walk past me with carts and bags.

Do you like drawing people? Miss drawing them during the pandemic? Have you found ways to keep at it?

Posted in Close to home, Construction, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments


Over so many months of being home, I know exactly where the USPS mail van parks and for how long. So a little bit of planning (especially if I want to record a time lapse of my sketch) means I know where to be and how long I have for a sketch.

If I have a super-short time, I’ll just do a line drawing and not worry about color. But with a bit more time, I like to attempt a mix of line and color. With big, simple shapes like this, I’ll put down a little bit of pencil line, but then I’ll go to watercolor first and paint in big shapes, reserving my pen line for the end, just enough line to bring some definition and detail to the shapes.

I recorded this as a little stop-motion piece to demonstrate techniques we will use in an online workshop starting next week titled “The Art of Capturing People, Places, and Objects“. I’m sharing the video and sketch here not only because the workshop starts next week, but also because I want to say that small businesses like my online Etsy store depend on the USPS to be able to ship to you at an affordable rate. No other service come close in price.

We need the USPS. To keep us connected. To allow us to vote by mail, especially in the time of Covid. To keep our small businesses afloat.

Posted in california, Close to home, How to, san jose, teaching, Workshop | 5 Comments

Pattern and Texture

Two simple little drawings. The first one, the view from my front steps. The next one, a pair of shoes. In both, I’m drawing stuff I’d usually look past as too mundane or too simple, and I’m attempting to bring a sense of energy and interest through texture, all created with a single tool.

This is the Duke 551 Confucius Fountain Pen. I love the line it makes but it is SO heavy, it hurts my hand after a while. Also, if you take it out into the field and sketch a lot, you know you run out of a reservoir of ink pretty quickly. But it works well for a quick sketch from my front steps. To make it juicier, I use it as a dip pen. (See the bottle of ink in the corner of the photo?)

This sketch is with a single colored pencil, inspired by a sketch from Van Gogh’s sketchbook.

Things are slowly opening up but I am sketching a lot more at home and nearby and expect to continue to in the near future. And to keep it interesting and inspiring, I lean a lot on taking an idea or technique and applying it to familiar objects and scenes.

What has kept you inspired and making art through the pandemic? What’s worked for you and what hasn’t? I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in california, Cambodia, Doodles, Everyday Sketches, Sketch Journal | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments