Manchester 2016 : Almost there!

Tomorrow is the start of the 7th International Symposium in Manchester.. so exciting! I’ve been in the city for a couple of days watching people trickle in, meeting old friends, making new ones, checking out my workshop location, doing some test sketches, and trying to wrap my head around the huge brickwork and limestone buildings all over the city.

If you’re in the city, I hope we get to meet…If you’re not, these sketches and photos are so you can share in the excitement.

My workshop location is at the grand Central Library building. You’ll see lots more sketches of it over the next few days of workshops, but I’m hoping to do a different demo everyday to keep it fresh. Here’s two sketchesof it with people passing by.


Just behind the library at Albert Square. Beer, street food and Jazz at the Manchester Jazz Festival.

Everywhere you look, there’s buildings in red brick and limestone. Here are just a few,all with really quaint names.

The rain is never far away in Manchester, and you have to be ready to run for shelter if you  are going to stand int he street and sketch, like I was doing in the sketch below. The nice thing is, it’s an excuse to duck into a teashop anytime. And, I’m getting to use all sorts of colors in the sky: a real change from the clear blue California summer sky I’m used to painting.bridge

Today Phil Griffin was brave enough to take a whole busload of sketchers on an architectural tour of Manchester: the football stadiums, the mills, the garment district and the ship canals. I told him my great grandfather studied in Manchester in the early 1900s, but I couldn’t trace the building, and he quickly figured that the building had been renamed and pointed it out to me on our tour.

Evenings are Drink & Draw sessions: This one at the Peveril of the Peak.

Best of all is sharing a city with hundreds of sketchers all crazy enough to sketch all day long. But I have been so busy saying my hellos I’ve forgotten to take pictures. I’ll try to remember tomorrow, when it all begins.

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Streets of San Francisco

I usually gravitate to drawing people before drawing architecture. San Francisco, though, is different. With charming homes like these, you can see how that works.

I had a blast mixing all my media here. Rainbow pencil, fountain pen, ballpoint pen and watercolor on these painted ladies.


And Sharpies plus watercolor on this one.

Sketched in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

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On The Alameda

The Alameda in San Jose is a treasure trove of vintage signs. Like this Towne Theater, a 1920’s era theater which now shows only Indian movies


Right by the theater is the Hester Tunnel , an underground walking tunnel, also from the 1920s. The tunnel was recently cleaned up and revived by a father-daughter team. Here, the entrance to the tunnel is all decked up for the Fourth of July.

And this is the Flamingo Motel in the daytime, with it’s pink flamingo neon sign. I need to go back and sketch that flamingo sign in the night when it really stands out in neon pink.


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Lazy Backyard time with my parents

My parents visited from India. The one thing we do everyday is share an evening drink together in the backyard. My dad is a scotch and soda kind of guy. My mum downs her Sprite in no time and everyone else is more variable in their choice of drink for the evening. pama_3

Mostly we’re lounging and chatting, which makes for easy sketching, but not much action. People come and go… My sister in the upper sketch is substituted by my son in the sketch below.

Mostly, the kids come with their permanent summer appendage: a book.

Every once in a while, it’s nice to put away my watercolors and work in a different medium. Colored pencils is particular favorite. I love the direct, more ‘blocked in color’ approach they force me to take. It helps me look closely at shapes and layout.

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Just pears

A little watercolor piece from a busy day… you’re never too busy to paint one tiny piece. wwm_day1_pears

My little Fluid watercolor paper block at 8×8 inches is perfect for a small piece. And these not-yet-ripe pears from a friend’s backyard were just waiting to be painted.

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(More) People First

Still in workshop-prep mode for my workshop in Manchester where we’ll learn to build complex scenes with people in them, using contrasting styles and media in a single sketch.

Here’s another sketch on a theme I discussed recently in this post : People First.


There are so many reasons to draw people in first:
1) They may be there when you start sketching but may not stay.
2) People are intimidating to draw. For most of us. And the longer we put off drawing them, the more reluctant we become to draw them in.

If you look at the image above, you’ll see I started by sketching people in pencil. I had just got down to beginning inking when the woman standing in the sketch appeared. So I quickly grabbed back my pencil and sketched here in. I like to keep my process fluid that way: it lets me capture quick fleeting things and add them to my sketch.

With this sketch, it was all about the vibrant setting, and the people were just about the quietest part of the sketch. Graphite seemed like a good choice for them, with pen & ink and bold color for the interior of the taqueria.

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The lonely lifeguard

However many kids there are at our community swimming pool, I still think the lifeguards, high up in their chairs, look lonely. There’s action all around them, but they don’t participate in the fun. Their job, instead, is to stay uninvolved in what goes on around them and to watch carefully.

So when I sketched this lifeguard, I decided to leave the pool and surroundings unpeopled to capture that sense of aloneness.

In this first sketch, I drew in the surroundings quite slowly and carefully.lonley_lifeguard1

And then in this second, quicker sketch, I went for a more minimalistic approach by suspending the lifeguard at the top of the sketch with a more abstract representation of the blue pool below and a large empty space between the two.

Do you think one of these is more successful than the other? Which one and why? I’d love your opinion.

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