This week in sketches

It’s getting cold even here in California, and my outdoor sketches are getting rarer. Last week, I ended up with just this one, from downtown Willow Glen, right by the old-fashioned La Villa Delicatessen. Lots of people strolling down the street, many of them with dogs. All enjoying the barely warm, watery winter sunlight.willowglen

Cafes are where I retreat to where it gets cold. Here’s a coffee shop with red cups. But not the ones that caused a controversy. Peet’s on another cold day.

Lots of persimmon featured in my sketching this week. Here are two sketches: this one in my usual pen and ink with watercolors.

And this one, a pretty gigantic piece, in water-soluble pastel, a new medium I’m having fun with.


And finally, one last sketch, of my plain little coffee mug and creamer pods. Sometimes the most mundane stuff is the funnest to draw because it makes you look at it really carefully. I particularly enjoyed finding the reflection of the creamer pods in the cup.

Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy the rest of your week! I won’t post here next week, but I will be sketching.

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Destruction/Construction Part 3


My nieces and I painted this Hokusai-inspired mural (you only see the right half of it here, it’s huge!) on a big empty wall at home a few years ago. That we painted it together was the hardest part of letting it go. But I’m telling myself I’ll never leave a wall white and blank for long, so there’ll be something new soon.

Strange that the mural never really ended up in a sketch until all the construction started and it was almost time for it to come down.Here it forms the backdrop to the men working on raising the floor. Sketched in pastels on a dusty brown paper which seemed a perfect reflection of the layer of dust that seems to cover everything at home these days.raising_floor

Here is the ceiling getting it’s first coat of primer, before the mural wall does…

And then coat#1 of primer goes over the mural, fading it back to a ghost of a wave. It’ll be a few more coats before it’s all gone, but goodbye, Great Wave!

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Destruction/Construction Part 2

I’m continuing the series started here where I sketch the taking down and putting back up of a part of our home.

Out goes the old linoleum floor, it’s amazing it survived 44 years in the kitchen. Then the floor is leveled and left (to cure?) overnight…

And in goes the tile the next day.


Cutting out holes for skylights, and putting in the recessed light. This room has always been super-dark, only catching the rays of the setting sun. I’m hoping the skylights mean I can work in this room now- in natural light.

I didn’t get to sketch the removing of the old popcorn ceiling, also known as cottage cheese ceiling, which describes it’s look exactly. That’s because these old ceiling contain asbestos so I stayed away. But I did a quick sketch of the newly-unpopcorned ceiling being patched and textured again. And yes, those colors in the background aren’t made up: I have red, mango, and bright blue walls all over the house.


And one last sketch, of the kitchen cabinets being installed.

More in the destruction/construction series coming soon.

Posted in Close to home, Construction, Figure Drawing, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finger-painting at a wedding

I was at the sweetest, happiest wedding reception this weekend. And of course, I took along my sketchbook and watercolors. Trouble is, I forgot to pack a paintbrush. So I finger-painted. Not very elegant, but very good fun. I usually draw pretty fast, but I had to be super-quick to catch the action here: that’s really when all that gesture-drawing practice pays off!

Here are Kim and Javi, the bride and groom, at their first dance.

And here is Juan, the groom’s dad, raising a toast.

Here’s a sketch of the far side of our table and the beautiful flower arrangements in the background. I loved the large, multi-colored bouquets.

The groom’s brother raises a toast.

Kim and her dad, on the dance floor for their father-daughter dance.

And Javi and Emma follow with their mother-son dance.

Cake cutting. Sketching super-fast because this went by in a jiffy!

After that, it was time to dance and when Uptown Funk plays, you just gotta put away the sketchbook :)

Thank you, Kim and Javi for a really fun evening.

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Last week in sketches: a mixed bag

It finally feels like fall in California. Cold, grey and even a bit rainy. You can tell from my sketches because they move indoors: two coffee shop sketches this week, both at places which are serving coffee in festive red cups. Already??

starbucks-coffee peets-coffee

And a small little pumpkin sketch.

Some sketches from my weekly figure drawing session.

Also, demo sketches from the ‘Capturing Chaos: Drawing a Crowd” workshops I taught this week, in Berkeley and in Los Gatos.


Here’s my usual ‘sketching the sketchers’ sketch of the participants in my Los Gatos workshop.

Oh, and one last piece, a small study of my hand, done as a “notes-to-myself” study of light and shade. I find that drawing+writing notes in longhand is what works best for me when I’m studying. Not typing. Not making mental notes. Actually, physically writing them down, even if I never read them again.

And of course, practice, practice, practice till I learn to see what I’m looking for and draw what I see. What works best for you?

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Destruction/Construction: Part 1

I’ve always loved sketching construction work on the streets: the men in orange safety jackets, the huge machines, things that get broken down and then made new. So it’s a treat to get to sketch a process like that right at home. What started as a “maybe we need to fix that broken kitchen cabinet” grew into a huge project that I’ll try and document here in sketches.

This is Hari painting the front door before it was put up. Yes, it’s a bright blue, inspired by La Casa Azul.

Day 1. The crew arrives and a couple of hours later there’s nothing where there once was a kitchen. When you live in earthquake country, the houses aren’t made of brick and stone, and it’s amazing how little it takes to take a whole room down. A few hard knocks and a kitchen that stood for 44 years goes down.

Day 2: Pulling out old linoleum floors, putting up door frames.

Day 3: The very blue door goes up.

Day 4: Mr. Ali and his team of electricians come in. Snake-like wires dangle everywhere.

There was a day 5, but I forgot to sketch it. More destruction/construction sketches from the week ahead, coming next week.

Posted in california, Close to home, Construction, Figure Drawing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Halloween Parade

I started to sketch a few of the kids and their teacher as they  lined up for the 5th grader Halloween Parade, and then this incredible dragon on stilts appeared. Look in that monster head and you’ll see a tiny face: This kid spent 4 weekends building this costume with his dad. I only sketched him once he settled down to watch the parade, but he was quite a sight when he walked around on his stilts.



Posted in Close to home, Figure Drawing, people | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments