Santa Fe 2021: Part 3

The Doors of Santa Fe. They’ve been talked about and photographed a lot, and for good reason. They’re colorful, charming, full of personality and a joy to sketch. I could walk around town collecting doors and windows in my sketchbook for days on end. Like almost everything else in this city, I walked past at least 10 imminently sketchworthy doors for every one I sat down and drew.

This beautiful blue door is where we all settled down as a group to sketch.

And then we dispersed down the street and collected more doors. Look at the beauties on these pages.

And all these other ones that went unsketched…

This door at one end of Canyon Road was the start of a spread.

I finished up a few days later with the door of an adobe building that claims to be the oldest house in the country.

If you missed the first couple of posts from Santa Fe, they’re here:

Santa Fe 2021: Part 1

Santa Fe 2021: Part 2

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Santa Fe 2021: Part 2

Did I mention that I love adobe buildings? I love them so much I might have drawn more buildings than people on this trip.

This beautiful building is the New Mexico Museum of Art.

It was where we sketched for the opening session of our workshop. 16 of us sitting in the sun, drawing together, That made me so happy.

Here is another quick sketch from that same location.

For every one place I walked past and just had to to stop and draw in this town, there were at least ten I wanted to stop at but just plain ran out of time to get to.

But there’s always a next time, right?

A bunch more posts from Santa Fe coming up. If you missed post #1 in this series, it’s here:

Santa Fe 2021: Part 1

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Santa Fe 2021: Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Santa Fe for my first in-person workshop in a long, long time. I can’t start to say how exciting it was to think of going back to meeting and teaching in person. We were an enthusiastic and super-flexible group, which made for a great experience. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me back up.

Here is the first sketch of the trip: an airport sketch, a reflection of the times.

Santa Fe is a beautiful town, with so much color everywhere.

I was in the city only an hour or so before sunset, so I spent that first evening around the main town square, drawing two buildings with very different architectural styles: the first one in one a Santa Fe Style. structure, the next one a small Gothic Revival chapel.

First sketches from any new place are, for me, just a way to get to seeing and starting to understand my new environment, the light, the architecture and the colors. Nothing seems to sit quite right, but I always find it best to just jump in and get past those first pieces, however late in the day I arrive in a new place.

And the best way to start the next day? With a coffee, and a sketchbook and a day of sketching ahead of me.

More sketches from Santa Fe in my next post.

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Seasonal Flowers

The dahlias are all gone now, but a couple of weeks ago, I brought home these beauties from the farmers’ market and painted them.

Here’s a link to a short video of me making this piece.

And here are some sunflowers from the next weekend.

Happy Monday!

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Colored Pencils and Crayon

I love colored pencil and crayon. They’re fun. They’re familiar: I’ve used them since I was a little kid, a long time before I ever had access to paints. Using them puts me back in a ‘play’ state of mind, and they’re a great way to add punch to a piece, to bring in just that pop of color it needs so you can call it done.

Here’s a sketch made at the top of the Fortini Trail, a local hiking trail. Colored pencil and water-soluble graphite over watercolor.

This second sketch made from the same spot is that big lichen-covered rock on the trail. This one is a mix of crayons, pen and colored pencil. No watercolor.

Typically, the pencil and crayon bit of a sketch is subtler, like it is in the sketch below, made at a local urban farm, Taylor Street Farms, where volunteers were pulling out the last of the summer’s crops and planting in fall vegetables when I visited. Dry media adds those last details and pops of color.

So many of you have asked about the tools I use. They’re listed on this “Supplies” page, but it hasn’t been updated in a long time. I’ll get to that next week, but until then, here is what I’ using right now:

Colored Pencils: a mix of watersoluble pencil, mostly Derwent Inktense and Caran D’Ache Museum Aquarelle. Crayons: Caran D’Ache Neocolor II watersoluble wax crayons.

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Sketching Vignettes: Online Workshop with Art Toolkit

You asked for an online workshop so here it is: I’m teaming up with the wonderful Art Toolkit to offer this short online workshop. We announced it so recently it filled up before I could post about it here, so we just opened up Session 2. Sign up soon if you are interested. To hear of workshops as soon as they open up, email me and ask to be on my mailing list.

Here are the workshop details.
NOTE: This is NOT an urban sketching workshop, but the skills you learn are transferrable to working on location.

Learn to Sketch Fearlessly by Simplifying a Busy Scene

Saturday, November 6, 10am–12:15pm Pacific Time (SOLD OUT)
Sunday, November 7, 10am–12:15pm Pacific Time

When you sketch on location, are you overwhelmed by all that you see? Do you struggle to simplify the scene before you? Have you been afraid to dive in and sketch the subject because it involves people? In this online workshop, themed around a Farmers’ Market, you will learn to sketch quick vignettes that capture the energy and essence of a place and its people.

I will share skills designed for and transferrable to working on location, including composing vignettes and thinking in visual stories. You will learn to draw sketches fearlessly, regardless of subject matter, and get tips on how to begin sketching people.

For more details on the workshop, including a supply list and registration, go here:


Can’t make it this time but interested in future workshops? Email me and ask to be put on my mailing list.

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A tool I love: The Pentel Pocket Brushpen

One of my favorite sketching tools is the Pentel Pocket Brushpen.

I used it for these super-quick sketches when the construction crew was on my street last week.

And for this more leisurely sketch of the kitchen counter after a party.

There are lots of brushpens out there, but nothing else,not even more expensive sable-haired brushpens, do for me what this one does. I don’t think there are any perfect tools, just tools that work best for how each of us draws and paints.

So a firmer pen tip or a different tip might be your magic tool. I like this writeup from Jetpens that compares some of the more popular pens out there. Read it if you’re looking for a brushpen that works for how you draw:

Posted in Close to home, Construction, Drink, Everyday Sketches, Food, tools | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Texture, Texture and more Texture

Chatting with friends online two weeks in a row, using the same photo reference both weeks and grabbing whatever supplies lay on my desk = two slightly different interpretations of kelp on the beach.

I’m really enjoying layering on media, drawing lots of lines, and this “more is more” aesthetic, in general.

I noticed my work starting to get more texture-focussed about a year ago. One obvious reason for it is working more at home, where all my supplies are within easy reach. But I think there’s more.

I’m the sort of person that touches every plant, collects random stuff I find and generally touches everything I walk past. And the pandemic took all of that away. No touching the Lamb’s Ear in my neighbors front yard when I step out to my car, no collecting pebbles to roll around in my hands while I walk, no petting every dog I encounter… it’s been a touchless, textureless year and a half. And I think all that missing texture has made it’s way back to my work.

And not pieces done at home. Here’s a recent sketch from a hike at Point Lobos State Park.

I guess it’s not surprising, seeing big things change in my work during the big changes of the last 18 months. So I’m wondering, have you seen things change in your practice and your work?

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Three San Jose cafes. And one in Oakland

My favorite coffee shop, Blvd. Coffee of Almaden is one I can walk to from home. In all the years I’ve worked from home (and this is from a long time before the pandemic), it’s been a place to go to when I need people around me during my workday.

Dot card from The Art of Soil.

This next sketch is at Crema Coffee on The Alameda (which is a street in San Jose, not in the city of Alameda). That little booklet is a walking tour of vintage signs in downtown San Jose, written by resident expert, Heather David, available here.

Cafe #3 is where you go to when you miss Portuguese egg tarts and fado. Pastelaria Adega also feels like being back in Panjim at this little cafe called A Pastelaria that I hung out at when I was in college.

Those are my three San Jose Cafes.

And here’s one from further north, in Oakland: Cole Coffee. It’s nice to see a local coffee place thrive and be the meeting place of dogs and their people when even with a bigger coffee shop across the street.

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More Early Mornings at the Market

A week after my first attempt at an early morning drawing session at the market, I was back. This time, at around 6:30 am, when the market actually sets up.

The market has a different feel, this early in the morning before the shoppers appear. Setting up a stall is high-energy, focussed and super efficient work.

And then comes the bit of displaying the fruit so it looks attractive and abundant.

This time I was done drawing and shopping before the market actually opened up.


In early October I’m in Santa Fe. They have a pretty legendary market on Saturday mornings, and I’m teaching a 3 hour working in the hustle and bustle of that market. Join if you can, there’s still a few seats left: People Alive | Santa Fe

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