More Mendocino Sketches

A few more sketches from Mendocino. I started this first sketch at the beach at Russian Gulch State Park. But we didn’t stay long, so I only got as far as adding a bit of color and added the dark tones (in bottom image) a little later.

This panorama along the cliffs just begged for a long sketch across a double spread of my book.

In both these pieces, I’m working with two pens, both Sailor fude pens, one with black ink and one with a lighter, brown-grey ink (a mix of a few leftover inks, all DeAtramentis Document Ink samples). The two inks together let me create depth and focus in the linework.

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Redwoods: Three Impressions

I spent a couple of days in a cottage near Mendocino, California, surrounded by tall redwood trees. Here are a few takes on those trees, captured in different moods.

In the warm light of late afternoon, dappled light hits the trunk of the tree, bringing out its rich, warm color.

This next piece is painted thinking of the scene before me as layers of shape and color that fit together. This lets me keep my piece abstract and just celebrate it as a tapestry of texture.

This final piece was painted on a misty morning. I was particularly fascinated by how the tops of the trees disappear into the mist.

It was lovely to spend so much time with the trees and see them in different moods and light. All the time I painted, I wondered how Laurie Wigham would paint them. (you can see her wonderful captures of the redwoods and other trees here)

I painted these three pieces using two brushes, both from Rosemary & Co. One is an old favorite, the 3/8 inch Sable Blend dagger and the other is a fun new brush for me: the Pocket Eradicator that picks up paint and lets you bring soft highlights back into a piece. I used it in that first piece on the small branches, picking up paint to lighten the top of those little branches where the light hits them. The palette? I’m trying one I haven’t used before, with deeper wells. It’s the Frank Herring palette, quite a bit larger than my usual palette.

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Little Studies

Here are pages from my sketchbook with thumbnails, all related to different things I want to look at deeper. These bite-sized studies come first. They’re a no pressure way to understand new things, experiment and collect observations.

Color, Value, Edges and Pattern studies.

Flower Studies

A page of gesture drawings while watching a 1milliondancestudio video, Tootsie slide. Gesture drawing is so much fun. if you get to the essence of the pose, the rest takes care of itself.

Gesture Drawing

Little thumbnail layouts while watching “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. No-pausing means I capture just the very bare minimum of each composition, but even at this scale and minimal detail level, I notice compositional techniques I want to try and use in my work.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Sketching the Bride

After a long break, I attended a virtual life drawing session hosted by Draw Breath. With no background in what was happening, I stepped in and sketched the first few poses of well, the bride…

Turns out, there was a twist in the plot, and she was a zombie bride (I know nothing about zombies or any genre of horror, so I might be missing references to what her poses were about.) But all sorts of weapons appeared…

And just as the plot was thickening and I might have started to figure what was going on, I realized I didn’t have the time to stick through the whole session and had to leave early.

It was still a ton of fun, I love drawing people and the stories they tell, and miss drawing in person so much. Until I can do that, I need to come back to these sessions as often as I can.

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Sketches made in watersoluble pencil, watercolor, brushpen and ink, and acrylic ink on newsprint. Sizes are between 8×10 inches and 9×12 inches . They’re for sale and come signed, $45 each. Shipping included within the US. Just email me and ask if you want one.

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Backyard Sketches

I’ve been sketching in my backyard some mornings, before it gets too hot. The chairs are rarely put away neatly, making for interesting patterns to sketch. Here they are, sketched two ways.


Agapanthus grows by a broken section of the backyard fence. Neither my neighbor nor I care enough to fix it and the cat loves the hole it creates. So it stays as is.

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Tomatoes

Come summer and tomatoes are on my mind. The backyard tomatoes did surprisingly well this year and are appearing in my sketchbook in all sorts of forms.

Just-Gathered Backyard Tomatoes
Tomatoes and Cup of Chai
Bowl of Tomatoes

What’s your go-to way to eat a summer tomato? If they’re super-tasty, I’ll east them as is. Or add a bit of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Sometimes, basil and chunks of mozzarella find their way into the mix too.

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Summer Mornings are the Best

I love the long days of summer. The middle of the day is really hot but the mornings are glorious. I’ve taken to having my first cup of chai on the front steps of the house which face west and are still cool and shady in the morning.

This spread is done in my Hahnemühle Toned Watercolor book, but uses no watercolor. It’s in ink (with lots of finger-smudging involved) and Neocolor I wax crayons.

Here are closeups of the pages.

The giant leaves of the Acanthus at my doorstep. You can never kill this plant.
Mystery Tree on my curb. It pulls up the sidewalk but I love it’s shape.
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Van Life

I’m seeing vans and Rvs all over my neighborhood. Were they always there and I didn’t notice them?

This one is parked right around the corner from home, with a shady tree across the street, making it the target of two sketches last week, both from the same spot.

I really enjoy painting the boxiness of vans and trucks, and I love finding color in things I paint. If you sit and stare at something long enough, you see it.

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Wax Crayon and Oil Pastels

These sketches were done in a little park in Berkeley where I hung out with my family, snacking, chatting and sketching. Everyone in the park enjoyed the sunshine and was well distanced. it felt almost normal and I was so happy to sit in the sunshine and (finally!) draw people. I used this toned watercolor book with these wax crayons, pen and ink. If the only wax crayons you have ever used are kid’s crayons, these are a world apart and a joy to use.

This next sketch is at the school yard, while I wait for my daughter. Same sketchbook and pen and ink, but with oil pastels this time, and with a lot of finger-smooshing involved.

I grew up using wax crayons and oil pastels a lot, so going back to them makes me paint and mess around like a child, and that’s always a good thing.

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Scratching the Surface

Some days I draw just for the joy of mark-making, to pull a mark across paper, to feel the drag, the resistance, the imperfection of the line. Drawing with less familiar tools is a little frustrating: they don’t work like I think they will, they don’t hold ink, they bend and snap… But it also makes me really aware of the marks I make.

This first piece is sketched with a feather on a rough toothed paper. I added a posca marker and colored pencil to the mix, but all the linework is with a feather or with smudgy marks made with my fingers.

And here I substituted the feather with a bamboo pen.

Sketching the redwood trees, I use a twig (see it in the photo?) I find on the ground nearby. It feels more connected to the trees than my plastic pen. Most of the color is added with a small metal palette knife.

Do you use any tools besides pencils and pens? I’d love to hear about them.

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