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.

Posted in teaching, virtual sketching, Workshop | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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?

Posted in california, Everyday Sketches, experiments, Summer | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose, Silicon Valley, teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Everyday Sketches in an Everyday Book

These sketches all live in my Midori notebook. It’s always with me, even when my sketchbag isn’t: the everyday-paper means I can write to-do lists in it(yup, no digital lists for me) and it can hold quick sketches too.

Here are some recent-ish sketches I rounded up. You can see people are my go-to subject. Because I find them infinitely interesting.

These sketches are all everyday stuff, nothing super-special. But glad I did them. I believe it’s always better to record a sketch-however quickly and in whatever book or medium-than to not draw. So keep a cheap book and a pen around and see if using a basic setup like that helps you sketch more.

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Online Life Drawing Resources

Have I mentioned I am doing a residency with As a part of my 6-month residency, I will write about the arts and changes in the field through the past year and a half. Here is more about that residency and my fellow residents:

Read my first piece about online life drawing here: Covid Has Created a Virtual Renaissance for Life Drawing

I’m learning so much about journalism and storytelling (and I get to incorporate visual storytelling in my pieces). Best of all, I get to work with an awesome editor as my mentor and a support team from whom I am learning about research, fact-checking and the journey of a story from a kernel of an idea to a published piece. It has been a fantastic learning experience so far. Not easy – telling a story in words is hard for someone who thinks in pictures – but rewarding.

Many of you asked for online life drawing resources when I posted this story on facebook, so here is a list, gathered by friends and artists who have been immersed in life drawing through the pandemic. I have drawn with many, but not all, of these groups. A huge thank you to Diane Olivier and Laurie Wigham for sharing their collection of resources that make up the bulk of this list. If you have groups you’ve drawn with that are not listed here, let me know about them and why you like them. I’ll try to keep the list updated with new groups I draw with and with suggestion from you.

Groups are listed by Instagram handle + Link to booking website.
If you find a model you enjoy drawing you can also follow them on instagram. Most models work with more than one group.













@ThisisNudeLife (London, UK – subtract 8 hours)







Posted in Education, Figure Drawing, people, reportage, virtual sketching | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Getting There Early

I usually go to the Farmer’s Market at noon,so one day Uma and I thought we’d try and catch the market “early”. Turns out 8am is too late to catch the setup action.

Still, we did catch the last unloading from this van.

And Mateo (below) is always late to the market, so this next sketch is him and his assistant setting up. It’s a quick and super-efficient process with tent setup, crates and tables all falling in place very quickly.

By the time we were done with that sketch, the market was in full swing. Here’s a typical shopper and her accessories: mask, atleast two market bags, a purse somewhere in the mix and both hands free to inspect the produce and fruits.

This last one was when we decided to take a break and have a pupusa. Sitting behind the stall as we ate gave us this view of the woman making those pupusas over a very hot stove on a scorching day…

When I travel I love stopping by market: they’re such a great slice-of-life place!

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

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose, Silicon Valley, teaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Experiments with Flowers

Three recent floral pieces, all in mixed media. I love experimenting with different approaches and floral are such a fun subject for these experiments. One of the things I like about drawing flowers is that they’re alive. They might hold still, but it’s an important to me that the work conveys that they’re no plastic, they’re not frozen in time. They’re buds that bloom, wither and die.

This colorful piece is crayon, watercolor and pencil. From a bouquet by Jessie Chapman.

These simple flowers are drawn with wax crayon from The Art of Soil . The crayons for a resist with black ink for the background.

This last piece is inspired by a beautifully textured bouquet from Matilda’s Bloombox. Watercolor, pencil, pen & ink and white gouache are all part of the mix.

All these pieces are done on Stillman and Birn’s Beta mixed media paper.

Posted in Everyday Sketches, experiments, flowers, studies | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Urban Sketching workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico: People Alive!

Happy Friday! Just a short post to announce that I added a 3-hour workshop to my week in Santa Fe.

The 3-day workshop is sold but this one is an intense but exciting 3-hour session in the famous Santa Fe Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. We’ll draw people, produce and the energy of the market.

Details below:

People Alive (Santa Fe) 

Saturday: October 2nd, 2021  •  On Location workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 9am to noon

This workshop is designed to help you draw sketches with people full of life, capture the action of the farmers’ market and build interesting compositions on location.

Register here:


What does this workshop cover? 
There’s something for everyone, whether you are afraid to draw people, looking for a fresh way to see and draw, or if you are someone who loves the idea of drawing in a market but is intimidated by the action.

In this workshop we will
• Learn to draw people through observation using different techniques combining shape and line drawing
• Look at composition and storytelling
• Learn to introduce people in a setting

This workshop will be held outdoors. Participants will be required to show proof of vaccination upon registration. 

Registration and Cost

The single session, on-location workshop costs $80. Eventbrite fees and taxes extra.
Register Here. Limited spaces.


All my workshops are first announced in my newsletter, which goes out (sorta) monthly and always has tips for sketching. If you haven’t signed up yet just email me at and ask to be put on that mailing list.

Posted in Education, How to, people, Travel, Workshop | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment