Workshops and Gifts for the Holidays

To kick off this short work week, here’s a few listings of workshops and holiday sales coming up.

ONLINE SALE THROUGH THANKSGIVING WEEK My Etsy store has archival prints of my art for sale. Through this week, starting Monday November 20th, through Monday November 27th, take 15% off the price of any piece when you use the code SKETCH1THANKS at checkout.

New pieces added everyday through the holidays, and I’m always happy to add prints of a particular piece to the shop by request.

(Pieces are sold unframed, the image above shows you haw they would look framed in a standard sized 8×10 or 11×14 frame)

If you’re looking for a special painting this holiday season, then this is the last week to place those orders. For custom portraits of your family and pets, or of a place you love, check this link.

WORKSHOP/DEMO AT ARCH ART SUPPLIES, SAN FRANCISCO On November 25th I’ll be doing a demo/workshop where we’ll explore the range of Stillman & Birn sketchbook papers. Light instruction provided in this workshop that is about play and experimentation. You will be provided a pack of papers and a dot card of Daniel Smith colors. Bring your sketch kit along so you can test your favorite supplies out on these papers. We’ll produce little sketches like the ones I made this week (below) Included in the test pack will be the new Nova tinted papers.

The workshop is free, and filling up soon, so please RSVP here to reserve a spot.

And while you’re there it’s Small Business Saturday, a good day to shop for gifts and supplies at a great independent art store.

CRAFTSY CLASS My craftsy class, Figure Sketching Made Simple is always 50% off when you use this link to buy it. Classes, once bought, never expire and I encourage you to ask questions, and post projects. Buy a class for yourself or as a gift for a friend.


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Experiments with Ink and Water

I’ve never enjoyed using a water brush to paint with. But I’ve recently discovered that I quite enjoy it as a drawing tool. So far it’s being put to use for quick black and white portraits. Here are a few.

This set uses a Pentel Pocket brush pen for the blacks and a water brush filled with diluted ink for a single grey. I use DeAtramentis Document Ink in all my pens. The ink mix? I’ve never really measured, but I add just enough water for it to be decidedly grey and not black. Dilute ink dries lighter than it looks when you first put it down on paper, especially on absorbent paper.

The sketches are all quite small, I’m adding in some closeups so you can see the fun mark-making and the look of the ink on paper that I’m enjoying quite a bit.

bw2Stripey clothing is fun to draw because you need to figure where you’re going to indicate stripes: I try not to draw in everything. It makes it more interesting when the viewer fills in the gaps.

Here’s another page. This one uses a water brush with dilute ink and a Sailor Bent Nib pen. The grey line with the water brush is the first gestural continuous-line mark I’m making before moving on to adding more details with pen.

More sketches with gestural underdrawing in grey ink.


In these last sketches I’m working with a Pentel Brush Pen for the darkest darks, a water brush with dilute ink for the greys, and a second water brush with just plain water. You can see in the closeups that it helps me soften edges and create more greys.

It’s a bit more complex and harder to manage than just the single flat grey, but I like the range of tones and edges I can get, so I’m going to work with this some more and see where it goes.




Working like this is new to me, and I’ve mainly been sketching my family at home. But I’m excited about how much I can do with a small range of tools, so I plan to take my kit out in the field next and try it out on my urban sketches.


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Happy 10th, Urban Sketchers!

On Saturday, Urban Sketchers celebrated it’s 10th anniversary with a 24 hour sketchwalk. I couldn’t join my local group as they sketched in San Francisco on Union Square. But I did some quick sketches that day on a weekend away with family and friends.

Waking up to a quiet morning , somewhere near Paso Robles, I painted this just as the sun started to cut through the fog.

Two more sketches from that afternoon, both made while wine-tasting.



Happy 10th Anniversary to my Urban Sketchers family: Sketchers near and far that share one mission. Your freely sharing what you do and know and your constant encouragement  and feedback are priceless.

And a huge, huge thank you to Gabi Campanario for dreaming up this group, setting it up, nurturing it, and keeping it growing. And for all that it has brought to so many of us!

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Small Sketches from an eventful week

Bits and pieces from last week. My very last school Halloween Parade (next year I have two middle schoolers, no more school parades…)

The usual share of Pikachus, pandas, dinosaurs, unicorns. The bawling baby (in a pull up) took the cake. My son was a barrel of toxic waste. halloween1


Sketching samovars and coffee grinders at Heartbeat Cafe in San Jose. They have a fabulous collection that started with a samovar brought from Poland by the owners mother when she first came to America.


On Friday, Art Ark Gallery in San Jose held an opening reception for their new show, The More the Merrier. When you have 26 artists showing a few pieces each together, it’s fun to look around the room at everyone’s work.

Since all the work I showed is done in sketchbooks, these are framed archival prints of the pieces. And the sketch below is done sometime that evening, watching visitors and artists mingle and chat… In the background, the work of San Jose artist, Valerie Raps.

Some other pages from my book: A construction crew.

A page like lots of others in my book. Except, for the record, I now love Phthalo Green, a color I thought I’d never like.

If you’re wondering about this new, differently proportioned sketchbook, it’s one of my two Laloran Sketchbooks. I used these books recently in Portugal and loved them, and Laloran made these two with Indian fabric for me! The paper is new to me: it is Clairefontaine Dessin à Grain, 180gr. and it handles both pen and watercolor beautifully. Plus, I love that they’re handmade.

Posted in books, california, Close to home, Construction, Everyday Sketches, Paintings, people, san jose, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Inktober 2017: One final post

One last #inktober post, after a 10 days break from inking: I took my inking supplies along but managed no inked sketches in Portugal (more on that adventure next). So here are sketches from the last few days.

Walter, again. Because, why not?

And a sketch on the first page of my Laloran sketchbook. This is my daughter getting a much-needed haircut. The grey is a waterbrush filled with dilute ink. The black, a brushpen. The thinnest lines are my Sailor Bent Nib pen.

Construction crew in iron oxide ink. All in dip pen: bamboo, glass and metal pens.

And wrapping up on the 31st with this last strange self portrait. Noodlers ink.

How did your Inktober go? I loved following some fantastic work through the month on instagram. If you don’t know and follow them already, here are some favorites from inktober:


It’s been an interesting Inktober for me. I didn’t ink enough to see any changes in my work or feel more familiar with my tools. But I did pull out my dip pens, metal, glass and bamboo, and use them, which is nice. I’m also happy that I came back and picked up and finished off inktober with a few sketches even though I missed 10 whole days. Too often it’s an all-or-nothing kinda thing for me. I feel like I have to do the whole thing, every single day… But 20 inktober sketches instead of 30 is 20 more than zero, right?

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Surprising Santa Fe: Churches

Continuing on the theme of adobe buildings, here are some churches.

The San Miguel Chapel, the oldest standing church in the United States, dates back to either 1628 or 1610, depending on whether you go by written or oral history. Adobe buildings are so forgiving to draw: big shapes, rounded corners and imperfect surfaces all textured and quite lovely…


This is the Santuario de Chimayó, believed to have healing powers. I sat pretty unceremoniously in the middle of the walkway to draw this view of it through the adobe gateway.

This last church is the main church in downtown Santa Fe, the only non-adobe building I sketched. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is lovely enough, I just wasn’t as fascinated by it as I was with the adobe buildings. I think you can tell from my sketch 🙂


And that’s the last of my posts from New Mexico

Here are links to all of the earlier posts:

New Mexico, land of surprises
Surprising Santa Fe: Meow Wolf
Surprising Santa Fe: Chili Peppers and Stormy Skies
Surprising Santa Fe: Flamenco?
Surprising Santa Fe: Potter’s Pink Adobe

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Surprising Santa Fe: Potter’s Pink Adobe

If you paint in watercolors, don’t go to Santa Fe without Potter’s Pink in your palette. YOu’ll need it to paint all the wonderful colors you see in adobe structures everywhere. Even when I wanted to achieve warmer more ochre-based or more pink or purple tones on my buildings I’d add some Potter’s Pink to the mix, just for the granulation.

Here’s a couple of views of the buildings in downtown Santa Fe, using watercolor and a watersoluble grey pencil.



Adobe is mud mixed with water and organic matter .It can be formed into bricks or just formed into structures free-form. It can take on so many colors, depending on the mix of ingredients and on the light. In the very first sketch, most of the structures lay in the shadows with the morning sun just hitting that highest bit. My second sketch was on an overcast day, when the adobe looked pretty flat.

And here’s a little home on Sunset Street, which I walked down many mornings from our rental to downtown Santa Fe. This time, the house was bathed in a gorgeous light.


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