Albany and Berkeley

Albany Bowl in Berkeley. Such a bright blue, it made the sky pale in comparison.

And the Art Deco Cerrito Theater, also in Albany.albany_cerrito_theater_vintage

A quick sketch of a couple of cops, on a burrito break. albany_cop

And a change of scene. The Berkeley campus on a sunny Friday afternoon. People lie around watching the frisbee players. if they aren’t playing themselves.

I often do this: one longer sketch, and then a really quick one, from the same vantage point.

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Sheep Shearing

It was Sheep Shearing day at Hidden Villa Farms today. We’ve been excited about going to this ever since our last visit to the farm.

Here are Vicki and Hope, two of the border collies who were herding the sheep. It’s amazing how quietly and efficiently they rounded up the sheep and got them to head in the right direction.

sheep_shearing_3And here is the shearing of the sheep, a much quicker process than I expected.

A couple more quick sketches, each of which was made over the shearing of one sheep, which lasted 5 to 6 minutes. The sheep didn’t want to be brought out to be sheared, but once they were practically carried out, they were pretty docile.


My notes and sketches in a little accordion fold. Tinted paper and white sheep are just made for each other.
sheep_shearing_long_fullCloseups of the accordion fold:

sheep_shearing_long_1of2 sheep_shearing_long_2of2

And one last quick sketch, of the spinning wheels used to turn the wool into thread.sheep_shearing_spinning

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Recent Obsessions. And Brush Pen Reviews.

There are themes I return to all the time, so I guess I have many recent obsessions.
There’s vintage cars that I understand nothing about but love the shapes of.
And there’s vintage signage, like this sign for the Sands Motel on Monterey Highway in San Jose.

And for when I don’t go outdoors to sketch, sketches of stuff I find on my kitchen counter. Like these shallots.

What all these pieces have in common are the tools I’m obsessed with right now.
brushpens_gelpensA Kuretake brush pen that I refill with Platinum Carbon Ink, a Pentel brush pen, and a Uniball white gel pen. Why the two brushpens? I started out with waterproof ink in one and non-waterproof ink in the other. (I use only waterproof ink now. Given how quickly I work and that I often use the pen over wet paint, I can get lines with the feathery, belnded quality of non-waterproof ink with a waterproof ink.)  Also, using the two pens side-by-side really helped compare them.

The verdict? The Pentel is a lovely pen, at a great price. If you’re unsure of whether you’re going to want a brushpen, get a Pentel try it out. At first, my linework and control was the same with the Pentel and the Kuretake. But over time, I’ve come to prefer my Kuretake. I find I have better control of my finer lines with it and it gives me better line modulation when I lift off the page. I also love the feel of the matte body. And since I use a convertor and refill it with ink, I can use my Platinum Carbon ink. (With the Pentel I use cartridges and can’t choose my ink)

Lots more sketches with these pens on my flickr stream right now.

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Mostly notes.

This weekend was a no-color, mostly-notes kind of weekend.

It started with what I thought was a broken toe and a trip to ER. I was lucky: no broken foot. But the lady who was waiting for her X-ray besides me was not so lucky. She had a badly broken wrist.ER_visit_friday27thmarch

Yesterday was a field trip to the Police Headquarters with my daughter’s girl scout troop. 2 hours, 7 girls, lots of information, lots to see. We kept moving. Here are my notes, Sharpie pen on paper.

A view of the 911 room, and a look inside a police car. 

A crime scene setup for the girls to investigate. Blood, broken glass, and fingerprints.
What’s on an officer’s belt? And a look inside the Evidence Room.
Police_station_evidenceGuns and the target practice room.
Police_station_targetThe police uniform form 1848
Police_station_uniformsOne last sketch before I left.
Just last week, the SJPD lost Officer Michael Johnson. An outpouring of letters, flowers and candles form a memorial outside the Police Administration Building.


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Tinted paper, Accordion Folds

I bought a large roll of tinted paper for my weekly figure study session, and I folded some of it into little accordion-folded sheets to carry around in my sketchbook. This was the first one I used last week. Today, I filled another accordion fold with sketches over coffee. I love drawing crowded, busy places. But it’s hard to find a crowd in my quiet suburban neighborhood.

My local grocery store sees a fair amount of foot traffic, though. So I parked myself and my coffee at a table with a good view for about 45 minutes and filled in both sides of my accordion fold. I wish I’d left the sky out on the top piece. It’s too much of a distraction. grey_book_almaden_center1grey_book_almaden_center

I used brushpen and fountain pen with black carbon ink, white crayon and colored pencils. Here are some closeups.


grey_people_closeup2Did I mention I’m teaching a workshop at the 6th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Singapore this July? Come draw people and crowds in Singapore with me, it will be fun. More details coming very soon… But early registration is now open!

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Would you walk into this store?

Look at this really welcoming, friendly guy, wouldn’t you walk into a store if he towered above it?

store_closing_closeup I guess ‘welcoming’ isn’t the point of the green gorilla. He certainly did make for an eye-catching ‘STORE CLOSING’ sign. I stopped and sketched the drama. Lots of people pulled over and went in while I sketched. store_closing_signEmpirical evidence shows that gigantic inflatable green gorillas make for great sale signs.

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Watertowers and Continental Cuisine

This is the Mariani Fruit Packing Company Water Tower in San Jose.  The Fruit Packing Plant has long since been torn down, and in its place is a huge housing complex called, what else, Mariana Square Townhomes.

I hit a double jackpot with this next sketch: two signs, both for now-defunct institutions: the faded sign is for an Italian restaurant called Guido’s. Instead of taking it down , the next restaurant that came up on it’s site just built a super-bright, overpoweringly yellow and red sign next to it and left it up. And the bright yellow one? The restaurant?  Zorba the Greek. Serving Greek, Armenian, Italian and Continental cuisine.
guidos_myplace_estd1963More sketches form my vintage sketch collection here on flickr.


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