Announcing a joint Sketching Workshop Stephanie Bower | Shari Blaukopf | Suhita Shirodkar

I’m excited to announce a joint workshop with two awesome sketchers.


People | Places | Color

A Sketching Workshop by Stephanie Bower | Shari Blaukopf | Suhita Shirodkar

May 15-16, 2020 • 10am-5pm • Downtown San Jose, CA

About the Workshop:

This is a rare opportunity to learn location sketching from three Urban Sketchers doing what they do best!

Suhita Shirodkar (USA) will teach quick sketching of people in motion.

Stephanie Bower (USA) explains the basics of perspective sketching.

Shari Blaukopf (Canada) teaches her masterful use of watercolor.

Format: The workshop will be taught through 4, 3-hour sessions over the two days. For each half-day session, we will divide registrants into three small groups of no more than 12 participants each. You and your group will take the first 3-hour lesson with one instructor, then rotate through two more half-day sessions until you’ve had a class with all three teachers.

In the final afternoon session, we’ll put it all together in a joint sketching class taught by all three instructors. We are also adding an optional opportunity to join other sketchers on Sunday morning, May 17, for a Sketching Meet-Up that is open to all sketchers! (Yet another chance to cement what you have learned.)

Additional information about locations, recommended sketching supplies, and more will be sent to registered participants at a later date.

Cost: $300.00 US/person
Payable by check (preferred method) or PayPal ($310.00US including additional transaction fee.) Payments will be coordinated by Stephanie at

How to sign up:
Mark your calendars: Registration starts precisely on Sunday, December 15, 2019, at 12:00 noon Pacific Time (no sooner, please.)

First come, first served, in the order your email is received.
To sign up, email

Workshop payment will be due in February 2020.

For more info about this workshop, contact me at with “People | Places | Color” in the subject line. But to register, you must get on the list with Stephanie Bower at


Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Brown Ink

A switchup I made recently:  I filled one of my pens with Brown DeAtramentis Document Ink. When I used the ink, though, it looks a wee bit lighter and more burnt sienna-ish than the web sample shows. So I added a couple little bit of black to it. How much? A dash. I like it now.

These first two sketches are from a decadent tea I had with Gay and Nina while we planned our 2020 workshops. I just had to cut out the list of all that we ate with our tea so you wouldn’t quite figure what a glutton I was… Yes, scones with clotted cream was on that list!


These two sketches are quick ones from a short wait at a doctor’s appointment. It’s pretty amazing, but every time I bring my sketchbook along, my doctor’s office wait is almost too-short.

I rarely try to finish a sketch if a subject moves away and I am often surprised by how it completes itself in my mind- like the woman with the dark hair reading a magazine above: the hand gripping the magazine, the other missing hand: I don’t really miss what remains un-sketched. simple_brown_people2

I’m working to pare down my kit. The next few weeks look super busy and instead of dropping the sketching to keep up with work, I’m hoping to simplify my kit and keep the sketching quick, but keep going.

Posted in Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose, Silicon Valley, tools | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Faces of Recovery: Perry, Hector and Rose

More stories and portraits from Recovery Cafe. Every story is different. And the collection of portraits grows. Some stories have a clear arc to them, many, like most of our lives, weave up and down, through highs and lows.

I bring these sketches home from the cafe, scan them and take them back, because I know the people that sit down to talk to me like seeing their portraits up in the cafe.

Perry E Jackson had so many stories to tell. Of the segregated South. Of being a poor minister’s son. Of having an enlarged heart that led to his addiction to alcohol at a very young age. 
“This is my safe haven. I show up and talk to people here. It’s the least I can do to give back.”


Hector Schneider had just suffered two strokes and heart attacks He might have been difficult to understand when he spoke, but he saved his words for the poetry he wrote.
“I paid rent to my parents since I was 13. I worked 4 jobs for the money.”


Rose Isabella is a giver. Always was. 22 years ago, she got clean. She’s been a sponsor ever since.
“22 years ago I decided to go clean. Why? Because I had to, to not lose everything.”


Find every story recorded so far here.

Posted in Activism, california, Close to home, Faces Of Recovery, people, Portrait, reportage | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Inktober2019, Week 4

Inktober had only 2 weeks for me: Week 1, when I did most of my inked work. And week 4, where I added these last few pieces. In between, I travelled and taught in Oaxaca, and didn’t get to my daily ink sketches. So here’s the last few inked sketches from me.

This portrait is in acrylic ink. I like the bright, graphic quality of the ink and played with it here.

This is one of my favorite piece from the month. Sketched on newsprint with a bamboo pen and Chinese ink. There’s something really freeing about sketching on cheap paper.

And these two spreads in my sketchbook were made over coffee one day.

My #inktober effort this time wasn’t enough to really explore the medium. Still, I’m glad I did the little bit of the challenge that I did, it made me feel part of a big group of people all working together on one challenge.

How was #inktober for you?

Posted in challenge, Everyday Sketches, people, studies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Poppies, Poppies and more Poppies!

Last week was poppy week. I taught a workshop based on a request to share this “loose and free” approach to flowers.

What I loved most of all is that even though we all followed the same process and worked from the same references, every workshop participant had a completely different painting. (I wish I’d remembered to take more than just this one shot in the last workshop!)


What was even more fun was seeing post-workshop paintings from participants over the next couple of days. There’s learning we do in workshops, but atleast as important is taking what you learn, playing with it, cementing the ideas and making the process your own.

Here are 4 pieces I saw pop up on Tracy Chastain‘s photostream within days of the workshop.

Here is Jenny Sperry holding the piece she created in the workshop and three pieces she painted over the next couple of days.

So how did we paint these?

To truly loosen up, we started with big, fun blotches of color on wet paper and then corralled it all in just enough to give the impression of a field full of poppies. It was fun to paint so freely and we discussed working in limited palettes, mixing color and getting some really saturated color on paper.

I don’t always do a whole painting in a workshop, but in this one we all painted together, so I now have three poppy paintings from the workshops.





Posted in Paintings, studies, teaching, watercolor, Workshop | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pumpkins and Skulls

Happy Halloween!


This is from a watercolor demo I did last week at JCO’s ArtHaus where I’m showing a collection of my original pieces from California.

Here I am, painting away.


Posted in watercolor | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Travel-Sketching Oaxaca: Life on the Streets

Life in the streets and in the markets are my favorite things to sketch. We did a whole day of learning how to sketch people in our workshop, including a session on gesture drawing and one on faces and features. We sketched together at a street market, but I also used every opportunity I got when we took a break int he afternoon to do another sketch. Here are some of those.

At the agua fresca stall in the market. My hands down favorite flavor is cucumber and lime flavored agua fresca.

Caught some dancers in action at the very end of their set one night. For sure quick gesture drawings like this I use my brushpen.

I sketched this man with the tamale cart on my final morning in the city. These bicycle-carts appear at street corners every morning selling tamale or fruit. They’re gone in a couple of hours, replaced by others carts selling other food.

Two takes on the shoe stand guys in the xocalo. Reading a newspaper seems like ta thing you must do while your shoes are being polished.


This is my very last sketch, before I headed back home. I was back at the xocalo where I started on the first day, drawing a balloon seller again. The white splatter on this piece is from the bubbles made by a bubble-seller standing just behind me. When they landed on my page, they popped and left little spots all over it. I like that they’re imprinted on my sketch.

As I sat there painting, a lady came up to me and chatted. I told her how much I loved Oaxaca and that I was leaving in an hour. She said to me, “Oaxaca is like your abuela, with open arms, you can come to her anytime.” I’m sure I will be back.

Thank you for joining along on my Oaxacan adventure. Here are the posts before this one.
Travel-Sketching Oaxaca: Jumping Right in
Travel-Sketching Oaxaca: Capturing Vignettes
Travel-Sketching Oaxaca: Monte Alban and More
Travel-Sketching Oaxaca: My Favorite Church and a Colorful Street

If you’re interested in joining in on the next adventure, just email me and let me know. I’m planning that next trip soon!

Posted in oaxaca, people, Sketch Journal, teaching, Travel, Workshop | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments