Bijapur, Part 2: India 2017

More from Bijapur. Big monuments and little ones. But first a horse carriage. Drawn quickly while eating lunch. Whenever possible, I’ll sit by a window because you never know if something interesting (and sketchable) will pass by. This horse carriage, mostly used to take tourists around to different monuments around the city, paused for a while outside our restaurant window.

This is my niece sitting opposite me drawing with only a small fraction of the audience that gathered to watch her draw. On the table, our art supplies and our dosai.

The Gol Gumbaz might be Bijapur’s most famous monument. But the Adil Shahi dynasty’s monuments dot the whole city. This  is the Gagan Mahal, a huge audience and performance hall. I sketched it while lounging on the grounds in the shade of a big banyan tree.

The Jal Mandir by comparison is relatively small and stands in what is now a dried-up pond. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: sketching this strange and fascinating little structure, or capturing all the people who passed by on the busy street in front of it.

This small masjid stands on the outskirts of town. It was sketched in the evening as the light faded. Buffaloes grazed on the grasses  and buses destined to be taken apart for scrap stood nearby.

By contrast, the Jama Masjid is a large mosque that stands by a big (but now empty) tank. There were a lot of tourists the morning we visited and the little kids loved jumping in and out of that large tank.

Visiting a place just doesn’t feel complete without a visit to the local market. This is a street market with vegetable vendors doing brisk business involving lots of bargaining. A buffalo grazes on watermelon rinds amongst the shoppers. One of the joys of sketching in India is that you get to interact with everyone wherever you are. While we sketched, vendors chatted with us, we got offered slices of watermelon to sample and a little girl brought us roses that her mom was selling.

This small roadside shrine with indecipherable (to me) markings sat among the fields of bajra and pomegranates a short drive outside town.

This was my very last sketch in Bijapur, but this scene could have been just about anywhere in India.

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Bijapur, Part 1: India 2017

Back to blogging sketches from my trip to India. I spent three days sketching with my niece in Bijapur. (You can see her sketches here). There’s something to drawing in this really immersive, days-on-end fashion that is fascinating: Things start to come together, stuff you’ve been working on and thinking about appears on the page. I find it hard to explain what it is, but if you’ve never taken a break from the rest of your life and done this for at least a few days in a row, you really should try it…. and if you have, you know what I’m taking about.

That doesn’t mean things always work out and you produce fantastic work. In fact, I find that when I know I have time for more than one precious sketch, I am more willing to try something and fail. Also, the first few sketches of an extended experience like this are often disastrous.

This top image is my first three attempts at sketching the Gol Gumbaz. They don’t even come close to capturing it’s huge, squat presence, girth and solidity.

It took going back the next morning and sketching again for attempt #4 to be somewhat happy with my sketch. The Gol Gumbaz, completed in 1656, is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah and has a dome that is 44 meters in diameter. It is huge, and truly dominates the skyline in Bijapur. Anywhere in the city that you are, you see it’s enormous mass. This sketch was made early in the morning. People walked around the manicured grounds on their early morning walks. And a gardener on his haunches slowly picked weeds from amongst the grass.

This next sketch of that same dome is made from a distance away. I can never resist drawing in all the electric wires that are slung across the sky in much of urban India. They keep things real and anchored in the present.

This is one of the many small ruins and tiny buildings that dot the grounds around the Gol Gumbaz. Unmarked and surrounded by fabulous trees, this obviously was a fantastic meeting point for the two men who lounged and chatted in the shade by it.

More sketches from Bijapur coming up soon.

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Cabin Fever

Weeks of rain with almost no break. A 3-day weekend and no way to get out without getting wet. Perfect formula for cabin fever? Luckily, I can draw (and redraw) my family. And since they’ve all long since decided I am terrible at drawing likenesses of them, I don’t even have to try. Which takes half the worry out of drawing people.

This weekend’s sketches are of my nieces, my kids and the cats lounging, chatting, reading, and maybe, just maybe, studying.







All sketched in pen and pencil in my Fabriano Artist’s Journal.



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Sketches from the City. And a Launch Party

A week ago I went to San Francisco to help Laurie Wigham put the final touches to all the work she’d put in to the launch party for 10×10 San Francisco.If you live in the Bay Area and don’t know about 10×10, check it out here and register for a workshop. Our generous hosts Arch Art donated the space,the food and wine, the raffle prizes and the posters for the party.
Here’s a look at the posters, put up the day before the launch.Every poster reflects the work of an instructor teaching a class.

Since I got to the city an hour early, I had some time to do two quick sketches of the changing skyline of San Francisco. Both pieces are from the same spot. Amazingly, I remembered to take a shot of both of them as I was working, so you can see them in-process. The TransAmerica building is totally dwarfed by all the tall new buildings!


On the day of the launch party, we had a great big sketchcrawl at Mission Bay. As usual, I forgot to take photos of the gathering. But here are my two sketches from that day.

A boat on the canal.

And sketchers drawing the boat.Second from the left, sitting down, is Laurie. My only record of here from that wonderful day she organized for us all.

And a few photos of instructors and sketchers at the launch party.

I couldn’t resist coming home with some goodies from the store. The Fabriano Journal won’t handle wet media but it’s great with pencil and I just love these Blackwing pencils!


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Postcards for Democracy: An update, thank you, and more postcards.

Thank you for the absolutely overwhelming support for the first round of the Postcards For Democracy project. I had planned on printing and distributing 500 postcards and quickly doubled the number to 1000. But they were still all promised out within 24 hours. You can see it took a family effort to get all those postcards shipped out quickly!
update4If you wrote to me too late to receive any, I am so sorry, but keep reading, I’m printing more cards… If you got some and are writing them out, send me an image or a note, it’s good to see them being used.

In round one of the project, I asked that you contribute a minimum of $10 to ACLU, write and tell me you did it and I would send you the postcards. Here’s a rough costing of what that first round cost and how much we raised , based on what you wrote in and told me your donated.
The postcards (which I ordered at a discounted rate) , envelopes and postage cost me just under $200 for the 1000 cards I mailed out. And the grand total you donated to ACLU was atleast $2300! Thank you! That is awesome!!

I’d like to continue the project, but keep it self-sustaining. At first, I thought of putting the pdf online, but decided against it, since I’d love to keep up the donations. Instead, the postcards are available through my etsy store in sets of 20 for $10. You can buy as many sets as you want and I will donate all the profits from the sales to ACLU.
Just how much will that be? With a little back-of-the envelope math, I figured that after printing and shipping costs , etsy and other payment fees associated with the sale, $7 of every $10 set will go to ACLU.Exact amounts will differ depending on the price I get each time I reorder the postcards as well and how many postcards you order.

Sound good? Then go get those postcards now. Thanks again for helping make the project a success.


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Little Sketches

It’s been a while since I posted random little sketches. There are weeks, and sometimes months, when I don’t work on projects that hold together as a larger project. And I start to feel like I’m not drawing. But flipping through my sketchbook is a good reminder that I do squeeze in a few drawings every week. They’re usually random little things, stolen moments before appointments,  or after work before driving home…but they add up.

This sketch was done on a quickly-darkening street called Campbell Avenue. The big bare trees are what made me stop and sketch.

This theater sketch is part of a series of theaters I’m sketching for my Vintage Signs of San Jose project.

More pages of little sketches. We’ve had a long, grey and wet spell this winter. It shows in my color palette here.

There’s something magical when the light breaks through the rain clouds. Especially dramatic if you are at Mission San Juan Bautista. This is an under 5-minute sketch, done when I went on my son’s field trip to the Mission.

I posted this piece on instagram and someone asked this question:
Do you plan your color blends really carefully or just kind of slap on a lot of wet paint? 

I answered it without thinking too much about it, but reading back to it, what I said then is exactly how I feel:
The beauty of watercolor is that you shouldn’t expect to control it completely, because watercolor itself does beautiful stuff. I would say I know my materials well enough to allow and plan for some things but mostly I am open to responding to what the medium does.

Additional thought : No, I don’t really stop and plan my color mixes, but I guess I get to know the pigments in my paintbox pretty well over time. That violet: to be used with caution, a little goes a long way. That green: turns totally vitriolic unless it’s got something muddying it down.

Happy Friday!

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USk Symposium, Chicago: How do you choose a workshop?

Reminder: Early Bird Registration for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago opens this Saturday. If you are planning to go, log in and register as soon as registration opens, because those passes go fast!

But you’ve got some homework to do before then, because there are 36 workshops, 30 demos and 5 lectures to choose from and you’ll want to read up on those descriptions, choose your workshops and demos (and perhaps choose a second one as a backup in case your first choice is full) and be prepared before Saturday.

Here are some links that might help:

Exact time and other details ( including a timesone convertor so you know exactly when registration opens) are on this page.

This page has a LOT of information. Workshop Schedules, Demonstration Schedules, and links at the bottom of the page to a description of each workshop.

Which brings up the question:  Just how do you choose??

The short answer is, it’s hard. And for a good reason. You will probably find more than one workshop in each session that you really want to take.

Here’s some things that might help you pick your workshops. 

  1. Is there an instructor you’ve always wanted to take a workshop from?
    If there is, then you’re in luck, and your choice is easy. I find that if I’m interested in a certain instructor’s work or thinking process, then the subject of their workshop almost doesn’t matter. Some of the most amazing workshops I’ve taken are from instructors who don’t teach a particular technique or subject, but really make you think in new ways.
  2. Is there something you’d love to learn that lies outside of your current skill set?
    Something you’re afraid to do? Don’t think you understand too well? Perspective? Drawing Buildings?? Drawing People??? Be brave, jump in and sign up for a workshop or two on the subject.
  3. Are you looking fresh ways to see something you currently know and do well?
    Maybe you’re pretty good at something, say drawing buildings. But have you thought of looking at the work of instructors who approach that same subject very differently from you ? That’s a great way to expand how you express yourself.
  4. See workshop that looks like just too much fun? Take it.
  5. Can’t get into your #1 and #2 choices? (or your #3 and #4 ones too?) The good news is you still have LOTS of amazing workshops to choose from, with 36 instructors! Take a workshop you never thought you’d take. I bet you will learn a lot.

    And don’t forget, sign up for demos and go to lectures too. And then there’s sketchcrawls too….

    beach_kids_suhitaI’ll be teaching my workshop People Tell Tales: Using Action And Interaction To Tell Stories three times during the Symposium. And I’ll do a demo too.

Hope to see you in Chicago! 

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