In my sketchbook last week

These pages were all exercises in the 8-week “An Introduction to Sketch Journaling” workshop that started last week. I do every lesson I ask workshop participants to do: it helps work out the kinks and is great practice… keeps me on my toes! I love that.pokythings_1

Here’s a spread with some contour drawings.

And some Amaryllis I caught just before the last blooms died.

I started a new sketchbook for the class and for the first page I combined Liz Steel’s idea of painting out her palette with some notes to myself , stuff I’d like to remember as I work through the sketchbook.

Do you have a first-page you do for your books? Or a manifesto you think up? Does it change often? I bet mine will by the time I’m done with this book, but that’s okay.

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Wine and Watercolors

Just in time for the weekend, some wine and watercolor: two projects from last year where my sketches were used on wine labels.

I’ve sketched at the Stanford campus for years, so when the Stanford Wine Collection wanted some pieces for their labels, there was a lot for them to choose from. I love the idea of these people-filled scenes from all over campus on wine labels!

Here’s another of my sketches on the label of an Argentinian wine. The full color piece is the original sketch and the label uses it in monochrome.


One of the most interesting things about switching from being a graphic designer to being an illustrator is that you switch sides. As an Art Director, I often bought or commissioned illustration for design pieces. Now that the tables are turned I’m always intrigued by how my art will be used in design. It’s kinda fun to see how all the different pieces turn out without being the one doing press checks and color corrections!

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A little wander down the coast: Part 3

We ended the first day of the new year at Carmel Beach. I made two quick sketches as the sun went down. The figures are in ink and the landscape is watercolor. Lots of sand-on-my-book involved in the process, also, some permanent sand in my palette. Ah well.



On our very last day we stopped by Monterey. This is a little cove just off Cannery Row at high tide. Later in the day, the beach was packed with tidepoolers.


Sketchbooking on the go is fun, but I don’t always finish what I started. But that’s okay with me. A half-done spread in itself is a record of how hungry we all were and how quickly we ate, I guess.pismo_skethbook_unfini_1

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A little wander down the coast: Part 2

New Years Day seemed to be going really well at Pismo Beach. The kids explored little sea caves on a beach that only shows up at low tide. I painted the cliffs.

Then I got to my car to go on to our next destination, Carmel-by-the-Sea. And I couldn’t find my car keys. They were dropped someplace through my wandering all morning. To cut a long story short, many hours later I had a very expensive new set of keys, and the wonderful folks at the lobby of Pismo Lighthouse Suites had fed us, kept us warm, and had been my source of endless cups of coffee.

My hands down favorite state park in California is Point Lobos. Great hikes, cliffs, beaches, twisted Monterey Pines, sea lions on rocks just off the shore and whales out at sea. Plus, the sea is a brilliant blue.

At the end of the day? A beer for me at a cozy little bar. Carmel Classic is a local beer I’d never tried before.

One last post about the trip coming tomorrow.

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A little wander down the coast: Part 1

Over winter break the kids and I did a little wander down the coast for a few days. Our first stop was a town we’ve often headed to for a short break: Pismo Beach.

To mark the last day of the year, we decided to do something none of us have done before: Ride ATVs on the beach at Oceano Dunes.

Post dune-riding, we stopped for lunch. Either the food at Old Juan’s Cantina is fantastic, or we were ravenous. Or both.

The New Year started with a late breakfast. That diagram in the bottom of the page is an explanation for why we have seasons. Drawing it made me think of how much clearer things would’ve been for me at school if more teaching were visual.

Wandering aimlessly around Pismo, I sketched these guys fishing on the pier. Catching fish doesn’t seem to be the focus of this activity. Hanging out in the winter sun, watching the waves and surfers, that’s what it’s all about.

More from Pismo and the rest of the trip coming up next.

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The Urban Sketchers Symposium 2019 in Amsterdam

If you were planning to go to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam in 2019, mark your calendars for Saturday, February 2nd. That’s when registration opens.

I’m very honored to be joining this amazing faculty again with my workshop Scavenged Sketches: Gathering Tales of People, Places and Objects.


We will rummage through Amsterdam’s famous flea market and gather visual stories.
And we’ll draw lots of people(among other things), of course.

Registration opens Saturday, 2 February. More details here:

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Wrapping up 2018 : Hello 2019

I couldn’t end the year without a thank you.

Thank you for coming along on this ride for another year as I attempt to put into words how I see and paint. Words are an awkward second language for many visual artists. I’m no exception. So I’m especially grateful (and sometimes surprised) that so many of you read through my long-winded and sometimes verbose attempts to explain what I do.

Some highlights of 2018: 
• My show of over 70 sketches of vintage signs in San Jose, and a video on KQED Arts that accompanied it. The website stays up, but the show just ended. Here is the video.


• Teaching at 9th Urban Sketchers Symposium in Porto, Portugal. Here again, is a link to a free downloadable pdf  from that workshop.

• Weekly life-drawing sessions through most of the year. This year I moved from attending life-drawing sessions to hosting a weekly session at my studio. The no-teaching, no-critique, no-judgement format has been super-useful in helping me keep up a practice that is so vital to drawing for me.

• Challenges: Among my favorite ones this year were the 30×30 Direct Watercolor Challenge set up with Marc Holmes. See all my posts about it here.

And a personal challenge I plan to keep working on, Drawing Hands.

And now for 2019?

So many ideas, so many half-plans (some of which I’ll announce soon).

The one bit I’m pretty pleased about is that for once, I’ve got my act together and chalked out the first few workshops of the year. There’s something for everyone here with a short 3-hour introductory workshop, longer ones that meet once a week for 8 weeks, weekend workshops (because you asked) and even one exciting adventure on a boat.

They’re all here on the Workshops page, including this new one in San Francisco that I just added today.blog_class_header

Here’s to a wonderful, creative 2019, and thank you again. I’m not big on the bubbly stuff, but I’ll raise my G and T to that.

Posted in california, challenge, Everyday Sketches, Figure Drawing, How to, Miscellaneous, people, san franciso, san jose, Silicon Valley, studies, teaching, Vintage Signs, watercolor, Workshop | Tagged , , | 9 Comments