Victorian Homes

Los Gatos, California has street after street of wonderfully preserved and restored homes. Here are a bunch of them, all on one block. These quick little sketches were made in a medium that’s unusual for me to use for urban sketches: charcoal, in stick and pencil form. Not the most practical thing to carry around, it tends to mark everything it touches, but so much fun to smudge and push around the paper. It’s sort of like having an ‘undo’ button: If you draw in a line to sharp, you can smudge it till you lose it.

This first set is very quickly sketched: each sketch no more than a few minutes.


And then I came upon this gorgeous Victorian home. Here’s a first 5-minute charcoal drawing of it. charcoal_h5

And while the house is lovely, it’s the tree in the front yard that really captivated me. It just begged for more than a quick charcoal sketch. So out came my watercolors and fountain pen. Luckily for me, today (yes, in early February!) was a 75ish degree day. Sunny. Clear. Perfect sketching weather.





Posted in california, Close to home, Silicon Valley | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The challenge of longer poses

One of the things I want to work on this year is getting better at working on longer pieces. I love a quick, gestural sketch (and quick poses which tend to be more dynamic and exciting). I find that working fast and loose lets me capture weight and posture, movement and aliveness much better than working slowly does.


figure_27_1But there is certainly something to be gained from learning to work slower, to check proportions and placement more carefully, and look more closely at anatomy and structure, light and shade…

My challenge for this year is figuring how to keep that freshness and aliveness in longer pieces I work on. The dynamism of poses the model strikes just can’t be the same. So what then?



We’ll see where I land with that one, it’s going to be a challenge to figure it out. If you have any insights to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Figure Drawing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Dealin’ Dollar Dan

This is Dealin’ Dollar Dan. Having a prospector as your sign makes  sense when you’re called Gold Rush Motors. Still, I’m glad Service Rent-A-Car, which now stands on the lot, still has him standing, even though he’s peeling and threatening to fall apart.vintage_cowboy_manvintage_cowboy_man2

And here’s the not-nearly-as-flamboyantly-named Mini Mart. I have no idea how old this sign is, (and maybe it just isn’t that old), but that Flintstones-style lettering makes it seem old.vintage_mini_mart

Posted in california, Close to home, Silicon Valley, Uncategorized, Vintage Signs | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sam’s Downtown Feed & Pet Supply

Sam’s Downtown Feed & Pet Supply: Just the name takes you back to another era. And my sketches barely scratch the surface of this magical place. (I am going to have to go back and sketch the interior of this store soon.)

The storefront is complete with a ranch-style entrance and a horse-on-wheels that gets pulled to the front of the curb everyday.

And in the parking lot was this beautiful truck. There’s nothing I love more for a fast sketch than the brushpen. It makes every sketch (even a truck!) gestural and about big shapes: no messing around with little details when I’m brush-penning. vintage_downtown_feed_truck

As always, drop me a line if you know of any vintage signs in the Bay Area that I should sketch! I’m adding them to a growing collection here.

Posted in california, Close to home, Silicon Valley, Vintage Signs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Win my online class “Figure Sketching made Simple” for free

I’m excited to announce that my first online class at, “Figure Sketching made Simple” will be out in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, one lucky person can win the class for FREE. The winner will be announced on the morning the class launches.

To enter click here:


The class is an introduction to sketching figures from life. It is geared towards anyone that finds drawing people from life intimidating, or wants to learn to capture people quickly. We start with learning basic mark-making and then quickly move to drawing people.
10264_Set_Stills_003_retouchedI teach all the techniques I use when working on location, which means there’s techniques that urban sketchers, plein air painters and sketchbook artists can all incorporate into their work. I use video clips for my demos, so you and I have access to the very same view when we sketch.

10264_CB_Figure-Sketching-Made-Simple_Suhita-Shirodkar-5_retouchedOver 6 lessons, we learn techniques to help us see and draw figures at rest and in motion. We learn how to quick-capture moving people, draw interactions and connections and we look at putting multiple figures together to create a montage that tells a story. And finally, we put everything we learnt together into a complete composition in color.

Over the last couple of years, so many of you have asked if teach online. Which makes it doubly exciting for me that this class will be out soon.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to enter to win, and be sure to share this post with any friends you think might be interested in the class.

To enter click here:

Happy Sketching!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

West San Carlos Street, San Jose

A project I’ve been working on, in fits and starts, over the last couple of years is documenting vintage signage around Silicon Valley, and particularly around San Jose. West San Carlos Street in San Jose has a wealth of signage, but if you look all around you at the horizon, you can see new development everywhere, creeping in to replace the old.

You’ve got to love a pun as bad as this one: “Oh See!” exclaims the sign for O.C McDonald Plumbing. Founded in 1906, they claim to have installed the city’s first air conditioning system.

Just a block away is Westside Billiards. That sign is probably from the 1950s, but the 8-ball may have been added later.

You can see all my signage sketches so far here in this flickr album. Or, search ‘vintage signs’ on my blog and see all my posts of them. If you know of signs in the area I should sketch, let me know!


Posted in california, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

In Denver

I was in Denver last week working on (you asked and it will be here soon!) an online class titled “Figure Sketching Made Simple”. Many, many thanks to the super team that worked with me in the studio and for months before on class content and organization.

And while class details will have to wait just a wee bit longer, here are my sketches from those few days. I’m going to have to go back to Denver to really experience the city. This time, it was all studio time and travel, which you can see from my sketches.

This one was Day 1 at the studios, I drew the setup while my producer Stephanie and I worked on the class and setup. Those huge cameras are quite amazing.


Note to self about this next unfinished sketch: If you are trying to capture how tall a camera is, do not draw in the super-tall cameraman into the same sketch.


And a quick capture from my hotel room window before the light faded. Yes, there were beautiful snow-covered mountains if I looked the other way. But me, I love cities. Give me a construction site to sketch and I am excited! Sketched in the too-quickly fading evening light.


Work mornings begin at 7:30 am. I finally sketched my view from the breakfast room at the hotel on my very last day, before I left for the airport to head back home.


And, one last sketch, at the airport, heading back home.

Stay tuned for class details, coming soon, and a chance to win the class for free.

Posted in teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments