The end of Inktober

Inktober’s almost over, and while I didn’t do close to a sketch a day, just thinking more about the inked line is interesting. For one, it means I can carry just a book and a single fountain pen most of the time. Like I did here: One Lamy Safari and a tiny Beta sketchbook is all I had with me when I sketched this palm tree that badly needed a haircut.


These next two pieces have a little bit of graphite added in.



But I’m never going to be working in monochrome all the time. I love color too much. Still, the line and greyscale work does seem to find it’s way into my color work. Like this little scene at a bar. Sumi ink and carbon platinum ink with watercolor.


And even though this one has a lot of color in it,the inkwork is what creates most of my tones and shapes.pumpkins

But as one of you commented a while ago, wouldn’t almost all my work qualify for #inktober? Like this sketch at a dandiya dance which is all about the movement and color, but there’s always line…


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Inktober so far

I started the month of October thinking I’d do a little ink sketch everyday. It hasn’t happened. Still, I’m glad I have #inktober on my mind.  It reminds me to focus on penwork and not always use color to finish a piece.

Like these little gestural sketches. On the left, people walking out of the grocery store. On the right, Starbucks. It’s amazing how much a little color can convey in a black and white sketch.


These quick brushpen  and ink studies are from a figure drawing book I am currently reading: Life Drawing: How To Portray The Figure With Accuracy And Expressiongettural_from-book

A sketch from Sausalito. Looking back, it worked better without color. sausalito_hills_both

So I tried the no-color approach again with this piece.

My poor kids, they are the subjects of more sketches than they wish to be in.K_pen

Another inktober post coming up at the end of the month. Are you doing the inktober initiative? It’s never too late to start…

Posted in california, Close to home, Figure Drawing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


I headed to Sausalito last week to check out locations for a workshop I teach this weekend. Getting there from San Jose means starting out super early to avoid the morning commute traffic, traversing San Francisco, and then crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. However many times I’ve crossed that bridge, it is always incredible. As soon as I got across, I took the first exit to the vista point. It was a surprisingly warm and not-too-foggy day and I could actually see the bridge. Sketch time!

Pencil first on this one, and a wee bit of pen with my finest pen at the very end. This whole piece is done with the Rosemary Dagger Brush, easily my favorite brush right now.

If my morning at Vista Point started quietly, it didn’t last. By the time that first piece was done, the tourists had arrived and how could I not capture this crazy crowd? So here is a very different sketch at the same spot.

One of the nicest bits about getting out to sketch is meeting other sketchers. I met up with Marin-based sketcher and teacher, Rhoda Draws, whose work you can see here. She suggested a few possible workshop locations in Sausalito that we checked out before settling on one. Then we sketched. No, we don’t have the gorgeous fall colors of Vermont, and we won’t have a White Christmas, but fall in Sausalito is fabulous for sketching.

Almost all of Sausalito is built on steep hills. Everything goes up, up  and up.

I’m excited to be back in Sausalito on Saturday teaching another Urban Sketching workshop. And I’ll be sure to get there well before workshop time to get more sketching done in this lovely city.

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Portraits for a Fundraiser

Every year, my kid’s elementary school has a fundraiser and I paint little portraits to raise money for school. It’s 3 minute portraits at 5 dollars a portrait. Today I painted 40 of them in 4 hours. Here are some photos from the morning. Next to me is a sketchbook to sketch in during breaks between sessions.


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Teaching and Learning

Last weekend I taught two workshops in San Francisco, both outside the Ferry Building, surrounded by the market, the tourists and a very noisy drummer. The drummer might have been a bit much, but other than that it was perfect for a workshop title “Capturing Chaos: Drawing a Crowd”.

I love teaching, get super involved and never remember to take a single photo, so thank you Laurie Wigham and Stephen Brigham for taking some pictures and sending them to me. Here I am, bent over backwards, trying to demo while explaining a concept on the left. On the right, we look at our final pieces of the day together.

I’ve reviewed the content of this workshop, which is the same one I taught in Singapore,  here on my blog, so I thought I’d share a couple of sketches by a participant that really help explain what I’m hoping workshop participants walk away with at the end of the workshop.

Srivani Narra sketched this first piece a week before the workshop. Coincidentally, it was at the very same location that the workshop was held the next week. The second sketch is her final piece from the workshop. Both lovely pieces, for sure, but such different captures. She said doing the workshop gave her the confidence to add people to the scene she captured. She’d always seen the people as a part of the scene, just never felt brave enough to give it a shot to capture them.

Thanks Srivani, I couldn’t have put it better: to feel confident to capture what you want to capture of a location, including the people is exactly what this workshop is about.

Me? I decompressed after class with a Vietnamese iced coffee and a sketch of the long line for ice cream at the Ferry Building.

Then I jumped on the Bart across to Berkeley (where I parked my car, parking in San Francisco is super-expensive!), picked up a Zachary’s pizza, did a sketch while I waited for it, and drove home.

And I came home thinking:  I learn so much from teaching and from my workshop participants every time I teach. I hope they learn atleast as much as I do.

More workshops coming up soon. The next one in Sausalito on the 24th of October (that one is already full) and I may just hold a couple more in the South Bay if the warm weather holds out. Want to be waitlisted for one? Just let me know.

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A bowl of feijoas

These feijoas are grown by my sister, so it made sense to draw them in a bowl she made too. I planned to take pictures as I progressed through this piece, but forgot to once I got going so this is what I have.

A simple line-drawing to start with.

A watercolor wash.

And then everything else. ‘Everything else’ included what you see here: pen and ink, water-soluble pastels and more watercolor.

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Gone too far?

“Should have stopped working on this piece 20 minutes ago.”

I feel that way about a piece pretty often, but I’m not always sure “20-minutes-ago” was actually a good time to stop. So this is what I did today.

At figure drawing practice, I work on one long pose. “Long” being three 20-25 minute sessions with breaks between them. I use session 1 to do a charcoal study. And sessions 2 and 3 to work on a single piece, usually in color. So this time, I photographed my work at the end of every one of those sessions.

Here is the study from session 1.

Here is my color piece at the end of session 2. The whole piece, and a closeup.

And here it is at the end of session 3.

I’m pretty convinced I should have stopped at the end of session 2, what do you think?

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