Surprising Santa Fe: Flamenco?

I didn’t expect to be at a flamenco performance in Santa Fe, but on one rainy day of museum-hopping we found El Flamenco. And what a treat it was.

Besides the fabulous performances, El Flamenco has a community outreach program and is part of the local school Arts Program.  Flamenco performances are so intense, there were long periods that I simply forgot to sketch and just watched… still , I ended up with this in my sketchbook…


Gesture drawings and brushpen are just made for each other. And a Pentel Arts Pocket brushpen is an $11 pen that will last forever.( I refill the cartridge with DeAtramentis Document ink almost every day when I’m using it: brushpens drink up a lot of ink!)

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Surprising Santa Fe: Chili Peppers and Stormy Skies

This is Santa Fe Plaza. Huge bunches of red chili peppers hang everywhere.


And this is the view from our rental apartment. I loved those monsoon skies and the lighting and thunder.

Gotta love watercolor blooms!


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Surprising Santa Fe: Meow Wolf

We spent an entire day at Meow Wolf‘s House of Eternal Return. Maybe this New York Times piece might explain a little bit of what it is about. But I think not. There aren’t words for it.

Here’s one sketch I made from the parking lot of the giant wolf sculpture outside.

And here, without comment, are vignettes I sketched inside, under black light for the most part, wondering what I was capturing in my book…

If you’ve never been to Santa Fe. Or if you’ve been before Meow Wolf had this exhibit… its time to visit again, just for this experience.

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Inktober 2017, Part 2

Week 2 of #inktober was pretty patchy. A few quick sketches, a lot of them of Walter the skull. (more on that later it the post)

Here’s my son, reading a new book.

And my daughter, doing her homework. Ink and Inktense Pencils.

More portraits from the week.



One last summer tomato got recorded in my sketchbook. This granular black ink is Noodler’s ink.

And then there are lots and lots of sketches of Walter.




You might notice a lot of both the skulls and the violet ink. It’s a bit repetitive and boring, I know. But I’m doing it anyways, and here’s why:

October a super busy month this year: lots of work deadlines and travel. I’ll be posting my sketches from Santa Fe over this week and next, but I’ll also be away traveling again on a super-exciting assignment. I figured the most important part of inktober was to practice inking more. While it would have been lovely to choose and explore more diverse subjects , having my purple ink and this skull on my work table means I can do a quick study in the time I would agonize over “What should I draw? And what ink should I draw it in?

How has your inktober been? Are you following prompts? Working on anything in particular (besides inking skills)? Keeping it loose? Setting up additional challenges for yourself?? I’d love to know.

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New Mexico, land of surprises

I’m just back from a week in New Mexico. Most of the time I was in Santa Fe, but we did a bunch of day trips outside the city too. I have so many images in my head and things to say about my time in the area, but here’s some things that stood out for me about this trip.

So much of what I saw surprised me.
I guess you could say that about any place you visit, but New Mexico felt special and truly surprising. In the very best way. VLA was a perfect example: it’s one of those places that needs to be experienced. If you just read about it, you might say “How exciting can it be to go see a bunch of huge dishes in the middle of nowhere?”. 
VLA is magical. To be standing among 27 gigantic dishes at dusk, on an ancient and now-dry lake bed, knowing that all those dishes are listening (looking?) into deep space. It’s the sort of magic you have to experience in person.


One moment I was standing there, drawing those still dishes as the sun went down and I looked up from my sketchbook for another glance at them… as the sun disappeared all the dishes, in unison, turned to face the setting sun. It was beautiful.

I couldn’t have had a better start to the trip. That magic, that sense of surprise, it was everywhere we went for the rest of that week.

My other, unrelated observation:
The older your kids get, the harder it is to sketch when you travel.
This seems counterintuitive: Shouldn’t it get easier? Over the last few trips I’ve been surprised by how hard it is to draw. (And I draw pretty quick) It’s all for a good reason: My kids are 10 and 12 and can travel and do stuff at an adult pace. So we don’t do long snack breaks and ‘run around in the park between museum visits’ breaks anymore. We see a lot more stuff, squeeze in a lot more into our trips. That just means there’s just less time to sketch.

I guess I’m just going to have to learn to sketch-note a lot more for the next few years and count on working on less watercolor sketches.

Among the many, many incredible places and things I didn’t sketch were:
Tinkertown Museum, a totally amazing, hard to describe place.
Meow Wolf, an immersive art experience that defies definition. (and the highlight of Santa Fe for our whole family) I did a wee bit of sketching inside, but not anything that captured the feel of the place.
The vegetation and rocks at Bandelier National Monument.
The skies in New Mexico (they’re something else!)
The fall colors, especially the aspens.
The Taos Pueblo.

Still, I did draw lots of other stuff we visited, and you’ll see some of the stuff I loved over the next few posts.

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Grace Cathedral

Laurie Wigham arranged a wonderful sketchcrawl in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Jane Blundell and Liz Steel were both in San Francisco that day and it was a wonderful way for San Francisco Bay Area Sketchers to sketch with our usk friends that live just a short hop away across the Pacific. And we had Shiho Nakaza join us from Los Angeles for the weekend too!

We started at Grace Cathedral. Facing the huge rose window, I wanted to capture that feeling that I’d end up with a crick in my neck if I looked up at those vaulted ceilings.

One more sketch inside, this time looking across from one side of the church to the other, admiring the stained glass.

My kids sketched with me that day, which is always fun. One drew the rose window, the other a complicated view of the labyrinth on the floor , with the stained glass throwing colors onto it.

One more quick sketch of the view outside the church, looking towards a street so steep it very suddenly disappears from your view. Can’t call it much of a sketch except that I enjoyed doing that zebra crossing.

Later that afternoon, many of us gathered at Lafayette Park for a little picnic (and more sketching, of course).sfo

Here’s my sketch of that view.

And then it was evening, and that gloriously warm day in San Francisco suddenly turned blustery and cold, so we packed up and headed home.

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Workshop Announcement

No that’s not the Golden Gate bridge. It’s the Cais das Colunas neighborhood in Lisboa, Portugal, the meeting point for my workshop coming up in just over two weeks, Registration opened today and there are 20 spots in the workshop.Cais_das_Colunas_(33282123433)
Photo By Maria Eklind (Cais das Colunas) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)

No that’s not the Golden Gate bridge, this is Cais das Colunas in Lisboa, Portugal, the meeting point for my workshop coming up in just over two weeks, Registration opened today and there are 20 spots in the workshop.

Here’s some information about the workshop.

Title: People Tell Tales: Telling stories through people


Instructor: Suhita Shirodkar

Location: Lisboa, Portugal. Cais das Colunas (meeting point)
Date: October 25th, 2017, 6:30 pm to 9pm

Workshop Cost 30€/person
Special student price: 20€/person for students with valid ID

For more details and registration, go here:


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