An afternoon in Berkeley

From almost anywhere in Berkeley, you can spot the Campanile. On a sunny Friday afternoon, campus is just the happiest place: classes done for the week, students finally meet up, chat and lounge on the grass. Makes for great people watching. And sketching.



Which is exactly what we did a couple of weeks ago in the People and Places workshop  in Berkeley.

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Last week in little sketches

We’re into October already. Or maybe it’s InkTober to you? You’ve seen a  few of last week’s little sketches already in my Inktober post. Here are some more from the week that was.

It must be fall, because the pears are gone and there’s pumpkins and gourds in my studio instead. I particularly like the little white one, it’s fun to paint white stuff in watercolors. I want to do a whole series of “how to paint a white pumpkin in many different ways”. Maybe next week, that pumpkin will last forever.

Like many things I draw, I often draw stuff over and over, just with a slightly different approach each time (mostly just to keep me from getting bored). Here is my “thinking in triads” version.
riad_pumpkinsThe 3 colors I’m using are Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and Hansa Yellow Medium. @janeblundellart suggested I try quin rose for my red for brighter purples and I might try that. Thanks Jane!

In the pastels department, still playing with them. This is my daughter’s violin. violin

And from figure drawing, 2 studies of the model in her long pose. Each of these was done in one 20-minute session.

Until next week, happy everyday sketches, and if you’re Inktobering, have fun!

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Will you #inktober ?

It’s almost October, time for a InkTober .

Have you participated before? Will you be doing it again? I’m going to, and while I might not end up doing one every day, Inktober is a good reason for me to focus on pen and ink, and work with it.

Here’s what the creator of Inktober, Jake Parker, has to say about it:

I created InkTober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

Anyone can do InkTober, just pick up a pen and start drawing.

While the official rules (below) say you must post a drawing a day, I’ve found that just doing as many as I can and posting them helps.


Here’s some early-for-Inktober work from this week.

That’s iron gall ink from Goulet Pens. Almost black when laid down thick, but a lovely purple when you brush some water over it. (while it’s still wet)

Not ready to do the challenge yet? How about looking at some inspiring work in ink? Some of my favorite artists to follow on instagram ( that work a lot with ink): @paulheaston , @ninaapplepine , @kiahkiean , @lizsteelart , @fredlynchart , @aheavysoul and so many more… I’ll be posting my inktober sketches on instagram @suhitasketch and here on the blog once a week.

Happy inking! More about Inktober here.

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Luna Park Chalk Art Festival

A couple of weekends ago, I was at the Luna Arts Chalk festival. It’s the first one I’ve been to, and I am going to be back for sure. What fun to walk into a park and find the pavement segmented into little “lots”, each with it’s own artwork in chalk. Everything from Pikachus and dragons to strange warped drawings that didn’t make sense until you looked at them from a certain angle.Like the one below, which looked like nothing from where I sketched it, and only made sense when you viewed it from the raised platform on the other side.

This artist worked on an image of a mermaid.chalkart3

Here is a sidewalk, being brought to life by many, many artists each creating artwork on a different section of it.

There was so much fun stuff, all over those winding paths in the park, I wish I could have sketched it all. Here are photographs of some of it:

My favorite piece was the one this 10 year old (on the left of my sketch) was working. This is her 7th year at the festival, and she has been working on a piece with her parents since she was 3. Her dad and I chatted for a bit and he says she does more and more of it every year. This year, he basically hung around and watched her work on a piece loosely themed around Costa Rica, with big Morpho butterflies in it. Well done, Malia, you’re an inspiration!


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The Physics Show

Frank Cascarano’s The Physics Show is one entertaining show that explains the physics behind walking on hot coals and lying on a bed of nails , and lots of other fantastic stuff. Here Frank introduces the topics the show covers this year.physics12

A basketball in a wagon. Such a great way to explain Inertia. And why you should always wear a seatbelt.physics11

More inertia experiments. Like pulling out a tablecloth from under a lit candlestick. Reminds me of board game I loved as a kid called Pull the Rug Out.

I’m sketching quickly here, in the semi-dark auditorium, with my red/blue pencil, Sailor Bent Nib pen and rainbow pencil, trying to capture all the really fun demonstrations as they happen.

We all have theories on how to get ketchup out of a bottle, right? Well, Frank explains what happens and why it works.

We’re talking about Galileo now, and his experiments with pendulums, all of which started when he watched the chandeliers swing back and forth with the breeze at church. I’m guessing it must have been a very long sermon…

On the right, dropping paper and wood, to see which falls to the ground first.

A beautiful demonstration of the “Shoot the Monkey” experiment. Trying to understand it here on wikipedia is hard, but seeing it explains it a way you’ll never forget.

When I draw people, I always think about what it takes to capture them: With Frank what stands out is how much he uses his hands when he demonstrates and explains things, even when he’s telling you fun facts.

Here’s an experiment everyone loves: fitting lots and lots of balloons into a smallish container of liquid nitrogen. It’s amazing how many you can fit in there!

Saving the best for last. Frank sandwiched between planks of nails with a cinderblock over them. David brings a sledgehammer down, hard, over the whole setup. Did Frank end up injured? Dead?? Pierced by 800+ nails??? You’re just going to go see The Physics Show to find out!

And one last parting sketch of the beautiful apparatus setup to show how pendulums work. And the cleanup crew at the end of the show.

What a great show. All done by a bunch of volunteers for the love of physics. And the $5 ticket price? Guess what they do with it? What an awesome bunch of people!

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The week that was: everyday sketches from last week.

You’ve seen some of my little everyday sketches from last week already as I warmed up for my weekend workshops in Berkeley and San Francisco.

You might have noticed that these pastels are showing up a lot in my work. I’ve had them for a while and used them on and off but am only really starting to play with them and it is fun. I’m still only using them as dry pastels but they’re water soluble and make really rich colors when applied on a wet surface so there’s lots more to explore with them.


Here they are again, showing up in my little sketches done outside my local Whole Foods. People arriving and leaving with their groceries, catching a quick lunch in the sun…I don’t carry a whole set with me when I’m out and about, just a few broken bits in a ziplock bag.

Here’s one of the checkout line, sketched while I ate lunch. Bent Nib Sailor pen and watercolor this time.

The pear studies continue… there are so many little pear paintings lying around my studio now. I’m going to have to figure what to do with them!

From my two workshops this weekend ( what fun it was to sketch on superbly sunny days in Berkeley and San Francisco), here are some little studies made to demonstrate stuff we were discussed.
People enjoying their Friday afternoon on campus at UC Berkeley.

And a page from my sketchbook in San Francisco, where we observed and sketched moving people. These sketches compare shapes and details that you can observe and record to add dynamism to your sketches and the often-tiny differences that separate a standing and walking figure.

My kids show up in my sketches every week. Here is my daughter.

Until next week, keep sketching!

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Easy People Sketching

If you don’t sketch people often and don’t know where to start, go to a cafe. People sit pretty still, you don’t have to draw full figures, and most people are pretty busy looking at their phones or computers. Which makes it easy to hide at that corner table, to look closely (even stare), and to not worry too much about them disappearing before you finish drawing them.

Since I have two sessions of my People and Places workshop coming up this week, I thought I’d do some easy people sketching today. So I headed to the cafe at my local Barnes & Noble.

I usually start with a page or two of very quick gesture sketches.


And then I played with layering some pastels over my brush pen gesture drawings.

I kinda liked how I could do a very quick gesture capture, then go in with pastel and come back around a second time (if the person was still there) and add in details with the brush pen again. Working pastel over the initial brush pen greyed it out a little bit,so that second pass of the brush pen was quite different in intensity. You can see what I mean in this detail below. First pass of pen with pastel over it on the left, then a second pass of brush pen with detailing added on top.

Can you imagine how long this woman would be if she stood up? That is one super-long figure, about 9 heads tall I think! Still, I really enjoyed drawing her draped over that chair.

Are you joining me for a workshop this in Berkeley or this Saturday in San Francisco? I’m really looking forward to it, and so far, the weather forecast predicts great days!

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