Burlesque in Berlin

I joined Sketcherei in one of their first hybrid life-drawing sessions. There were artists drawing live in the room in Berlin as well as cameras streaming the performance on Zoom. Chiqui Love was our model for the session. taking the stage interspersing her performance with 1,3,5 and 7 minute poses. Sketcherei is best known for their high-energy, performance-based sessions.

The session was a fest of reds, pinks, feathers and drama galore. I shot time lapse videos of quite a few of my sketches.

If you’d like to join a session with Sketcherei sometime, sign up for their newsletter here.

Posted in Figure Drawing, people | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Drawing with the Bay Area Models Guild

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the few places where life drawing models have a guild that supports them, advocates for them, and helps bring fair pay to them. Booking through the guild means you get a diverse set of fantastic models.

I sketched at one of their marathons recently and really enjoyed switching between models, switching up supplies and styles, and drawing for hours on end. Here are pieces from that session, all on letter sized sheets of paper.

More info on the Bay Area Models Guild here.

Or join them online some Thursday evening from 6pm to 8pm Pacific Time here.

Posted in Figure Drawing, people | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment


Trifle pudding was a treat when I was a kid. I still make a pudding once in a rare while, but my California trifle is a bit different from the one i had in India. There’s one unchangeable bit, though: Brown & Polson Custard.

The nice thing about drawing most desserts is that you’re not struggling with drawing it really quickly before it cools down (like you are wit your tea and coffee). My best drawing sessions are when I have nothing to do with the making and only participate in the eating of it. That leaves me free to sketch the making process, lick the batter bowl, taste the lemon curd far more times than necessary…

The recipe? The basic lemon tart recipe from the New York Times, with a good bit extra of lemon in the curd and a topping of crushed pistachios and dried rose petals. It was really, really good.

Posted in Food, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Cristian in the Forest

I attended a life drawing session with Fat Life Drawing and really enjoyed sketching Cristian. He seemed so happy to be in the middle of the forest, enjoying the calm and quiet and knowing there were so many of us from all over the world joining in to sketch him.

Here are some sketches from that session. I started out in my Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, enjoying capturing little vignettes.

It never ceases to amaze me that I could be in California and Cristian could be in the forest in Norway and all of this works..

I think you can tell from these sketches that Cristian really enjoyed the session. I’ve never seen a model smile as much as he does!

If you don’t know Fat Life Drawing, check them out. They spotlight and celebrate marginalized bodies in their life drawing sessions.

Posted in Figure Drawing, people | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Gift of a Really Cheap Sketchbook

I use and enjoy plenty of nice sketchbooks, books with lovely multi-media and 100% cotton watercolor paper. This book below isn’t one of them. The Midori Blank Notebook is about 4×6 inches, has 176 thin pages, and costs a little over $8.

It has become a must-take-everywhere book for me. Why?

Below is a sequence of sketches, done one day as I waited for my kid at an orthodontist appt. I had no idea how long I had to sketch. I guessed 20 minutes, turns out it was 45. As I sat outside a Starbucks I put pen to paper, drew a wee bit, turned the page, started another sketch, only to have the person/dog move away, turned the page, started yet another drawing… You get the idea.

With a fancier paper, I’d never have done this. It was really fun to just keep going, not filtering out anything. Below are 7 spreads, in sequence, from that 45 minute session.

Starting Slowish
Then the kids on their bikes arrive. But they don’t hang out long…
These ladies are interesting, but that dog is more challenging.
He moves a lot. And I don’t understand dog anatomy well enough to sketch as quick as he moves…
I can’t tell what I was going for here. But obviously the page turned pretty quickly.
I slowed down. Color added with a rainbow pencil
Last sketch as I think, “What’s taking her so long?”

And then I get a call, the appointment is done. That was a fun don’t-think-just-draw 45 minutes.

The Midori book is a lovely smooth paper that pens and pencils glide across deliciously. Archival? I doubt it. I love that you can kinda see the previous (and next) sketch through the think pages. I feel like an old-time rotoscoping artist, onion-skinning a story together.

Posted in books, california, Close to home, Doodles, Everyday Sketches, people, san jose, Silicon Valley, Sketch Journal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vignettes Big and Small

Nina and I got together for a quick little chat-and-sketch at McClellan Ranch in Cupertino a few weeks ago.

In a new place, with not much time, my go-to thing to do is to sketch little vignettes. They’re small in scale, and kinda fun to build from the inside out: I start with my main subject and once I have that down, I just build out, keeping the silhouette interesting.

In both these sketches, the foliage around the buildings is at least as important to the compositions as the structures themselves.

I used a mix of media in both of these: watercolor, pen and ink, crayon and gel pen. The mix lets me get a rich textural effect.

Not all the vignette-style sketches I make are small. Sometimes I’ll employ that same idea on a bigger sketch like this, letting it grow outward but not feeling a need to stretch it to all corners of the page. This is Alamitos Creek, a neighborhood creek with a trail by it.

Vignettes like this let me sketch just a little bit of a landscape and suggest the idea of it going on and on.

Posted in california, Close to home, Everyday Sketches | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bits and Pieces from Yellowstone and Grand Teton

I found sketches here and there in my travel sketchbooks that didn’t end up as a part of my Yellowstone and Grand Teton narrative. So here they are, a motley crew of images…

It seemed appropriate to sketch the sky in Big Sky, Montana, with Lone Mountain in the distance.

Also big in Big Sky: the cars. So many jeeps and trucks.

I’ve never seen a hydrant with one of these long flags sticking out of it. I want to look it up but I don’t know what the flag like thing is called. I’m guessing it’s so there’s some way to figure where the hydrant is even when it snows a fair bit?

Two quick sketches from the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. I’ve visited this museum every time we pass through Salt Lake City. I love everything about it.

I was too tired to figure the name of this building, right behind the Temple in downtown Salt Lake.

The week I came back, I missed the mountains, so I used a photo to do this little sketch:

Now I’m truly done with my summer travel sketches, which is a bit of a bummer: blogging them somehow extends the holiday experience.

If you missed any bits of the trip, here are all previous posts in this series:

Off to the Grand Tetons
Grand Teton National Park
More from the Grand Tetons
The Geysers of Yellowstone
North Yellowstone
Color at Yellowstone
Water at Yellowstone

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Water at Yellowstone

Water plays a huge part at Yellowstone. In the park, you’re never far from a rive, lake, waterfall, pool or a geyser.

These first two sketches aren’t at the park, though. They’re both on at Ousel Falls near Big Sky, Montana.

Ousel Falls, Big Sky, Montana

I’m usually reluctant to talk about sketching fast, because I don’t think that speed is something you necessarily need to work at. Unless you want to. I naturally work pretty quickly, and here’s what I can say about it: being able to work fast means I am more likely to attempt to sketch something even when I have a short bit of time. It also means I can sketch on trips and hikes with my family without making any major changes to our plans.

On this little hike, it was just me and my son. I asked if he’d mind hanging around 15 minutes while I sketched the main falls (sketch below). He was fine with it and set me a 15 minute timer. When it went off, I begged for 2 extra minutes to add in some highlights. A second timer was set. When it went off, I packed up.The sketch was called done. That probably saved me from overworking this one.

Ousel Falls, Big Sky, Montana

This view is from the trail leading to the Lower Falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Sometimes the water bit of a landscape seems tiny compared to the rest of it. Then I remember that that little feature carved this whole place into what it is.

On the Lower Falls trail, looking at Upper Falls. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

This last one is Old Faithful, again. Sketched this time from the side of the boardwalk that tourists don’t line up at. It’s really the best place to watch from. You get an unobstructed view, and when the geyser goes off, a stream of super-hot water runs from it and right by you.

Here’s a shot of the sketch in progress. I started on it while I waited, then built the sky up around the plume of the geyser as it went off.

Old Faithful. Yellowstone

And that is it for my summer trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. I hope you enjoyed coming along through these sketches.

if you missed any bits of the trip, here are previous posts in this series:

Off to the Grand Tetons
Grand Teton National Park
More from the Grand Tetons
The Geysers of Yellowstone
North Yellowstone
Color at Yellowstone

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Color at Yellowstone

One of my favorite things about being in Yellowstone is an awareness of how active the earth is. All the steam vents, mud pots and geysers remind me that were skating on a thin crust over a huge fire pit.

That hot water and steam is what makes for a lot of surprising color at the park. Like this huge colorful pool, Grand Prismatic Pool. This is the pool sketched from the boardwalk.

But the more bird’s-eye-like view from the lookout point explains what it is about much more clearly. (and it only took a couple of minutes to sketch it and add notes to it.)

More surprising color, this time at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. This is Inspiration Point, overlooking the gorge carved by the Yellowstone River.

Here are previous posts in this series:

Off to the Grand Tetons
Grand Teton National Park
More from the Grand Tetons
The Geysers of Yellowstone
North Yellowstone

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

North Yellowstone

North Yellowstone has an open, wild feel so different from the rest of the park. This stone arch, at the North entrance of the Park is the Roosevelt Arch. The sky feels so big here.

Roosevelt Arch, Gardner, Montana.

Locals call that peak Electric Mountain because it has a deposit of iron ore and gets hit by lightning more than 200 times a year. I got this far and then a storm came through.

Electric Mountain

I don’t always have enough time for a longer sketch like the two above. But a few minutes I still enough to record an impression. These limestone formations were sketched form the shade of a distant grove of trees on a very hot day.

If you see a school bus in Gardner, Montana, chances are it belongs to a river rafting trip company and is used to haul passengers and rafts from town to the Yellowstone River. Two-minute sketch, then the bus was gone…

This more relaxed sketch was over coffee at Tumbleweed Cafe. Gotta love a cafe that has a bookstore attached and a lovely eclectic collection of mugs for your coffee.

Previous posts in this series:

Off to the Grand Tetons
Grand Teton National Park
More from the Grand Tetons
The Geysers of Yellowstone

Posted in Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments