Family Camp at Bass Lake: 2 of 2

More from Skylake Camp at Bass Lake, California.

Two takes on the cabins we slept in. Really basic, bunks that we laid our sleeping bags on, no electricity. But so much more comfortable (and warmer) than sleeping in a tent!



The dock on Bass Lake. Canoes in the foreground, and a crowded dock behind them.

A couple of little vignettes from that same spot.

One last sketch. Evening time. Happy Hour. Time to bring out the games. My son joined a party of kids and adults playing a game called Sushi Go Party on the deck outside the cafeteria.

It was lovely to see kids and adults have so much fun all weekend. This old-fashioned, outdoorsy, no-electronic-devices kinda good time is so hard to find!

Part 1 of this set of sketches is here.


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Family Camp at Bass Lake: 1 of 2

I’m reluctant to say “Here are sketches of my weekend at Family Camp.” Because, while I did sketch and paint through the weekend, in no way does what you see come close to capturing the spirit of Skylake Camp. I didn’t sketch all the stuff we did: kayak, canoe, make tie-dye tshirts, swim in the lake, make smores, do puzzles, ride horses… the list goes on.

Instead, I mostly tried doing what I find hard: Painting the landscape. Give me an urban setting and I’m right at home. But calm, serene landscapes are hard for me to capture!

This one’s my first take on Bass Lake. Blue-green pine, and a haze in the distance from a forest fire. In the mid-distance, the camp’s own dock on the lake. Sadly, lots of browns too: there’s a beetle killing of lots of pine trees in the area, a side-effect of the long drought we had here in California.

Two different takes on practically the same scene. One more successful than the other, but it was nice to try this two ways.

That’s me, the magenta dot in this photo, sitting on the shore, sketching. More from our idyllic weekend away coming soon.

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Eclipse 2017

We had only a partial solar eclipse .
Screen Shot 2017-08-21 at 1.23.13 PM

But what a sight it was! Here are some impressions of what it felt like to see our small moon swallow up the sun. Some are more literal and some are not.

It made me think of the last solar eclipse I viewed. Bombay, February 1980. I was 8. A total eclipse passed through India but not through Bombay where I lived. Just like in San Jose today, we experienced a partial eclipse. My sister built a pinhole device to view the sun. I thought she was so clever to project the sun on the floor.

It was magical for an 8 year old. Today was just as magical.

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Cat sketching

I’ve been cat-sketching a lot lately. Some at a cat cafe (have you heard of the concept?) here in San Jose called The Dancing Cat.  These had to be quick sketches. Cats that don’t know you don’t like to be still when you’re near them.


And some sketches at home. One of my cats, Moshi, makes a good model. She sleeps in my studio a lot, so it’s kinda like working on a still life.
Below is Moshi caught napping (again) while I test some new goodies: a set of QoR watercolors I received in Chicago along with a LYRA graphite stub. Also, a new opaque white I’m liking a lot : Winsor & Newton’s white gouache.cat_qor

That’s it for my week. Happy friday!

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Back to small sketches

Now that the Symposium is over, it’s time to return to everyday sketching. Here’s a sampling of some little sketches from last week.

This was my first post-symposium little sketch. I’m liking carrying around a waterbrush filled with a diluted black ink for a midtone grey. Makes for quick sketches: you find the big shapes with grey ink, and add in details with a fountain pen in black ink.small_sketch_man_backHome

A day spent at the zoo: You can see my walking-while-sketching kit in my hand: 2 pencils, 2 water brushes: one filled with ink, one with water and a couple of pencils: one regular and one extra-dark. Next time I’ll substitute the extra-dark with a water-soluble pencil.

Tree trimming. When you’re an urban sketcher, that’s an event worth stopping, watching and capturing.

And, speaking of safety jackets and traffic cones, see how they’re a dull orange in the sketch above? That was before I tested a new color. How did I not know about Schmincke Transparent Orange before now? So gorgeous, it’s going into my paint kit now.
orangeThere’s this little toy my son plays with that requires infinite patience. The packaging was in Japanese (and I threw it away), so I don’t know what it’s called. The aim is to get all the orange balls over on one side and the blue ones on the other. Sometimes you’re almost there and then you mess up, and it’s like starting over. Makes for good sketching because the game takes so

That’s last week in sketches. How’s your weekly sketching going?

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Usk 2017 Part 8: Farewell Chicago!

Five days in the city, and I’d never been as far as the river (which was only a 10 minute  walk north of my hotel). So when the Symposium was done, that’s where  I headed.

This is Marina City, but I like it’s nickname, corn-cob building, better. You know you have a really good friend when they don’t even sketch but will sit with you on pavements all over the city for hours while you sketch. My friend Madhavi hung out with me for most of the sketching I did after the symposium. She brought me tea and coffee and chatted while I drew away. And me? I forgot to take even one photo of us together. Good thing we’re friends since Pre-Kindergarten and everything goes 🙂

This water tower was constructed in 1869 as part of Chicago’s waterworks and is one of very few buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1871. Horse carriages stood in front, waiting for tourists.

Also on the waterfront, The Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower.

And finally, the view looking the other way, sitting just under Tribune Tower, looking south across the river.

And that’s it from Chicago for me. As always, I come home inspired and full of ideas to try out.

All posts are here. Post #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ,and 7 are here.
Thanks for coming along on the journey.

Back to everyday sketches soon!


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Usk Chicago 2017 Part 7: One final sketchcrawl

Sketches from the last sketchcrawl in Grant Park. I stayed close to the John Logan Statue since I knew we had to meet there for one final photo. Here’s that statue, sketched from the north, sitting by myself in the park, enjoying a bit of quiet, surrounded by other sketchers sketching away.

And then I walked to the base of that hillock and sketched the view looking northwards: a scene scattered with sketchers, trees and tall buildings in the distance.

Here we all are, on that hillside, for one final photo!

With one final evening celebrating the end of another fantastic symposium and the announcement of the venue of the next one, it was a wrap!

See the guy holding the yellow pencil in the photo below? That’s Nélson Paciência, representing Porto, venue for next year’s symposium. For dates, stay tuned by signing up to receive the USk newsletter or following the blog. With Nelson in that photo are representatives from every past team that hosted a Symposium. Thank you to every one of them for the incredible experiences and memories they create for us. And for making our world a smaller place.

The Symposium ended but I stayed another couple of days: to meet with friends, to sketch, to see the amazing Art Institute, and take an Architectural Boat tour. Which means there’s one more post of sketches from Chicago still coming up.

Posts #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 , in case you missed them.




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