Super Quick sketches

It’s been a week of super quick captures, most under 10 minutes. When they’re this quick, it’s very hit-or-miss: a well-captured single line gesture makes a sketch work, and one that goes awry… you get how that goes. Still, the quick ones are always fun, and I’m glad I do them.

Here they are, captures from last week. The ones that worked, and the ones that didn’t.
fireengineFire Engine, Sunnyvale

hike_hillsHills, Santa Teresa County

scouts_derby2Pinewood Derby Races, Boy Scouts

parkinglotParking Lot with cars, San Jose

vintage_best_furniture“BEST” Furniture, San Jose


Kavya working on her poster.

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Chai Time

Brook Bond Red Label loose tea,brewed with milk and lots of ginger, but no sugar.
Marie biscuits to dip in my tea. So good on a cold day.
Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Beta paper.


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When the first one doesn’t work…

There’s this fabulous looking sign that just reads ‘Time’ over a clock located above a shopfront on the corner of Bascom and San Carlos in San Jose. Turns out it’s the Time Deli which has been around since 1950.

I had just enough time for a half hour sketch. Here’s what I had, 20 minutes later.

Too labored, no focus. It’s pretty common for me to end up with a sketch I’m not happy with, especially when the scene involves details I want to include: a sign in a particular font, in this instance. So I turn the page and do another one. Capture two, with only a slight change in angle. By now I’m seeing more clearly, I’ve sketched this once before, I know it better. That really helps me simplify, work bolder and create focus. Another 20 minute sketch.
time_deli_bascom_2I’m running a little late for my next appointment, but I needed that second sketch.

More vintage signs from around the South Bay and other places. Here on flickr.

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Scott Weaver and his amazing toothpick sculpture

When I think of Rolling Through the Bay by Scott Weaver , I think of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família. Rolling Through the Bay has been 40 years in the making. And it just keeps growing and growing and growing. Ask Scott when it;s done and he says his wife thinks it was done years ago. He’s not so sure. he just added the Sutro tower to this piece filled with San Francisco landmarks.

If I were taking better notes while I chatted with Scott at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, I would have some astonishing figures on hours spent working on the piece, number of toothpicks used and such. If I were taking a video, I would have captured Scott rolling ping-pong balls through an intricate tunnel system that weaves through his sculpture. But I just stared and stared , and did one little sketch while I stood there.


Elmer’s Glue, toothpicks and thousands of hours went into the piece. If you can’t see it in person, look up ‘Scott Weaver’ under google images. Here he is, on the left, rolling a pingpong ball through his piece. On the right is my daughter’s sketch of his piece.

Thanks Scott for being the highlight of our Exploratorium trip.

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Western Appliance and Capri Motel

I’d love to say I was experimenting with a new technique here. Actually, I didn’t realize that my brush pen had water-soluble ink in it. Coloring over my linework made for an ‘interesting’ effect :)

vintage_sign_westernappliance2Here’s another quick sketch of that same sign. When it was erected in 1962, were three  flashing orbs on the top of the sign’s spires but they were removed when they proved to be a distraction for planes flying in to the nearby San Jose airport.
vintage_sign_westernappliance_finished2I’ve driven by this Capri Motel sign before. It looks so sad to me, I don’t want to sketch it. This time I did sketch it from a distance: as the sad, forlorn sign.
vintage_caprihotelMore of my sketches of Vintage Signs here on flickr.

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More ‘vintage’ signs

I sketched two signs this week to add to my vintage sign collection. Trouble is, I don’t know how old they are, or very much about them. Both of them are in San Jose, California, and if you’re familiar with them and know anything about them, I’d love to know more.

This first one is a sign for a strip mall called Carriage Square. It has a three-dimensional horse carriage, complete with lamps and wheels.

This is Race Street Fish & Poultry. I love drawing a mess of electric wires. It always looks to me like all the poles and buildings they’re connected to are suspended from them.

Remember, if you know more about either of these signs, I’d love to know!

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Long winter shadows

Long winter shadows and my morning cup of chai.
You can’t go wrong with a granulating blue-ochre combination.

teacup_longshadowMore chai cups and other drinks here

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