Sunday, April 2, 2017

Early 2017 Sketching

Catching the San Diego SketchCrawlers and Urban Sketchers when I get a chance!

Arboretum in Balboa Park and a Lady Slipper Orchid from inside the arboretum.

Here is another Balboa Park sketch from a lovely early spring day.

 I love the San Diego Zoo but the SketchCrawlers were rained out the first 2 months this year. Boo hoo! A quick sketch of Satu the Orangutan leaning up against the glass.

These are detail sketches of a tree near the Sabertooth Grill. The pink flower clusters were about 6 or 7 inches wide. It looked very cool.

Sketches from Urban Sketchers meetings.

Go make art!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sketches 2016

I found some sketches I forgot to put into the last post. Then there are a bunch more that I have done this year.

I managed to make it to a lot of our First Friday Spanish Village Extra Credit sketchcrawls. This is a banana plant in one of the side areas of Spanish Village.

When I need something quick, I often do some of the blue pots that are outside of several of the studios.

Last March we celebrated Pi Day (3.1416) with what else but Pie? It was also the 7th Anniversary of the Scetchcrawlers group. My 5th Anniversary of sketching with the group.

I couldn't stay the whole time one day, so I just sketched some pods. I think they are from the Jacaranda trees.

One day last spring a few of us die-hard sketchers met in spite of the rain and sketched from under the gazebo.

Here are some plants and cactus outside of one of the studios.
I don't seem to have many sketches from the zoo this year - I didn't manage to go as often as I like, and wasn't sketching much I guess. This is Otis, who was at the Hippo exhibit one day when I was there. He was just chillin' with his back to everyone. I love his cute pink ears.

Even though this is the Bell Tower and Museum of Man, I made the sketch from one of the picnic areas of the Zoo.

This is a flower from one of the Sausage trees in the Childrens' Zoo area. After I did the sketch I realized that the flower is upside down from its orientation when it's on the tree - I had picked it up off the ground to sketch more conveniently.

And I did make it to the Wild Animal Park Safari Park in the spring. Don't get me started on what I think of how they are [poorly] managing the crowds for the tram and butterflies. Grrr!

 I did manage to go to a few other sketching. This is in the cactus garden across Park Blvd. from the main park.

And this is from the Old Cactus Garden that is behind the Balboa Park Club and Puppet Theater.

If you ever get a chance to go to the Queen Calafia Magic Circle at Kit Carson Park in Poway, do it! It is fantastic! There are so many kinds of wonderful, magical statues. Everything is covered in mosaics of pebbles, glass beads, and semi-precious stones. I did this with just watercolor.

I was lucky to be able to go to PyCon 2016 in May/June in Portland Oregon. I had a wonderful time, learned so much! I didn't have much time to sketch, but took a few minutes from a lunch hour to make this very quick sketch of a Japanese bell outside the convention center. I really enjoyed Portland and am looking forward to going there again in May 2017.

Go make art!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Zoo sketches

I love the San Diego Zoo and try to go sketch there now and then - uasually after a Balboa Park sketchcrawl meeting. When I published my last post, I realized I hadn't put any zoo pictures up.
This is Janey, one of the Orangutans at the zoo. She likes to be up near the glass and sometimes will interact with the people watching. Although I stretched out her face too much, I think I captured a bit of her expression.

This is from a seed pod at the zoo - I don't know what kind of tree it came from. There were lots and lots of seeds in the pod and it was quite interesting. I named it the "Sumkinda Pod" in honor of our sketching friend Nikki who is really good at making quick sketches of birds and flowers and giving them funny names.

I always make sure I stop by the flamingoes. It's hard to get a good flamingo color with the toned paper, although probably someone with more experience would have no problem. They seem extra bright this year.

We were by the gorilla exhibit, but there were too many people to even see the gorillas, but I noticed this shoot of giant bamboo (this much of it was probably more than a foot long).

Another time I was at the orangutan exhibit and there were too many people to see much, because the orangutans were quite active. This, of course makes it harder to sketch them, as I am not too swift with the sketching. So, here is a sketch of a tree stump, where I didn't have to worry about it moving to a new position, haha.

The Scripps Aviary is one of my favorite places to watch the birds. When I was there in January, I noticed a bunch of Clivia buds and sketched them.

Today I went to the Galapagos Tortoise exhibit and this guy, Abbott, was in a nice pose but not moving, so I managed a sketch and then added watercolor later. I need to go back and fix the greys, it was hard to tell how much color was there as the toned paper darkened where it was wet, so now it looks a little strange. Also, the dark lines are from an Elegant Writer pen, which is water-soluble and adds the blueness to some areas. It's not very done; perhaps I'll work on it and post it again later.

Thanks for looking at my sketches!
Go make art!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Recent Sketches

 I didn't do much sketching last fall; seems I was really busy and then I didn't like what I had done. This year is looking a little better. The sketch above is from the Urban Sketcher meetup near the Kensington sign in San Diego. This is a cute little cafe across the street from the park.

One thing I have been doing differently that I think is working out well is to paint the watercolor directly, with no sketching or pencil. Large shapes are blocked in with very light watercolor, then shading is built up with successive layers of more color and more detail. All three of these sketches were done that way. I think the hardest part for me is to stay focused and don't get impatient. I find I run out of energy to continue after about an hour; then I get lazy and stop really looking at what I am painting. I need to stop at that point, instead of continuing to mess with the picture.

This is from the new outdoor art exhibit from the San DIego Museum of Art in the Plaza de Panama area of Balboa Park. I wrote Art in the Park but that isn't the right name, it's Art of the Open Air, part of the #freetheart campaign. There are a number of wonderful pieces, including a Rodin and MirĂ³. I like this one by Lynn Chadwick, The Watchers. 

This is one where I should have quit earlier. I got tired before I did the ground and colored cement areas, so they don't look right at all; with no perspective at all. Very strange-looking. However, I love this paper, in spite of the fact that it isn't really made for watercolors. It is available here, and is called Annigoni, as it was made to the specifications of Pietro Annigoni, who I think used it primarily for sketching, studies, and printmaking. Perhaps I like it because I'm not a traditional watercolorist, I don't know. It has a beige-gray color and just a little texture, but I like the way it takes the watercolor paints. You should give it a try!
Go make art!

Monday, September 7, 2015


This one is from our monthly foray to Spanish Village in Balboa Park. There is a lovely row of cobalt pots with plants and flowers outside one of the studios. Watercolor plus ink pen.

On Sept 5, the San Diego Urban Sketchers Meetup group met at Presidio Park. This is the museum there. This is watercolor only.
Go make art!

Monday, August 10, 2015

#usksd3 Third Annual West Coast Urban Sketchcrawl

I belong to the San Diego Urban Sketchers and this year we hosted the Third Annual West Coast Urban Sketchers Sketchcrawl meetup here in San Diego. It was fantastic! I was concerned when it was scheduled that it would be too hot but we had fabulous weather this weekend! There were over 100 people attending from all over the west coast and even some from Texas, Ohio and Montreal, Canada. I'm sure there were others not from the west coast, but those were people I met. Kudos to our organizers; everything went smoothly.

Friday night we had a Meet and Greet at The Harbor House restaurant in Seaport Village.  I was lucky enough to win a great Canson XL Mix Media sketchbook in our raffle; thank you Canson for your generous donations! After eating, there were a few minutes of waiting, so I quickly sketched the remains of my dinner with pencil and watercolor. This sketch was done on my old sketchbook, as it was before the raffle.

Saturday we all met in Balboa Park near the Botanical Building. I did 2 sketches during the day that aren't really finished but I didn't want to go back in and try to do more offsite. This one is a view from near the front of the Timken Museum. I started it with light gray watercolor to block in the shapes, then just kept adding more detail with a smaller brush. My friend Rachel described this technique to me a while back, so I decided to try it. This has no pencil or pen, only watercolor. I like the Canson XL paper with watercolor; it handles it quite well. I ran out of time to do more than this.

After lunch I did a sketch of the top of the Botanical Building because I think it's interesting and if you sketch the whole building, it is really tiny. I did a rough pencil sketch for guidelines, then added watercolor. The shape of the building has all kinds of roundness to it, so it was something of a challenge. After I got this far, I was pretty tired, so I popped into the Timken Museum to pay my respects to the Johannes Vermeer painting that is still on loan for another month. If you know anything about art history, you know that he was way ahead of his time in how realistic his paintings were. His command of light and color are absolutely masterful. Read more on the Museum website. The Timken is worth a visit any time; it's a small museum, but they have some exceptional paintings and a great collection of Russian icons. It's also free.

Sunday morning we all met in Old Town and were met with delightfully cool overcast skies, perfect for sketching! I sketched the patio next to El Fandango restaurant, first in watercolor, then adding details with micron pen. It has a box around it because I was feeling intimidated by the large sketchpad (didn't bother me Saturday, go figure), so my friend Stephen took a Sharpie and made boxes on the page for me.

All in all, a great weekend of good friends, good art, and good food. More information about Urban Sketchers here.
Go make art!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Balboa Park Sketchcrawls

I have gotten quite behind on this blog! Here are some of the pictures I made from several sketchcrawls in Balboa Park in the last 2 months. This first one is the first time I tried to do negative painting. In other words, I painted the background first to outline the thing that probably wasn't really a fountain ever, but from my viewpoint, looked like a broken-down fountain. I liked the results too much to add any pen & ink details like I usually do. I think this was from June 5.

The bell tower from Alcazar Garden, which is a lovely garden that we like to go to regularly.
On this day, we had a small group meeting across from the Zoro butterfly garden. I made this quick watercolor sloppy sketch of the information booth.
From the same bench, I did this drawing of the palm trees by the Museum of Photographic Arts. I got very lazy with the background.
Since I was already at Balboa Park, I wandered over to the Japanese Friendship Gardens and did this sketch of the Koi pond. It was a long day. I did one more drawing that day, but I don't like it, so it's not here.
This is some strange cactus/succulent thing in Spanish Village. The edges of all the leaves were kind of dried out and the thing was just very bizarre. I added a small branch of another succulent growing next to it.
Finally we went to the gardens of the Marsten House, a beautiful location.
Go make art!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Nature's Bounty

This is a yellow zucchini and baby crookneck summer squash from a neighbor's garden. I have never heard of yellow zucchini before, so I was interested in seeing it. I added the sugar plum tomatoes for a contrasting color.
Go make art!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Coptic Stitch Book

I have been taking great bookmaking classes at the La Jolla Library. The last one for the season was the second of two for making a book with Coptic binding. Last month we made the covers and prepared the signatures, and this month we did the stitching. I have never tried to make a Coptic stitch book before as it always seemed too mysterious. But Bhavna Mehta made it easy (ok, maybe not easy, but accessible). I made a few mistakes in the stitching, but overall I'm very pleased with this book and will probably be making more of them. I'm looking forward to the classes resuming in the fall.
Go make art!

Spanish Village Broken Pot

For our First Friday Extra Credit Sketchcrawl in Spanish Village of Balboa Park, I found this pot held together with rope. It looks like it is made of cement and has been there for a long time. Heck, it had to have been old when the rope was added, and the rope looks like it's really old, too. It kind of cracked me up and seemed like a good sketch subject.
Go make art!