Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gaumenkitzel, Berkeley

We always enjoy sketching at Gaumenkitzel. The restaurant is attractive, the wait staff kind and accommodating, and the German pop songs are a kick.

The highlight of my snack was definitely the German draft beer sampler. However, the Brezel with Wiener Knackwurst proved to be a good still life subject.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Whole Foods, Too

It was good fun sketching with the usual suspects and all of our guest sketchers at the spankin' new Whole Foods Market on Gilman in Berkeley.

I enjoyed toodling around the store with my sketch gear in the child's seat of the shopping cart. When that creative urge hits, just prop open that sketchbook, stand behind the cart and sketch away.

The impediments to sketching in a store are deciding what to draw amidst all the distractions -- and the urge to do a little shopping.

Allegro Coffee Roasters has a long wooden counter which was the ideal place to share our drawings at the end of the night.

Thanks for joining us, everyone! Hope to see you (and your sketches) next month on FRIDAY, February 6th at The Oakland Museum.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Whole Foods

We had a great sketch night at the new Whole Foods store on Gilman in Berkeley. 16 sketchers were there including three who were in town from Oahu (check out their Urban Sketchers Oahu at uskoahu.wordpress.com). The staff at the store was very nice and interested in our sketches-the security guard, bakery person, fish department guys, assistant manager,  everyone made us feel welcome.

Monday, January 12, 2015

S.F. Symphony Chamber Music

Quietly, inconspicuously, I can't resist sketching musicians during a performance. They sit or stand in one spot for awhile and pay absolutely no attention to me! My Pentel Brush Pen's broad, silent marks are easy to see in the near-darkness of the symphony hall. These drawings are a little crude but I had fun making them so thought I'd share them with you.

Especially like how the word "jazz" just happens  to appear on the sheet music atop the piano. The flutist was the mother of the young pianist. The cello player is missing from the drawing.

The audience, enthused by the jazzy performance of Kapustin, began applauding between the Dvorak pieces to the consternation of the performers. Ooops. Faux pas!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mo's Bike

While getting a coffee at Plank in Cloverdale this morning, I spotted this classic, blue bike parked next to a white picket fence. I couldn’t resist parking myself for the next couple of hours capturing it in my sketchbook.

Just as I finished the painting, I man in a cool black hat claimed his bike. After discussing my sketch, he acknowledged he too was an artist and used to teach Design at the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Turns out he created the cover for Taj Mahal’s Mo’ Roots album back in 1974.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

"Non-violent people who have lost their freedom simply because they expressed their ideas. 

Every one of us is a potential convict." Ai Weiwei

Alcatraz Island -- historically a military fortress, federal penitentiary, Native American heritage site, national park, and now the site of seven installations about human rights and freedom of expression by Chinese architect, artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. Unable to leave China after imprisonment and passport confiscation by the Chinese government, he conceived and oversaw the creation of this exhibit in absentia.

In a cavernous empty building are 176 portraits of political prisoners from around the world. Their portraits are made of brightly colored LEGOs and stare up at you from the floor. Above are Reza Shahabi, serving six years in a Tehran prison and Shin Suk-ja, a South Korean woman indefinitely detained until her death from hepatitis.

In cell block A, visitors can listen to recordings of words and music by people imprisoned for their creative expression. My third image is a black hallway down a steep set of stairs in the center of cell block A, symbolizing for me the isolation and unknown future of the people immortalized by Weiwei.

In the final installation in the prison dining hall, we're invited to sit down and correspond directly to some of the prisoners on pre-addressed postcards . . . a very emotional experience.

The exhibit runs now through April 27, 2015.

More on Ai Weiwei:


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ai Weiwei @ Large on Alcatraz

"With Wind"
I cannot stop thinking about this and the other installations and their messages of human rights.
Bravo to Artist Ai Weiwei for the art the speaks so eloquently, the FOR-SITE Foundation for their vision, and the National Park Service for providing the appropriate venue for this experience.  Please see Cathy's earlier post with more info.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

“The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”
— Ai Weiwei

This exhibit/installation is incredible! The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned for work that defies the distinction between art and activism. In this exhibition of new works created specifically for Alcatraz, Ai responds to the island’s layered legacy as a 19th-century military fortress, a notorious federal penitentiary, a site of Native American heritage and protest, and now one of America’s most visited national parks. Revealing new perspectives on Alcatraz, the exhibition raises questions about freedom of expression and human rights that resonate far beyond this particular place.

Read more about it at: http://www.for-site.org/project/ai-weiwei-alcatraz/

Monday, December 29, 2014

Some More Serrahna Sketches

The Serrahna boutique, in Oakland's Rockridge District, showcases the unique clothes crafted from the stunning fabrics of Indian. The boutique was created in 2002 by Andrea Serrahna who also designs the clothes. Andrea works with artisans and tailors to bring them to life in her store. This collaboration helps sustain the crafts people and their textile arts and skills. We appreciate Andrea's invitation to sketch and enjoyed her warm hospitality.  Please see the cards and website listed below to learn about Serrahna. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Serrahna Boutique

More from our evening at Serrahna, full of colorful apparel made from traditional Indian fabrics, as well as accessories  (jewelry, scarves, hats, etc).  The owner, Andrea, who designs the clothing, was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study textiles in India as an artist at large.

Bowl of small scarves

Parasol and jewelry display

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Serrahna in Oakland

We had a a good time sketching in Serrahna a colorful store on College Avenue in Oakland. It is full to bursting with clothing in beautiful colors. And a special addition was Isha the very well dressed store greeter!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sketching at the Cantor

I love visiting the Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford University campus. Instead of my usual hit-and-run sketching, last month  I luxuriated in spending the whole day there. Here are two of my sketches of my favorite sculptures. Above, is a drawing of Deborah Butterfield's horse (untitled 1999) installed in the main lobby. It is at once monumental, yet delicate with its weaving of bronze casts of driftwood.

Below is Richard Serra's Sequence (2006) installed outside in the courtyard. I rarely encounter anyone else in it as I wander its slot canyons. I enjoy the way it carves up space and sky and how it looks during different times of they day and throughout the seasons here.  But just for another year!  I've been told that this sculpture is destined to go into a new wing of SFMOMA in 2016. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

More from the Dickens Fair

After seeing Cathy's great Dickens post I thought I'd better put up my sketches from the day too. The Dickens Fair really is an amazing visual feast for sketchers. In addition to all the roaming characters, there is the Pre-Raphaelite Salon, where Dante Gabriel Rosetti reads his poems as Oscar Wilde and other characters from the period pose in tableaux from the poems.


In the windows of the Dark Garden corset shop, live models pretend to be wax dummies, holding poses long enough for quick sketches.

Here are some musicians and costumed spectators from the show in Mad Sal's Alehouse.

"Fanny" was one of a collection of women calling out bawdy remarks to passersby. She was settled down on the barrel long enough for me to get off a more detailed sketch.

There was a long wait for the ladies bathrooms, so I was able to sketch this woman ahead of me in the line.

A Victorian Christmas Card Come to Life!

I went with the SF Sketchers Meetup group to the Dickens Fair in San Francisco. What a great place to sketch! Hundreds of people dressed in beautiful costumes. As the website says: "Enter the world of Charles Dickens and revel in a Victorian London where it's always Christmas Eve. To recreate old London town, we transform over three acres of vintage exhibition halls into lamplit lanes, pubs and theatres, dance floors and music halls, tearooms and shops. Hundreds of costumed characters from genteel to boisterous bring the town to life and interact with patrons."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shop-window Sketching, Fourth Street, Berkeley

No, it's not Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, silly!

It's a glamorous mannequin from the creatively quirky window designer, Nina Taylor for Molly B. Boutique.

I'm always drawn to Nina's incomparable style.

Sketching at Tacubaya

I love sketching with friends at Tacubaya. While most fellow sketchers were outside sketching the lights and sights of 4th Street, Ann and I decided to dine and sketch in the warm atmosphere inside. It is so fun to see how different sketchers portray the same place. My sketch is above, Ann Patterson's is in the middle and Tacubaya's card is below. (Please also see Cathy's holiday lights sketch elsewhere in this blog).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


We went to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach on their monthly adult night. I loved the rows of pinball machines. I drew while a couple of serious players racked up really high scores! The other thing I really like there is the miniature circus, built to scale of half inch to a foot. There are over 300,000 hand carved figures! Scroll down and see what the other sketchers liked.

Playland-Not-at-the-Beach, Too

Playland-Not-at-the-Beach contains many artifacts from the original Whitney's Playland-at-the-Beach, a popular attraction at San Francisco's Ocean Beach from 1928 to 1972.

I was immediately drawn to Walking Charley, a life-sized composite of original parts from hand-carved wooden characters that decorated the original Playland Funhouse in the company of Laughing Sal.

Check out the documentary Remembering Playland at the Beach, rich with archival footage of thrilling, sexist and sometimes dangerous rides and attractions at Playland.

For more on Playland and the documentary: http://m.sfgate.com/movies/article/Review-Remembering-Playland-3191379.php

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Playland-not-at-the-Beach

Playland-not-at-the-Beach is stuffed with 30+pinball machines, arcade games, a hand-carved miniature circus, multiple artifacts from the Sutro Baths and the original Playland in San Francisco, etc., etc., etc.

There are many "Laughing Sal" mannequins.  The one I drew (below) was created for Playland-not-at-the-Beach and is called "Sinister Sal."  One history of Playland describes Sal's continuous laugh as "a drunken yelping guffaw, an evil cackle, the uninhibited outburst of someone going out of her mind."  After sitting in the same room as Sal to sketch for the evening, I'd agree with that description! 

Sign and prizes for one of the old carnival games of skill.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Playland-not-at-the-beach is slightly hard-to-find — on San Pablo Ave just over the border into Richmond going North. The warren of rooms meandering around leads you from one set of marvels to another. Hard core pin-ball players can be found in one of the several rooms filled with interesting antique machines from the mid-1900's and beyond.
See some more features of Playland not at the beach: 1 minute video
between two pinball games from the 1940's.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mrs. Dalloway's and why I draw what I draw.

I got to thinking about how I pick a subject for my sketches. Often I find a good place to sit and then look for a subject. Last week at Mrs. Dalloway's all of us sat out on the sidewalk and drew the window display. It was a mild November evening and lots of people came by and chatted as we drew. Perfect all around. I thought I wanted to sketch the vintage mannequin but as I got to sketching and painting it became obvious that what really interested me were the wonderful paper flower sculptures in the background. I didn't know that at the start, but looking at the finished sketch I can see it. So no matter what you pick as a subject, the things that are really interesting to you will show in the end.