Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wat Mongkolratanaram. . .

. . . is a small Thai Buddhist temple in Berkley on Russell Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  In 2001,  it marked 25 years of existence by renovating its Victorian house in temple style.  Evidently, they serve a terrific brunch to the public on Sundays--so I'll be back.

I enjoyed the contrast of the spiritual building with the Mercedes auto parked in front.

Monday, April 14, 2014

where they love...for a living

She is on the phone and does her nails as we sit down next to them. We are waiting for a bus to leave San Jose airport. She and the other girl next to her are also waiting for something. They look bored and hardly talk. They are friendly to each other, but aren't friends. After a while, two middle aged men approach from the airport terminal. One in shorts and a polo shirt, the other in slacks wearing a baseball cap -  'Betty Ford clinic' .  The men grin and excitement is apparent in their eyes as they approach. The girls put on a professional smile as they welcome their foreign visitors. 'Let's go and get a car.' 

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Local Butcher Shop

I sketched the Lamb Butchering Class at The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley. Very interesting and great to sketch. All their meat is organic, sustainable and all from within 150 miles of Berkeley. The staff is great and very helpful and the have a house made sandwich of the day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Caffe Strada, Berkeley

After much discussion among our sketching group about the unusual architecture of this busy cafe across the street from the Berkeley campus, Micaela did some research and discovered it was once a gas station owned and run by the Panhellenic women's group at U.C. to support the Bancroft Hotel next door.  Now it's a popular coffee place, known for its bianca mocha.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


'You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline.

[...] at the very least you need beer.'

You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

~ Frank Zappa


Drawings and notes from a recent trip to Costa Rica and  Nicaragua.


 Tona, Imperial, Victoria - I'll have any of them happily. One peculiarity is that bottles are often served with a tissue wrapped around the bottle neck. In a more upscale bar, sometimes a second tissue is wrapped around the center of the bottle. You may think this dress up is to absorb condensing water drops, but no, apparently it is for - not further defined - 'hygienic reasons' . I have yet to figure out how to use them to protect my health. Maybe its just me. 

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Friday, April 4, 2014

More Diesel Bookstore

Independent bookstores are such a vanishing treasure.  Luckily, in the Bay Area we still have some great ones, including Diesel in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood, which offers live readings, hosts book groups, and has a well-lit, welcoming space.

Mohammed sketching

An all-yellow display--with reindeer

Perry drawing
Some titles in the kids' section and a bear

Diesel Bookstore, Oakland, California

Diesel Books, dip pen and ink and watercolor, 8x5in.

We enjoyed our sketching night in Rockridge in a good independent bookstore. The neighborhood has everything that makes life in a city so attractive, lots of people walking, restaurants, cafes, and a great bookstore.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Registration for 5th International Urban Sketching Symposium in Paraty, Brazil

Registration now open for 5th International Urban Sketching Symposium in Paraty, Brazil

Paraty, Brazil
Register now to attend the 5th International Urban Sketching Symposium taking place in Paraty, Brazil, August 27-30, 2014.

This year we will accommodate more sketchers than ever by providing several passes for different levels of participation. More information about the passes can be found on the Symposium website, along with the full Symposium schedule.

For more information, contact

Picante-it's the food

Picante in Berkeley has lots to to sketch, from the papel picado ("perforated paper") banners made out of tissue paper cut into elaborate designs to the carved masks on the walls. But for me the best part is the food (and the margaritas)!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Picante Cocina Mexicana

Surrounded by folk art at Picante on Sixth Street in West Berkeley.

To the left of our table. . . 
. . . and to the right

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Castle In The Air

We had a good morning sketching at this store on 4th Street in Berkeley. There are so many things to sketch it was hard to choose. I sketched the crepe paper flowers downstairs then went up to the balcony for a close up view of the antique lanterns.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

More Castle in the Air

 Castle in the Air on 4th Street in Berkeley is filled with gorgeous objects:

Ribbon rack on main floor
Mannequin upstairs outside the classroom 
Marionettes above the staircase
. . . and those huge lanterns hanging from the ceiling.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Castle in the Air, 4th Street, Berkeley.

Chinese Lanterns, ink, watercolor and gouache, 9x12in.
We have been enjoying indoor sketching in the East Bay area during the winter months thanks to the welcoming staff and owners of many stores. This time our group met on a rainy morning at Castle in the Air on 4th Street. We could have spent the entire day sketching the beautiful and interesting items in the store. I chose the Chinese lanterns hanging from the roof because they will eventually sell. I would love to have them in my own house! At least I have them in a sketch.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sketching at Spice Monkey in Oakland

Beautiful building, good food, welcoming staff and owner. Perfect. Thanks for having us in to sketch.

See Sonia's sketches below.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spice Monkey

I love the juxtaposition of the young Spice Monkey Restaurant (2008) housed in the Howden Building (1925). Outside this Oakland Landmark, there is a dazzling array of mosaics displaying a variety of tiles. You walk into the restaurant featuring gleaming tiles on the floor, walls, steps, fireplace and the elaborate fountain.  The 1920's were the golden age of tile work in the US. A local historian has been quoted as saying that this is the last tile showroom in California that has survived fairly intact. Spice Monkey owner Kanitha Matoury gave us a warm welcome and we feasted from the global menu and sketched the marvelous tiles inside and out. Please see fellow sketchers' posts in this blog. 'll be back to practice my tile sketching and enjoy the historic and culinary delights!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Berkeley City Club

Loved sketching at Julia Morgan designed Berkeley City Club. Thanks manager Michaela Winn for making it happen.

Classic Cars West

Yesterday my meetup group walked in and around some interesting places of art. in downtown Oakland. I didn't do much sketching until the end. Unfortunately I didn't have any red paint it pencils with me. Should I color the car or leave it as it is.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Like heaven on earth

Architectural heaven, that is. The sketchers and I spent a wonderful evening at the Julia Morgan-designed Berkeley City Club yesterday (March 13).

The staircase at the Berkeley City Club

I tried a wide view of the main entrance of the Berkeley City Club. The building is an eclectic mix of styles and materials, they all work together very well. Nothing was left without a decoration.
Berkeley City Club, 24x9in.

Sketching @Berkeley City Club

Words simply can't describe the architectural beauty of this building designed by Julia Morgan.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Berkeley City Club

from their website:  "THE BERKELEY CITY CLUB IS A HISTORIC HOTEL, private social club, and event venue. It has been accepted into the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. In 1927, a small group of women felt the need for a center around women’s activities and had cherished the plan of bringing this into being in Berkeley. These women hired Julia Morgan to design and supervise the construction of the Club, also known as the 'Little Castle' since Miss Morgan was also building the Hearst Castle and many of the buildings features remind visitors of the Hearst Castle.
Upon opening in November 1930, it was the Berkeley Women’s City Club, which became a center for social, cultural, recreational, and family activities in the East Bay. At the height of its legacy as a social club, there were 4,000 female members. In 1965, the club opened its door to both men and women. The membership legacy continues to thrive as a hub for social, business, and cultural interactions."
The foyer and reception desk

Olympic-size pool

Petaluma’s Iron Front Building and Classic Coca-Cola Sign

Back in the last century, it was believed that buildings made with cast iron fronts were more fire resistant. It turns out to not be true, but the practice proliferated anyway. This building is one of several along Western Avenue referred to as Iron Front Row. The classic Coca-Cola sign painted on the back of the building features a young chicken since Petaluma was once known as the “Egg Basket of the World.”

Sunday, March 9, 2014