Tuesday, January 14, 2020

More Than Lace at Lacis

Lacis in Berkeley is a huge store with an almost unlimited variety of things to sketch. Founded in 1965 it has over 500 bolts of lace, buttons, ribbons, trims and 3,000 books on textiles. It is part grandma's attic, part community hall and part boutique. In the windows are parasols, handkerchiefs, dresses, lacey gloves, doilies, aprons, hats, knickknacks. Inside, lace and silk dresses hang from the high ceiling; a display case by the cash register houses vintage beaded bags; classes are held in such obscure crafts as Victorian corset making. There are shelves and shelves of vintage tablecloths and other linens; lots of jewelry, loads of buttons and ribbons, both vintage and contemporary, and a wall full of beads so you can make your own baubles. Another room houses hundreds of bolts of lace.
— Cathy McAuliffe

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Emeryville Public Market

The Market was busy on a winter evening. Many new food options are open. All look good!
— Cathy McAuliffe

Monday, January 6, 2020

Friday, December 27, 2019

Holiday on Fourth Street, Too

Every December, East Bay Urban Sketchers visit Fourth Street in Berkeley to sketch the holiday decorations. And every year, I invariably sketch the window display at Molly B. Boutique. 

Nina Taylor has been creating Molly B.'s wonderfully eclectic window displays for thirty plus years, and she never fails to attract passersby for a closer look. She uses her personal stash of props and rental items, along with objects loaned by friends and other artists. In this window Nina employs African and Oceanic masks, shields and other objects from Dave DeRoche's collection. 
~Susan Ford

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Holiday on Fourth Street

It is our holiday tradition to sketch the lights on Fourth Street in Berkeley. It seems that each year there are even more lights! This year's display was fabulous. — Cathy McAuliffe

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Fresh, Fresh, Fresh

We are fortunate in Berkeley to have many options for food shopping including not one but two Berkeley Bowl markets. The first Berkeley Bowl opened in 1977 as a small neighborhood market in a converted bowling alley, hence the name Berkeley Bowl. We sketched before the Thanksgiving rush at the second location Berkeley Bowl West. – Cathy McAuliffe

Saturday, November 23, 2019


...otherwise known as Berkeley Bowl West. Such a great place to sketch, as well as to shop for groceries. I was looking for pumpkins, which they normally have many varieties of, but at this point they just have sugar pie pumpkins and a couple other types. However, they always have hundreds of cheeses.
Sometimes I like my drawing better than the colored version. What do you think?

I almost succumbed!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Ancient Art of Sake Making

At Takara Sake in Berkeley, a museum demonstrating the tools of the 1900's and earlier contains many fascinating relics of past, small-scale sake production. Takara Sake now has large stainless steel tanks and modern methods, but respect their past. A wonderful place to visit and taste sake!

These tanks are large, a co-sketcher stood nearby to show the scale, but I didn't sketch fast enough to get her in there! The one on the left is about 6' or so high. The pot on far right is actually the firepot, which is positioned below the tank. 

Sake Museum Visit

Takara Sake USA Inc. in Berkeley has been acquiring and preserving a wide array of sake-making artifacts and tools from Japan over the years. You can see  the tools used by Toji (brew masters) and brewery workers from the early 20th century.Wonderful subjects to sketch and a tasting room right next door! – Cathy McAuliffe

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Come Back Saloon

Somehow a revisit to the Longbranch invites this! Good food, good beer&wine, convivial atmosphere.

Slinging a Sketch at the Saloon

The Long Branch Saloon is a cozy  place for a chat or making a sketch with 12 of your closest amigas. — Vivian Aldridge

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Dia de Los Muertos in Oakland

This year's theme at Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood festival paid respect to Los Ausenttes (The Absent) those who are no longer with us, whether loved ones who have passed away or members of this community who have been displaced due to deportation, gentrification or incarceration. The altares (alters) were displayed throughout the festival including those in the trunks of the beautifully restored cars. —Cathy McAuliffe

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Salesforce Transit Center Park

Recently re-opened roof top park in San Francisco. Peaceful garden 5 stories above the street. Views of surrounding buildings from a different perspective. A great "Bus Fountain". And lots of eavesdropping opportunities! – Cathy McAuliffe

Monday, October 21, 2019


Emeryville City Hall was added on to and revitalized about 15-20 years ago(?), probably with the help of new tax dollars from Pixar/others. The extension is not at all in the spirit of the rather grand and stylish old building, but, somehow, it works–or maybe we're blinded to the oddity by seeing so much of these muddled additions. Here's a quick sketch.

revisiting Papel Picado

It's peaceful to sketch under the gentle glow of the light from Papel Picado, with the Picante patrons wandering out replete with their evening meal. The proprietor busies himself creating another paper picado in the tried and trusted way, with a small hammer and die-cutters. Here's one celebrating a recent kids' movie, which I recommend by the way.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Rise Above the Madness

At Salesforce Park in Downtown San Francisco

I am very lucky to work across the street from a rooftop garden/park that is three blocks long. The mix of plants against the high rises is remarkable. And it is so serene. Nice to rise above the madness for awhile. (Pun intended :-) 
-- Vivian Aldridge 

Chateau Guilhem, Malvies, France

Chateau Guilhem is a winery in Malvies, a small French village overlooking the Pyrenees near Carcassonne. Every autumn, they hold a charity event called a "vendange," where we harvested grape clusters from the vines and enjoyed a traditional cassoulet lunch. Proceeds were donated to a Cambodian orphanage.

The dish "cassoulet" was invented here. Legend has it that during the Hundred Years' War, locals emptied their cupboards to feed the French troops. Beans, herbs, pieces of pork, mutton and goose were cooked together and baked in traditional red clay bowls.

As we enjoyed our cassoulet that day, the Brotherhood of Cassoulet of Castelnaudary inducted new members into their fold . . . a group of enthusiastic butchers and other cassoulet professionals who dress up in sashes, long velvet robes and funny hats and fete each other in public. Vive la France! ~Susan Ford

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Walking on the Wild Side

Spent a few hours sketching on a Thursday night at Old Kan Beer with my sister and friends. What a cozy place and great music too. Not too many people there. Great 70’s music and they play it at a level that is just right so patrons are not shouting at each other. This place is an undiscovered treasure just outside of Jack London Square. — Vivian Aldridge

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Papel Picado at Picante’s

Sketching Mr. Enrique Martinez creating his papel picado art  is  both a  pleasure and a challenge!  The powerful figures and designs on delicate, but resilient paper are so compelling. I kept on adding  color and deepening the lines, but I couldn't adequately represent how beautiful this art is! You can visit for yourself at 1328 6th St., Berkeley at Picante’s Restaurant. Mr. Martinez’s open door studio is next door. Please see other sketchers posts on this blog and our FB page.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Papel Picado at Picante

We spent an evening with papel picado artist Enrique Martinez next door to Picante in Berkeley. His work is both traditional designs and his interpretations, including a Go Bears/Cal banner. You can see him in the evenings and you can view his work inside Picante. —Cathy McAuliffe

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Takes a Steady Aim

Artist Enrique Martinez uses a hammer and punch to create papel picado ("perforated paper".) You can find him at night next door to the Mexican restaurant called Picante located at 1328 6th street in Berkeley. His workshop is quite a sight when backlit by lights. 
-- Vivian Aldridge

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Roses in Berkeley

The Berkeley Rose Garden was one of the first Civil Works Progress Projects built under the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It was conceived in 1933 and completed and dedicated for public use in September 1937.The terraced amphitheatre and 220-foot-long redwood pergola were suggested by architect Bernard Maybeck. A block away is Rose Walk Berkeley’s only pedestrian pathway where the buildings were designed to integrate the walk with a planned development. This summer I sketched both landmarks. — Cathy McAuliffe

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Navarro River, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County

Reframing the view, three on an A4 sketchbook page

Heavenly! Time spent contemplating and painting the Navarro River in Anderson Valley, Mendocino County.

Inspiration and techniques from Virginia Hein's book 5-Minute Sketching Landscapes; reframing the view. Painted three views in quick succession.

Took Tom Hoffman's lead with the 1-1/2 inch Angular Wash brush. Happily, one cannot get overly fussy plying this brush. And it's larger than I'm used to, so results may vary. ~~Susan Ford

Though appearing green, the water was refreshing and not at all algae-ridden