Wednesday, July 16, 2014

2nd Annual W. Coast USK Sketchcrawl - PDX

I travelled to Portland to meet my friend Paula, a USK Whidbey Island sketcher, for the 2nd Annual West Coast Sketchcrawl--a very fun event attended by over 100 sketchers.  See the website at
Next summer, the 3rd Annual is planned for Balboa Park in San Diego.

Friday night "Portrait Party" at a downtown pub.

Some of the Portland USK group.

Saturday at the Park Blocks,  encompassing the campus of Portland State U. . . 

. . . the Saturday Farm Market. . . 

. . .  meeting place at the statue of Teddy Roosevelt. . . 

. . . and another monumental sculpture overlooking an activity of the "World Domination Summit" taking place at the same time as our Sketchcrawl!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

ALbany Community Garden

We sketched at the community garden where one of our members has a plot. Lots of different vegetables and flowers growing. Good to draw and looked like they will be good to eat, too.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Community Garden

On a cool, East Bay evening, sitting in a small community garden in Albany was so peaceful and quiet, very restful. The wonderful usual assortment of herbs, veggies and flowers were growing in some cases luxuriantly, some rather sparse.
watering tubes in abundance

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Western Hills Nursery

Great afternoon. It was their monthly Artist Day ans we had the whole garden to ourselves. Well, except for the resident cat who turned out to be quite a hunter and unfortunately got a hummingbird while we were there.

Opera at the AT&T Ballpark—San Francisco

Though the highlight of the evening was the singer of the Star-Spangled Banner, we loved every other minute of this event (with the possible exception of standing for each person passing by!). The performance was spirited, and the crowd was respectful, and numbered about 25,000 according the the announcer. Local classical radio station luminaries Diane Nicolini and Hoyt Smith were emceeing.
our view of the screen

towards dusk the huge Coca Cola bottle was lit up against the fading sky

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sketching at West Hills Nursery, Occidental

I was reminded about a poem:

so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
William Carlos Williams
No chickens, but at the curve of a path--a lily pond with hummingbirds and dragonflies!

Oakland Aviation Museum P-51 Mustang and Helicopter

P-51 Mustang 3/4 scale replica
I thoroughly enjoyed sketching at the Oakland Aviation Museum. It was great being surrounded by so many flying machines.
Hiller Helicopter and a random sea plane (I think)
I was surprised how you could see all the rivets that held the sections of metal together. My mother was riveter in WWII and might have even riveted one of the planes. Even though most of the planes in the museum were actually flown, they looked so handmade close up.

Opera At The Ballpark

A fun evening at SF Giants AT&T Park. Standsd and field was full of 20,000 people watching opera on the Jumbotron. Well, most were watching, some were looking at their phones the whole evening.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Take Me Out to the .....Opera!

Opera at the Ball Park
I loved going out with fellow sketchers to the Opera simulcast at the AT&T Ball Park.
Please see Laurie W's  and other sketches on this blog.
Opera at the Ball Park

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Opera at the ballpark

This is the simulcast of the La Traviata overture at AT&T ballpark. It was fun to sit on the field (we were just next to 3rd base) but it was so cold I didn't make it beyond the first act—even though the opera was wonderful and the image quality on the big screen was great. Next time I'll wear my ski jacket and my warmest gloves.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ruth Bancroft Garden

My painting group spent a nice, warm morning at the garden which is located in Walnut Creek. I covered all the bases with a sketch of cactus (of course), the giant Washington palms (notice the size of the orange garden umbrellas in the sketch), a shed with old tractors and other farm machinery.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Street Spirit of Bancroft Way

When I first arrived at UC Berkeley in 1997, I entered from one of the most unlikely entrances on campus, the steps on Bancroft Way that led me to the Hearst Gymnasium and Barrows Hall.  A few days ago, I decided to return to those steps and just look back at the street and observe the activity.  Not much has changed.  The facades of the retail shops remain unchanged.  The flower vendor left a few years ago and a “For Lease” sign sits in his place.  A “Street Spirit” vendor found some shade on the bench where the flowers were once sold and offered his newspapers to passers by.  I sat down on the steps next to one of the classical revival urns that surrounded the Hearst Gymnasium.  I sketched as the urn’s lion gargoyle gazed out onto the street almost in a protective manner over the “Street Spirit” vendor.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek

Sculpture in the Ruth Bancroft Garden
Wonderful morning spent at the Ruth Bancroft Garden, sketching natural and man-made sculpture with the East Bay Plein Air Painters.

On the left, looking up into an agave and a giant flowering succulent. What I couldn't portray is the riot of bees and birds enjoying the nectar of these bright yellow and green blossoms on 12-foot stalks.

On the right, a cement and ceramic sculpture,  Age of Exploration Rocket by Wes Horn.

The show runs through 7/13; check it out!

City Sketchers Go To The Mountains


A group of us, organized by Laurie Wigham, spent time at the SF State Sierra Field Campus near Truckee. We sketched the beautiful lakes and valleys nearby. A wonderful time meeting and sketching with such great people.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Balmy Summer Evening in Berkeley

Which means you only need to wear a fleece pull over and not a fleece AND a down vest. We had a fun meetup at the Westbrae Biergarten last night. I spent more time listening to and sharing summer travel stories than sketching. Our group had recently been to North Carolina, Chicago and the Sierras. And two members were still on trips to Colorado and western national parks, We will have a fun "What I did and sketched on my summer vacation" meeting in September!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Westbrae Biergarten, Berkeley

New this summer on the corner of  Gilman and Curtis Streets in Berkeley--a beer garden with anchor tenant Pedro's Brazil Cafe serving food.  The place is owned by the family who founded Westbrae Nursery next door.  The outdoor heaters were fired up the night we were there and a World Cup draw chart posted prominently among the international flags flying along the fence.  The place was packed!
Love their brew/pirate logo--also on the waitstaff's t-shirts--and the ginormous beers.

Family having dinner.  I got the spelling wrong on this one.

Monday, June 23, 2014

U.nder C.onstruction at Berkeley

The university is a constantly changing place.  Students arrive, attend classes and, before you know it, they're gone.  But one thing seems to stay the same here at Cal, the construction projects.  Here's a quick sketch I made of one going on right outside the Haas School of Business.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

16 Trees

At last month's meeting of John Muir Laws workshop we were challenged to draw 16 trees before the next meeting. It was a great way to really see the trees in the neighborhood. Here are a few of my 16.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paris Baguette, anyone?

I love the new-to-Berkeley Paris Baguette. It has a gracious European flavor with it's tall ceilings, striped walls and long displays of sweet and savory bakery goodies. You serve yourself as you swing down the length of the glass shelves and round towards the front with your pile (some looked to be having sweets for dinner!). The young folks behind the counter were artistically inclined and interested in what I was doing. Some of the decorative pastries caught my eye.
un-named cakes with fat cookies, blackberries, and slabs of chocolate sailing atop!

Saturday around Marin County

Saturday around Marin County, dip pen and ink and watercolor
Every year the Marin County Firefighters spend a day doing free CPR hands-on training around the county. Last year I did it in Tomales, this year I happened to stop at the Rouge & Noir cheese factory and I did it again. Later in the afternoon I was having a cup of tea by the main road in Stinson and this gigantic pick up truck parked in front of me. The perspective made it even bigger looking.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pedro's Westbrae Biergarten

The Brazilian biergarten on Gilman Street across from Toot's Sweets and Boogie Woogie Bagels seems to be satisfying a very pent-up demand for such things in the area - it was jammed with happy people on this sunny late Wednesday afternoon. They have some good brews, some yummy smelling food from the Brazilian cafe truck, world cup, dogs, kids, plants...what more could you ask for?
the Westbrae Biergarten
I drew this in pen on 4 sheets of my notebook, and colored at home in photoshop.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Meet the Sketchers: Mohammed Shamma

UC Berkeley
Faculty Club
Jun 13, 2014

Mohammed Shamma
I’m a writer/illustrator living in Berkeley with my lovely wife and two wonderful kids.  My story, “Echoes,” was recently published in Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy.

I grew up in Houston, Texas in a bi-cultural Egyptian-American household and was always captivated with stories of my father’s homeland and it’s rich history. 

In 2012, I underwent heart surgery that forced me to change the way I was living.  I walk to work now and spend more time "smelling the roses" so to speak.  I also rediscovered my passion for journal writing and painting, returning to where I'd left off nearly fifteen years before.  Shortly thereafter, I discovered Urban Sketching and fell in love with it at first site.  

I could list so many reason why I love Urban Sketching, but the most important ones are the simplest.  We open ourselves when we sketch and we reveal who, where and what we observed.  We share our sketches.  And when we share them, we are sharing our beautiful human experience, as fragile and short-lived as it is.  

Feel free to connect with me at, Twitter, Flickr and/or Tumblr.