Saturday, October 25, 2014

By Hand, Too

Now that cooler weather and shorter days are upon us, we sketchers retreat to the warmth of indoor spaces.  By Hand was a colorful location. I also enjoyed the music selection at the store. Singing while you paint is not unlike whistling while you work, except that it's more fun!

BY•HAND Berkeley

You can see by the other posts below that we had a very good time sketching in this clothing store in Berkeley. Beautiful clothes that are displayed beautifully, along with a selection of interesting jewelery.

Friday, October 24, 2014

By Hand

It was so great to be able to sketch in the lovely peace and quiet of the store after-hours - Thank you Paula! I was happy to hear she is not closing the store out of duress, but because it's time to have fun! I'm trying out some new watercolor pencils, actually called "Inktense" pencils.
 I changed up the colors of this umbrella collection a bit,
as many are basic black, evidently preferred by most!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

By Hand Clothing Store

Paula Zurowski, co-owner of By Hand, was kind enough to stay open after hours for our sketching group on the eve of a weekend sale.  Founded in 1974, the store started in South Berkeley, moved to Walnut Square and then to Solano Avenue.  By Hand will close next year and will be sorely missed by the many Berkeleyites for whom it is an essential shopping place.  Thanks, Paula!

Dry Creek Valley Sketch Tour

Owl house_s
Last weekend, the Ready, Set Sketch! group toured the Dry Creek Valley by bike. It's one of the most beautiful rides in Sonoma County. Resting on a hilltop along Chiquita road, I sketched an owl box standing high above the vineyard covered landscape.
Lambert bridge_s
Lambert Bridge crossing Dry Creek, located just outside of Healdsburg in the Dry Creek Valley.
Quivera view of Mnt. St. Helena_s
Quivira Vineyards, a beautiful winery located on the far end of the Dry Creek Valley has both, arresting views and great wine. This sketch shows a nearby barn, neck deep in vineyards.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The McElroy Fountain, Lakeside Park at Lake Merritt, Oakland

I frequently pass by the lovingly restored McElroy Fountain on Perkins and Grand on my way to walk around Lake Merritt, vowing to return to paint it. It took a visit by an artist friend up from LA to get me out to do a little sketching last Saturday and get back to the fountain. We timed ourselves: 1 1/2 hour painting.  

The elegant fountain, built in 1911, was dedicated to John E. McElroy, a four time city attorney after his death. In preparation for its 100 years anniversary, a group of volunteers cleaned and repaired the fountain. Volunteer efforts, partnering with the City's, continue to maintain this landmark.

Please see for more information.

Sketching Musicians at Sahara's on Piedmont Ave, Oakland

Last Thursday night, I was captivated by the music flowing out of Sahara's, a Moroccan Home Decor import store on Piedmont Ave. Yassir Chadly (l) and  Bouchaib Abdelhadi (r) performed among the beautiful array of mosaic fountains, lanterns, and other home accessories from Morocco. I hope to attend their upcoming concert at La Pena on November 29th.  I definitely want to return to Sahara's on Piedmont to sketch heir sumptuous artifacts from afar!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Patterson's Pub, Windsor, CA

Sketch of downtown Windsor. I have yet to check out Patterson's Pub but I'm sure the inside is worthy of a sketch and a pint.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

More Piedmont Yarn

This cozy yarn shop has been owned since July by two longtime friends who met while working in the Berkeley Shakespeare Company costume shop.  In addition to all the colorful yarn and handmade sample garments, the place was decorated with knitted leaf garlands for fall.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yarn Yarn Yarn = Kinitting Knitting Knitting

Piedmont Yarn, a shop full of beautiful colors. Balls, skeins, hanks and cones of yarn!

Piedmont Yarn Shop

 We visited a sweet yarn shop on Piedmont! Their collection of yarns is lovely, samples of knitting and felting are beautiful, and they even have cones for weavers. They have classes, and will help you out with your knitting problems.
These Rabat yarns are so various in their variables that they look individually dyed.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

More Trader Vic's

Trader Vic's in Emeryville is beautifully sited on a little cove on San Francisco Bay.  Inside, it's all tropical all the time with tiki gods and tribal masks galore.  Very friendly staff and an umbrella in every drink.

Masks and totem poles in the back room.

Flotsam and jetsam hanging from the ceiling of the bar.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Trader Vic's

We sketched at the Emeryville Trader Vic's last week. Everyone was very welcoming to our sketch group. We had drinks and snacks in the bar with a view of the bay and the sunset, then sketched the wall of masks in another part of the restaurant. Trader Vic Bergeron was born in San Francisco and opened his first bar in Oakland, not far from this location. He invented the Mai Tai in Oakland in 1944. There are now Trader Vic's in countries around the world.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Anja's Yoga Retreat, Ukiah

Back from a three-day, rural yoga retreat at Shambhala Ranch outside Ukiah, Mendocino County. Yoga and meditation led by Anja Borgstrom. Three squares a day prepared by Tamara, professional organic chef. Hot sunny days, cool quiet nights. Some uninterrupted time to make little paintings. Heaven!

Experimented with an idea from book artist Andie Thrams: write down thoughts and then paint right on top of the the words -- clearing out extraneous brain chatter while focusing on the present and the subject at hand.

Waterproof Noodler's Dark Matter ink proved less than water-resistant, while the Polar Brown stayed fast.


New Mexico

I was in New Mexico this spring for 10 days of sketching. What a great time. The light there is so much different. I could have spent the whole time just painting the sky! But of course there was also all those adobe buildings to paint and Georgia O"Keefe country and...and...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sketching at Fairyland in Oakland

In 1950, Children's Fairyland, a storybook theme park, featuring fairy-tale sets, farm animals, and live entertainment opened in Oakland. It is still there today, the original child-size buildings and rides lovingly maintained. A popular throwback to a simpler time. Fairyland is usually bustling with kids but our group was able to go after hours and had the place almost all to our selves. (I say almost because besides us the resident squirrels were out in force "cleaning" up all popcorn dropped by those kids!) I loved the buildings that looked like 3D sketches. Each was donated by an appropriate sponsor, The Brick House by The Associated Home Builders of Alameda County and Gepetto's Workshop by The Italian American Federation of the East Bay.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Happy Dragon of Children's Fairyland

This happy dragon greeted me at Children's Fairyland located near the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland. It was my first time at this this wonderful theme park for kids. Thanks to C.J. Hirschfield, Executive Director, and Shannon Taylor, Director of Art and Restoration, we were able to come out, explore, and sketch! Please enjoy the other sketches of Children's Fairyland previously posted on this blog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Children's Fairyland, Oakland

The entrance to Children's Fairyland is through the old woman's shoe.  Remember her? Had so many children she didn't know what to do? 

Unlike my fellow sketchers, I didn't grow up in California and have no childhood memories of Fairyland. But there are many lovingly maintained three-dimensional figures and objects to sketch here, like the genie standing atop the front entrance. Curious that because of his location with his back to the entry, he's most noticeable as you're leaving the park and only if you look up from your cell phone!

There's a little wooden birdhouse, thick with the paint of generations of park preservationists. Atop a pole five feet off the ground and partially filled with straw, it has the curious sign, "Owl Sleeping, Go Away Squirrel Nutkin!"

In The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter, sassy-mouthed Squirrel Nutkin loses his tail and narrowly escapes flaying by an Owl called Old Brown. Powerful stuff!! A commentary on 19th century British hierarchy, class and power, the story was first published way back in 1903, after the success of Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Thanks to Shannon Taylor, Fairyland Art Director and Sonia Tamez, Urban Sketcher for this sketching opportunity.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Children's Fairyland Oakland

Two special sketching nights at Children's Fairyland back-to-back, tonight the Urban Sketchers, and tomorrow a sketching event, Drawn Together, benefitting Fairyland — read more about it here

When I was a child, my mother brought my brother and I to visit Fairyland. I was about 3 years old, and Fairyland was just a few years older. The sculpture I remembered the most vividly was the Alice in Wonderland tunnel, with the card maze at the end. I wasn't tall enough to see through the "windows", so I could only see the tippy-tops of the figures in the garden.
the deck of cards who were tossed into the air

The Crooked Man and his crooked house

Oswald the Bubble Elf

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Runnymede Sculpture Farm, Woodside

watercolor and ink brush pen

watercolor and ink brush pen
More kudos to Cathy McAuliffe and Sam Perry for our visit last week to Runnymede. Good times.

It was a hot windless day and we seemed to have the place to ourselves. We wandered about, each sketcher alone with her thoughts and art supplies, clambering up and down the dry yellow hills dotted with art and large, mature oak trees. Deer families, wild turkeys and a lone coyote kept watch from a safe distance.

There's an extensive map of the 160 sculptures on the property but I was unable to identify the creators of these two large colorful sculptures. Sorry, sculptors.

Hometown Tourist

I have lived in the Bay Area all my life. I have been to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park many times but learned about things I had never noticed when I went there on a San Francisco City Guides tour. This tour lead by a very knowledgeable volunteer was great. They give free tours of places all over the city.

I had never been to Alcatraz and finally made it over to the "rock". The Alcatraz Historic Gardens Project preserves, rebuilds, and maintains the gardens created by those who lived on the island, and interprets their history. They have docent led tours that explain the gardens and tell the amazing story of the restoration.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Grace Quan in Richmond

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Found on Piedmont

From Piedmont Third Thursday Stroll. I got there pretty late, but there were quite a few nice little art-ish parties going on, a large karate class demonstration, and a woman singing beautifully on the street to entice people in to the theater. Seems like a fun event. I ended up on the patio between Found and the karate class, and sketched this vaguely middle-eastern-looking building across the street.
greetings, from Found

Runnymede Farm

Terrific opportunity for our group this week, when Cathy arranged a visit to Runnymede Farm in Woodside on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, where her friend, artist Sam Perry, is a conservator.   The huge property belongs to the heirs of last century's California sugar magnate, Claus Spreckels, and is only open to non-profit and educational groups with a connection to the family.   Two descendents, John and Dodie Rosekrans, have placed more than 150 sculptures on the land along hiking paths, amid the tall grasses, vintage oaks and rolling hills.  An outdoor art extravaganza.  Much gratitude to Cathy and to Sam!

Deer wandering from "Didymous" (1987, welded steel) to "Ibis" (1987, steel and enamel) both by Charles Ginnever

In front of the Caretaker's House, "Symbiosis" by Mark di Suvero, 1989 (steel)

"The Horse" by Hana and Jan Exnar, 1988 (ceramic, metal, glass)

Atop a rise:  "Crucifixion of Allis Chalmers" by Gordon Chandler, 1987 (found metal)