Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tortilla Making and Eating at Picante

Tortilla Maker at Picante, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
She was amazing, in constant motion, pulling dough from the bowl, rolling a ball, placing it in the wooden press, squeeze, put on grill, move the tortillas around, squeeze another. 
Fish Tacos: Yum!
My dinner was delicious: fish tacos served on Maria's freshly made corn tortillas and drizzled with avocado sauce. Yum! Picante is my favorite of Berkeley's Mexican restaurants with its friendly, festive atmosphere and delicious food made with high quality ingredients.

The Vineyard in the Valley

Last weekend I loaded my backpack with art supplies and hiked into the countryside near my house. It had rained earlier in the day, but as soon as I saw a break in the clouds, I gathered my art supplies and headed out to sketch.
The golden grasses covering the hills during the dryer months are turning green with the help of recent rains. Reaching the top of a hill, I was confronted by the bright colors of Jordan Winery’s vineyard and a red-roofed shed guarding its gate. What a great view I thought, and parked myself on my folding stool to paint.
This northeast edge of Healdsburg used to be a horse ranch until about 15 years ago, when it was replaced by the homes in my neighborhood. Some reminders of the ranch still remain, like the old wooden fence posts climbing this hill. Although people have encroached upon this once wild land, the area is still home to raptors, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, and migratory birds. Blue herons and egrets, much to my dismay, like to eat goldfish out of our backyard pond. But it’s a small price to pay for living near open land. Some of the wildlife can be dangerous, like rattle snakes and mountain lions, and many of my neighbors have reported sightings. Luckily, I’ve never run into any problems but still keep a sharp eye whenever I’m out in the field. At night as I’m drifting off to sleep, I often hear the howls of coyotes celebrating a new kill and the feast that follows.
The sky above me darkened and small drops of rain splashed on my page. Looking toward the west, I could see that another storm approached, so I packed up my gear and headed home. Under the next day’s sunny skies I returned to the same spot to add the finishing touches.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy UC Berkeley!


I attended the Occupy UC Berkeley Strike on November 15. I planted myself at the Sproul Plaza Fountain while marchers, students, community organizers, and others swirled around. Eventually, there were thousands (est. range from 5 to 10 thousand). It was difficult to sketch (the movement deserves better), but I felt an obligation to document history in the making and provide another visual perspective in contrast to main media. I have to note that the space-ship looking item was actually a small tent on a pole, symbolizing the tents that had previously been removed). There was also a Che flag that served to link the past and present.

Later, the festive atmosphere changed to a more serious mood as information came out about a (unrelated) shooting at another part of the campus and the assembly process began. There were calls for non-violence and the need to decide on what actions undertake. More people moved into the plaza and the presence of helicopters and police on the ground became more insistent.

During the course of my afternoon and early evening, I repeatedly heard the need for a peaceful demonstration, from students, veteran Viet Nam War era demonstrators (who were now checking out what was happening on campus), folks from the Berkeley Zen Center, and a policeman (who volunteered that his mother sketched).

For more info, please visit You may also want to see Occupy Oakland artwork at And my sketching friend Michaela has posted her wonderful work earlier on this blog.

Monterey Market Sunflowers

The sunflowers and melons provided bursts of color on a late grey day.

Monterey Market Pumpking

This mammoth pumpkin came in at 794 lbs.

Summer's Over on Orcas

Catching up on posting now that it is raining.
This is from last summer on Orcas Island.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pet Store Sketches

Small Water Dragon Lizard and Baby Corn Snakes
It's interesting, challenging and a bit disturbing sketching caged, creepy crawly creatures at the pet store.
Mice in their dinner. Glad we don't sleep in our food!
Rats eating pellets and drinking from their water bottles
I liked seeing the pink tongue of the rat licking the water bottle. He looked kind of cute. But the smell made me draw fast so I could leave the rodent section.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Occupy Cal

Although there had been an incident earlier in the day with a man pulling his gun at police at Haas School, it was unrelated to the Occupy movement. While we were sketching it was peaceful, and people were encouraging each other in non-violent expression.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I first went to Picante in about 1989? when it had been around for a relatively short time. It was a good bit more humble then, but the prices matched, and the food was awesome, as it is now. (Well, maybe awesomer just a little!) I can't say it was hot in ºfahrenheit at Picante, but it was hot & hopping with customers as usual. I went to a quiet spot outside to sketch an abandoned table. 
The bar is popular now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Levi Leipheimer Promotes Bike Friendly Healdsburg

Pro cyclist, Levi Leipheimer, spoke last week in Healdsburg at a Villa Chanticleer luncheon offered by our Chamber of Commerce. The purpose was to support and raise awareness of a proposed Healdsburg City Counsel application for the League of American Bicyclists coveted “Bike Friendly Town” award. With all of my recent cycling enthusiasm, I couldn’t resist showing up to learn about and support  this cause. But hey, I reasoned, meeting world famous Levi Leipheimer, Tour de France Stage winner, Olympic medalist, founder of 7,500-riders-strong Levi’s Gran Fondo, and three-time winner of the Tour of California wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
During the presentation, I sketched Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Mo McElroy and Levi at the podium, and after the question and answer period, stopped to meet them. It was a great opportunity to inform them of the book I’m currently writing about local wine, bikes, and art, and of my support of bicycling in Healdsburg. And the best part is, Levi happily signed my drawing of him. How cool is that?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

John Muir House

John Muir House, ink & watercolor 7x5"

The scent of bay leaves, the sounds of birds, a bench in the shade of an old tree on a warm sunny day, and lots of details to sketch: It doesn't get any better than that!  
The John Muir House in Martinez is free to visit and a great spot to sketch, outdoors or inside the house, full of Muir's artifacts. Read more on

Friday, November 4, 2011

John Muir's House in Martinez

Sequoia that John Muir collected in the Sierras.

There is now a 4 lane freeway and a railroad line running right next to the house.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kensington Harvest Parade

Boy scouts waiting for the call to line up, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

The nearby small town of Kensington was having their annual Harvest Parade. The route was about six blocks along the Arlington, from the hardware store to the library. I sketched the boy scouts above while they fooled around on a bench waiting the call to line up.
Getting ready to march
Then I sketched people across the street in the staging area. When the parade finally started I joined in and followed along on the sidewalk, enjoying the high school marching band music. 

The Water Tower

Last weekend, while biking home from nearby Coppola Winery, I stopped on Independence Lane to admire a weathered water tower overlooking a vineyard. Unfortunately, I was in a hurry that day and didn’t have time to paint.
The following Saturday I returned under clear blue skies, the air a crisp seventy degrees. This time, it felt like a vacation, and I reveled in the beauty of the autumn landscape, exhilarated to be out riding.
Leaning my bike against a fence post, I surveyed the area for a good place to sketch. While catching my breath, I delighted in the grape vines’ glowing red leaves, took several photographs, then settled down in the shade of an olive-green bush to draw.
Wooden water towers are scattered all around Sonoma County and most were built about 100 years ago. Back in the day, water was pumped out of the ground using a windmill and stored for later use in a tank at the top of the tower. Gravity provided enough water pressure to supply fresh, running water for a nearby home. Although most water towers have fallen under disrepair, some have been refurbished into guest houses and B&Bs for an almost tree house like experience.
After I finished painting my sketch, I packed up my gear and headed home in the warm afternoon sun.

SS Red Oak Victory

Launched on November 9, 1944 as the SS Red Oak Victory, and commissioned as the USS Red Oak Victory (AK235) in December, 1944, the Red Oak Victory is the only vessel built by the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California that is being restored. The ship saw service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and has the distinction of being the only ship operated by both military and civilian personnel during her career.