A long-awaited meet-up

This week I got to spend some time sketching with friends - Suhita Shirodkar, Shari Blaukopf, Brenda SwensonGay Kraeger, and Elyse Fairweather. Some of them came from afar - it was a special treat and something we've been trying to pull off for quite some time! 

We went to the magical garden and forest in Santa Cruz Mountains to see Gay and Elyse and had a blast trying to fit a gigantic redwood in our sketchbooks. We listened to birds and water and looked for frogs in a fountain. We smelled flowers, played with materials, flipped through each other's sketchbooks, and drew oranges outdoors, and humans indoors. 

Chatting about life's big and small things, sharing some food, and ideas, and looking at the clouds. Below are my drawings and some photos from our adventures. And attached to them are some really good memories and a feeling of joy of friendships - and that is such a gift! Thank you to all who made this week special!

First page of a sketchbook that is almost finished

I am on the last spread of the current sketchbook (number 155) and just realized that I've never posted what was on the first page!  

The first page is where I usually record current sketching tools and notes on current themes and ideas. In this case, you can see that I was enjoying a stable pre-determined subject for daily drawing - my amaryllis! It helps me a lot during times when I have very little sketching time and during times when my capacity for making choices is stretched too thin by other parts of my life to have something that is reliably there for me to draw. That is a big reason behind my table garden too :) 

I will post a whole series of amaryllises that I got in this book next week!

I've got a people-sketching bug!

The #oneweek100people challenge which I participated in in March did what I wanted it to do: it gave me a bug to find opportunities to sketch people more often. Apart from the occasional everyday sketching, I am now trying to do some online events - and pencils4tea is the one I am enjoying the most at the moment: all poses are timed with interesting music, a lovely bunch of people, and a convenient time. 

Beware -  if you come to draw you might end up being drawn by a bunch of artists! Which is fun too (I ended up drawing myself blindly when it was my turn to pose :)

I will show you what I do with all of these stacks of paper soon :) 

Drawing Orchids - continuation.

After my initial attempt to draw orchids I tried to understand them several more times. Some of these are stages of the same page in my sketchbook - I rarely go back to "fix" things but these flowers were asking for it! 

Sketching a hill, looking at waves of grass.

I went back to the fruit tree orchard where I had a painting adventure/disaster before only to find that the trees are no longer white. They still look quite bare though! But before I painted that view (see below) I tried to tackle a grassy hill that had an Andrew Wyeth vibe. Below are two of my attempts to catch waves that the wind created. 

I had a wonderful company with me for this outing - here is a link to what @umapaints created with gouache. As we painted and talked about life, work, and the future, a mowing team waited to start clearing this beauty. I am glad we got to see it! Below are two versions: the color version done in gouache and the black and white version made with ink. And the look at the orchard is done in gouache too. 

Solar Eclipse 2024

An astounding number of people witnessed a total solar eclipse on April 8th! Many went to be "in the path of totality" and I hear it was spectacular! 

Here is Northern California I got to see about 30% of the sun covered my moon - well, I saw a shadow of the sun, 30% of which was covered by the moon. This time I did not draw people or progression - but I did draw my attempt at catching those sickles with a custom-made slotted spoon. And I watched shadows under the trees - that is the simplest and the most joyful way to see an eclipse for me!

See my other solar eclipse sketching outings: 2012, 2017, 2023

And more eclipse-related posts here

Blooming Orchard Painting Disaster.

Imagine a friend taking you to paint a blooming orchard. It is a gorgeous day and the view is spectacular - filled with white blooming fruit trees. And you sit down with your lunch and sketching gear and realize that... you forgot to pack white with you. Even your backup white (and backup to backup - which I usually also carry but that is a story for another post). 

I ended up making two sketches: one with the flowers colored pink :) And another with the naked trees - and I added white from my memory and photos when I got to my white :) I did not post these for two weeks. True story. With some continuation, I think.

I went to see the ocean and paint it too.

I went to see the Ocean on a perfect day - it was cool, sunny and the company was great. I tried to capture the same part of the beach with a watercolor+gouache combo and then with stencils. And had time for a little gouache after that. Scroll below for the process photos from the beach - wind tried to take some of my supplies and I got a little sand everywhere including my palette - but what fun! 

On My Table: Beginning of April 2024.

This month I took a very honest photo of the mess on my art table. When I need to work and come to a table that looks like this I have three options: put new stuff right on top of everything, clear a tiny spot in the corner and work there - or make a photo for the "first of the month on my art table" and then clean the table because it is a hazard to work on right now. 

My goal for this April is to paint on location (en plein air) a lot. So I am urgently reviving my gouache set-up so that I can paint quickly and anywhere. I will tell you how it went at the end of the month!

Comments and links to some things in the picture:
- My favorite White Pen - Uni-Ball UM 153 Signo Broad Point Gel Pen
- A pen I used a lot lately - Zig Memory System Calligraphy Marker (I almost killed it during the drawing trip to the zoo where I took a separate sketchbook - which will become part of this sketchbook soon :)
- Pencil Sharpener #2 is KUM AS2M (which makes some excellent long points and also has a side sharpener for sharpening mechanical pencils).
- Little yellow bottle - is a part of Kuretake Water Brush - Petit Set

I am searching for a red that is simultaneously a little pink and a little orange has a glow and works well when diluted (goes to transparent well even if it is opaque when applied thick) and I want to find a color that I can reproduce with pencils too. Any suggestions are welcome :) Current front runners are Pyrol from Daniel Smith and Sennelier Orange or vermillion Schmincke gouache. 

Exploding Wisteria Pods

Wisteria seed pods twist and open in the spring when the weather gets warm. If you ever brought a wisteria seed pod home (smooth or fuzzy - they are irresistible!) you probably experienced a loud explosion and dispersion of the seeds firsthand - as I did. The very first time it happened late in the evening and it was scary loud! (and I think the last seed was never found). This year I witnessed how a whole large boosh went into a burst mode. For a few hours, the same sequence repeated: a loud POP, then the sound of an empty pod falling on the ground (they covered the ground completely!). And just in one evening most of the pods were gone and wisteria began showing buds of this year's flowers. 

I learned that Both Wisteria Frutescens (American wisteria) and Wisteria Sinensis (Chinese wisteria) twine in a counterclockwise direction but Wisteria Floribunda (Japanese wisteria) twines clockwise.