After our sketching of San Jose Victorians (refer to the end of this article) Suhita organised a few friends over for an evening of catching up and sketching. I had hoped to sketch some pumpkins this trip but these gourds were the closest I got to doing a seasonal still life. (Note: it’s spring in Australia and we don’t have the big pumpkin/harvest/fall thing that happens in the States.)
A great evening and a few of us stayed up late talking about our art and our goals.
Thursday: Santa Cruz Mountains Day trip
The next morning we met up with Nina Khashchina (Apple-pine) and we followed her up some winding roads into the Santa Cruz mountains to visit Gay Kraeger’s gorgeous place. (Meeting these two – old Flickr friends – was a highlight of my trip last year, so it was great to hang out with them again!)
Note. My palette was getting very moist from constant use and I realised that I picked up too much paint while doing this sketch. So as a result, that night I had to leave my palette open to let it dry out a little. I also adjusted my normal ‘paint pick up’ to be a little lighter in touch so that I got back to my usual pigment to water ratio in my washes.
Note: I almost went an entire day without sketching any architecture… but couldn’t resist this simple line drawing of Gay’s daughter’s house.
A lovely day but it went too quickly!
Back in San Jose, Suhita’s husband wanted to take us out for Persian icecream. I forgot about American sizing and my single serve was enormous.
The next morning I sketched one of Suhita’s sister’s mugs while sipping my chai tea.
Saturday: San Jose and South Bay Sketchers meetup
Especially as the afternoon was going to be crazy!
The South Bay Sketchers admin team organised a sketchmeet at the San Jose History Park. It’s a great spot for a sketching event, but the highlight for me was seeing Suhita’s ‘Sign of the Times’ exhibition and getting a copy of her book.
Wow! it’s an outstanding exhibition/book/collection of sketches and although I got updates on the project over the last year or so, I had no idea of how many vintage signs from the area she actually sketched. It’s so inspiring!
Sadly I forgot to take any photos of the exhibition (talking to people!) but there are some here on Suhita’s website.
It was also very inspiring to think about how urban sketching can create important historical documentation of a local area and can lead to a meaningful connection with the community.
Congrats Suhita for this incredible achievement. The book is gorgeous and can be purchased here.
The results were a little scattered – not surprising – but I had a lot of fun!
I did one final sketch of the back of the firehouse tower and then got a lift back to San Francisco – thanks Joy! I had a quiet evening (what!? really!) and a lovely dinner at Vega in Bernal Heights sketching in the dark.
On the Sunday (Lord’s Day) I spent another truly wonderful day in a SF (Reformed) Presbyterian church! I feel such of a part of this church now (after two visits last year and two visits this year) and it was definitely a highlight of my trip.
Monday: Another SF sketching day
And then we headed to SFMOMA to check out an exhibition which included a few of Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings. Laurie is a big fan of his work, and I can now see why. His colours, composition and abstraction (particularly of SF’s steep streets) is very inspiring.
We spent lunch comparing notes on pigments.
Here is my sketchbook spread from the morning which also includes a coffee sketch from earlier in the day. I got into a fascinating conversation with Greg (from Charlottesville) on the table next to me comparing learning art to starting fly fishing!
After SFMOMA we headed to the new Moleskine store where I bought one of the new-ish portrait A5 watercolour sketchbooks. Yes! many of us have wanted this book in this format and Moleskine have finally started making them.
I walked in the door and the guy behind the counter asked “Are you Liz Steel?” What?!? really, you know me?!?
Time for some more sketching… we headed to the old VC Morris Gift Store designed by Frank LLyod Wright and now owned by Isaia – a fancy Italian menswear brand. Laurie and I had an incredible sketching adventure here but that deserves a separate article. So stay tuned for that.
Thanks Laurie for a great day!
Tuesday: Back in San Jose area
Then we met up with Nina Khashchina and Susan Wilson to sketch another Victorian – well technically this is a Queen Anne building. The lighting wasn’t great, but that didn’t stop me from trying out a new approach…
We had time to squeeze in one more sketch before Nina and Suhita needed to hit the road for school pickup. And so we stopped to sketch the latest Google campus under construction. We only had 30 minutes so this was a fun challenge.
Wednesday: Heading South
What a great time I had in SF/ Bay Area. A huge thanks to Laurie and Suhita for looking after me both in terms of accommodation and sketching outings, and for everyone who helped my 1.5 weeks in the area to beso special.
As I write this report of my time in NorCal, I am very aware of what has happened since my visit. I’m very sad to hear about the horrendous wildfires, loss of life and properties and smoked filled air affecting many people. I hope all my readers are safe!
I certainly don’t take for granted the wonderful time (and weather) I had in San Francisco and the Bay Area!