Home again after an inspiring and adventurous ten days in California.  Great people, great landscapes, great food and great weather.

San Francisco Streets

One of my goals was to play with the perspective of the streets during the two days I spent in the city of San Francisco.

Slanted streets and houses

The one day in San Franciso that I planned to sketch rather than walk and snap photos, it began to rain as soon as I put ink to paper.

Slanted landscapes everywhere

Most of my time was spent drawing and painting on Moffett Field in Mountain View and exploring the hills in the surrounding area.  Though I love the beauty of the flat landscape in New Jersey where I live, I feel more connected with the slanted and rolling landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Pacific Ocean Reflections

In addition to slanted landscapes, reflections and shadows turned out to be threads that wove the fabric of my trip.

Pacific Ocean Seaweed Shadows

Already, I  look forward to returning, perhaps in January, to teach another Color Scheme Game Workshop not only in Santa Rosa., but in Mountain View and San Francisco as well.  In addition to the Color Scheme Game Workshop I’ll be teaching a Color Value Workshop in Santa Rosa. (Thanks again, Joanie Springer, for helping to make this such a successful trip!  Thank you Kristen and Zak at Village Art Supply for hosting a last minute workshop in the middle of your amazing art store! )

Photos taken in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On Monday morning I had an hour and a half to sketch on West Main Street in Salisbury, MD while Anita did errands.

From the corner of Mill and West Main Street, Salisbury, MD

On Thursday, Dave had errands to do, giving me the opportunity to sketch Main Street looking in the opposite direction.

Not quite finished when I had to catch my ride back to Tyaskin

West Main Street, Salisbury, MD detail of left side

West Main Street, Salisbury, MD detail of right side

Unfortunately, West Main Street, a lovely quaint street, is a bit of a ghost town.  A mother and son, waiting for I know not what, provided the opportunity to breathe a bit of life into the drawing.

Mother and Son …. waiting …. for whom?

Looks like I’ll be teaching a couple of multi-day, color scheme game workshops in Salisbury in 2013, most likely in February and again in April.  I’ll keep you posted.

Sketchbook, en plein air drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black ink… followed by watercolor and gouache.

After dropping my printer off with my favorite wizards, Curtis and Ed, I drove to Old York Cellars vineyard to see how sunlight altered the landscape.  The light was totally flat last Saturday when I attended the painters’ orientation.

Old York Cellars vineyard, Ringoes, NJ

Hmmmmm.  Do I paint in oils? watercolor? or do I work in my sketchbook having fun with ink and watercolor without the pressure of creating finished pieces?  I’ll load my trunk with supplies so that I can switch back and forth during the weekend if I choose to.  Between 11 am and 1 pm I’ll probably work in my sketchbook.  The sunlight only confused the lines of the vineyard stakes and grape vines.  I preferred the gray day with the wet, dark vines standing out against muted tones.

The wind was a bit much and my attention was spotty.  I packed up earlier than I had planned.

Main Street, High Bridge, New Jersey

On my way home, the multitude of empty parking spaces along Main Street in High Bridge was an invitation too tempting to ignore.  I lost track of what I was drawing and placed one of the sidewalk street lamps in the road by mistake.  Street scenes are fun to draw. Sketchbook drawings allow the freedom to make all kinds of adjustments to reality.

Sketchbook drawings: drawn first with Waterman Phileas fountain pen filled with Sailor Jentle Epinard (green) ink, followed by watercolor washes.

I parked at the top of the hill just before the railroad crossing on Broad Street in Washington, New Jersey.

Interrupted watercolor sketch, Washington, NJ

I finished a quick pencil sketch and began to lay in a few watercolor washes. A gentle tap on the passenger side window startled me.  I unrolled the window and gazed into the kind eyes of BL, a woman who rented an apartment in the house I’d parked in front of.  She wanted to warn me that I’d chosen a dangerous place to park my car.  When her friends had parked there they ended up having mirrors torn off, doors smashed in or the back of cars rammed.  It had appeared safe to me, but clearly I was mistaken.  After thanking her for coming out to warn me, perhaps saving my car from damage and me a trip to the hospital, I moved on.  All was not lost.  BL offered me the opportunity to park in her driveway the next time I wanted to try painting the steep hill of her street.

Oil Painting, Blocking in value shapes as the sun set

Later I set up outside my house to block in the values of the landscape as the sun sank toward the horizon.  The leaves are budding on the trees, crimson against charcoal in the late afternoon light.  I have to learn to work much faster.


The front seat of the K-car works well as a plein air studio on rainy days.

The sun breaks through after the rain, Clinton, NJ

It poured as  I sketched this street scene in Clinton, New Jersey.  The raindrops on the windshield helped to simplify the scene and saved me a bit of squinting.  Even so, I couldn’t find a strong pattern design of value shapes.  I opted to go for the gloom.  No sooner had I finished the sketch when the sun worked its way through the clouds and brightened the scene slightly.

sketchbook painting: sketched first with soft pencil followed by watercolor focusing on neutral grays, toning down the colors of spring and steering clear of sharp contrasts.