Something(s) For Free and a Coffee Pot: Every Day in May 7-8

EDiM 7-8: Something(s) You Got For Free and Draw a Coffee Pot, ink & watercolor, 8x11"

EDiM 7-8: Something(s) You Got For Free and Draw a Coffee Pot, ink & watercolor, 8×11″

“Draw Something You Got For Free” was May 7th’s cue and May 8 was “Draw A Coffee Pot.” Above is the black lacquer cabinet with carvings and gold decorations I found on the sidewalk in front of a brightly painted house in my neighborhood with a “Free” sign on it. On top of the cabinet is a microwave I got for free (my son left it behind along with the car parts featured here when I took back my garage to convert it to my studio.

And on top of the microwave are more freebies: a set of Russian stacking dolls a friend brought back from Sitka, a tiny bowl a friend made and inside the bowl is some lip balm from my dentist (he applies it before working in your mouth then hands it to you) and a packet of cut flower preservative free from Trader Joe’s floral department.

On the right above is the way I make my coffee, with a ceramic filter holder from Peet’s Coffee that drips the coffee directly into my cup.

Waiting and Watching (and Sketching)

Waiting and Watching at Peets, ink, 5x8"

Waiting and Watching at Peets, ink, 5×8″

I love the way the big guy seems to be looking at the pretty girl’s butt in her shiny black tights. In reality they got in line at different times, but my drawing took on a life of its own.

One of the things I love about living in the Bay area is the wide variety of people you see, dressed however they please, with either no concern about fashion or a style all their own. I fit right in!

LuluLemon, Corner of Ashby & College, Berkeley, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Turning Corners, Looking Back (plus Lightroom, LuluLemon and Dynamite)

LuluLemon, Corner of Ashby & College, Berkeley, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

LuluLemon, Corner of Ashby & College, Berkeley, ink & watercolor, 5×8″ (I don’t know what that huge loudspeaker thing is on the roof–maybe for the neighborhood’s emergency alert warning signal? There’s one in my neighborhood that runs a test every Wednesday at noon)

I’ve spent the past couple of days looking back over my artwork from the past decade while sorting and labeling it in the process of learning to use Lightroom* for managing my digital files. It’s been interesting to see what has changed (mostly for the better), and what has stayed consistent.

Along with turning a major corner in my life (more about that next week), I’ve also been looking back (and forth) through my current journal to find the pages I haven’t posted yet.  So I thought it would be appropriate to post sketches of two corners I pass often. The sketch above shows LuluLemon where I bought my periwinkle runner’s hat (photo, sketch) that I wear whenever I go out sketch or walking.

Peet's Coffee and Albany Hill, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x8"

Peet’s Coffee and Albany Hill, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5×8″ (shape on right near bottom is the roof of the Old West Gunroom)

Peet’s Coffee in El Cerrito is a one mile walk from my house, a pilgrimage that I make often. Albany Hill is immediately behind it: an odd uprising in an otherwise flat area. The hill is forested with eucalyptus trees.

In the late 19th century Judson Powder Works manufactured dynamite at the foot of the hill and planted the trees to catch debris and muffle the sound of their many accidental explosions. The stop on the transcontinental railroad tracks just to the west was called Nobel Station, after the inventor of dynamite.

*If you’d like more information about Adobe Lightroom, leave a comment and I’ll either write about it here or send you the information directly. I discovered some great free resources for learning why and how to use it and set up a solid workflow for editing and managing digital image files.

4th Street Berkeley Sketches during New Apple Store Grand Opening

This Old Band on 4th Street, 7x5", ink & watercolor

This Old Band performing on 4th Street, 7x5", ink & watercolor

Waiting in Line at Apple, Waiting to Play in Front of Peets, 2 page spread

Waiting in Line at Apple, Waiting to Play in Front of Peet's, 2 page spread

When the new Apple Store opened in Berkeley, I played hooky from my plein air group’s scheduled paint out and went down to 4th Street in pursuit of sketching opportunities and one of the free t-shirts Apple was giving out to the first 1,000 customers.

When I arrived an hour after the grand opening, the line was barely one block long and moving quickly. By the time I sketched a few people and balloons (above) I was in the store. I got my shirt, bought a gizmo for my gadget and went across the street to Peet’s Coffee.

This Old Band

This Old Band playing on 4th Street

I enjoyed an iced coffee at a sunny table on their front patio as “This Old Band” set up to play. The music was wonderful, with a sweet, sensitive, gentle feel to it including some Otis Redding, The Drifters and other great oldies played by talented musicians.

There were some interesting (?) conversations going on around me.

Peet's Patio People, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Peet's Patio People, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

This guy was actually sitting at a table with another woman beside him on his right blabbing away, but he seemed more interested in this one.

A chubby, balding, dorky-looking, baby-boomer guy sitting behind me pompously talked non-stop about his life as a rock star and the book he was writing about it. His wife never said a word, and the guy he was talking to was obviously someone he was paying to help him with the book, though he barely got a word in either.

After dropping dozens of famous stars’ names who he supposedly shared a life with, he admitted it was “Better to be a Has Been than a Never Been.”

Boring? Not!

Peet's Coffee Corner, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

View north from Peet's Coffee, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

At first glance, the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson in El Cerrito is boring, boring, boring: a wide busy avenue with boxy buildings. But when viewed on a lovely summer day from a cafe table outside Peet’s Coffee with pen in hand, it transforms itself into a sketching delight full of fun details and color.

San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

View South down San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Looking the other way down San Pablo, the Wells Fargo Bank building holds little hope for drawing inspiration. But start sketching and it too transforms itself. There are trees of all kinds and colors. A cerulean sky with only a hint of clouds, a pink apartment building and a gold dentist office. Sun, shadows, banners.

Not boring! I don’t think I’ve ever felt bored when I was sketching. Years ago a friend told me that when I was sketching I looked like I was roller-skating. Whee! Let’s skate!

Boxed Coffee Scoop (A Silly Purchase)

Boxed Coffee Scoop and Cork, oil on panel, 5x7"

Scoop and Cork, oil on panel, 5x7"

Peet’s Coffee is selling coffee scoops in three sizes that measure exactly the right amount of coffee for their French press coffee makers. Although I was happy with my French press pot and coffee scoop, I couldn’t resist the promise of the perfect cup of coffee.

Haha. It holds exactly the same amount that I already use. And it’s too wide to dump the coffee into my little French press pot without some of it landing on the counter and the handle is too short to comfortably scoop out of the bag or canister. So, while useless in the kitchen it is earning its keep as a model in the studio.

Value study/under-painting for Scoop and Cork, oil, 5x7"

Value study/under-painting for Scoop and Cork, oil, 5x7"

This week’s Daily Paintworks challenge is to do a value study using only burnt umber, and to vary the amount of dark, medium and light so that there is a majority of one, some of the other, and a smidgen of the other. This is done by applying a thin layer of burnt umber, wiping it down for mid value, painting in the darks using only burnt umber, and wiping with paper towel or q-tips dipped in mineral spirits for the highlights.

I was going for a majority of dark, some middle, and smidgen of light. Not sure if I accomplished that. It seems like there’s almost as much middle as there is dark. I’ve done plenty of value studies and monochrome paintings, but I’d never done it this way before and enjoyed it. I like the way the finished study kind of glows but used it as a the under-painting for the painting at the top of this post.

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