When Being Behind Is a Good Thing

Slowing Down With a Latte and Mini-Scone at Peets

Slowing Down With a Latte and Mini-Scone at Peets

Falling behind and worrying about catching up can be stressful when it’s about work not accomplished, tasks not completed. But in the case of my blog, being behind on posting is a good thing. It just means I’ve been doing lots of painting and sketching with less time for the computer (a goal for this year).

I did the sketch above on the day I was preparing to leave for a weekend painting workshop. I reminded myself that I was officially on vacation, which allowed me to slow down enough to stop and sketch while out walking to do errands instead of rushing back home to get packed.

This sketch came in handy last week at work, when I wrote and illustrated a blog post for our literacy organization’s blog. My post’s subtitle was: “Two birds with one stone” (intentionally leaving off  “kill”). Our clever editor suggested changing it to “Feed two birds with one scone.”  So then I needed a sketch of a scone to accompany my two birds. Since I always have my sketchbook with me I was able to scan the scone sketch. You can see the result on our Reading Apprenticeship blog here.

And I will get that backlog of artwork posted soon!

Sketching People Close Up at Peet’s

Handsome Guy at Peets, Lamy Safari pen with Carbon Platinum Ink in Moleskine

Handsome Guy at Peet's; Lamy Safari pen, Carbon Platinum Ink in Med. Watercolor Moleskine

I could have reached out and touched his face. But he was so absorbed in his computer he didn’t notice me drawing him at the next table, our knees almost touching. The lady at the table on my other side was watching me and said I captured his likeness perfectly and should show him. I didn’t though, just in case he might not find it flattering. Our own ideas of our appearance often don’t match others’.

Older Guy at Peets, same tools as above

Older Guy at Peet's, same tools as above

This gentleman was sitting at the table after the guy above. I think he might have noticed me sketching but didn’t seem to mind. I think he needed the coffee as he dozed off reading his newspaper at one point. I missed on the shape of his head and just redrew it taller. And then in drawing his large ear lobes I’m afraid my shading there might have made it look like a big hole.

Some fashion victims actually do have big holes in their ear lobes that they intentionally create by inserting devices that gradually stretch them so they look like this. What a weird fad. There are many websites like this one that sell such devices. Why would anyone want to do that?

Cool News (Urban Sketchers) and Albany Hill Sketch

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

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

Our Tuesday night sketch group is now an official Urban Sketchers group, known as Urban Sketchers SF Bay Area. If you’d like to visit our Urban Sketchers blog, you’ll get to  meet my fellow Bay Area sketchers and see the different ways we interpret scenes in our sketchbooks, often from the same viewpoint.

The sketch above was done while sitting on the steps of the Pier One across from Peet’s in El Cerrito. It was the first sunny day in ages and it felt so good to enjoy a latte and some sketching in the sun. Albany Hill sticks up right behind Peet’s. It’s an odd bit of geography that resembles a very tall cupcake (sprinkled with trees instead of jimmies) in an otherwise flat landscape.

Albany Hill’s “Dynamite” History

In the late 19th century, the Judson Powder Works used the hill for the manufacture of dynamite. The company was forced to move from San Francisco and then Berkeley because of continuing accidental explosions. They planted the eucalyptus trees on the hill to catch debris and muffle the sound of their explosions. The stop on the transcontinental railroad tracks just to the west was called Nobel Station, after the inventor of dynamite. Read More

Where Did the Day Go?

Where did the day go? Ink & watercolor pencil

Where did the day go? Ink & watercolor pencil

Does this ever happen to you? You start off the morning feeling optimistic about everything you’ll get done today and then suddenly it’s evening and the To-Do list has only grown? Not only the day flew by, but given the date on this sketch, so has a week or two.

I sketched this sign while sipping an afternoon latte at Peet’s Coffee. Two women at the next table seemed so intrigued by my watercolor pencils and water brush that I said, “Here, try it!” and let them color and paint (on their napkins).

I’ve been so busy with working, teaching watercolor, and squeezing in a little time for painting and sketching that I’ve gotten behind on posting. But my number one priority today is finishing binding a new journal as I’m down to the last two pages in my current one and they’re reserved for my end-of-sketchbook self portraits.

Peet’s Coffee after Manet’s Bar at Folies Bergère

Peet's Coffee after Manet, Ink & watercolor

Peet's Coffee after Manet, Graphite, ink & watercolor

When I walked up to the woman at the counter at Peet’s to order my coffee I started babbling that she looked just like someone in an Impressionist painting. She humored me and asked for my order. I ordered my latte, went back to my table, and Googled  “Impressionist Bar Painting” on my iPhone. It didn’t take long before I found it.

Manet, Folies Bergere

Manet, Bar at Folies Bergère

I showed her the image on my phone and asked if she’d pose for me like the woman in the painting and she agreed. I don’t have permission to post her photo so all I can show you is my sketch, which is a study for a larger painting.

Needless to say, I left a good tip for my coffee (and modeling services). And fortunately there wasn’t a line of people waiting for their coffees.

I can see that I need to go back to Peet’s to sketch and take more photos so that I can replace the computer monitor on her left with something more beautiful. Or maybe it’s appropriate to be there? But it sure isn’t as pretty as Manet’s oranges and flowers in crystal.

Antidotes to Bad Moods and Rude Cell Phone Users

Bad Mood! Ink, watercolor, collage

Bad Mood! Ink, watercolor, marked up kitty handout from pastel demo

Sometimes I get grouchy. For no reason. Or for good reason. I don’t like to be grumpy so I try to do things to cheer up: take a walk, go dance it off at Jazzercize, write and sketch in my journal over a latte at Peet’s Coffee or all of the above. Today, after trying all, it was the surprise of seeing my sister walk into my neighborhood Peet’s (surprise because she lives 5 towns away) that did the trick.

Before she arrived, while I was sipping and sketching, I was horribly annoyed by the woman sitting beside me at her computer who made dozens of phone calls. She was trying to reach “important” people like “Mr. Spike Lee” about his New Orleans film because she had “ideas” he would be interested in. She left message after message for others about her trip to Ireland, various parties and meetings, and how she was working out in preparation for her trip to Ireland next week…”so call me…kiss, kiss…ciao.”

SHHH - cards to handout to rude cell phone users

SHHH - cards to handout to rude cell phone users

My sister told me about a funny little card she’d seen for handing to loud or rude cell phone users. I looked for one online and found that designers Aaron Draplin and Jim Coudal created the hilarious “Society for Handheld Hushing” page where you can download and print this 3-page pdf file containing a variety of cards and little handouts like the one above.

I’m not sure I’d have the nerve but perhaps if it could be done surreptitiously…

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