Friday, September 30, 2016

After Hours

Visited Fairyland (a magical amusement park in Oakland) after closing hours. I have not been here since I was three years old! Kind of spooky hanging out here after the public had gone home. Bet they did not know that zillions of crows take over the place when the sun begins to set. My what a racket they make!

Sketching Children's Fairyland

Mrs. Tiggeywinkle in Beatrix Potter's Magical Garden in Fairyland

I'm still smiling from our visit to the award-winning Children's Fairyland. Located near the shore of Lake Merritt in Oakland, Fairyland is a magical place for children, artists and others. The brainchild of Oakland nurseryman Arthur Navlet over 60 years ago,  it features storybook characters in child-friendly sets, 10 acres of gardens, live animals, and educational activities.
Thank you so much  C.J. Hirschfield, Fairyland's Executive Director,  and Shannon Taylor, Director of Art and Restoration, for welcoming us to sketch. 
The White Rabbit in front of the gate to Alice in Wonderland's tunnel. The plaque is in memory of Fairyland's 1st Executive Director, Dorothy Manes.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cleveland Cascades - Warm Afternoon with Runners..

Sketchers Hats - sketched everyone from behind with their hats (except Sonia) since it was quite toasty (from left, Ceiny, Susan, Cathy, Sonia (no hat).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Presidential Debate, round one

    And what a round it was! Ninety minutes of inanity. Sketching kept my blood pressure from boiling over.

(Actual soundbites)

Monday, September 26, 2016

View from the Lake Merritt Cascades

The Bellevue-Staten Building from the Cascade Steps
Part of the way up the 206 steps!
Cascade Steppers & Jump Roper (note: I tried to sketch some of the action in the figure to the left). Please see previous posts and history of the steps.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Exercisers on the Cleveland Cascades

Here are a few more of the active people running and walking up and down the steps near Lake Merritt in Oakland, including one departing artist (Judith).  See Cathy's informative post below for the history of the area.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cleveland Cascade in Oakland

The Cleveland Cascade is a 250-foot-long ornamental stairway near Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, with cascades in the center, designed in 1923 by Howard Gilkey. It opened with great civic pride as "one of the few things of this kind in the West". Today the water feature is long gone and a garden is planted in the middle of the stairway. It is a very popular spot for exercise.

We sketched from the middle landing which offered a great slice of Lake Merritt down the stairs and across the street. And while we were there many joggers circled us on the "natural stairmaster" up one side and down the other!

Burning Man Sculpture: Lord Snort

Geyserville, California is the new home of Lord Snort, a sculpture created by Bryan Tedrick for Burning Man 2016. The swine weighs aprox. 20,000 pounds and is over 20 feet tall and 30 feet long. Though I didn’t go to Burning Man this year, I was happy to see my favorite sculpture from the event displayed (at least temporarily) so close to home.

Sketched on location in graphite, colored pencil, brown and black ink, and watercolor. Aprox. 4 hours.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

More Sahara

Tea Service
Owner Mostafa wanted to have a Couscous Party to celebrate and show "our gratitude towards our friends and our clients who supported us through 11 years in business." And what a celebration it was! Thank you so much for your warm hospitality Mostafa over the years.  
Chama, Yassir, and Mostafa (l to r)

Meet the Sketcher: Vivian Aldridge

My underlying goal as an urban sketcher is to allow viewers to rest and reflect for a moment in my drawn vignettes. The world is filled with many wonders and dilemmas that are too often drowned out by an over demanding, multi-tasking lifestyle. Does anyone stop to really look anymore? How can one find that one simple gift amongst chaos? I think we as urban sketchers can help them do that.

My life in art began at the age of five when I started splashing around with poster paints. I can still remember the experience as if it was yesterday. Unfortunately, since I could not find a way to make a living from paint splashing, I found myself in the engineering field and abandoned my art for a couple of decades. These days however, I work in the educational arena as an instructional designer at Golden Gate University in downtown San Francisco and truly enjoy it.

I've lived in the southern part of Oakland below Lake Chabot since 2014. The rich cultural environment in the east bay has awakened my artistic sensibilities. And as a bonus, I now get to live near my sister, Eve, who works in her own studio as an illustrator.

During my off hours, over the last three years I have been developing my eye, defining a color palette that speaks to my spirit, and sharing stories and thoughts through imagery. I also enjoy encouraging those people who think that they can't draw by telling them "Whatever you draw is wonderful; it means you paid attention."

You can see more of my sketches here: General Sketches On Flickr and Scenes from San Francisco On Flickr.

Below is a sketch I drew of the empty lot next door to where I work on Mission and 2nd street of San Francisco. I was rather horrified to learn a 1000 foot tower was going to built here. I will miss this view because I could imagine what it was like in the past to work here. Also, these brick buildings have real windows. The kind you can open and close with your hands! A true novelty these days.

Next to Golden Gate University, Mission Street


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Eid celebration at Sahara

We had a lovely evening cozily ensconced in a corner across from the musicians at Sahara, a Moroccan shop on Piedmont Avenue. Mostafa, the owner, played with Yasir (on a stringed instrument), and two other musicians, one of whom is also a dancer. This gentle music was aptly described by Yassir as "organic". Tea was served, and a delightful meal cooked by the owner. Thank you Mostafa for a wonderful evening!

Sahara Moroccan Evening

Moroccan Musicians


Shelf with Camel & Bowls

Monday, September 19, 2016


Mostafa, owner of Sahara Imports
Thank you, Mostafa for your generosity and warm reception. As we enjoyed Moroccan food and mint tea in tulip glasses, we drew the color, music, and affection swirling around us. A very enjoyable celebration!
Mirrors and slippers 

Yassir & Mostafa 

Visitor from Senegal

Great evening at SAHARA in Oakland

A very fun and welcoming crowd at Sahara in Oakland. Good music and good food. Thanks for inviting us to come and sketch.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

SAHARA on Piedmont Avenue

We went to a great party the other night at Sahara, a Moroccan import store on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.  Mostafa, the owner, was hosting a couscous dinner for his friends and customers with great Moroccan music, dancing, mint tea and baklava.  The best part was the warm hospitality of all the hosts and hostesses at the event.  Thanks, Mostafa!

(right to left) Mostafa, Yassir and two other musicians

Three guests engaged in animated conversation in French.

Mothers and babies in the crowd

Mint tea brewing in a silver pot

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cloverdale Antique Auto Show

I missed the Cloverdale Antique Auto Show last year but I wasn't about to miss sketching it this year! I chose an 1933 Packard, 1002 Club Sedan as my subject. Beautiful car. The day was topped off with all of us sketchers diving into an extra large pizza at Papa's.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Mas Picante

Burritos + drawing = a good combination plate.  Great to see everyone who came out to Picante.

Vivian and her take-out carton

Picante in Berkeley

Good dinner and good sketching last night at Picante Mexican Restaurant in Berkeley. See Micaela's post below for photos of the staff looking at our sketches.

Picante—Cocina Mexicana

They grind organic corn daily to make 
their own tortillas - enough said!

We had an appreciative audience!

Add caption

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wonderful Garden in Berkeley

Marcia Donohue invited us to sketch her garden one afternoon last week (see other sketches in posts below). We shared the space with great sculptures, plantings and 15 chickens. Great time!

Friday, August 26, 2016

More from the Garden

Wonderful afternoon in Marcia Donohue's garden, clearly a labor of love for over 35 years.  It's open to the public every Sunday from 1-5 p.m.  Thanks, Marcia!