Monday, October 24, 2016

Leaf peeping in Alpine County

The most photographed cabin on Highway 88
Back east they call it leaf peeping -- enjoying and photographing fall foliage.

In October in Alpine County, CA, yellow aspens and other colorful flora are real traffic stoppers. We were told that this old cabin was photographed for the cover of a local magazine.

Drivers hell bent on their own photo ops screeched up to the roadside to capture the splendor, then jumped back in their cars and zoomed off.

A few intrepid painters, no less crazed by color, crouched on the gravelly curbside, recording the scene in a slower fashion.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tupper & Reed Too

I also sketched the outside of the great Tupper & Reed building. There was a very conveniently placed traffic island right in front of the store that offered a good view. The building faces west so there was very nice sunset light on the facade.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tupper & Reed

"Every time a man puts his hand down to cut or carve or chisel or guild a house, he must express his own self."  ---William Raymond Yelland, Architect, 1927

In 1925, Yelland designed a fairytale-like building on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley.  For the next 80 years,  John C. Tupper and Lawrence Reed operated it as a music store and sometime concert hall.  Today, it's a cocktail bar and live music venue, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Home Land Security

The people who brought Ai Weiwei's work to Alcatraz have invited 18 artists from around the world to the Presidio to create site-specific pieces exploring the human cost of security.The installations and the location are both thought provoking.

"Occupying a suite of former military structures in the Presidio overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Home Land Security brings together works by contemporary artists and collectives from around the globe to reflect on the human dimensions and increasing complexity of national security, including the physical and psychological borders we create, protect, and cross in its name."

The exhibit will there until December 18, 2016  
 More about the exhibit here:

Friday, October 14, 2016

SF Embarcadero Views

Every once in a while, I visit SF and sketch from one of my favorite spot overlooking the Embarcadero. I particularly like to try to sketch the Bay Bridge shadows on the water.  
That is Oakland in the far distance.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Jimtown Store, Jimtown CA.

On any given day, cyclists, tourists, and locals alike can be found at Alexander Valley’s Jimtown store enjoying hearty seasonal soups, salads, and specialty sandwiches. Founded by Jim Patrick in 1865 as a general store and post office, the store was refurbished in 1991 by current owner Carrie Brown and her late husband John Werner. It's hard to miss Jimtown’s mascot, a 1955 red Ford pickup parked out front, which was originally used as a county fire truck.
Jimtown Store backside.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fairyland, Too

It was another fun get-together with the urban sketchers at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. Thanks to all who made our visit possible.

Here's Peter Rabbit? -- Bugs Bunny? -- the hare who lost the race to the tortoise? -- and his water fountain. The actual waterworks is shaped like a carrot, (of course!) and the entire fountain, rabbit and carrot, are about four feet tall.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Children's Fairyland in Oakland

We had another fun time sketching in Fairyland after hours. We had squirrels and very loud crows for company. I think we were throwing off their nightly schedule of feasting on all the popcorn and snacks dropped by the kids during the day! Lookin gat my sketches later I thought that one looked just like a children's book illustration and in another one I saw a clown face. Appropriate for the subject I guess. A couple of them show the make believe world and it's neighbors in downtown Oakland.

Friday, September 30, 2016

After Hours at Fairyland

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 live 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.