Monday, June 19, 2017

Goat Rock Beach

Headed out to Goat Rock Beach to avoid the Sonoma County heat wave. Yesterday it was 112° in Cloverdale and more heat is on the way. The beach was cool and very windy. A nice change. But I had to seek shelter behind some rocks to avoid the gusts from blowing my sketching supplies all over the beach.

Sketching at the Bay Bridge

From earlier this month. I love going back here to sketch. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

"Makers" over the centuries at the Phoebe Hearst Museum

There were examples of artifacts from many centuries past, from areas of the world with which we are at least vaguely familiar, even including a modern day jeans factory (the opposite of maker) and samples of craft from a sorority. A ceremonial object with a thunder-bolt atop his head caught my eye, and a large, carved wooden chicken which turned out to be a coffin! We all drew this one, he was too wonderful to resist!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Only 16 More Days to see "This is What Democracy Looks Like" Show

Update. Only 16 more days to see the show!

The Albany Library (located at 1247 Marin Ave, Albany) is hosting our show, "This is What Democracy Looks Like" by the SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers. These drawings chronicle local unity demonstrations and marches. The show is open now and runs through the 29th. Please visit for hours and for details.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

"This Is What Democracy Looks Like" Show at the Albany Library

Sketch by Vivian Aldridge

The Albany Library (located at 1247 Marin Ave, Albany) is hosting a show, “This is What Democracy Looks Like” by the SF Bay Area Urban Sketchers. These drawings chronicle local unity demonstrations and marches. The sketches, like the events themselves, are part of a worldwide effort to highlight community engagement in social and political action.

The mission of Urban Sketchers is to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world. With a small sketchbook, pencil or pen, sketchers “see the world one drawing at a time.”

 The show is open now and runs through the 29th. For information about hours, please visit Please keep checking this blog and our Facebook Page for updates.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Downtown Berkeley during the Warriors Game

Well you would not know it from my sketches there was a Warriors game on. I was trying to escape all the commotion (besides all the seats were taken in every pizza joint that I walked by.) Lucky for me,I found a quiet spot in the back room of a restaurant called 'Au Coquelet' and found an interesting group to sketch. --Vivian Aldridge

After enjoying a glass of wine I wandered the back streets and came upon an enchanting gas station. It was closed for the evening. I wonder when it was built. I thought it was very stylish.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Car-na-VAL in San Francisco Mission District

Went to "Carnaval" today (took me awhile to pronounce it correctly) in the Mission District of San Francisco. The day was chilly but I enjoyed sitting in a cafe with my sketching group watching the the participants prepare for the parade. -- Vivian Aldridge

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday North Berkeley Farmer's Market

After a week or more of icy-chilled air a lovely evening with the golden glow of the sun over the murmur of the farmer's market.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fiesta Sin Fronteras: Cinco de Mayo in Oakland

Last weekend I was so fortunate to attend the Fiesta Sin Fronteras at Fruitvale and at the Oakland Wall, next to Luka's. Thank you Maria Alderete for leading the way to celebrate Oakland's Latin American cultures and immigrants. You so vividly reminded us that walls are for art and dancing!
Aztec Dancer and Aztec Rattle
Mariachi Estelar musician with flowers in her hair.
Mariachi Estelar was so amazing. Their musical skills and presentation were very impressive.
Bandaloop literally danced on Oakland's Great Wall!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

UC Botanical Garden

While Susan painted the Puya in bloom (see below) I sketched at the Cycas and Palm area and the Japanese Pool which provides an elegant home for many Japanese plant specimens and a thriving population of native newts. When the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island closed in 1939, its Japanese exhibit was donated to the Garden on behalf of the Japanese government. The exhibit was comprised of stone from Japan, including lanterns and a bridge displayed as a Japanese garden and pool. Kaneji Domoto, a prominent landscape architect in the Bay Area, assisted in designing the Japanese gardens at the Exposition. He also designed the reinterpretation of the display and supervised Japanese workmen as they placed about 150 boulders to create the waterfalls and pool in the Garden in 1941. Work on the Japanese garden began in November 1941. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, the stones and lantern were moved to a warehouse for safekeeping and the garden was not completed until after the war ended. —Cathy McAuliffe

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Springtime at UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley

Springtime at UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley can't be beat. The showstopper right now is Puya beteroana. It's from Chile and is related to the pineapple.  Very large multi-flowered stalks attract birds that sit on the green spikes and dip their beaks in to sip the abundant nectar. Unwitting pollinators, their heads become dusted with bright orange pollen. According to the web, the Puya takes many years to flower and then dies . . . alternative facts . . . a garden docent tells me the Puya blooms are better this year than last. Nature is mysterious. Don't believe everything you read. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

History Week

It was San Francisco History Week, at least for me. I had the opportunity to sketch at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park research Library and the San Francisco Presidio Archaeology Lab. Learned more about early SF in both places!

The folks at the Maritime Library at Fort Mason brought out objects from the collection for us to sketch. Everything from a ship in a bottle to a model of a ship figurehead. They also included the history of each object that only added to the experience. The library is a great place to research anything to do with the maritime history of SF and while browsing through the books I came across a photo of my father taken in 1949 at his downtown Matson Line office! Thanks Gina Bardi for setting up the displays for us.

On Saturday we sketched the ongoing excavation of the 1815 Spanish fortress at the Presidio taking place in front of the Officer's Club. There are excellent on-site docents and archeologists who are a wealth of information! We also sketched at the lab where we saw many things that had been found at the Presidio, from boots to animal skulls to pottery. Thank you Megan Kane for arranging our day at the dig and lab.

You can see more sketches at (click the photos tab).
– Cathy McAuliffe

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

National Monuments At Risk

Today at least two dozen national monuments are at risk of losing their federally protected status as a result of 45's executive order asking for an unprecedented review of their designations. Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, either Congress or the President can protect federal lands by designating them as a national monument. And while Congress has occasionally revoked that status for existing monuments, no president ever has. Trump's order opens the door to that possibility.

Last week I visited one of the threatened monuments Carrizo Plain near Santa Maria California to see this years wildflower superbloom. It did not disappoint.

With our sketches we have an opportunity to call attention to these outragous proposals and to document all the acts of resistance taking place throughout the country. – Cathy McAuliffe

Apple Blossom Festival

Twice a year in Sebastopol we celebrate our agrarian roots with an apple festival.  In the Spring it's apple blossoms, even though the festival lands on a day which is weeks past the actual blossoming of the apple trees. I particularly enjoyed the live music this year.
And especially this band! It was hard to sit still and sketch rather than dance to their soulful R + B music. We considered sitting in front of the stage directly in the sun and behind the dance area. But there would be little visibility , since the band was in the shade of a tent. The vantage point at the side of the stage was better, a bit closer, though we could only see part of the band.

There's probably a story to why this wonderful band took the name Lucky Losers, but they were definitely winners in my book!
When the winner-Losers finished their set there was time to stretch and get ready for the next group. This continuous line drawing was fun, a standing sketch connecting heads in the audience, chairs, tents.  . .

Once again on the (other) side of the stage I took the strategy with this band to start with the instruments and hands/arms and attach whatever body parts I could see to them! This way I actually got five musicians in the picture, but was unable to see the lead singer Volker Strikler!  Sorry Volker. Another great band!
A little wind blew up in the late afternoon and the sun seemed more appealing. We sat down right behind this West County Sound guy who was struggling to get the system up and running for the next band, Burnside.
For memories from the fall festival here in Sebastopol, check out last year's sketches.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Berkeley Brews

More on last week's outing, featuring some of the hairdos that Vivian alluded to in her post. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

An Evening at Full House Restaurant in Berkeley

I really enjoyed spending time here with my sketching buddies. -- Vivian Aldridge

Re-Post from my Blog: My Urban Sketcher's Workshop "Creating Collections of Everyday Moments" on April 22.

I had a great time teaching an Urban Sketcher's workshop "Creating Collections of Everyday Moments" on April 22. The Los Altos location worked out great as we were able to have some comfortable sitting spaces in the center of a busy street but not trampled over by many people walking by.

My Urban Sketcher's Workshop "Creating Collections of Everyday Moments"
I shared my sketchbooks while working through my talking points and then gave out some samples of paper and stickers I use and showed a bunch of my own tiny sketch kits which we used in the workshop extensively.

I was too busy teaching and did not take any photos of the process but these are some of the sketchkits and my current sketchbook as well as handout I gave to all the participants.
My Urban Sketcher's Workshop "Creating Collections of Everyday Moments"

The group was working hard and asked a lot of interesting questions. I learned a lot from them while we worked through three different exercises.

I am looking into putting together a workshop around using liquid inks / liquid watercolors and another one on gouache painting in the field. Let me know if you are interested in any of those!

March For Science

MARCH FOR SCIENCE in SF. Lots of lab coats and brain hats. Who knew Science was so fun? A great crowd out for a serious reason. My favorite chant was "Let's Go Science!" met with a clap-clap-clap, to the tune of Let's Go Giants! – Cathy McAuliffe