Sunday, 11 March 2018

Drawing in the rain and ... Portraits!

Since this weekend's event with the SF sketchers was later in the afternoon, I actually had the time to arrive in the city early enough to stop by somewhere else to paint first. Mission Creek Park was just a couple of blocks away from Arch Art Supplies, so I parked my car by the neighbourhood and strolled along the creek looking for good vantage points. 

I was planning to draw the other side of the creek (since I did the boat side last time), but on closer inspection, it is really just new condos and trees - nothing too eye catching. Then I spotted the bridge (on 4th street) and the view at the end of it gave a wonderful view of the creek, distant hills, and the criss-crossed ramps. Just as I pulled out my drawing supplies though, I felt something light and cold on my head and thought uh-oh... the ripples on the water surface really left no doubt that it *just* started to rain. I half debated to take shelter in Philz next door and just wait it out, but in the end decided to hell it, I'm going to draw in the rain and just see how it turns out. 

I hid under a medium-sized tree, which stopped the constant drizzle, but just had bigger droplets of water coming down once-in-a-while (hence the blobs on the bottom right corner) In the brief intermission between the drizzle, I was able to put in most of the details. The wet climate really made the reflections in the water blend in beautifully. As the drizzle started again, I quickly packed up and walked to my car in the awkward position of holding my watercolour pad upside down.

The portrait party at Arch was fun as well. We took turns posing for each other and it was a huge relief that I can finally stare at/sketch people without any fear of retaliation. It is a long-time weakness of mine that I could not sketch people in public without worrying about being discovered.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Very very early on a Sunday: Santa Clara Mission Cemetery

I was able to join a few sketchers/painters in South Bay for a paint out at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery a few weekends ago, thanks to my manager canceling my work trip the night before. I never really painted much around the area I live, so I was pleasantly surprised that this beautiful and serene location was only 10 mins away from my apartment. 

On my own I would probably never come by because it is not my normal painting subject, but it was a nice change of pace to wander around the old cemetery and capture details that normally went unseen.

This little bird stopped atop the angel right as I was about to finish the piece, so I promptly added it in. One of the nice things about having extra long exposure time...aka, painting instead of taking a photograph, you always get plenty of time for the key players to gather. 

As the sun hid underneath the clouds in the afternoon, I started looking for scenes with more structure to compensate for the lack of light/shadow. This is the front view to the Old Mausoleum. The rows of tombstones, trees, and distant mountains really make it a very orderly well as a systematic painting process.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Exploring CCSF

This was another opportunity to explore a totally new part of San Francisco, thanks to the SF sketchers meetup. We gathered at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) to admire and sketch Diego Rivera's mural, Pan American Unity, in the aptly named Diego Rivera Theatre. It is located in the lobby of the theatre entrance and spans two stories. It is quite difficult to sew the details of the mural by standing on ground level, so it was really helpful that guests can climb onto the 2nd floor and observe the artwork at eye level. 

After standing indoors for a while, I decided to checkout the school's terrace. There were two sports field under the terrace and the ground was filled with students playing sports and cheering, not to mention the motivational background music! The neighbourhood was very densely packed so it was difficult to draw in all the houses, but I did my best :P
I also successfully dodged two missionary people by spotting the keywords on their pamphlet and skillfully dodged conversation.

Before I had the chance to leave, I noticed this magnificent tree and its long shadows. So I had to sit and draw it as well~ The Sutro TV tower is just tall enough to poke up in the background

Friday, 16 February 2018

Week of Virtual Plein Air, round 2

Another week of virtual pleinair! Again done through Google streetview and Photoshop

Skaland, Norway

Berdychiv, Ukraine

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Putting People in the Foreground, a few snapshots in the city

I don't usually put people in my landscape watercolors, mostly because by the time I finish with the scenery I'd be too exhausted to include any people. This time, however, some figures managed to find their way into the foreground of my drawings.

This one is from Fort Mason, before I went into one of the buildings for a figure drawing session. At first I was captivated by the silhouette cityscape in the background and palm trees, but as I worked my way down the page into the greens, it felt a little empty... then I noticed a couple sitting by the curb! Generally I don't sketch people too close to me in fear of being mis-interpreted as a stalker (which unfortunately has happened before) but this time it seems the figure is simple enough that I only need a couple of minutes actually looking in their direction.

I was initially unsure of the result, but the more I look at it the more interesting it becomes... it feels like the figures are almost adding more complexity to the drawing, like it's actually telling a more complete story.

The next figure-in-scene I attempted was before my visit to Asian Art Museum in Civic Center. I usually draw the building from the front, but I decided to change things up a bit and draw it from up close and angled. The light revolves around the dome as the day progresses, so the building never quite gets boring to look at. There were a few people on the plaza in front of the building (I assume some are homeless, some are resting), so I decided to include in the man sitting at the base of a light pole.

Since I was standing next to the paid parking lot (while using its stand to put my water jar) I was also semi-observing the parking situation at Civic Center. For the record, no spot was left empty for longer than a minute.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

High Dessert Panorama: Reno, Nevada

Had a chance to swing by Reno last week and the views did not disappoint! I was used to seeing the mountains from a distant in the Bay Area, but driving along the highway in and out of Reno literally put me right next to the mountains. The angled winter sun added to the complexity of the hills, creating different layers of shades. Unlike in the bay area where some bushes still poke through the hillside, the soil here is really able to show its true colours.

I was particularly captivated by the tall industrial plant between the valleys. The desolate landscape, coupled with the lone towering structure is something I rarely encounter (to be honest, this was what I imagined Australia would look like, but the real Australia turned out to have rolling hills and lush greens) I ventured on and off the highway before I found this spot that I could park (it was in front of a trail) without drawing too much attention (the rest of the roads off the highway had very little shoulder to pull over) It just so happens that the railway line always run through here, so I was able to squeeze in a couple of cars on the right.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Rocks and rocks and more rocks, at the foot of Golden Gate Bridge

I was came across this location and sketched more than a year ago, except that was when I needed to be in Presidio but ended up at Fort Point because of a mix-up when searching in GoogleMaps. Fortunately, it made finding the place this time extra easy. I pulled into the first parking lot I saw after getting off the high way (on top of the east battery hill) and then descended down the slopes to Marine Drive. 

After doing some interiors of Fort Point (I totally thought it was a solid building from the outside, but it had a huge open courtyard in the middle through all 3 floors), I decided to get some sun outside. 

The shadows under GG bridge isn't very dramatic at this hour, but it is always tons of fun trying to get the perspective correct. (You could see my missed attempt: the red smudge on the left)
There were a lot of boats crowding around the second tower. Turns out there was a major boat race, Three Bridge Fiasco, going on and the contestants were having trouble going against the flow of water gushing out to the open sea.

After gathering to discuss our results at Fort Point, I settled to do another piece facing the other way. There was a sharp contrast between the dark hills and the bright skyline in the background. I left the skyline alone most of the time, because the rocks took an endless effort. A gentleman passing by waited, commenting,"I want to see you do the water". Unfortunately 20 mins later I'm still working on the he left ;A;
 Maybe waiting till high tide is a good idea

ps. I never seems to realize I drew a slanted horizon until I scanned and looked at it in Photoshop. Ughhhhh