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 rocks...so 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

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Week of Virtual Plein Air!


I've been continuing with my virtual Plein Air exercise on Photoshop with the help of google streetview.
County Cavan, Ireland

Portoferraio, Italy

Valais, Switzerland

Vestbygd, Norway


Friday, 26 January 2018

Figure Drawing, round 3!

Went on another around of figure drawing at Fort Mason. It was my first try at the toned paper sketchbook I bought last time at Arch. It is very easy on my eyes and takes watercolor very well. The paper itself is also very smooth so I found it easier to add in details than previous times with my usual Arches paper. 

The 10-20 min room with packed with people, so I took the armchair down the centre aisle of the classroom. It was a nice change that I could finally sit back and rest while figuring out what to put on my paper. (Usually it is either standing on the sidewalk dodging pedestrians, or trying to avert my gazes from time to time so that my subjects don't get suspicious...) 

Guy with red flag

Model in Chef costume (the hat was a delight to draw!)

I messed up a bit on the arm area...oh well

I went in with a white charcoal for outlines since I'm using a toned paper. I think it worked out very well with the watercolor since it doesn't stand out too much or repel water like crayons do.