Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Thanksgiving in Philadelphia

 I joined my friend from Junior High at Philadelphia for Thanksgiving. After a 2-hr drive from Shenzhen to HK, a loooong flight from HK to SF, another long flight to hop over the continent (during which I almost lost my phone after being startled from my nap by a mother and kid trying to get to the empty seats next to me...thanks god the lady across the aisle found my phone inside her purse just before landing ;A;), yet another 2 hrs waiting at the terminal for the next train to Philadelphia, and finally a 1 hr sleepy train ride. That was in total 2+12+6+1 = 21 hrs JUST in transit. Thanks to the magical time difference, I still managed to arrive on the same day I departed!

Time to enjoy some glorious sunset in Philadelphia!
I swore it was like this when I put on the colours, but the next moment I looked up it was completely dark...

 Since my friend was busy finishing her homework, I took a walk along Schuylkill River (fancy name...) in the drizzling afternoon. When you've got bridges after bridges along a quiet river, there's never enough things to draw.
And finally, the Boathouse Row! It was starting to get dark at this point, so I put on the colours when I got back later. Strangely a jogger approached me when I was drawing, and said, Hello, you really do look like someone I met here I few days ago! She said she just came from China a month ago~! To which I was ready to respond, well, to be honest I just came from China a week ago

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Chaos and colours in the City!

 When I was on my way to the SF Sketcher meetup in SOMA, I came across this chaotic scene on Townsend and 6th Street. Hard to imagine that across the train lines on the other side are all brand new high-end apartment buildings, while this side is filled with old industrial warehouses, graffitis, and tents. There's hardly even anyone walking by at noon. I was first reluctant even to put my bag down, even when I had my hands full with my painting black, palette, water bottle, and brush, ready to run at any sign of danger. But 10 minutes passed with no sign of change while my shoulder starting complaining, so I set my stuff behind me and remained standing. Guess working in a sketchy location is one way to push myself to paint faster lol

 And this is it, the SOMArts Cultural Center. Colourful buildings with very interesting pots of plants in the garden! (if you are careful enough to bend down and pay attention :P) The center is located in a sketchy location too (tents everywhere surrounding it), but since there were plenty of fellow sketchers painting in the garden, I even left my bag on the ground to grab some supplies indoor. Sometime it's good to have company!

Plants in teapots and bird cage. Anyone fancy a fresh brew?

Fog at Fort Mason and first figure drawing session!

 Since even the earliest Caltrain couldn't get me to the morning session of the Figure Drawing event, I hung out on the hills overlooking Fort Mason and drew the foggy landscape while waiting for the afternoon session. (Turns out the there was really no cut-off entry time for the event, but I was too scared to intrude in late anyways...) Since this is where all the cycling tourists pass by on their bike tour of the coast (and who inevitably all stop and rest because it is the top of the hill after a steep climb), I put on my earphone to avoid any noise......and to avoid mistaking the wows' aimed at the scenery for my painting instead :P


As a self-claimed landscape drawer, I had to admit figure drawing is much harder than I imagined. My pen just refuses to curve! (especially my first attempt, first one on the left page)
The event was organized by SF Models' Guild...and man were the rooms crowded!

What inevitably happens when I draw skies...Concorde!

At first I was just practising drawing skies (and clouds) on the new watercolour paper...but every white space under the sky is tempting me to add something there...and what inevitably happens is...Concorde! Of course :P



Monday, 12 October 2015

Biking and Sketching @ Sunnyvale and Mountain View

One good thing about biking with sketching gear is that I could stop at any location when I find something interesting. Which is the case here when I just stopped dead in the bike lane on Miramonte Avenue when I came across this interesting building. Since there was no non-trespassing signs on the gate, I just walked straight in. The courtyard was quaint and quiet and nicely shaded, a direct contrast with the rushing traffic outside. I further googling, I found that this complex has been serving as a senior care community for over 50 years, funded by a Christian society. A staff came and said hi when I was sketching (didn't surprise her at all, I'm probably not the first one to sketch here) According to her, the buildings themselves are actually over 88 years old. Impressive for Mountain View!

Just time to catch the sun setting behind Washington Park when biking back through Sunnyvale!

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Coit Tower & Filbert Steps, SF


A PG&E walkin van stopped right in front me when I was just starting to put in the colours. I was mildly annoyed at first, but one of the drivers promptly greeted me as he got off the van and had a very nice attitude. So I decided to draw their van in as well (I couldn't really remember the details of the car...but the blue stood out!) Lots of tourists coming and going, but I found an empty spot in front of a garage door to spread out my supplies.


The Angel's Trumpet blooming half way down the Filbert Steps made such a impression that half of the sketching group included them in their drawings. I had to kneel down the entire time to get the bridge to line up with the flowers (note to self: tired and shaky knees are not a good idea when you're sketching on a steep slope)

Final thank goes to my employee badge, which stood in for my bulldog clips that I forgot at home.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Sunshine and palm tree in Sunnyvale, CA



Drawn to be sent as a postcard. I actually got lost on my way to my original sketching destination, but thought that this place looked pretty good already! (and the tall palm tree was perfect for the postcard) I can feel the heat that noon coming straight out of the drawing... almost got a heat stroke on my ride back lol

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Bay trail - the unpopular section


Drawn at the Sunnyvale Baylands section of the SF Bay trail. I only ran into...one lady and her dog the entire time I drew this. Couldn't really blame the south bay-ers of ignoring this trail though...there is a water treatment plant right next to it...and most of the waters are stale because access to open sea is blocked off by salt and water treatment ponds... A much different view of the Bay...but man do I wish I'm back at the Berkeley marina

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Jump, Salmon! @North Vancouver


Finally visited the salmon hatchery at Cleveland dam at the right time! The salmons are just swarming into the ladder at this time of year. So much energy and perseverance...which leaves me a bit inspired...but in the end, I'm just getting hungrier staring at my favourite seafood lol

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Trees of the Bay

Trees at UC Berkeley (North gate) When I was there... to return an overdue book ;A;
It took me 3 hrs on Bart / bus to get back to Cupertino

Trees in West Sunnyvale at sunset, right across from my office. Friday is always the best time to do some drawings while waiting for the shuttle~ I thought I lost my drawing kit after this, but it turns out I dumped my palette in an open suitcase after I got home, and then proceeded to put more clothes on top. After I found my drawing kit, I found out that my pen was missing. I was almost ready to give up and order a new one, when it just fell out of the blue when I unfolded a pair of pants while getting ready for work on Monday. Such drama :P

Friday, 28 August 2015

Early in the day, somewhere in Shanghai


The exact view out of my hotel window. Drawn between early morning conference call, breakfast, and running for the shuttle, in the span of two mornings! Just by looking at the drawing reminds me of the rush...thankfully I'm not going back anytime soon

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Kyoto Focus: Yasaka Shrine + Kyoto National Museum


 There were two consecutive weddings going on at Yasaka Shrine. All the same old stuff...until I noticed the two photographers with special armbands! The official wedding photographer of Yasaka shrine and his assistant. So I sneaked up on them while they were busy recording / attending the wedding. The feeling of drawing someone that they themselves would never expect to be captured was great!

The older one of the pair of buildings of Kyoto National Museum, and in my opinion, the best piece of the collections! I noticed this place a few years ago when I visited its neighbour, Sanju-sangen-do
The most interesting part of the building was the relief on the main entrance, it is of completely Japanese motifs.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kyoto Focus: The Two Pavilions

 The Temple of the Golden Pavilion! Sort of...made it look like a two-story building, but the bottom dark layer is actually the first floor! After reading about it so many times through Mishima, it looks a bit...underwhelming. Maybe I should come back during sunset
Its nice brother, Temple of the Silver Pavilion. Looks a bit mundane at first, but when paired at the right angle with the sand "Moon viewing Platform", there's actually a nice balance of colour and shape (the view also comes with a seating area on the engawa)

The Atlantic Frontier: St. John's

Finally, North America's most Easterly point! Important enough to be on one of the pages of the Canadian passport. There are actually two lighthouses, the one with the strange hat (above) is the original one (with bits and pieces borrowed from Scotland)

View off the actual most Easterly point. Waves crashing, wind roaring. Freezing my hands off...ears too if I hadn't my hoodie on!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Canada Trip: the Atlantic Provinces

Cape Breton National Park, Nova Scotia
The winding Cabot Trail is said to resemble Scottish highlands. 


Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island
Distinctive red soil, even the beaches have a red hue. Apparently the sand dunes (to the right) are important breeding ground for some animals

Gros Morne National Park (along the Tablelands), NFLD

Canada trip: Ontario

Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst, ON
The ship on the left is the oldest operating steamship in North America, RMS Segwun. But sadly under repair because it's still a full month before the sightseeing season ;A; 
According to the nice lady selling handmade soap next door, this place will be crazy crowded once the summer season starts...


Lake of Two Rivers, Algonquin Provincial Park. (The red thing in the background is the canoe assigned to our cabin~)

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Sunset at Berkeley - Last day as a student!

Campus - downtown Berkeley entry point, also where the semi-official "University of California" sign is located.

Wanted to draw the spiral coloured tree trunks on campus for a long time! The wooded area has the best view during sunset too! since it faces the West. Still need to figure out what kind of tree they are though lol.

No longer a university student from today onwards. It's been a good 5-year!!


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Sunset at Doe Library, UC Berkeley


Finally found the motivation to hike up to campus just around sunset to draw the central library (the sun never shines there during the day...orz) Plenty groups of students taking graduation photos in front of the library and on the glade, guess this is my way of commemorating my graduation. 
One week left! 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Now that Summer is Almost Here...


Right next to bustling downtown Berkeley, the walkway to central campus is quiet and shady with overhanging branches and shadows. A very enjoyable walk, that is, after you get used to the occasional smell of marijuana in the background and stop distressing over the ever-so-weak flow of Strawberry Creek under the bridge...

Le Conte / Birge Hall (Physics building) Loved the glass walkway here since 1st year college!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Snapshots from Robotics Competitions

The student organization I originally belonged to held its annual robotics competition over the weekend. Since I had no duties anymore, I just stood and sketched staff / students busy at work! 

MC and photographers

Judges + students + audience

Field Control table

Sunday, 19 April 2015

CalDay 2015!

Since this is going to be my last CalDay (university-wide open house for prospective students, communities, visitors alike) as a student, I went around campus sketching people!

First of, North Gate. There was a small info tent. And the enthusiastic girl was busy answering questions while munching on her lunch sandwich in between. That's some work ethics right there!

Next I went up to my own department's building. No matter what the events are, we always have the competition vehicles (SAE, solar vehicle) up front to attract the visitors. The labs downstairs were also filled with people, reminding me how I spent my entire afternoon in the basement too last year.


Lastly, the iconic Sather Gate. The flow of people just never stopped during the day! Had a quick chat with a pair of passer-bys when I was almost done with this painting. And one of them left me with, "Never stop drawing like that!" Much gratefulness for the kind encouragement!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

More! Spring at Berkeley


Quaint little house a few blocks uphill from my apartment. Glad to find flowers in full bloom when the campus is already shifting into (all-green) summer gear. According to Yelp, this house belongs to a reputable local dentist.


I always liked the way the 5 palm trees cut the sky into sections. Makes the wait to cross the street a little more interesting, since I do need to make this trip at least 4 times a day. I have poured my lunch money relentlessly into the red-tiled cafe on the left for the past 4 years :D

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Sakura-Con, Seattle

Hopped over to Seattle over the weekend to attend my first anime convention! So many people, so much talent, so much positive energy! No wonder conventions can get addictive! I managed to squeeze in a few sketches between listening to panel discussions and strolling around artists' alley.

1st panel of Day 2 (Saturday): Live Sculpting with Max Watanabe & Masaki Asai (Max Factory)
Mr. Asai was busy working on Z-brush on the left, while Max-san (middle) chats with the audience through his interpreter (right), apparently also a regular at the conference.
The sculpting skill on display was quite phenomenal.

Ikebana demonstration! Great to see that the convention included many cultural panels

Here & There in Toronto: AGO and ROM

Art Gallery of Ontario

Works by J.E.H Macdonald of the Canadian Rockies. The pinkish clouds in the smaller painting is especially captivating.
The part that I found most captivating in Rubens' Massacre of the the Innocents. Since it is on a large canvas, the painting is much more powerful than reproductions in print. Clever lighting also make the painting take on a 3D effect when viewed from the right angle.

Royal Ontario Museum


Bird specimens on display. I found the Secretary Bird on the right especially amusing~



Dinosaur bones on display. The museum has a very impressive collection of dinosaurs, but I didn't have enough time explore them all... and also fell asleep while sketching the birds because of food coma from lunch