Monday, March 10, 2014

A Petaluma Morning

This past weekend, I met up with some Urban Sketching friends for a morning of sketching.  We met in the northern California town of Petaluma (the home of the mythical Daisy Hill Puppy Farm where Snoopy was born).  It's a lovely town, full of interesting old buildings, new shops and restaurants, a river and an old railroad station and lovingly kept Victorian homes.  We were graced with a perfect sunny day, and there was no shortage of things to draw -- even lots of benches along the street for sitting to sketch, too.

Our Urban Sketchers-North Bay group is pretty new, but we've gotten together often enough now that we're starting to know each other a bit.  I'm starting to recognize people's styles, and I learn so much from seeing what everyone does. 

We had some first-time attendees this weekend, too.  I had a funny conversation with one talented sketcher, Veda, who said that she felt pressured if she thought she was "sketching" but could relax and enjoy herself if she told herself she was "drawing."  Funny, I replied, as it's the opposite for me -- if I think I'm "drawing," then I somehow expect it to be tidy and perfect, while "sketching" in a journal feels free and inconsequential and I can just have fun.  We giggled at how we have to fool our inner critics to be able to just relax and create something.

Every time I sit down to draw something, I'm struck again at how pleasurable it is to just LOOK at somethings, and looking is really different from seeing.  When I look at something to draw it, I see it in a very different way.  I suddenly notice architectural details I hadn't really discerned before.  I notice shadows, and the graceful way they highlight features.  I notice the elegance of the street lamps, and the way the brick at the top of the buildings has weathered to a different color than the rest of the wall.  It's a visual meditation of sorts, and I realize every time that it's THAT feeling that keeps me sketching. It's a way of being fully present and absorbed and it feels wonderful. 

For anyone in the north bay area of San Francisco Bay, our group tries to get out to sketch on the second saturday of every month (usually around 10am) and the 4th thursday afternoon, usually around 1pm.  You can check out future sketch dates on the blog or on the USk-NB facebook page.  And you are welcome to come along!


  1. Looks like a great area to explore. My sister-in-law lives there. She never told me it was such a cute place! Love your painting! :-D

  2. I'm increasingly impressed with your abilities! Were you in Sonoma County at the time that Earl Thollander was sketching over in Napa County? He illustrated many texts and showed in a gallery in Yountville. I'm happy to have several of his originals. Anyhow, your Petaluma sketch is reminiscent of Earl's work, so jaunty and whimsical, and just as skilled. I'm inspired.

  3. Thanks, Sandy and TOG! TOG, you have no idea how you have complimented I feel! I have several Earl Thollander books and LOVE his sketching. To be compared to him (which makes me laugh as I am so far off, but still) makes me feel tremendously great. Thank you for making my day!