Petaluma’s Iron Front Building and Classic Coca-Cola Sign

Petaluma CocaCola_s

Back in the last century, it was believed that buildings made with cast iron fronts were more fire resistant. It turns out to not be true, but the practice proliferated anyway. This building is one of several along Western Avenue referred to as Iron Front Row. The classic Coca-Cola sign painted on the back of the building features a young chicken since Petaluma was once known as the “Egg Basket of the World.”

The Raven Theater and Ravenous Cafe


Few things are more entertaining than seeing a live performance at a local theater followed by a cozy dinner. With television and the internet dominating today’s casual entertainment crowd, it’s a real pleasure to get out among the living and experience true 3D without the glasses.

The Raven Performing Arts Theater supports performances ranging from Classical (Philharmonia Healdsburg ), jazz (Healdsburg Jazz Festival), blues (Charlie Musselwhite), rock (Big Brother and the Holding Company), and variety shows such as Healdsburg’s home grown “Mr. Healdsburg” pageant. The Raven Players, Healdsburg’s resident theater group, also perform here, mounting ambitious and successful productions like Cats, Miss Saigon, and Chicago.

Performances like these are sure to work up an appetite, and next-door’s Ravenous Cafe is the perfect stop before or after a show. Seating up to 22 guests, this intimate spot features a menu that changes daily but often includes the ever popular crab cakes, fish tacos, and the famous Ravenous Burger.


Bodega, California

Bodega with edges_s

Bodega and Bodega Bay are often confused as the same place but are actually two separate towns divided by several miles of curvy roads. Part of the confusion stems from both places being represented as one coastal town in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “The Birds.” The old Potter Schoolhouse used in the movie is the second building from the left.

The church next door also appeared in the film and was built by Spanish and Portuguese shipbuilders back in 1859, who dedicated it to St. Teresa of Avila. A California Historical Landmark, the church is the oldest in continuous use in Sonoma County.

Parka Blogs Interview


Recently I was interviewed by Parka for a series of articles he’s running on the drawing tools of artists.
Check out the interview here:
Parka’s website called Parka Blogs, reviews art books from many categories including animation, concept art, game art, individual artists, sketchbooks, and instructional/education. Don’t miss the terrific list of soon to be released art books:
Thanks Parka!

A Charlie Brown Lemon Tree

lemon tree_ s

The aromatic flavor of Meyer lemons has always been a favorite in our house. These trees are native to China and were brought to the United States by Frank N. Meyer about a century ago. Thought to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin, this fruit doesn’t have the pucker power of a common lemon. Instead, its subtle sweetness softens the acid to impart a velvety mouth feel. Since Meyer lemons are tough to find in grocery stores, I surprised Marilyn a few years ago with a potted Meyer lemon tree for her birthday.

Recently, the nights have been extra cold, so we’ve brought the tiny tree indoors at night, returning it to the garden each morning to benefit from the sun. With only a few leaves left, this sturdy citrus produced two dozen lemons this year. One by one the yellow orbs have ripened and dropped and we’ve happily gathered them to use in drinks, cookies, and marinade.

A Day at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Skate Rink

schultz museum _s

One of my favorite Illustrators/Cartoonists is Charles M. Schulz. I learned months back that the Schulz Museum,  normally closed on Tuesdays during the slower part of the year, would be open on Tuesday November 26th in observance of Schulz’s birthday. I joined the celebration that morning with a sketch of the museum in Santa Rosa. The current exhibit, entitled “Starry, Starry, Night,” was a joy, and it warmed my heart to see a grouping of comics featuring the lovable Peanuts characters pondering the universe.

Redwood Ice Rink_s

Schulz’s Redwood Empire Ice Arena, situated across the street, opened 28 April, 1969 with a grand opening ceremony starring Peggy Fleming and the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The building mimics an Alpine village with faithful reproductions of Swiss chalet facades and giant redwood trees that tower over the property. I bundled up and enjoyed the chilly temperatures while sketching the skaters. Their perpetual motion as the music thumped was mesmerizing but difficult to capture on paper. I’d like to return sometime soon and give it another try. The chilly temperature was a nice contrast to the abnormally warm weather we’ve been having this late in November and was a reminder that the Christmas holidays are fast approaching.

schultz table Warm Pupy Cafe_s

Unbeknownst to most who visited Snoopy’s Home Ice, Charles M. Schulz (Sparky) was often seen in its Warm Puppy Café, watching skaters zip across the rink. An avid hockey player himself, Schulz built the arena in 1969 as a multi-use facility. At the time, the only ice arena in Santa Rosa had recently closed and he felt that a comfortable gathering spot was important for the community.

Each day before answering correspondence or working on his comic strip, Sparky would start his morning at the Warm Puppy Cafe having an English muffin with grape jelly and a cup of coffee. There he watched skaters practice their patch and freestyle exercises before returning to his studio a few steps down the street. He often returned to the café midday for a tuna salad sandwich and to engage in conversation with friends and the general public.

Today, a table near the front door of the café is reserved in Sparky’s honor. Pictures of Schulz and Peanuts comic strips can be seen through the table’s glass top. Jean Schulz keeps her late husband’s table fresh with seasonal flower arrangements and a balloon for his birthday. It’s a perfect tribute to Sparky; reserving the table where he collected his thoughts and undoubtedly captured ideas for his beloved comic strip.


Sketching in Graton, CA

Graton_sThe town of Graton, just north of Sebastopol California is home to several notable restaurants including Willow Wood Cafe and Mexico Lindo. This morning our group of nine met outside the Cafe, artists lining Graton Road well into the afternoon. After huddling around a bench to review each other’s work, we enjoyed a tasty late lunch at Mexico Lindo, followed by a quick stop to check out local artists’ work at Graton Art Gallery. What a great day!


Ready, Set, Sketch: Graton!

Come join us tomorrow, Saturday November 30th in Graton for the next “Ready, Set, Sketch!” group outing!

We’ll meet at 10am in front of Willow Wood Market Cafe (, then disperse to sketch around the area. We’ll meet back at 1pm to share our sketches.

All you need is something to draw on and something to draw with (it’s also nice to have a chair to sit on!). The event is free.

Here’s a Google map link:

Hope to see you there!

South A Street Santa Rosa

South A Street SR_sLooking for a little creative lift? Look no farther than South A Street (SOFA) in Santa Rosa. This quirky, burgeoning arts and culture district is home to a number of art galleries, artist studios, bakeries, and artisan restaurants. Check out Spinster Sisters for brunch and have a Croque Monsieur or Rancho Gordo Bean Tostadas. Then head over to Undercover Baking Agency for a sweet treat and americano coffee. Art galleries round out the afternoon with local artists satisfying most art lover’s appetite.

Pacific Grove, California

Last weekend Marilyn and I drove down to Pacific Grove for a long overdue get away. We had a blast at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, hanging out in coffee shops, eating tasty foods, and walking along the Asilomar beach.

Marilyn in PG_s

At The Works coffee shop, I had a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake and a pot of peach white tea while sketching Marilyn.

Marilyn in PG reading_s

Sketch of Marilyn reading at The Works coffee shop in Pacific Grove.

Richard drawing Marilyn

Marilyn took a picture of me while I was sketching her and drinking coffee, of course.

Asilomar beach_s

The rocky coastline of Asilomar Beach is one of my favorite places to be at sunset. It was very windy when I sketched this and I’m surprised I got anything down on paper at all.

Chateau Montelena’s Wine Cellar

Montelena Cellar_s

This year’s harvest at Chateau Montelena is now complete and the resulting wine is fermenting in tanks or aging in barrels. From what I’ve been told, the overall quality and yield was equal to or better than last year’s bumper crop. I’m looking forward to tasting these new vintages when they become available.