I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to be a full correspondent for Urban Sketchers! I’ve been a Bay Area chapter member for a number of years but now I’ll be posting on their main website. I’m looking forward to contributing my stories and sketches to this unique group founded by Gabi Campanario. Thanks to all who made this happen!!!
What is Urban Sketchers, you ask?
Urban Sketchers, also referred to as USk, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, supporting and representing a grassroots global community of sketchers. Our mission as a nonprofit is to raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing; promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel. We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time.
Jade lake and the surrounding gardens at Chateau Montelena Winery, Napa. Watercolor in handmade sketchbook.Jade lake and the surrounding gardens at Chateau Montelena Winery, Napa. Watercolor in handmade sketchbook. From my book Impressions of Wine Country.
During summer breaks from art school, I often visited my mom who lived in Scottsdale, Arizona. While there, my favorite activity (outside of eating Mexican food) was sketching the desert landscape on the north end of town.
To avoid the mid-day heat, my mom and I left the house before dawn, drove to Dynamite Boulevard, and then located dirt roads that would take us even further into the desert. With folding chairs and plenty of drinking water, we planted ourselves in a comfy spot, and as I drew, we would talk away the morning.
After sitting still for a time, lizards, roadrunners, and other critters would scurry past us, though we kept a sharp eye for the occasional snake or scorpion. Daytime temperatures often soared past 110°F (43°C), leaving precious few hours in which to draw before retreating to air conditioning. The afternoon heat gave way to lightning storms that drenched the desert floor with rain and left the familiar but unique desert smell of dirt, Creosote bushes, and other flora.
I’m not the only one who appreciates this part of the Arizona desert: Frank Lloyd Wright built his home and studio, Taliesin West only a few miles to the south from where this was drawn.
Sketched in pencil on a Grumbacher Omni sketchbook with natural tone pages.
Last month, Papa’s Pizza of Cloverdale, CA moved to a new location on the corner of Cloverdale Blvd and First St. The new cafe is beautifully decorated with stone walls and wood paneling. Adding to the fun, they’ve tapped many new microbrews such as Knee Deep Brewing’s Breaking Bud, The Waldos’ Special Ale, and Mojo Chocolate Milk Stout.They also have a nice selection of wine by the glass. But best of all, the pizza still tastes great, just like it always has.
With the 40th anniversary of the Paris Tasting coming up next month I thought I’d post some of my sketches of Chateau Montelena. As the story goes, on May 24, 1976, a wine tasting took place in Paris that changed the world’s view of California wines forever. The 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from California won first place in a blind tasting. I sketched this under a shady oak at the far end of the property looking back towards the Chateau. This sketch is from my book Impressions of Wine Country available on Amazon.