Healdsburg’s Raven Theater

While I had a few minutes to spare before meeting a friend for coffee at the Flying Goat, I drew Healdsburg’s Raven Theater, just around the corner. The Raven Theater was built in 1949 as a movie theater and was named the “Aven,” after the owner’s wife’s name spelled backwards. Sometime later the “R” was added giving it the current cool name Raven Theater. Today, the theater has performances ranging from jazz (Jean Luc Ponty) to blues (Bo Diddley), comedy and variety shows like Healdsburg’s home grown “Mr. Healdsburg” competition. The Raven Players, Healdsburg’s Resident theater group, also performe here with ambitious productions like Cats, Miss Saigon, and Our Town. Although I drew this when Seussical the Musical was playing, the current theater production is RENT. I hear its great. Be sure to check it out.

More information can be found at the Raven Players website: http://www.ravenplayers.org/

and the Raven Theater: http://www.raventheater.org

Bear Republic Brewery

Recently, my sketch pal Phil and I drove down to Healdsburg’s plaza to find something to sketch. We didn’t feel like driving out of town and that’s OK because Healdsburg has some of the best sketching opportunities in the area. This time we chose to draw the Bear Republic Brewery and set up shop in the walk way between the brewery and Hotel Healdsburg. I’ve always liked the industrial look of the fermenting tank siting out on the patio and its a great place to hang out and have a burger and a beer. The Bear’s brewmaster Richard G. Norgrove has won numerous awards including gold medals at the Great American Beer festival. My personal favorite is Red Rocket Ale and coincidentally, it goes great with pizza too. Recently, the owner Richard R. Norgrove expanded their beer operation to a facility in Cloverdale, fifteen minutes up the road where they handle additional beer production, shipping, and have a brand new tasting room.

I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it. Good thing today is pizza Friday. Beer Bad? No, beer good! Buffy anyone?

Storybook House of John Allred’s Pro Framing Services

Out drawing again with the Sonoma Sketchers, this time in Cotati, California. After grabbing a big cup of coffee at a local cafe, I meet with several other sketchers to invade yet another Somona County town with sketch artists.

It’s interesting to watch the reactions of passersby as we draw along city streets. Most people speed on by to get to their next appointment. But some are curious enough to stop and appreciate, at least for a moment, the everyday world around them. I had one person say, “wow, I never even knew that tree existed before.” Comments like that are one of plein air sketching’s biggest pleasures.

Today, I chose to draw John Allred’s Pro Framing Services shop that looks like a storybook house. I love the large tree that protects it from the afternoon sun. A while back I got a call from John asking me to stop by the frame shop and resign a print of my watercolor. Seems the buyer had a different idea of where to mat the print than I did and wanted me to resign it in another location. It’s an unusual request, but I obliged, making the customer happy.

Mystic Theatre and McNears Restaurant

While preparing for a trip to Greece last summer, I spent as many hours as possible sketching and painting out-of-doors. One of those days I was in Petaluma, California drawing the Mystic Theatre, a well known music venue. Built in 1911, the theater originally hosted live Vaudeville entertainment, but today it hosts a plethora of modern music with a focus on rock and blues bands. McNears Irish Pub next door helps keep people’s whistles wet before and after the shows next door.

The city of Petaluma has an eclectic selection of architecture ranging from brand new to early twentieth century, making it a great destination for drawing. But most often I find myself here for the pizza at Old Chicago. They serve up a mean deep dish pizza piled high with ingredients and oozing with cheese. I find it especially hard to resist after a day of drawing, like today.  In between the McNears Restaurant and Old Chicago, there is a vacant lot where a scene from the movie American Graffiti (directed by George Lucas) was filmed.

Healdsburg Fire Department

A big thanks to all the firefighters for keeping the Healdsburg post office fire contained to one building. The restaurant Ravenous and the Northcoast Bank next door were untouched. Friends of mine told me smoke could be seen and smelled throughout town, but I had no knowledge of this since I was in Santa Rosa with my sketch group that evening. I also heard that two Windsor firefighters were injured while containing the blaze and I hope they have a speedy recovery.

While drawing two emergency vehicles outside the Healdsburg fire station, the scene reminded me of a fire engine sketch created by illustrator James Jean. It’s from a wonderful book called An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory. James Jean is one of my favorite sketch artists and this particular drawing contains a great deal of detail. But really, it’s the solidness of the truck that he captured that impresses me the most.

Before I had a chance to finish my drawing, a fireman backed the fire engine inside the station and the other emergency vehicle was driven away, a real disappointment. But, I did my best to remember remaining details in order to finish the sketch as best I could from memory.

Fire Burns Healdsburg’s Post Office

As soon as I got out of my car I could smell the residual smoke from the fire that burned the Healdsburg post office last night. The street was taped off along with police, fire and federal officials still swarming the area. Although no one yet knows how the fire got started, speculation is that it started in the roof of the building. A couple of years ago postal officials wanted to move the post office to the annex location on Foss Creek Circle to save money, but an uproar with residents forced them to reconsider the move. Smoke once again starts to rise from the back of the building and the firefighters get to work.

I park myself right at the edge of the Do Not Cross tape in front of Amoruso Print shop, pull out my sketchbook and start drawing. Many residents stop by to pay their regards to the old burned out building and tell me stories about the history of the place. The building was used for many things before being a post office including a small Safeway grocery store back in the 60’s.

Jenine’s Tiny House

My friend Jenine just finished building a beautiful tiny house. Not a model of a house but a real, livable house. It has contemporary styling and nice big windows to help bring the outdoors in. I’ve had a fascination with tiny houses for several years. It all begain when I stepped into a Tumbleweed tiny house at the Apple Blossom Festival in Sebastopol, CA a couple of springs ago. Jay Shafer is the architect who started Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and was on hand to show how livable these houses really are. I bought his book to drool over the pictures of little houses positioned on majestic lots over looking valleys or nestled in trees along the banks of a creek. Tiny houses resonate with me because I’m learning to cut back on what I own so I can spend more time with family and friends, traveling, and of course, drawing.

While painting this picture of Jenine’s tiny house, I wondered where this house will someday call home. Will it sit on a majestic hill overlooking a valley, or will it be nestled in a forest along a creek somewhere outside of town? Where ever it ends up, the idea of undersizing instead of supersizing sure sound enticing.

Congratulations Jenine on finishing your beautiful tiny house!

Saint Francis and the Frog Prince

Ok, so I’ve been neglecting my backyard this summer. I admit it. But the good news is that I’ve spent much of my free time drawing, so not all is lost. This drawing of my backyard is misleading because it doesn’t show the tall weeds that I keep promising myself to pull and the lawn I wish would stop growing. Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and known for his charitable deeds, looks after my garden these days and hopes that I will soon return to my earthly duties.

“Blaaaaaah,” I say out loud with my arms crossed, still refusing to accept my responsibilities. But the frog prince, sitting on the opposite side of the flower pot, concurs with the Saint and glares at me hoping to change my mind.