Category Archives: Inspiration

Getting Out & Getting Real

We are drawing again. And loving it! 

Since closing my studio a year and a half ago due to Covid, it is a joy to finally connect with students through on-location workshops and private sessions. We are escaping digital screens, getting outdoors, and getting real with our sketchbooks at various locations. 

“What’s the difference between drawing indoors while looking at a computer screen or drawing outdoors in real life?” I asked.

With outstretched arms gesturing toward a nearby tree looming overhead, Eva replied, “The thing you’re drawing is right here, right in front of you!” 

Instead of sitting in front of a screen, youth sketchers Eva and Naomi chose to sit in a wooded area near their homes for our drawing session (shown above). Just two good friends sharing a beautiful afternoon, learning to draw in nature.

Continue reading Getting Out & Getting Real

Awakening from the Great Hibernation

The world changed dramatically and became increasingly restrictive during the Covid hibernation of 2020-21. I still had a desire to bust out, to live a creative and productive lifestyle. But paranoia quarantined my brain. I opted for perpetual indoor slumber.

My daily routine eventually drifted into the doldrums: hit the snooze button; pull the covers over my head; go back to sleep.

Reset Button There are encouraging signs that Covid is in retreat. Spring is in the air and “jabs” are in the arm. I’m sensing a new season of cautious optimism. Hitting the snooze button is no longer an option. Fresh ideas bloom in springtime. 

I sketch a bear waking up from the Great Hibernation (shown above). Perhaps it’s a self portrait of my year-long procrastination. Sunshine through the window. Reset. Get out of bed. Go outside and draw like the wind!

As we look forward to future “pop-up” in-studio sessions and on-location sketchbook workshops in Santa Cruz and Monterey, I will continue working online with a small number of students in our Premium Membership program.

Optimism in the Springtime Air As pandemic restrictions for cities and schools recede, we’ll be able to laugh and draw and enjoy the bustle of sharing creative ideas with friends once again.

Drawing in Your Own Backyard

Not making this drawing would have been easy. For a couple of days I walked right past my friend’s basket of ordinary garden tools and nearby potted plants, not even giving them a moment’s notice. But little by little, this random backyard arrangement began to capture my fascination. And then it found its way onto the pages in my sketchbooks.

My eye began to wander to contour studies in the nearby planter.

During pandemic restrictions, you don’t have to travel any farther than your own backyard to start an exciting sketchbook adventure.

Continue reading Drawing in Your Own Backyard

Medical Procedures Can Be Sketchy

Okay, it is true. I carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go—even to the hospital!

Recently, I took time off work to deal with a few minor medical issues that I had postponed for quite awhile. I booked them all in the span of two weeks—what I will call my Club Med vacation. Of course, my sketchbook was in hand to record the experiences during the exhausting journey.

Unfortunately, I was unable to draw during the actual procedures—if I could have, I would have. But I did capture the following sketches before and afterwards. Continue reading Medical Procedures Can Be Sketchy

Respecting Children’s Drawings

Children have tremendous respect for drawing. They are in awe of anyone who draws a picture for them. For example, they’ll pay close attention when cartoons are sketched on a place mat at a restaurant. Children are equally impressed with simple drawings as they are with renderings of an accomplished artist. But do children get the same respect paid for drawings they make? Continue reading Respecting Children’s Drawings

My Brief History of Sketching Trees

As a young child, you likely learned to draw a tree by using a few circular shapes to symbolize masses of leaves supported by a narrow rectangle to depict the tree’s trunk. And if you were in a creative mood that day, a few angled lines could be added to suggest its branches.

1992 San Clemente, California. Winter branches outside my studio window. 9B pencil.

Of course drawings of trees could vary widely depending on where you lived as a kid. Tall triangles symbolized towering conifers. Or a long and curved line topped with serrated, curved shapes became a palm tree. It was easy and fun to draw a tree.

Unfortunately, the joy of drawing trees—and everything else—is abandoned by many kids as they become immersed in the rigors of writing, math, and reading. Most people leave childhood drawing behind to pursue life’s more grown-up callings. But not me.

2017 Santa Cruz, California. Fall leaves in the parking lot outside my studio. Micron pen, watercolor.

Drawing became my livelihood and a continuous source of joy. And as an adult, trees have remained one of my core subjects of interest. Various species of trees have been tapping their roots in the pages of my sketchbooks for several decades. It is like having my own forest of drawn memories bound together.

Following are some of my sketched moments with trees…

Continue reading My Brief History of Sketching Trees

Drawing is Like Crossing a River

One afternoon, while rearranging the studio between sessions with students, I picked up a vase of flowers. Holding the vase in my hands, I slowly rotated it to notice a cluster of freshly cut tree leaves embracing a curved carnation stem—they seemed to be performing a graceful dance together. Fascinating drawing subjects have a way of finding you when you least expect it.

Even though I had a busy schedule that day, this shock of elegant beauty engaged my curiosity. I set the vase aside and attempted to move on to other tasks. But glances of vibrant colors and alluring rhythms of details brought me back to the flower arrangement, forcing me to consider drawing it later that evening. Continue reading Drawing is Like Crossing a River

I Can’t Draw!

I’m starting to hear that voice again.

Still only a faint whisper, but growing steadily louder, is the annual mantra that echos in every teacher’s mind, “Prepare yourself for back-to-school madness.”

Planning drawing lessons for six high schools is quite challenging, especially while mother nature tempts me with perfect summer mountain biking weather outside the studio door. Also challenging is the mental preparation for that inevitable group of students who will lay down the gauntlet, at the very first moment of class, proclaiming outright, “I! Can’t! Draw!” Continue reading I Can’t Draw!