Archive for the ‘sketchbook’ Category
Last year I mentioned that I walk our dog, Carla, at the Richmond Bay Trail. For about two years now, I’ve gone there almost every week, often three or four times in a week. Lately, I’ve sometimes taken along a watercolor block to do a quick sketch while Carla waits with a surprising amount of patience, then I add the watercolor at home. The main idea is just to find something and finish it quickly before Carla gets restless, but the real effect has been to deepen my appreciation of the San Francisco Bay. Such a great place to live near.
They’re a little cropped as thumbnails, uncropped below.
I’ve stopped at the Berkeley Rose Garden several times this year, first in February while everything was dormant, then a couple of times as the roses were starting to wake up, and once recently with everything in full bloom. IThe Rose Garden is a WPA project from 1937, a terraced amphitheatre with a 220 foot long pergola topped by climbing roses. A gardener friend recently said she’d never checked it out because she’s not a rose person, but the roses are only part of the appeal. I’m not a rose person either, but the pergola and the stonework and even the sadly culverted creek running beneath the terraces all have a classic 1930′s Berkeley style. One of the iconic Berkeley places.
The city says that the pergola was suggested by Bernard Maybeck, though someone else executed the actual design. It’s one of my favorites, and probably the one I would see in my head if I ever looked up the word pergola in my private mental dictionary.
April is landscape architecture awareness month and landscape architects everywhere are raising awareness, Anita included. She’s leading a bicycle tour of several landscape architecture projects in San Francisco on Sunday. Last year she was sick and I ended up leading the tour. I was a bit leery, but it turned out to be pretty fun and I recommend it to anyone who wants to bicycle around San Francisco for a few hours. We went to several projects, with the highlight at Levi’s Plaza, Lawrence Halprin’s masterpiece. My favorite ‘built’ landscape in the Bay Area, it blows me away every time I see it, and it was interesting to see a group of people experience it for the first time. Everyone got all smiley. After the tour, I went back a few times to take photos and do some watercolors. I love that big fountain.
Anita put up a post about the bike tour on the ASLA-NCC blog. Looks like Halprin’s work was again the highlight, with Levi’s Plaza of course, but also the much maligned fountain at Justin Hermann Plaza. When I led the tour the previous year, everyone agreed that the fountain was pretty ugly to look at. But after we went into the fountain and experienced the water, we all had a completely different opinion, unanimously agreeing that the experience was fantastic.
Happy New Year everyone. I’m off for a few weeks of camping in the mountains down in southern Arizona. Last year I made a resolution to spend more time drawing, and I actually followed through pretty well, better than I probably expected. This year I’m not sure what my resolution would be, maybe to explore a bit more. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of my leisure time re-visiting favorite places (such as Lover’s Leap, above), so this year it might be good to focus a bit more on places I’ve never been and fill in a few gaps in my internal map of the world. In which case a trip to Arizona is a good start. When I get back I should have some drawings and photos to post.
I went up to Blake Garden last week. I thought the recent storm might have made it messy or brought down branches from some of the big old specimens, but the garden was the healthiest and tidiest I’ve ever seen it. There wasn’t much in bloom — a few irises, a few narcissus, Tagetes, a manzanita variety, cyclamen, coyote brush, a few other things — but all of the foliage was bright and cheerful. There have been some beautiful days since the big storm, short and sweet.
This is probably the last of my summer sketchbook, this time from a little further south and a couple weeks later, in the Bear Valley area. This year I’ve been to Tuolumne, Loon Lake, and now Bear Valley, pretty good for one summer. I’m hoping to make it up the mountains one more time before the snows, but we’ll see.
These first three watercolors are from Spicer Reservoir. It has more of a bathtub ring than Gerle and Loon lake, but it’s nice. I wasn’t aware of any hiking trails around the reservoir, so I walked along the shoreline, boulder hopping and swimming from the rocky peninsulas.
I had a minor plein air adventure at the reservoir. While I was sitting at a picnic table, working on this one of the dam, a couple came and settled themselves down in the sand about thirty feet away, a little behind me. I didn’t pay much attention to them, and I’m thinking they didn’t notice me either, because a little while later I realized they were sharing the kind of intimate moment which is not usually shared in front of other people. With my watercolor stuff spread all over the table and the watercolor wet and half-completed, I ended up just putting headphones in my ears and ignoring them. I’m still a little taken aback.
I also went to Calaveras Big Trees State Park along the same highway, a little bit lower in elevation. Great park, amazing trees. I think the sequoia groves there are better than the ones in Yosemite. I did a couple of watercolors at a swimming hole on the Stanislaus River running through the park. I set up in a more visible place, on a big rock in the river, and no one there showed me anything I didn’t want to see.
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