Halloween night

Halloween night October 31, 2012. Sketching on Halloween. My son's first Halloween, really, at least in America, where people celebrate it. He passed out candy at the door to all the kids. (And sometimes kids that looked older than me.) Our dog stood on the back of the chair and watched all the trick or treaters out the window. Our candy began running low, so my wife started passing out packets of hot chocolate. I told her we need to turn off the lights and hide before we have to start passing out cans of corn.

tonight's practice

Castro Valley, CA Castro Valley, CA October 29, 2012. Back in July, I sketched the view out the window at Pastor Tegner's house back in July, so I attempted to recreate the scene tonight with some watercolor washes. I prefer the sketch over the watercolor when I see these images, but the watercolor, if framed, would look better hanging on a wall in a dentist's office. It's much softer, and would look much more inviting, especially after waking up from a tooth extraction.

the Amtrak in Hayward

Hayward, CA October 28, 2012. Sketching very fast out my window tonight with my Stillman & Birn sketchbook was my goal. Get it down with a number 2 pencil and throw some watercolor on top. No time for detailed piece. Just time to get in some quick practice. The Amtrak train pulled up while I was sketching. As you can see, it stops right next to our townhouses.

Fresno and back

on Interstate 5 sketching Doc October 27, 2012. I tried sketching from the back seat on Friday afternoon as we were driving down to Fresno, but Interstate 5 is incredibly bumpy. We stopped on the way to get In N' Out burgers at the drive through and they saw that we had our dog in the car and offered us a beef patty for her. I can't imagine. My stomach can barely handle it. We had a big get-together from the church throw a "welcome back to America" night for us, and it was fun to see so many people. This morning I was sketching my father-in-law while he was in his Saturday morning routine. Now we're back up in the Bay area where everyone is glued to their TV sets watching the third game of the World Series.

homework in Hayward

homework October 23, 2012. Sketching solely in pencil is starting to grow on me. My son was sitting there doing his homework, and my wife was putting some stuff away in the kitchen. Oh, and I can't forget the dog, perched on a pillow there on the sofa. The Bay area is starting to feel a little cooler these days- nothing like Germany would feel, but you can still tell it's fall. I've been looking around at the hills in Castro Valley and longing for a day when I can go out and sketch them. Report cards are due in a few days, which means the first quarter is over. Hard to believe.

a crossing

Hayward, CA October 20, 2012. I want so badly to pull out my pen to draw, but I'm holding back, sticking to the pencil. This sketch is just down the tracks from our place, here in Hayward. The BART raced by overhead several times while I was sketching it. This urban river would be quite the place to explore, as the walls on both sides are covered with amazing artwork by local kids- not represented in this sketch, of course, but I wanted to draw this bridge. There was a big party going on today in the area, with live music and food.

a minute

wheelbarrow October 19, 2012. Again, stepping farther away from ink and playing around with only the watercolor. I had the opportunity to hear Wes Stafford speak again today; the head of Compassion International. Although I've heard his story before, it impacted me again with equal force as the first time I heard it. Having endured horrific abuse as a child, he has become one of the strongest defenders of children today. His point today was the power of a minute. In one minute you can crush the spirit of a child, or you can empower a child for a lifetime. Our words have incredible power. We can change the next generation simply by taking time with our kids, and speaking into them words that encourage them and point them in the right direction.


Oakland, CA October 18, 2012. No pens tonight. Just a light pencil sketch with a few layers of watercolor. It's a direction I'd like to try for a while, even though I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. But that's a good place to be. It's the same feeling I get when I'm engaging in a conversation in German. I have just enough grammar and vocabulary to sound like I know what I'm doing, but it isn't long before my shortcomings are obvious. Nevertheless, if you put yourself in that situation enough, you begin to pick up little fragments of improvement here and there. I'm not interested in finishing this sketch. In fact, I should have stopped before this point. But it's ok, because the process taught me things I will hopefully remember next time.

a Noodle Doodle

Noodling October 16, 2012. You learn something every day; or at least you should. I don't learn half as much as I wish I did, and the half that I do learn isn't always half as relevant as the half I didn't. Today was no exception. I learned what noodling was. Apparently it's a controversial sport which involves catching catfish by hand. As my recent attempts at fishing have been less than admirable, I am beginning to consider unconventional methods of bagging fish. Here may be my answer; and I discovered that vice-president nominee Paul Ryan has himself tried it! I do apologize for my catfish here. As I have yet to catch one, I have no idea what they look like.

the weed whacker

Oakland, CA Oakland, CA October 13, 2012. My son woke me up at a quarter to six to go fishing this morning. Later on, we were up in Oakland, and I told my wife to drop me off for a couple months while I sketched. There were too many interesting things to draw, so I finally just sat down and started drawing. This guy had a weed whacker and he fit into the drawing very well I thought.

God who?

Hayward, CA October 10, 2012. (Sketch of our townhouses in Hayward) I'm not a novice at doubting. I've done my fair share. I grew up hearing about God's love, but I wasn't convinced. As a kid I often thought, "If God is love, then why is life so miserable for so many people?" "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," said Thoreau, and it doesn't take but a few short encounters with flesh and blood to see the truth of that. I don't want to dash your hopes of cynicism, but my doubting proved to be a futile expedition. There is a path to freedom, but don't take my word for it. He is but a breath away from us all.

It's debatable...

Debates October 4, 2012. I'm looking forward to heading down to Riverside this weekend to finally see my daughter in her college setting. I have to say, letting your kids loose in this world is a crazy experience, with a spectrum of emotions. I've been so busy with teaching, I haven't had time to sit around and weep. But there are are moments when the melody of "Sunrise, Sunset" goes through my mind, and reminds me how fast this life is fleeting by. (Stillman & Birn sketchbook)

at Peet's Coffee

Peet's Coffee October 3, 2012. I'm enjoying a new Stillman & Birn sketchbook these days.