Keep Your Distance

“The scariest thing about distance is that you don’t know whether they’ll miss you or forget you.” ~ Nicholas Sparks   

As part of my Daily Route, exercise and creative time are an important part of my afternoon (after my school work day ends at 3:15). I decided to combine both activities into one.

I planned to walk around my neighborhood and force myself to make one sketch per trip. I wanted to keep the loose and free style that I had been experimenting with over the weekend (see previous post: Sketch in the Time of Covid).

For my first attempt, I walked north on 27th until I hit Golden Gate Park. I entered the park, not knowing what my subject would be. I found myself drawn to the Polo Field which was now occupied by Canada geese. I sat in the bleachers in the northern side of the field, looking at a line of cypress trees and beyond then the rising trident that is Sutro Tower (which I have sketched many times).

After I did a quick pencil sketch, I laid in the sky and before the sky was completely dry, I painted in the trees with sap green and violet. The dark green grew into the sky like mold.

I then painted the lower scrubs and then the thin line of the footpath and finally at the bottom the bright green of the green. After the painting was mostly dry I added loose line work (again with a Micron 005). I loosely outlined the trees and scrubs and along the path, I added distant figures, my fellow San Franciscans, out to get some exercise.

I stopped and looked at my work. What I was really drawing was social distancing. The tiny figures were spaced out along the trail. They looked like isolated figures in the landscape. This sketch certainly captured this moment in time. A time of fear, anxiety, and isolation.

I add a few paint splatters add some motion and mood to the painting. It took about 25 minutes. Done!

The following day, Tuesday, I headed west down Moraga, toward the Pacific. As I crossed Sunset, it started to drizzle. And the closer I got to Ocean Beach, the more it rained.

I was not deterred, I kept walking. I was going to do my sketch no matter what the weather. Watercolor paining does prove to be challenging in rain. But at least I wanted to get in a sketch.

I crossed Great Highway and climbed up a dune to look out at Big Blue, which was now a dark blue-green furrowed with churning white. The Farallon Islands, which were visible on the horizon when I started my walk, were now shrouded.

I pulled out my Stillman & Birn Delta Series spiral sketchbook and started sketching with a Micron 005, I did not have time for a pencil sketch. The rain had abated a bit, it was now a intermittent drizzle and my pen lines ran and smudged. I loved this because it is a record of the making of this sketch and is now part of the process.

I again noticed walkers, spread out and isolated in the landscape, walking alone along Ocean Beach, despite the weather. Walking in rain is alway a wonderfully visceral experience and I see the rain did not deter other beach walkers. I would rather walk in rain than sit indoors.

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