Flexing my Sketching Muscles

Before I headed out on my Trails, Roads & Rails Roadtrip I wanted to get into sketching shape. To do this I made it my daily practice to do a sketch in and around Santa Cruz.

Each sketch took no longer than 15 minutes and I chose subjects that would force me to take a complicated subject and simplify it into a quick sketch. Some of my subjects were architecture, trees and foliage, marine mammal anatomy, and old brickwork. I figured that this range of subjects would give we practice for some of the subjects I would be encountering on my trip along Highway 80.

I combined these short sketches with hikes in order to get into birding shape to search for the Himalayan snowcock, which required an early morning two mile hike to get to it’s alpine territory in the Ruby Mountains.

Architecture: Holy Cross Church, Santa Cruz.

For this sketch I wanted to make sure I was getting my angles and perspective right so I held out my pencil at arms length to take measurements and transferred these “measurements” to my journal. Because it was architecture, I worked in pencil to make sure the sketch held together. I was then was freed up to work in pen to capture the backside of Santa Cruz’s namesake church. Then I added watercolor washes and within 20 minutes, I had a sketch.

Lime Kilns, Pogonip. (Featured sketch)

After a hike up the Spring Trail at Pogonip Open Space Preserve, I turned off the trail to head up to the abandoned lime kilns. After timber, producing lime for building was Santa Cruz County’s biggest industry in the 20th Century. There were a few signs of this history at Pogonip but there was none better than these kilns.

For this sketch, I worked in pen and I used a bit of sketcher’s license on this one. In reality the ferns in the center were higher up but I though of this quick sketch as capturing little vignettes or details of the kiln, ferns, and brick work. All these details, when put together, tell the story in representing the lime kilns.

River Sycamore, Paradise Park.

I walked by the sycamore many times on my walks on Washington Way. I thought this grand, old tree would make a good subject for a quick sketch. Working on this sketch had a very organic feel, no pun intended, as I captured the shape of the limbs and let them lead off the page. I only worked in pen on this one.

I have sketched redwood, the most dominate tree in Paradise Park, many times so working on a sycamore just helped me understand the tree just a little bit more.

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