Goldsworthy, Again

On a Saturday morning, Grasshopper Sparrow and I went down to Stanford University to do some urban sketching.

We parked near the Oval and headed towards the Center of Visual Arts. A red-tail hawk was very vocal from above and we soon found out why as a much larger golden eagle flew low over the museum, circling up on rising rounds and then disappearing to the south. This had to be a great sketching omen!

Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River (2001) is a touchstone in my sketching world. As I have written before, a touchtone is subject that I return to again and again. Usually a touchstone is a building, a bird, or a piece of sculpture; something that is not going anywhere, anytime soon and can be sketched from different perspectives. This was my third time sketching this outdoor sculpture on the Stanford campus and I was excited to share the experience with Grasshopper!

Our sketches of Goldsworthy’s Stone River, resting on Mrs. Fayer’s lawn.

After about a 20 minute sketch I called up a fellow teacher from my school who lives on the Stanford campus. She was Grasshopper’s favorite 3rd grade teacher and rumor has it, that I was his favorite 4th grade teacher. She was home and invited us over. She happens to be one of my favorite people.

We walked through campus and had a lovely time in Mrs. Fayer’s backyard, from ten feet of course! To see the care and love Mrs. Fayer had for her former student was inspiring! This was no idle, simple conversation here. She challenged Grasshopper and asked about his hopes and dreams. When he answered, she dug deeper. It reminded me that all good teachers are also students that never stop learning; about their students or former students (there really is no difference) and life.

On Sunday I wanted to sketch another Goldsworthy touchstone in the Presidio. This was the wooden sculpture called Spire (2008). Goldsworthy has four pieces in the Presidio and I have sketched them all. The last time I sketched Spire was in December 2010.

I parked at Inspiration Point on Arguello Boulevard. I looked up at Spire against the gray summer skies of San Francisco and when I saw some of the trails barricaded off, I should have known something was wrong. Perhaps just another closed area during the ongoing pandemic.

It was a typical gray day in western San Francisco at this time of year, when colors are drained of vibrance and contrast is muted. Spire looked just the same as ever before. Then I noticed that the area around Spire was fenced off and people were milling about as if before some somber memorial. Not a spire then but a funeral pyre.

I found out from one of the visitors that Spire had been burned in an act of arson on the morning of June 23 (2020). It is unclear if this fire was part of the recent protests in the City or if it was set by illegal fireworks. At least the piece is still standing in a somewhat altered and charred state. Andy Goldsworthy, often the creator of ephemeral works, commented on the burning of Spire:

The burning of “Spire” goes too deep for my own words. Besides “Spire” has always spoken for itself and will perhaps now speak with an even greater eloquence after what has happen. If anything, its epitaph will be better written in the memories, thoughts and words of those who have lived with it over the past twelve years.

I would also add that it is also “written in the memories, though, words, and sketchbooks“. This response from the artist to what could be viewed as a tragedy is, well, very Goldworthian. His pieces are always subject to the elements and time, whether from the wind and rain or at the hands of an arsonist.

Vistors stand in silence, looking up at the burnt remains of Spire. The sculpture was still standing!

Riding West, Facing East

On the verge of comprehending that I may never see my students again this school year, I headed out toward Ocean Beach down Moraga Street.

The day was clear but extremely breezy. It normally takes 25 minutes to reach the sands of the Pacific but somehow, with my heavy mood and the western wind pushing again me, I think it really took 30 minutes.

I had done two recent sketches, facing west, looking out to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the Farallon Islands and container ships on the horizon.

Instead of doing that view, I turn 180 degree from whence I came and wanted to sketch Moraga Street, climbing up to Grandview Park and Sutro Tower.

This street (as all east/ west streets in the Richmond and Sunset Districts) is named after Spanish Explorer. José Joaquín Moraga  was part of the De Anza expedition force that came from Arizona to present day San Francisco in 1776. He stayed behind and helped to found the Presidio. In 1785, he died in San Francisco and is buried at Mission San Francisco de Asís (MissionDolores) which is the oldest structure in San Francisco.

Much of what I was drawing in the Outer Sunset was developed Post World War II, in the 1950s. In fact my day told me stories of coming out into this area when he was a child and playing amongst the sand dunes.

This was the second time I had sketched Sutro Tower on one of my “sanity walks”. It is the most prominent landmark on this side of town. The television tower was constructed in 1973 and at 977 feet, it was the tallest structure in San Francisco (Sutro has now been surpassed in height by the Salesforce Tower at 1,070 feet).

I plopped down behind a dune, on my Crazy Creek chair, and started to sketch. I tried to keep everything loose and not add too many details (sometimes I think I should have put the pen up five minutes earlier). I uses a lot of artist shorthand when sketching in the rows and rows of houses leading up the hill.


Corvidsketcher Becomes a Bisonsketcher

On today’s walk I headed north to Golden Gate Park. My intent was to go to the Bison Paddock in the wild western portion near the Chain of Lakes and do some bison sketching.

Bison are good subjects because well, they just sit there allowing you some time to get a sketch in. They are certainly better subjects to sketch than say, a Wilson’s warbler, a hyperactive bird that is a challenge even to photograph well. I had practiced sketching American bison in the wild, on a fall trip to Yellowstone National Park in 2017.

This is a sketch from a photo of my October 2017 trip to American’s oldest National Park!

The goal I set for myself was to loosen up my sketches and apply some of the things I have learned in a book I am currently reading, Felix Scheinberger’s excellent: Urban Watercolor Sketching. He advises “less is more” when it comes to watercolor painting and I also take this to mean the economy of the sketch itself. I’m not sure if I succeeded but every sketch can be considered a success because you learn something with each one. And sometimes you learn what not to do!

I picked my spot near the fence and making sure I was at least 12 feet away from any other park visitors (The Bison Paddock is a very popular spot) and I started to sketch a lounging bison. I started using a Micron sepia PN, not using any underlying pencil sketch! I then laid in some color, making sure to leave parts of the sketch unpainted (featured sketch).

An overenthusiastic art lover walked over and would have stood above me breathing into my left ear had I not halted his progress by proclaiming, “I’m practicing social distancing!” He stopped and admired the sketch from a distance.

A bison wandered by, grazing as it went along. I couldn’t let this happen without getting another sketch in! This time I challenged myself to do a continuous line sketch. This means that I sketched the bison without lifting my pen (although the rules of continuous sketching say you can lift your pen for a rest but you have to return to the exact point where you left off). This type of sketching is good practice for loosening up your lines and injecting improvisation into your sketching life.

A continuous line sketch of a bison. To get to other parts of the sketch you have to retrace lines you have already drawn. This is such a freeing way to draw!

The Daily Routine in a Time of Shelter in Place

Last week I knew for sure that I would be working for much of the three weeks leading up to Spring Break working from home. Add to that the Shelter in Place order that restricted much travel and social gatherings in the City and County of San Francisco. I knew I would be spending a lot of my time indoors, working remotely on my laptop. Communicating with students, lesson planning, talking with my fourth grade team, and assessing student work.

I knew that I would have to create a daily weekday routine that would give my day form and structure. So I created a daily routine diagram to flesh out the blocks of time during my waking hours.

For this diagram I used one of my favorite fonts, Sara Elizabeth. I discovered this font in the Dover publication: Rustic and Rough-Hewn Alphabets by Dan X. Solo. I have used this font in many of my illustrations from Central and South America. I also added illustrations to parts of each chunk of time. I intentionally didn’t add times because I knew that in relation to this weekly schedule, I had to be fluid in such an ever-changing time.

In one of the blocks I added “Creative Time” because for me it is like breathing air. And that is when I created this illustrated timetable.

I will go over every chunk of time:

Wake: This is when I wake up. Represented here by the crowing rooster, if we had roosters in my urban neighborhood, which we don’t. Otherwise I would be woken up much earlier. My wake up time is listed as 7AM. This is a little later than a “normal” working day because I only had to commute from my bed to my computer.

Break the Fast: Breakfast, usually of oatmeal and coffee. Keep it simple.

Teacher Time: This is when I open my work laptop and connect with my students. I do this through messaging on Google classroom. There were many questions the first day and I reminded then that patience is required in the weeks ahead as we are all learning in a new way. The title of this block comes from the name of the 30 minutes we have with our own students during our Coloma overnight trip, which we have, unfortunately, had to cancel.

Lunch: Lunch is from noon to one and I try to be consistent with eating healthy. Something that helps me stick to the normalcy of the working day.

Distance Learning: At this time I might arrange a Google chat and invite my students. They are jazzed to see each other (and what the interior of their houses look like) and I found that I had to do a lot of redirecting (just like in the real classroom) to keep my students focused and not all talking at the same time. I have employed the phrase, “You have the floor!”, just keep it Parlimentary.

Exercise: Physical and mental health are so important in this time of sequestration. I plan to walk down to the Pacific Ocean (25 minutes one way) or down through Golden Gate Park. My goal is to get 45 minutes to an hour of walking in each day, including weekends.

Creative Time: I live to create so this is a must in my day. At this time I can draw, paint, write, or play music. I may also do some field sketching as part of my daily exercise.

HH ~ Read: I love to read and I set about 60 minutes of reading time every day. I have a few books in my reading queue. I am currently reading non-fiction, a wonderful book by Christian Wolmar: A Short History of the Railroad. I am reading this in anticipation of my trip on the California Zephyr to Chicago which I had to cancel in light of the current pandemic. I also have three graphic novels that are extremely popular with my students by local author Raina Telgemeier: Ghosts, Sisters, and Guts. I also love to revisit poems by: Mary Oliver (one of my favorite poets), Basho, William Stafford, Shakespeare, John Donne, Pablo Neruda, Borges, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gary Soto, and Billy Collins. Just to name a few.

Dinner: I have enough healthy food to last me for three weeks (I think!). The Shelter in Place order should be no excuse to eat unhealthy foods.

Great Movies: This is a time to revisit some of my favorite films in my extensive collection of DVDs. Many of these films are considered masterpieces of world cinema. A partial list includes: Amelie, 49 Up (Roger Ebert called the series, “on my top ten greatest films of all time”), Amores Perros, Being There (much better than Forrest Gump), Butterfly (Spanish film about the early days of the Spanish Civil War), Cabaret, Chushingura (The Japanese tale of the 47 Ronin), Citizen Kane, Cria Cuervos (Title refers to the Spanish saying, ” Raise ravens, and they’ll gorge your eyes out”), Das Boot, Delicatessen, Grave of the Fireflies (a Japanese animated heartbreaker), Harakiri, Ikiru, Jean de Florette/ Manon of the Spring (Just amazing!), The Lives of Others, Playtime, Odd Man Out (one of the best soundtracks ever created for film), Once Upon a Time in the West, Rashomon (Seminal piece of World Cinema), Rio Bravo, Senna (a great documentary and I could care less about Formula One), Seven Samurai (one of my all time favorites), Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchcock’s favorite film), Spirited Away (Miyazaki’s masterpiece of animation), The Spirit of the Beehive (a dense film but probably the best Spanish film ever made), The Third Man, Sunset Boulevard, Tokyo Story, Watership Down (love the book and the animated film), Ugetsu, Vertigo (Often recognized as the best film ever made), and Unforgiven. I have many more films on this list but these are the films that speak to me at the moment.

ZZZZZ . . . Repeat: Perhaps a little bedtime reading but this is the time to rest in a time of unrest. I need all the sleep I can get to recharge the batteries to repeat the day and keep to the same route. Again and again. But hopefully not again.

I challenged Grasshopper Sparrow to create his own Daily Route in this time of shelter in place, and I would have to say that he rose to the challenge!

Mission Revival in the Presidio

Many of the train stations I had sketched recently were designed and built in a Spanish Mission Revival style: Burlingame, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. Truly the best way to understand an architectural style or architect is to sit in front of a building and sketch it.

And so, on a Friday afternoon, I headed to the Presidio, in the northwest corner of San Francisco, to sketch one of the finer examples of Spanish Mission Revival in the City of Saint Francis. I was also getting back into the habit of doing an after work sketch, which is a great way to decompress from the week’s work.

My subject was Fort Winfield Scott and the buildings that lined the parade grounds. These were the army barrack buildings built between 1910 and 1912 as the headquarters for the Coast Artillery District. I walked around the semi-circle of buildings until one spoke to me. It really wasn’t too hard because it was the only building with a hawk at its height.

An adult red-tailed hawk using building 1202 to survey the parade ground for gophers.

I set up my sketching chair on the parade ground and started to sketch building 1202. This was a former Army barrack built in 1911, and housed up to 95 to 109 soldiers.

I framed in the lovely lines of the barracks and added the red-tailed hawk at the top of the curve. The raptor flew to the field, this time coming up with only grasses in its talons. The hawk flew off only to appear later at the top of the flag pole at the edge of the grounds.

Building 1202 now houses the Presidio Graduate School and the World Economic Forum. Both sound a bit mysterious. People kept coming and going from the building. Some where getting on their bikes to ride home. A young woman bikerider stopped and asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was drawing the building and noted that that it was beautiful. She replied that she was “spoiled” to work in the building. These are the nice little conversations you frequently have when urban sketching, it really seems to take out the threat and the isolation of being in the city when people see your sketching.


Salinas Station

After sketching historic passenger train stations between San Francisco and San Jose, I decided to expand my scope by visiting all of the existing stations on the Daylight Route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Salinas is probably best known as the birthplace of writer John Steinbeck. It is also known as the “Salad Bowl of the World” because its marine climate makes it an ideal location for agriculture. But I was here because it was the third Daylight stop on the line out of San Francisco. This would be the connection point for any traveller from the Monterey Bay Area wishing to head south to The City of Angels or north to the City of Saint Francis.

Salinas Station was built by Southern Pacific in 1941. It is designed in an Spanish Revival Style, with its red tiled roof, mixed with touches of the then popular Art Deco style, shown by its clean lines, letter design, and interior.

The station’s construction coincided with the rise of Southern Pacific’s premier passenger train, the Daylight Limited. Promoters called the Daylight, “the most beautiful passenger train in the world”. And this was not mere hyperbole.

This station bears a few commonalities with the two Daylight stations that still exist in the Bay Area, Palo Alto and San Jose. All three stations have murals painted by John MacQuarrie. And two of these murals feature Southern Pacific’s most beautiful locomotive at the the time the GS-2. This streamlined 4-8-4 is in the Palo Alto Station and here at the Salinas.

When the station was completed in 1941, the zenith of Southern Pacific’s passenger steam locomotives had arrived in the “super power” of the GS-4. The increased ridership of this route is evidenced by the the fact that Southern Pacific ordered 28 locomotives from the Lima Locomotive Works between 1941 and 1942.

The John MacQuarrie mural at Salinas was painted in 1941 (the same year as the Palo Alto mural) and prominently features the star motive power at the time, the Golden State 2 (GS-2). Six of these locomotives were built and went into service in 1937.

It was a beautiful winter day in Salinas with a high of 70 degrees. I walked around the station and at the platform, a Los Angles bound Coast Starlight was paused to pick up passengers for destinations to the southland. This Amtrak train replaced the Daylight in 1971. At least from Salinas to Los Angeles.

Salinas station was a station that was still in use. There are actual humans attending to the ticket window who could actually answer questions and issue tickets. The interior contained bathrooms, food vending machines, and benches for passengers waiting for their train to arrive. It was nice, for a change, to see a train station being used for its intended purpose.

It’s great to see that Salinas Station is still a vibrant station on the former Daylight Route. The car to the right is where I would probably be: the Lounge Car! To the right is a couple waving their loved one goodbye and safe travel.

I set up my camp/ sketching chair across from Salinas Station and started to sketch. I originally wanted to sketch the station from a formal view but the parking lot was being rebuilt and was fenced off. So I sketched a little bit off center.

Next to the station is the Monterey & Salinas Valley Railroad Museum. They have a collection featuring a Southern Pacific steam locomotive switcher, a Southern Pacific caboose, and a few rail cars on static display.

Southern Pacific switcher Number 1237 on static display in Salinas. This locomotive is pointing to the north but will likely never move north again.


Southern Pacific’s Daylight

One of the world’s most beautiful steam passenger trains ran from San Francisco to Los Angles during the 1930s and 1940s.

This was envisioned as a non-stop train connection from San Francisco in the north to Los Angeles in the south. This first started as the Daylight Limited on its inaugural run on April 28, 1922. The first service was only offered on Friday and Saturday.

The rugged 470 mile route became more popular and Southern Pacific added more trains so that by July of 1923, the route ran seven days a week, all year round.

During the Great Depression, passenger railway service was down but Southern Pacific’s president, Angus McDonald gambled on creating a modern train that would provide luxury, efficiency, and speed to the Daylight coastal route. The entire train, from the engine to the observation car would be streamlined in imitation of what was being applied to airplanes and automobiles at the time.

The first steam engine to engender this new vision was the GS-2 (Golden State). An order of six (Numbered 4410 to 4415) were built in Ohio at the Lima Locomotive Works. They were Northern type engines with a 4-8-4 wheel configuration. This engine provided the extra power and speed needed for the 12 hour coastal route.

The GS-2 was the first of the streamlined passenger engines built for Southern Pacific and also the first to feature the classic Daylight livery of orange, red, and black. This paint scheme was extended to the entire length of the train hauled a twelve car train consist, consisting of one diner car.

The first inaugural run of the upgraded Daylight was on March 21, 1937. A champagne bottle was broken on No. 4413 at San Francisco’s Third and Townsend Station. A similar ceremony took place in Los Angles with engine No. 4411 but with a touch of celebrity as film star Olivia deHavilland broke a bottle of champs on the pilot of the GS-2.

All of the stations I have sketched in San Mateo County had the Daylight blow through their platforms. A southbound train leaving San Francisco stopped only at Palo Alto and then San Jose in the Bay Area leaving San Mateo County in the dust.

After San Jose the Daylight’s next stop was Salinas. Then San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Glendale, and finally terminating at Los Angeles’ Union Station.

No GS-2 locomotives survived the dieseization of America’s railways in the 1950s but an updated version of the locomotive, a GS-4, Number 4449, survives and still is operational. She is one of the most popular and beautiful stream locomotives in the world.

It is then fitting that my next destination was in Santa Clara County to the Daylight’s first stop since departing from San Francisco to a Station the bore same streamlined design as South Pacific’s beautiful engine.

A field sketch of the “Queen of Steam”, GS-4 locomotive number 4449 in Portland, Oregon. This is the only operational engine still in existence that worked the Daylight route.

The nose and duel lights of Southern Pacific No. 4449, one of the most famous steam locomotives in the United States. The streamlined nose looks like something out of Buck Rogers.


Railway Depots of San Mateo County

I’ve been wanting to do a sketch project of the passenger railway depots along the current Caltrain line; at least the stations that are architectural and historically interesting. Caltrain runs passenger service from San Francisco to San Jose (and further south to Gilroy). I wanted to narrow the project down to the existing depots in San Mateo County, the county where I am employed.

My own interest in railways and railway depots comes from my own childhood. I have very vivid memories of being on the back of my dad’s bicycle as we went down towards to the Southern Pacific tracks after work. My dad was a huge rail enthusiast having grown up riding the streetcars and trains of San Francisco. We would watch trains from the pedestrian walkway as they came in and out of the Sunnyvale Depot, dropping off commuters. We also took the train north to Palo Alto or San Francisco and I always loved the all too brief visits to each station. I also noted that not all stations were alike. Some depots have architectural merit while others were merely weather shelters where you can buy tickets.

I wanted to start in the north and head south towards the Santa Clara County line. But I would not be starting on the current main line that runs along the eastern part of San Francisco and the Peninsula but the starting point for this project is a marooned station that is west of the main line. This station has been moved a short distance from its original location and now does not have any trains that stop at its platform. It is now part of a historical museum. This is the passenger depot in Colma.

The original mainline passed further west as it headed around San Bruno Mountain than it does today. The second stop, south of San Francisco County, which is in San Mateo County, was then called School House Station because of its proximity to the local one room schoolhouse. At the time this was one of 21 stations built between San Francisco and San Jose. The station was later renamed Colma.

In 1907 the Bayshore Cutoff came into service which straighten out the line to where the main line runs to this day. This new line left Colma off of the mainline like a rerouted highway, taking all the traffic away, leaving a ghost town in their wake. That may be appropriate because Colma is known for all it’s cemeteries. The number of dead in Colma, estimated at 1.5 million, outnumber the living. Hence the town’s motto, “It’s great to be alive in Colma!”

So I set up a sketching chair, readied my supplies, and started to frame in the railway depot. Here I really tried to get the perspective correct before I added pen or paint. This starting part of the sketch takes the most focus and concentration.

Another reason the Colma Depot was a good starting point for this project is that it was the oldest depot on the line, built around 1863, beating out the actual oldest station on the Peninsula mainline at Menlo Park, built in 1867.

Starting with the Colma Depot was a bit of a cheat, because it is no longer an active depot nor is it on the main line. But because the river of rails have been diverted to the east leaving a pool that no longer flows to the sea, I felt it was important to start here, at least to get my feet wet. It was also helpful to start to learn the visual language of Californian train depots. It helps the eye see repeated patterns and forms when I move on to sketching other depots.

My next plan was to ride Caltrain from San Francisco down to all the historic stations in San Mateo County and sketch each one.

Sketch number one of this project is nearing completion. The rusted tracks in front of the station are just a short section. They go from nowhere to nowhere. Just like many of the visitors to Colma. Once they come here, they never leave.


Ben’s Bird in the City of St. Francis

A rainy afternoon is alway a great time to visit one of San Francisco’s museums. In this case I used my recently purchased membership to return to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

I brought my sketching kit and started to sketch an African penguin as it swam around before feeding time. This was a challenge because I did the sketch in small bits because the penguin did not hold still so I took mental snapshot while the bird was facing the right way and eventually pieced together a few penguins for a sketch.

Swimmiing Ass

I then went out of the African Hall to sketch something more stationary. A giraffe mount will do. It was amazing to read that the taxidermy giraffes were first put on display in 1934 at the old Steinhart Aquarium. Here was another connection with the past.


I next went into the Amazon exhibit and sketched one of the blue-and-yellow macaws. It was nice to have them perched for me to sketch but is was even better to see them free flying over the Amazonian rainforest in Brazil last summer! That beats a zoo or aquarium any day!

B and Y Macaw

I overheard one visitor ask the other if she had ever seen a macaw in Hawaii. If she did then that macaw would be very lost but she was referring to a pet that some street performer had as a means of loosening coins from tourists.

I went down to the aquarium and tried a sketch of California’s official marine fish, the garibaldi. This fish was in constant motion and it was hard to capture it’s essence. And the low light in the aquarium didn’t help. At the end I repeated my mantra to perfectionism, “It’s just a sketch.”

I headed over to the alligator exhibit, a direct link with the old aquarium, to look at the seahorse railings and the albino gator. That’s when I saw something very odd, just outside the window.

It was a large bird perched on a railing, almost condor sized and I though to myself, “Is this a new exhibit?” As I walked closer I realized that it was not a condor but a wild turkey.

Which reminds me of the time when I was birding on the Big Sur coast at Grimes Point. At that time, in one view, I had seven California condors in front of me, including a group that was sitting at the edge of the road. A German tourist came up and asked me if they were turkeys! Now how the table had turned! And how condor-like Ben Franklin’s favorite bird can appear.

Perched on the railing was probably one of the only wild turkeys in the county and city of San Francisco. This is listed as a rare bird in San Francisco and one had been seen in this area of Golden Gate Park. According to the staff this female had appeared just after Thanksgiving, nearly two years ago.

So the turkey perched calmly on the railing which gave me an opportunity to do a quick sketch of the bird from behind. (Featured Sketch)


Sketching at the California Academy of Sciences

On a recent field trip we took 90 fourth graders to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I had come here myself when I was in elementary school, back then it was known as the Steinhart Aquarium. The museum was completely rebuilt in 2008 and bears little resemblance to the museum of my youth.

When the museum reopened, which is about a 45 minute walk from my dwellings, I bought a membership and visited some of the 46 million specimens on display many times. I had since let my membership lapse, but on our recent field trip I thought I would take advantage of the teacher’s discount and reconstitute my membership.

So the week after our field trip, after work, I headed to Cal Academy and bought a teacher’s membership. This museum is a wonderful resource for the natural world and I came prepared with my sketchers kit.

At mid-afternoon, after all the school groups had departed, it seemed that I had the museum to myself. I took advantage of this time and did five quick sketches.

I started by sketching an African penguin. This bird is also referred to as the Jackass penguin, a name that makes fourth graders blush and laugh at the same time, but refers to their braying call. These penguins were easy to sketch as they were roosting on their rocks and posing for me. (Well that statement was very anthropomorphic of me!)

I then headed up to one of the best features of the new building ( well it’s just over ten years old), the living roof. I did a quick sketch with Sutro Tower in the background.

living roof

I then headed into the basement where the aquarium is located. Here I sketched a massive but stationary red-tailed catfish(all sketched in pen) in the drowned Amazonian flooded forest tank. I had a grand time sketching a moon jelly with my sepia brush pen, all without a underlying pencil drawing (featured sketch).


On the way out I passed under the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton at the entrance. When I was a kid I remember an allosaurus skeleton in a similar place. I liked this little reach back to the past and I sat on a bench for a final sketch. Sketching the entire skeleton with the museum soon to close for the day seemed a daunting task so I just sketched the skull.


I look forward to many more visits and more sketchbook pages filled with knowledge and life!