Watercolor with Pocket Sketching™ over and over again.

The challenge I set for myself to correct the ‘lost focal point’ wasn’t easy, but it sure got my attention! Saying I’d fix a weak watercolor and have it done in a week bothered me all week. I could see I had lost the focal point, but it took analyzing to figure how to get it back. I have loved Sargent’s watercolors and the answer was right there: he often used darks to pull out a weak focal point. Keep in mind, if you have a favorite artist, many of your problem pieces will be solved by studying that artist’s work.

The pressure of saying publicly I’m going to do something in a week put that in my mind very, very frequently (as in, what happens if I can’t do it?) So I’m going to try the same motivator again, and let’s hope it works. We live in Tucson, Arizona with mountains on three sides. I don’t do mountains well. So this week I’m going to start my day, every day, with another sketch of the Catalina Mountains outside our front windows. They are gorgeous at first light and dull in the middle of the day. I get bored very easily. Is it possible to stay motivated and improve in one week? Monet did the hay stacks over and over, but he chose different times of day and different lighting. Kevin Macpherson, the keynote speaker for the Plein Air Convention and Expo this April in Santa Fe, New Mexico painted his pond daily for a year as a daily warm-up. Those little paintings are marvelous! With my temperament, is it possible to do those same mountains over and over again and get better? I think the motivator is not watercolor, but announcing the project publicly. If you aren’t getting better, you might try this. I do suggest you keep a timer on the project each day so you don’t bog down.

In the last two weeks of January I had both a ‘refresher’ workshop (advanced Pocket Sketching), and a beginning workshop. The quality of the work was wonderful. Gail asked me if I’m getting tired of teaching. I can say “Yes, but I keep inspired by helping you find watercolor is easy to learn, fun and rewarding.” This technique is so easy to learn, I do hope more people will take advantage of my Instructor’s Course (Feb. 27 through March 3), so they can teach it in their town on a weekly basis. (Driving around the country to teach workshops is not the most efficient way to enjoy teaching: it’s a lot of work! I’ve been able to introduce Pocket Sketching to thousands of people, but have always had in mind some will teach many more. My time to pass the baton is coming.)

Meanwhile, watch for workshops in your area on www.pocketsketching.com/schedule.

Here are a few coming soon:
Beginners: Feb. 9, 10, 11 at my house with Day Three at Tucson Botanical Gardens.
Refresher: one day, Feb. 16 at my house*
Beginners: Tohono Chul Park, Feb. 22 – 24 with Day Three in the Park
Instructors: Feb 27 – March 3, at my house

Watch for Tubac in March and Santa Fe in April, both with fabulous streets, shops, ambience for your delight!

*This is set up for May Delle who sketches and paints and at 97 years young and still taking classes! Everyone’s welcome. The attached sketch is hers. She’s amazing!!!!

Happy watercolor and urban sketching!!!!

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Sketching in watercolor with Pocket Sketching/ the focal point

Does Urban Sketching or watercolor have to take a lot of time?  The Pocket Sketch in the last entry from the Huntington Library Chinese Garden took 30 minutes.  What I didn’t tell you, was the focal point was supposed to be the brilliant sunlight to the left of the little building.  That’s what caught my eye.  It extended to the red bush on the left side.  This one has no focal point!!!  It’s all of the same interest.

When we are outside it is to very easy to let the focal point slip in watercolor, pastel, oil or even drawing.  You have to “stay on task”, as they say in business,  (“stay on point” if you’re a bird dog)!

The confusion in the first sketch (misnamed “Japanese Garden”), shows the loss of focal point.  The second one may not be fantastic, but I learned from John Singer Sargent’s watercolors you can obliterate a lot with a ‘dark’ and throw the attention back to the focal point.  It works. 

I don’t like re-working sketches because they lose vitality, but this was a ‘loser’ anyway.  Why not learn from a bad sketch?

The Tucson winter sketch was an accident, mentioned below.  I am now forced to consider this change to all my teaching.  This is a paradigm shift!

News from Pocket Sketching:  the schedule has changed again.

  1. The Refresher workshop Jan 23 – Jan 25 is full.
  2. Because of Michelle Miley and an accident where I didn’t take the Pilot Pen last week, but had only a ballpoint, something new is being added to workshops.
  3. There is a new basic workshop Feb. 9, 10, 11. Bring a friend and you get 10% off.  Send a friend and they get 10% off.  I get to try new things here.
  4. There is one “Instructor’s Workshop” February 27 through March 3, pretty much by demand from an East Coast person who wants to teach Pocket Sketching. I cannot ignore her anymore!
  5. There’s one more ‘refresher workshop” in Tucson, March 13, 14, 15 at Tohono Chul Park, jofalls@tohonochul.org.  If you’re getting ‘rusty’and want to learn more, you’ll love this!

Next blog probably highlights spring  travels.  I promised we wouldn’t travel anymore.  I lied!  We have a workshop coming up in Tubac and one in Santa Fe.  Then in summer  I have to get out of Tucson in June and later Dale has to go to Dillman’s in upper Wisconsin, www. Dillmans.com.  The Chautauqua Institute in New York has invited me back.  Can’t turn that down!  So we still have to travel!

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Easy Fast Watercolor

Easy, Fast Watercolor

Pocket Sketching is the easy entry into watercolor.

But it’s not always good watercolor. This sketch is from the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA We stopped for three hours on the way back to  Tucson, and I dashed off to the Chinese Garden where I spent 45 minutes getting this overworked piece. Is it possible to simplify it as Sargent would have done? I don’t know, but I’m going to try. You’ll get the results in the next blog.

I strongly believe good work is done in 25 minutes, plus/minus 5. The result is fresh, not overworked, and there isn’t time to put in more than one focal point. I don’t like re-working sketches. It’s likely they come out worse, as you are no longer in front of the subject or mesmerized by it. The re-working is academic. The changes may be exciting…or not! However, if it’s not great now, what’s to lose? Tune in next week to see.

Other than that, HAPPY NEW

YEAR! Thanks for being in my life. If you’ve been to one of my workshops, thanks for working with me. However, not everyone can get to a workshop. So this year I want to start some interactive work with you online, using your work, or mine. Problem pieces. Before and after. Then I’ll want to know if this information is of use to you, so I’ll ask for your feedback. They won’t all be winners, but it’s about the process.

And, having a bit of ego myself, I’ll end with a favorite of mine (sort of saving face), which will make me feel better. This young lady with gorgeous hair was listening to the Tucson Jazz Insti

tute high school kids (Viscount Hotel here in Tucson every Wednesday evening 6:30 to 9:00.) The

sketch took less than 20 minutes and she was a moving subject. See what I mean about working fast to retain freshness? Compare overwork to getting the impression quickly.

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Been Everywhere, Man!

Pocket Sketching with watercolor and pen has gone from Tucson to Dillman’s in upper Wisconsin, the “Upper Peninsula”, to Milford, CT to Charleston, to the Biltmore in NC, Nashville and places in between!

This has been the longest trip and we even did one 14-hour-of-driving day getting home. I’m on overload and couldn’t have absorbed one more place. It’s great to get home and pet the dog (who needed a bath), and the cat (who doesn’t “need” anybody, but actually came in and didn’t give us the usual cold-shoulder-for-days). Shortly I’ll send photos or sketches, or both, from the trip.

You know how you sometimes go days without sketching? Me too. Since returning I’ve sketched only once. The ‘once’ was the amazing Tucson Jazz Institute kids who play every Wednesday evening with some of their instructors at the Viscount Hotel, 6:30 to 9:00.

These sketches are (left to right) are the amazing Jasmine on the melodica (a harmonica-like instrument which is blown into). Jas wriggles, lurches, writhes with every note and I want to keep trying to catch the movement She’s just turned 14 and also plays a wicked piano.,, Scott on bass, Doug on trombone and Joe waiting to play tenor sax.  (If you live in or visit Tucson, don’t miss these guys!!!!)

Jasmine on melodica in motion

Scott on base

 If you haven’t tried doing people, go for it! Pick people who hold still or who repeat a motion. Somebody ironing or reading or watching TV (or playing music), is perfect.

Another not-miss-it is the movie, Loving Vincent. Every frame is hand painted from the paintings of Vincent van Gogh. It took 5 years for a group of 120 juried artists to paint the tiny changes to make

Doug on trombone

Josh on Clainet

‘movement’. The editing job must have been a bear! The story convincing asks how Vincent died: was it suicide or murder? There are actual actors but their frames are painted over in black and white. It’s an amazing work of art on works of art.

 Enjoy music, movies and creating art!

Art is not art until it’s sold. Until then it’s an obsession and a storage problem. Anon

Enjoy music, movies and creating art!
Art is not art until it’s sold. Until then it’s an obsession and a storage problem. Anon

P.S.  I forgot to mention, this very month, November is a workshop in Kerrville, TX, and another in San Antonio, TX,: information is at www.pocketsketching.com/schedule/2017.


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November ramblings

Well it’s off to San Antonio for a couple of classes and to spend Thanksgiving with Dale’s brother and nephew.

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Grand Tour 2017

It’s Grand Tour Time!

Did you Know? Krista sent me an announcement: Wednesday, August 6, UCSD, Master Class by Kathryn Macaulay: Menopause and the Hormone Replacement Therapy. It’s fun to be known, but I really think I’d better stay with art!!!

So what’s really happening? We leave Saturday for what I plan to be the last Grand Tour. We have big workshops in White Bear Lake, MN and in Ann Arbor, both are full with a waiting list but there is still space at Dillman’s at Lac du Flambeau, WI.  http://www.dillmans.com/dcaf/ I’ve loved being at each of these. If you want to join either of the first two, get your entry in. Go to www.pocketsketching.com/scheadule/2017.

After this, it’s all new (and on the schedule). In October we’ll be in Chester Springs, PA at the Chester Springs Studio (SE of Philadelphia, near Chadds Ford), then at the Wallkill River School In Montgomery, New York (on the Hudson River, N. of New York City). And at the end of October we’re all the way down at Edisto Art Retreats on Edisto Island, SC which is S. of Charleston. This is on the Atlantic. I’m still trying to get something near Baltimore.

November swings west with Hill Country Arts Foundation in Ingram, TX. This is the famed Hill Country of Texas, NE of San Antonio. Then we do a “Home Workshop” in San Antonio at Kari Sprotbery’s (really is related to Dale, aka Sherpa, known on the phone sometimes, errantly, as “Mr. Macaulay”.) There may be one more before we get back to Tucson for a workshop at Tohono Chul Park in December. Would you believe it, I’m working on 2018!

Enough of our ventures. Here is a fun example of your work with comment by Louise Sackett: (louisesackettfineart.com) 
Kath Macaulay’s systems works. I never would have believed that you could be invisible to passersby when sketching, but, yes, you can.  There must have been between 300 to 500 people walking about, as I sketched this little piece. Nobody bothered me, stopped, exclaimed or otherwise caused a kerfuffle. It really works! Go Kath!

The monochrome is by me at the Wednesday night weekly performance of the Tucson Jazz Institute at the Viscount Hotel. Sketching the band members makes it very easy to doubly enjoy the terrific music. This is Nathan, the drummer who graduated.

This is unusual, but watch for two more blogs soon with sketching tips and student examples.

Kath McCaulay’s systems works. I never would have believed that you could be invisible to passersby when sketching, but, yes, you can. There must have been between 300 to 500 people walking about, as I sketched this little piece. Nobody bothered me, stopped, exclaimed or otherwise caused a kerfuffle. It really works! Go Kath!


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August Blog

June/July watercolor travel tour is over and there were highlights and humongous frustrations!  Teaching Pocket Sketching was, of course, a delight.  So many new and some repeat people doing marvelous sketching and learning travel journaling.  Then there was the food and getting to stay with exciting, engaging people.  Dale and I were gone 6 weeks and had only two nights in motels and no Air BnB.

Did I mention where we went?  From Sedona, Arizona to San Francisco, California, to Portland, Oregon, to Sun Valley, Idaho, Park City and Durango, Utah and Santa Fe, New Mexico, all teaching Pocket Sketching workshops.   Helping you learn was delightful!

The yukky part?  Trying to stay caught up on the computer with iffy Wi-Fi connections (lost two eastern workshops I really wanted next Fall), and learning Facebook and InstaGram on the road (just didn’t happen!).  Soooo…There are some good sketches done by me attached.

To see more food, travel and student sketches, go to Facebook/Pocket Sketching and follow my learning to type on that itsy bitsy screen.  Oh, and ‘like’ Pocket Sketching on facebook.   

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Wednesday 12th July Travel, Travel, Travel

We’re now in Sun Valley, Idaho teaching a watercolor Pocket Sketching workshop and staying with our dear friend, Nancy Romagnoli, the best cook in town.  Somehow my weight never changes, but my girth keeps going up!  I keep having to buy new pants and those striped pants you see in class somehow still stretch.  I can shop in Walmart and blend in!

It’s hard booking workshops while traveling but we have a new one!  It’s on the border between San Pedro and Rancho Palos Verdes which is southwest of Los Angeles, in a private home with a view.  It’s open to anyone.  The dates are August 25 through 27, and the contacts are kath@pocketsketching.com or michellemiley@yahoo.com.  Michelle’s phone is 310-293-3049 and mine is 520-870-9990.  The location is in a lovely area right above the biggest port on the West coast.  You can even book your stay in the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach.  It’s a marvel of ship finishing and you can imagine all the royals and Hollywood stars who stayed there.  The rooms are still art deco with all the original fixtures.

We’re on our way to Park City next and then back to Sun Valley for an advanced workshop.  However, I left both my outline and vital materials in Tucson and have to make up the former and find the equivalent of the latter.  Living out of a car does have it’s drawbacks!


Happy Sketching!

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TUCSON is HOT! How hot?

It’s supposed to reach 116 degrees this week and it’s probably 105 or more right now.  Of course, the humidity is 2%.  The result is, it feels just really warm.  This is June.  July is far worse because the temp goes down and it rains enough to raise the humidity way up.  Guess why we teach in the North in the summer!!! Watch for our schedule near you!  Anne just emailed me she didn’t see the schedule and we were in her area. Click here to check schedule

We just returned from a very fun workshop on CORONADO ISLAND off the west coast of San Diego. It’s a laid-back village and a U.S. Naval Base only 15 minutes from the San Diego Airport and 7 minutes from Downtown.  The temp’s in the 70s all the time.  All plants love it.  If you didn’t inherit your cute 1930s home, it’s a tad pricey to buy in.  Our hostess’ daughter has a 900 sq. ft. darling home valued at 1.3 $ million.  It was built in 1912.  To renovate it (and make it bigger), you have to go back 15 feet to retain a  good property tax break.  Hence, there are many darling fronts and many two-story backs of houses.

The class elected to sketch at the Hotel Del Coronado (the biggest all-wood building in the U.S,).  It’s a grand old place and certainly not easy to sketch.  They didn’t know what they were biting off!  We were under the main tower in one of the many outdoor restaurants.  Not only is the tower full of excess architectural detail, we had the perspective of looking up.  Fortunately for them, we also sketched in a normal neighborhood.  In one sketch the red chair was ‘borrowed’ from another yard:  it looked good on this porch.

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Watercolor Workshop Made Easy with Pocket Sketching and Kath

We leave on Wednesday to teach our watercolor workshop on Coronado Island, California (just west of San Diego, where it’s cool), June 9, 10, 11. (Tucson is now at 105 degrees and going up.)

I can’t find a safe quote from May West, so Mario Andretti will have to do, “If everything’s under control, you’re not going fast enough!”

The workshop will be in a private home and on the third day the class gets to pick where they will sketch, plein air, (which means on location, generally outdoors and not studio work). It will be around 75 degrees and Southern California gorgeous! The Island has exotic landscaping and the Del Coronado Hotel which you saw in Marilyn Monroe’s movie, “Some Like it Hot” with Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis. We rented the movie two nights ago. It’s very dated and still funny. There’s still space available in the workshop. Call Michelle, 520-730-1515 or go to michelle.hearon@gmail.com.

My first Pocket Sketching Certified Instructor to teach a class was Paulette Lagana on Sunday in the San Francisco area. She had six people and they loved it enough to sign up for her next class which will be on still life. She’s excited! Six is a great number to start with. And this was fascinating to me: Paulette used our watercolor Pocket Sketching videos to review everything and she said they really helped her feel confident. Yeah!! I love feedback.

Attached are some quick watercolor sketches from the five Instructors done with Pocket Sketching. These were done in 25 minutes or less and they each represent an area taught in the workshops. And, in our easy watercolor Pocket Sketching workshops people learn to work fast. If it’s a ‘bomb’, you’ve wasted only 25 minutes of your life, at most! That’s






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It’s been a big six weeks!  So here are the results.

I’m proud of the book, “POCKET SKETCHING ™, The Portable Workshop”.  It’s easy to follow and new people can get the technique.  It is aimed at plein air (working outdoors), and covers the perspective lessons of contrast, color and focal point.  It has pretty good information on color and linear perspective too.  And then there’s Sargent’s use of wax.  Yeah, as Dale would say, “I’m down with that!”  (That means, it’s good.)  It’s on the website for $17.00 and postage.

The book was finished and published just before the national Plein Air Convention and Expo in San Diego.  Then there was the Convention where I was on the Faculty and did a presentation.  Then came writing the Syllabus.  It was finished two days before the Workshop for Teachers!  The intent is to use the Syllabus in the Workshop to teach a new person everything I know about Pocket Sketching, and license them to teach it with use of the Logo and the Trademark.

There were five people, which is all I wanted.  Each came from a different geographic place and a different ideal use for Pocket Sketching.  They are now listed on my website.  They can teach my trademarked technique wherever they are.  But they did so well!  I’m very proud of Lynda from Montana, Paulette from San Francisco, Jan from Los Angeles, Penny from Tucson and Michelle from Tucson.   They brought so much to share.  In five days they went through everything and they made changes. There will be updates to the Syllabus from their input.  The Syllabus is available only to people who take the Workshop for Teachers.  And I may or may not ever teach it again.  It is hard to let go of “your baby”. 

 Have you ever tried to put everything you know about something into five days that cover it so well the next person can do the same thing?

The attached pictures are examples of their work.  But more, they can each use this in their own way to teach others.  I am so very proud of them.

Jan Gruenwald

Lynda Skinner

Penny Cottrell

Paulette Lagana

Michelle Hearon

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A bit more news.

There is news, but it’s hard to find time to write.  Last Sunday I got away to go paint with the Sonoran Plein Air Painters on Mt. Lemmon.  I was so excited I left early.  They cancelled.  There were four of us sketching and painting in very high wind.  If you get a chance to sketch, you gotta use it! 

The workshop for teachers to teach Pocket Sketching is beginning May 19 and there’s one opening.  I want a very small group because this is a first.  I’m still working on the syllabus.  It’ll be in a 3-ring binder so as they ask for more material, I can send it along. They will leave able to teach PS in classes.  Since I’ve always done 3 or more full days, it’s interesting to break everything down into meaningful small bites that can be taught in weekly installments.  I’ve never had to think this way.  (It’s probably keeping me from getting Alzheimer’s…maybe not!)  If you know a person interested, let them know.  This may be a one-of-a-kind, or it may become a school. 

If you can make it to PACE next year in Santa Fe, go for it.  You will never be able to learn from so many top painters in one place.  Eric Rhodes does an Art Marketing Boot Camp every morning at the unwelcome hour of 6:30 AM because the day is too full to do it later.  It’s well attended.  Whew!!!

Here are two more of my PACE sketches.  I love the heavy lady settling into painting.  She was totally absorbed. The other one had an extra aspect.  Eric Rhodes, who put together the entire PACE event, was painting in oils right next to me.  Only he couldn’t get a chance to really paint.  People kept interrupting him.  He needed camouflage and Pocket Sketching so he could paint in his personal space and not be noticed!  No one bothered me.  Of course, he was running interference for me too.


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Plain Air Convention San Diego, CA


Last week was PACE. The Plein Air Convention and Expo in San Diego:  what an event!!!!

Imagine four stages with speakers and demonstrations on each, all day, and then the opportunity to buy all sort of new equipment and supplies in a gorgeous setting with fabulous paint-outs each afternoon!  Excellently organized with help everywhere.  Geared for both novices and professionals.

In fact, I was amazed at how many truly beginning outdoor painters there were.  As faculty, we were to both paint and roam, helping painters who put up a sign asking for help.  I initially felt I didn’t have much to offer.  One had a painting going of a distorted coral tree and was just about to turn it into what she remembered as an ‘ideal tree shape’ before I came by.  She had a gorgeous, powerful, splendid tree which would have been scraped off.  I think I have a photo of her with her tree in progress, and a rather rough sketch:

Did you notice you’d fit right in?!?  Don’t turn this event down because you think it’s too professional.  You can learn soooo much and have a wonderful time.  Next year will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico April 16 through 20.  Come with friends and meet new ones.   Go to Plein Air Convention and Expo, 2018.

This is one of my favorite sketches.  This darling nut vendor was just inside a plaza in Old Town (one of the venues for a paint-out).   She had never had anyone paint her, so I gave her the sketch.  Old Town was so full of gorgeous vignettes, buildings, music, and food aromas.  I may be unpacked, but everything’s a mess.

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Pocket Sketching Workbook

Just published, 37 pages of explanations, exercises and much more.

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Great article

I recently took a vacation, and like the rest of the world, I had my smart phone. I took a zillion pictures. When I returned home, I got back to work and my busy life. Although I downloaded the photos onto my computer I did nothing more. Fast forward four months and I pulled the photos up to show a friend a few vacation memories.

“Honestly I can’t remember where that was.” I said as we gazed at the twentieth beach scene.

“When you Pocket Sketch you don’t just draw exactly what is there, as a camera captures it, but rather you add your emotional experience of the moment.” said Kath Macaulay the inventor of and coach for Pocket Sketching, an idea and technique she has trademarked.

I recently met Macaulay when we were both volunteering at a co-op gallery. We talked about our art, she is a painter. Then she told me about a technique she developed where she can teach artists and non-artists alike how to journal, using watercolor.

Remembering my unsorted, and basically ignored vacation photos, I was intrigued. I thought our readers might be interested as well, so she agreed to be interviewed.

“I can teach anyone to paint in just two days,” she claimed. “And my students do this in public fearlessly in 25 minutes or less – capturing landscapes, still life and people.”

Macaulay discovered her unique form of capturing the moment quite by accident, while travelling.  Using a water soluble pen that seemed to smear, she experimented with push the ink about with a brush. She added some watercolor and soon she had an idea.

She started to refine her concept and eventually came up with a set of tools, including a pad, that can all fit in one hand.

to be continued.


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It’s Over

It’s over!!! April 11, 2017

As of minutes ago I wrote my really short biography for the inside cover of The Pocket Sketching Workbook. Dale is formatting it and then printing the maquette (I don’t know what you call the ‘dry run of a book) for a check. If it looks good, it goes to the U. of A. self-publishing press tomorrow. Then we’ll find out what it costs.
Coming up next is PACE, the national Plein Air Convention and Expo in San Diego later this month. I’m speaking and demonstrating on the 24th on one of four stages. There are supposed to be 1000 attendees. Then I get to participate in the daily paint-out, sketching and helping new plein air painters.
Guess who has not had a bit of practice except in the workshop I taught last week? I haven’t even been outside except to buy groceries and get a tooth crowned. (The crown is being made by a 3-D printer at my dentist’s. Would I love to play with that!)
Tomorrow morning I’ll clean up the enormous mess from the book, submit required stuff for PACE and slip outside for a tad of sketching.
Here’s a favorite sketch that made it into the book. And I feel like the little dog!

My best, Kath

P.S. It went to the publisher on Thursday April 13 will be complete soon. YEAH!!!!

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From Winter to Spring, Oops!

Amerind Museum

Small Pond Watefall

Tohono Chul

Here in Tucson we don’t exactly ‘enjoy’ Spring.  We sort of pop through it.  Last week we were in the 90s and today we took a dive…to 68 degrees.  So I have a sketch from the Amerind Museum south of here, but at a higher elevation sketched on Feb. 25, and two from Tohono Chul Park done on March 22, each in workshops.  All the trees are leafing out here now.  Jasmine, orange trees and wisteria are all blooming together.  This is the time to be here!

The sketch of the pond has a lesson.  I finally figured out how to make water slide over rocks.  Check out the rocks to the right of the major falls.  Before that area dried, I moved the brush down several times and it slurred the paint enough to look like running water.  Good lesson for me, maybe for you too.

Coming up at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson April 5, 6, 7 is my “Refresher” workshop.  It’s to get everybody back to sketching again.  One day of review and two days of new material while in that beautiful park.  Go to www.tohonochul.org for more information.


And don’t forget the First Instructor’s Workshop May 19 through 23 if you want to learn how to teach Pocket Sketching in your classes.  For that one, contact me.  Enrollment is limited to 7.  I get to learn from this one and will repeat it probably in January.

Happy sketching!!!  Kath

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Fighting the Computer and other news

Wherever you are, I’m here fighting with a computer that doesn’t like me and two email systems that won’t co-ordinate!

It seems Gmail and Yahoo won’t share, so some emails come through and/or get sent out, and some don’t.  You’re getting this because Dale’s sending it, not me

There is, however, news.  Some of you said you would like to come to the National Plein Air Convention and Expo if I am in it.  Well, so be it!  I was invited a tad late, so I’m on the roster online, not in the printed brochure, and I will be teaching on the first day, April 23.  That is an introduction day for plein air painters new to the venue. This year it is being held in San Diego and the dates are April 23 through 28.  It is a HUGE !!!! plein air event with 80 instructors on four stages and plenty of time to mix, mingle and paint outdoors (which is what plein air is all about).  Eric Rhoads, the owner of Plein Air Magazine, puts this event on and it’s actually well done.  The Expo part is art supplies at good prices.  (You do have to haul them home, but some are new to the market and worth the bother.)  ((Did you catch that crazy change in the font????  Can’t do a thing about it.))

You know about ‘the book’.  Well, now there are three of them.  I’ve been getting quotes on publishing and it’s down to three places.  The first book to come out will be a ‘workbook’ with exercises, due out in April.  The second is the syllabus for teaching other people to teach Pocket Sketching, due out in May.  ((Did I mention the first class for teachers to learn and be licensed to teach Pocket Sketching will be May 19 through 23 here in Tucson?  The next one will be in early 2018.  If you’re interested, let me know.))  The third one will be a ‘pretty book’ and will have more color sheets, some with your art.  As soon as I can figure out the price for publishing the books, we’ll officially start the Kickstarter campaign.  That’s the last step to cross.

I’m no book writer!!!  You have asked for a book and to teach my technique.  I’m a good painter, a great teacher, gardener, cook.  Do any of these talents sound like “writer”?  Didn’t think so.

Power of the Desert

This painting is Power of the Desert.  It’s watercolor and India ink and is exhibited at the Overlook Community Center in Oro Valley.  At the same location I have a one man show of oils, watercolors and pocket sketches, both up until late May.  New skill:  I can take something from the old computer, put it on a ‘stick’ and transfer it to the new computer.  YUK!!!!  No time to paint

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Sketches from workshop Chandler, AZ

Stuff is happening, though you don’t see much.

The last workshop was in Phoenix at Eva’s house, and for once, I got photos and names together, so they’re attached.  No, it’s not my work, but I have to get practicing.  Here’s why:  I just got notified that I’m going to be a speaker at the National Plein Air Convention which is in April in San Diego this year.  This is HUGE!!!  And I have to figure out what I’m going to say (and not bore people).

Meanwhile, I’m working on the Kickstarter.  There’s a lot of work that has to be completed before ‘launch’.  And I’m working on the summer and fall schedules.  Lions, tigers and bears:  Oh my!!!  So here’s a bear sketch from me I bet you haven’t seen.

My only workshop this month will be at the Amerind Museum in Dragoon, AZ Feb. 24, 25, 26.  If you want information, let me know.

Locally in Tucson here are two really good resources:

David Weintraub for computer problems, 991-1482.  He comes to your house and will slowly walk you through what he does.

Laurie Larwood , Quail Lane Studio, 579-9773.  She is a photographer and is fully equipped to do giclee in almost any size.  She will be doing my giclees and mounting them for my Kickstarter.  Plan extra time because she can explain the process and all the amazing things it can do.  (Like my 4 x 6 sketches will be on 6 x 8 canvas wraps ready-to-hang.)









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February 2017 Blog

No word for a long time. And if you look, not many workshops coming up in the next 4 months. There are changes. More later.
We just finished two back-to-back workshops, both delightful! There’s one in February (yup! Only one!), and it’s at the amazing Amerind Museum near Dragoon, Arizona. That’s near Texas Canyon with all those huge boulders along Highway 10 East of Benson. The Amerind has an internationally renowned collection of American Indian artifacts and a western art gallery, both outstanding. The workshop is held in the home of the former owner, in the handsome living room with a fireplace. (Last year it snowed when we were there.) You can be a ‘day-camper’ or spend your nights in the guest quarters. The meals are included and outstanding. The home had the same architect as the Arizona Inn with all the Southwest details. When built, it was truly remote. Saturday night we can ‘go dancing’ at the Triangle-T Ranch next door (famed in Hollywood western movies). Needless to say, it’s a fun location for a workshop. This is like being at a retreat. Plenty of hiking and stars right over your head at night.

Contact Annie: 520-586-3666, ext. 11, alarkin@amerind.org for information and to register.

Two sketches this time are by Marian, who has advanced Parkinson’s. She says while she’s sketching, her hand is steadier and she’s less aware of her disorder. If you practice sketching, you’ll find you’ll go into a meditative state while working, giving yourself a mini-meditation and escape as needed. I love it in the midst of chaos.

The last sketch is by me in the Tucson Botanical Garden. I’m delighted it’s loose. Many of mine are “wussey” (never thought how to spell that!), and this one isn’t. It was from the last day of the last workshop. Isn’t it nice to end well!

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New ad for January

See our new ad set to run on PBS Channel 6 here in the Tucson area in January.

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May your season be stress-free, restful and joyous!
This time the sketches are old favorites of mine.
“Celebrate” was done at a Thanksgiving party and we used the image to announce our wedding reception three years ago.

Arizona Inn Christmas Tree

The “Christmas Tree” is from the Arizona Inn in Tucson. They do a marvelous job decorating their library every Christmas season.

The “Deer” were browsing in a narrow strip of highway embankment next to an 8 lane freeway with a 6 foot chain link fence all along the lower edge: a very safe place to stay all winter with plenty of food and forays into neighborhoods…in Chicago at 3 degrees!

We’re ending 2016 with a trip to see friends in Sedona and family in Phoenix and Las Vegas. (Why does this sound like one of our summer ‘tours’?) 2017 will be different. I’m doing workshops in January, then only one in February, March, and April. Why? We’re doing a Kickstarter to get funded so I can get the book written, published and out, along with the syllabus for teaching other people to teach Pocket Sketching, with the first class scheduled in May for “teachers of classes”. More on that later.

If you know someone who wants a workshop in January, you can gift them and save 25% on the tuition if you make a reservation saying it’s a “Special Gift”.

In my spare time I’m scheduling two tours for this summer and they may be the last ‘Grand Tours’. We will have seen the U.S. and parts of Canada up close and personal, and with the ‘joy’ of hauling, setting up, teaching, breaking down and hauling CONSTANTLY all tour. The reward of course, has been having all of you do so well and get excited with your skill. (I may miss this aspect so much, I can’t quit touring and teaching. Plans are made as a map, and don’t need to be followed, right?)

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Getting ready for the Holidays

If you are in Tucson, make plans to see Fiddler on the Roof.  It’s marvelously well done.  Live orchestra in the pit.  Traditional dancing.  It’s a total delight.  Tickets are at  http://www.arizonatheatre.org/  

Plans are laid.  For 9 years I have taught workshops in Tucson in the winter.  Many of them.   And we’ve advertised them.  Not this year.  January has two.  Feb. March and April each have one.  If you know someone who wants to take a workshop, let them know (a great Christmas/ Hanukkah gift).  Then in May is the first 5-day workshop to teach teachers to teach Pocket Sketching in classes.  We’ll do two tours this summer/fall, and that may be the end of the Grand Tours (a name I have stolen from John Singer Sargent’s mother:  They moved constantly in Europe because they couldn’t afford to stay in high-end places during ‘high season’.   Hence John was fluent in English, Italian and French.  Remember, sometimes we don’t get what we want:  We get what we need!

Oh, and what’s going on over the winter?  We are going to do a Kickstarter campaign to fund me so I can finally take time to write the book and the syllabus (for teachers) that I kept saying I’d do, and get them published.  There never has been time.  The Kickstarter has an end-point by which the project must be done and delivered to the contributors.  A set deadline.  That was missing.  This is stepping into strange water for me and for Dale.  Fortunately Kickstarter is well organized.

Margie Clemans

The examples this time are not mine.   We stayed with Margie in Portland, and she took my class.  She sent sketches recently.  I absolutely love the baby, Margie and Scott’s first grandchild, and she did the sketches of other people you see.  Think of sketching your grandkids (or your kids, pets, spouse) as they age.  What a fun chronicle.

The other sketch is by Sue Clemans.  She and her sister-in-law, Susane McArthur, helped Thomas make my three videos.  Sue helped supply the examples.  Susane wouldn’t sketch anything.  No stick figures, not even a sketch of a balloon for her grandchildren.  She was the toughest resistant I ever met.  Then she called and asked for a pad and pen.  For Christmas I sent her a paint set.  Later she phoned to say she hated me:  she couldn’t put it down and it was 2:00 AM!  Sue, (lives in Tucson) and Susane (lives in Sedona) get together to sketch and visit.  They’re hooked!  If you haven’t arranged to go with family or friends on a sketch-out, you’re missing so much fun and camaraderie.  Sue’s pictures include her granddaughter, another new pocketsketcher, and Susane, who’s actually immersed in sketching!

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Sometimes we all need a little practice.


I went to the AKC all-breed dog show this morning to sketch dogs.  They were moving…that’s really an excuse for not practicing more.   They were hard!  The cute one is the Petit  Basset  Griffon Vandeen, or PBGV,  a darling, extroverted hound.


A gift to you from you (or someone else?)  The Refresher Course, November 28, 29, 30 at my home studio will be a review and will have plenty of drawing using the Pilot pen, the Micron and pencil.  Email or phone for reservations.  Space is limited.  It will get you going again!  Use it every time you’re bored over the Holidays!  ( I think “at a concert, watching football, waiting for anyone!”)


Also, if you’re in Tucson and would like to go out with a group, Martha Pankratz  (of the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild) leads a plein air paint-sketch-out every Tuesday morning locally.  Email her at marthalouise1@me.com to get the weekly announcement.  The sketch of the Catalinas was done from Columbus Park on the west side with the group.   I think the park is boring, but it’s a great place to practice doing mountains.   Going with the group forces practicing on what’s there.  It’s the old discipline thing we all hate!


Have a delightful, restful Thanksgiving break!!!

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Summer’s over and so is all the travel.

My desk’s a buried mess. The garden’s starting to look good. Guess it’s time to get back to sketching. (Yeah, I have slump periods too, just like you.) The big thing is just to get started again. Locally, I’m joining Martha Pankratz tomorrow morning (Tuesday), for a trip up Mt. Lemmon to paint together. Wanna join us? Contact Martha, marthalouise1@me.com to carpool together. Bring lunch and warm clothing. We return right after lunch.


Here are a few sketches from summer for inspiration. The one from Poortvleit is a copy from his book on dogs. Copying is as great way to get started. You can sign it if you give credit to the original artist. The envelope is from Nancy Sorenson. It’s hand-illustrated by her and I cherish it. And the sketch from me was done in Buchart Gardens in Victoria, the farthest place we went this summer.

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.Mae West

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Phone: 520-318-9291  •  Cell: 520-870-9990  •  kath@pocketsketching.com

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