Sunday, April 12, 2015

Colorful Kites On the Beach

Shiho Nakaza "Los Angeles" "Santa Monica" beach watercolor watercolour sketch painting "plein air" kites festival

The beach by Santa Monica Pier was transformed by colorful kites puncturing the usually flat blue of the sky this weekend when Kite Festival sponsored by Otis College took place. I used a mix of wet and dry brush strokes in the sky to show movement. Otis College provided small white square kites that people decorated, and those kites happened to fly among big kites set up by a corporate event next to them. I haven't flown a kite since I was a kid myself, so it was fun to see kids flying kites with help from their parents.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Costume Sketching at WonderCon

I enjoy sketching people dressed up in creative costumes at WonderCon event even though I am too pop-culturally clueless to recognize most of the characters. It's always fun to sketch cosplayers who are posing still for photos, but it's even more fun and challenging to sketch those who are caught in casual moments like drinking coffee, chatting with each other or texting (sometimes doing all three at once). This year, there was even a sketching gnome!

shiho nakaza "los angeles" sketching people costume cosplay wondercon watercolor pen

Monday, March 30, 2015

Ciclavia in the Valley

I always enjoy riding my bike during CicLAvia, when normally car-centric streets in Los Angeles are closed to cars and open to everybody else to walk, skate, or bike. This time it was in the Valley, around Studio City, Universal City and North Hollywood area. It was  overcast, which made for a pleasantly cool day for exercising and flat, even light for sketching. I rested at a coffee shop with a friend while looking at The Sportsman's Lodge across the way with lush garden area with palm trees.

Monday, March 02, 2015

New Prints Available!

I added four new prints on Society 6 website, and you get free worldwide shipping before March 8 if you use this promo code:

Take a look at - thanks for checking it out!

Shiho Nakaza "Los Angeles" "Santa Monica" beach pier water ocean watercolor people

Monday, February 02, 2015

A Day at the Museums for 46th Worldwide Sketchcrawl

For 46th Worldwide Sketchcrawl, Los Angeles group decided to take advantage of the annual free museum admission day by going to Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), which are next to each other and connected by a large grassy lawn. We had about 20 sketchers come and go.

This was the first time I came back to Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits since I went on a field trip in grade school. Walking around and sketching made me remember the awe and fascination I felt when I saw the fossils there. It is incredible that tar is still bubbling up from the ground and more fossils are still being dug up, right in the middle of the city!

Here are sketches of the fossils + banjo player outside and a hummingbird perched on a branch in the garden (all not to scale):

After lunch, some of us walked to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). This is a watercolor sketch of people waiting in line by Urban Lights outdoor sculpture at LACMA - in reality, there were A LOT more people than pictured here. It was fun to chat with other sketchers and revisit my favorite sites!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Sketching the Rose Parade Floats

This year I had a chance to sketch some of the floats that were on display after the Rose Parade with another artist. The theme for this year's floats was "Inspiring Stories" and all 40 floats on display are required to be decorated with only plant-based materials like flowers, leaves, barks, seeds, and grains. Many floats were indeed decorated with roses, and some floats smelled nice from the flowers. I learned that some of the flat color areas were achieved by mixing flower petals in a blender and gluing them down on the surface. I am impressed by the amount of artistry and effort that goes into creating them.

While I tried to capture the colorfulness of the floats, there were large crowds of people flowing through, blocking my view from time to time and some commenting on my sketches. After I painted one of the floats, I decided to "ghost" in the people in the front because they were indeed passing by.

shiho nakaza pasadena "rose parade" float flower floral sketch sketching watercolor "los angeles"

As the afternoon wore on, the day became colder and winter sun started to set quickly. The large float of a phoenix caught my eye, so I tried to capture one more sketch before the exhibit closed.

shiho nakaza pasadena "rose parade" float flower floral sketch sketching watercolor "los angeles"

Friday, January 02, 2015

First Sketch of the Year...Six Years Later

When I was accepted as Los Angeles correspondent for Urban Sketchers, I decided to sketch from life every day. More often than not, I do quick squiggles rather than a full-fledged painting, but I have kept that promise.

This is the first of my daily sketches on New Year's Day, 2009, at Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica:

Six years later, in 2015, I decided to come back to the same spot at night to capture the winter decorations, just like the first time....

BUT! Tonight was one of the coldest night on the record - the paint stayed wet from the cold, and I couldn't see the colors on my palette well as the stores started to close and the lights began to dim.

The painting itself was unsuccessful because I couldn't get all the colors down the way I wanted, but the experience itself was a success because I learned so much over the last six years of sketching every day. I remember fretting about making my sketch "perfect" six years ago - and now, I feel more at ease with my pen and paint without worrying too much about the outcome - after all, a sketch is a mark of a moment, a glimpse into a unique slice of life. Happy New Year, everyone!