[By Shiho Nakaza, Virginia Hein and Tina Koyama in Santa Monica, Calif.]
Tina: While visiting family in L.A. a couple weekends ago, I had the fun and good fortune of sketching with soon-to-be-official Urban Sketchers Los Angeles. On a gorgeous, blue-sky day that was a welcome respite from Seattle’s drizzle, we met at Santa Monica Pier, a popular attraction that draws both locals and tourists alike. I had my pick of lots of fun sketching subjects – crowds of people, colorful tents and food stands, a Ferris wheel, an historic merry-go-round – but I knew I couldn’t leave L.A. without sketching lots of palm trees (above).
I know I say this every time I have this kind of opportunity, but I think the single best thing about Urban Sketchers is that this worldwide network makes it so easy to sketch with others, no matter where I travel. Many thanks to Shiho Nakaza and Virginia Hein for organizing the gathering for my visit!
Shiho: I enjoyed sketching with Tina along with Virginia and our fellow local sketchers. It was a nice Sunday out by the sea without huge summer crowds, with a wealth of things to draw: people mingling, a marching band practicing, and tented event happening on the dock.
Amid all the activities, I realized I have never sketched the merry-go-round even though I’ve lived in this town for years. It was a pleasantly warm day (and not too hot inside the carousel building built before air conditioning was invented), so I decided to give it a try. The merry-go-round celebrated its 100-year old birthday this year:
I used Fabriano Artistico watercolor sheet sample, which behaved as I expected, but I had to battle some technical difficulties with my paints. I had dirty washes and paint not sticking to paper due to wax on my paintbrush, so I switched to doing some color with 4-color Bic pen before I could soap off the wax residue later. I'm still glad I made a record of this piece of history.
From Virginia:It was so great to have Tina visiting us last week—and Shiho, myself and some of our other L.A. urban sketchers met in Santa Monica on a perfectly beautiful day. There's always something interesting going on at the pier...and on this Sunday, we were met by a brass band from Santa Monica College, leading a crowd of charity walkers...
We started sketching on the sunny boardwalk, and I loved the movement of people against the "forest" of palms. That row of people in bright yellow t-shirts were the walkers we'd seen earlier--fundraisers for the Aga Khan Foundation.
That sketch never got quite finished...I heard dance music and had to go find the source--the fundraisers were having a party on the pier! I found a view of the stage and began sketching over a chain link fence...
Tina came to investigate, and the security guard (man in the "SAFETY" vest) graciously invited us into the party. We duly registered, and joined the festive crowd! I was seeing some messages I was needing and wanting to see...
I wasn't at all familiar with the Aga Khan Foundation--with a little research and conversations with participants and Sasha Rawji, the Marketing & Media Manager for the Aga Khan Foundation of Los Angeles, I discovered that while the community that follows the Aga Khan are American Muslims from all over the world, the Foundation itself is non-denominational, with all kinds of local volunteers. They serve communities across Africa and Asia with childhood development and health programs, literacy programs and more. I found the message "building better futures together" to be truly uplifting that day, and felt pride in the diverse community of my city!