another san francisco day

Book Passage SF 021823 sm

It was another one of those days when I needed a day sketching in the city. I took the early train down to San Francisco, heading first to the Ferry Building of course, where I get my usual Saturday morning bomboloni from the lady that has a little stall there. It’s my old tradition. I ate them outside Book Passage, a little bookshop I always come into, and thought well I may as well draw this shop, I’ve been coming here for years. I would usually get a book that I could read at the end of my sketching day, either during my post-sketching beer or on the long train home. The book I saw today though was too big to want to carry around, it was Paul Madonna’s third and final All Over Coffee collection, I’ve loved those since first seeing the original book in a shop window in Berkeley in 2007. However the book was a bit too big and bulky to carry around all day so I left it; I’ll probably get it at City Lights later. So, on to the sketching and exploring. I wasn’t planning to go anywhere new on this day, but retread an old favourite area, North Beach, a good place to spend a Saturday. I always prefer exploring on Saturdays than Sundays; I’ve never liked Sundays much for doing things. Even as a teenager when I would get out on the bus or on the tube, Saturday was always the better day to explore. Sunday I like to stay at home. I found a seat in the shade of the Ferry Building and looked out at Telegraph Hill, with the colourful throngs of people milling about the Embarcadero in front of me, and Coit Tower poking up in the distance. And a blue cone, placed on the fence, important to include. I enjoyed drawing this scene. I was listening to an audiobook (about the Beatles probably), and my iPod slipped out of my pocket onto the ground. I only realized about 20 yards away when the voice in my ears abruptly stopped telling me about Ringo, and so I went over and there it was still on the ground where I’d been sitting. Must be more careful (and not put things in hoodie pockets). I like to have something to listen to while exploring.

Embarcadero view 021823 sm

So I walked towards North Beach, through Walton Square stopping off at the Safeway for a sandwich, up Pacific where I found the (currently closed) Old Ship Saloon I’ve heard of but never been to, and round to the steep climb of Broadway. I had wanted to draw the old signage on the big old clubs that line that street as it meets Columbus. I’ve drawn them before from the other side, back in 2014 which was, checks calendar, nine years ago now. How did that happen? I first drew this neighbourhood back in 2006. That was eight years before 2014. Well, let’s not look down, just keep on sketching. I may have had it in mind to do a panorama but I wasn’t quite up for that, so I drew these three big signs, and just like in 2014 I didn’t add much colour. I also had forgotten my red pen so used pink to substitute.

Broadway SF 021823 sm

It is fun to wander the streets and see how much they have changed since I first encountered them. North Beach being the italian part of town there were always the green white and red tricolores on lamp-posts and buildings, and I stood on Green Street and drew the scene looking down towards Columbus. The pandemic times forced restaurants and bars to move a lot of their seating outside, making the already tight sidewalks feel very cramped, and while people have moved back inside now, a lot of the outdoor areas remain, making it feel like you are walking through the middle of a busy restaurant by just walking down the road. I stood very near to where there used to be a little music store which I have sketched a couple of times (//” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>2007 and 2016) but is now a gallery; I think the record store may still exist just around the corner, I popped into a little one that reminded me very much of the old one, but maybe it was different. The local business owners were out and about in the street chatting to each other, I felt there was a bit of a community round here, and there was some sort of Mardi Gras event happening near here, people were starting to appear dressed in all sorts of colourful clothes. I wanted to show the lively neighbourhood in my sketch, hopefully it comes across. I couldn’t draw all the windows, by that point it was time to move along. I wandered into some shops, walked up Grant Street a bit, and then headed back downhill. I had no actual plan for the day, except to wander about with my sketchbook, which is the best plan anyway.

Green St SF 021823 sm

Part 2 coming next…