the full monterey

Monterey Fishermans Wharf Pier sm

One last one from Monterey. Click picture to make grow in size.

I’ve wanted to sketch the Old Fisherman’s Wharf at Monterey for a long time, it is very sketchable. When I first heard of it I imagined an old Klingon in a dinghy, but it’s a weather-beaten pier with garish candy stores, whale-watching tours, non-kid-friendly seafood restaurants and tacky souvenir shops. Apart from all that it’s great. They have a few sealions hanging out at the end for people to look at (the first time I came there were hundreds, but they must have had enough and left) and occasionally massive pelicans perch on the railings because they just don’t care; you wouldn’t if you were a bird with a mouth that big. It’s very pretty from here though, and so on our last day I finally got a chance to sketch it. It was a beautiful sunny day and very pretty beside the beach. Boats moored in the harbour swayed gently, seagulls squawked, people strolled hand in hand on the sand. I was going to colour the whole thing in, but I left it just with the Wharf coloured, but imagine it all blue and pretty. Yeah, I love Monterey.

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lovers gonna love

monterey peninsula coastline
I love the sea. I love the land even more, because I tend not to sink when I stand on it, but the ocean is definitely nice to look at. The Monterey Peninsula has some dramatic coastline, and on our recent trip we were blessed with fog-free weather. The fog would hang out in the distance and occasionally wander in, but mostly it was very sunny. Above is a sketch I did while we were hanging out and hopping around rock pools at one of the beaches just west of Monterey itself.
lovers point, pacific grove
Later that day, we spent a few hours at our favourite little beach, Lover’s Point. Lovers gonna love. We really do love this spot, a very short walk from where we stay in Pacific Grove. We’ve been coming here since our son was about two, making sandcastles, paddling in the water, getting sandwiches stolen by seagulls (out of my hand! My actual hand!). This time we saw a whale! It was pretty majestic, what looked like a humpback whale, its tale coming out of the waters of the bay. There were a couple of them but I only saw the one. I’ve never seen a whale before.
Monterey Bay Aquarium

If you want sea-life though, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the place. It’s a brilliant aquarium (the large red octopus is my favourite, and it spread its tentacles across the glass) and I took the opportunity to sketch some of the fish and other creatures. Sketching fish, you need to be fast.

nice times in pacific grove

Pacific Grove house
Pacific Grove is lovely. We stayed in a beautiful little house not far from the beach, just a few houses up from the place we stayed back in 2010. This isn’t it; this is the view from the window, which I sketched early on the first morning, while my son played on the Wii. All of the buildings around there are so lovely, and I was going to do a panorama, but we had to go to the Aquarium. I could sketch Pacific Grove for ever. The house we rented really was lovely, but I never sketched it from the outside; next time. I did sketch the living room on the second morning, while we all sat around (my son’s on his Wii U again, my wife is on her iPad).
pac grove living room
Here’s another beauty of an old building, around the corner on Lighthouse Avenue. I sketched it from across the street (right after sketching that fire hydrant; see last post). Imagine living in a building like this, old and full of places to explore. Maybe hidden passageways and secret doorways behind bookshelves, and paintings with eyes that follow you around the room. I was going to finish this off with some colour, but we had ordered pizza, so back home I went.
lighthouse ave, pacific grove

hail hydrant!

fire hydrant on lighthouse, pacific grove
It’s been a couple of years since I last drew a fire hydrant, no kidding. That is, a sketch of a hydrant that is not a smaller detail of a bigger picture. Oh and not counting the underground one I drew in London last summer. So on our recent weekend away to Pacific Grove, on the Monterey Peninsula, I took the opportunity to sketch at least one that I’ve not captured before. Felt great to sketch a new one after all this time. I’ve not sketched any because I haven’t seen any I haven’t already sketched. Yeah, I’ve sketched ‘Jones’ ones this shape before I’m sure, but not this colour, this weird weather-worn slightly oxidized metal. It looks like an ancient junked-up Dalek. This one is up at Lighthouse Avenue, in Pacific Grove, and I giggled away listening to the Football Weekly podcast while sketching it. Oh fire hydrants, it is good to be back.

Hey, if you want to see the rest of them, why not go and my ‘hydrants and pipes‘ set on Flickr?

a door on the beach

Pacific Grove Beach Door
On our trip to Santa Cruz, we drove down to the other end of Monterey Bay to Monterey itself, where we go every year. We spent a foggy morning at the playground, before spending a foggy morning at our little beach in Pacific Grove. Yes, the morning was foggy, but it burned off eventually. It wasn’t the only thing that burned. My feet, for one. The sunscreen went on them later than the rest of me, and it was too late. That stung later. Lesson learned. It was while I sat sketching this door, which is a sea-kayaking place. This was in the Moleskine with the uni-ball signo pen which of course runs a little when you add watercolor (I knew this and wanted it to add a bit of rough darkness to the stones), but which has amazing accuracy and control when sketching, more than any other pen I have used.

sketching lover's point beach

recently-burned feet just out of view

cannery row in monterey in california

stohans gallery

Cannery Row in Monterey is an interesting place to sketch, and I’ve had my eye on this building above for a few years now. This ramshackle former gallery sits right on the waterfront, grizzling in the Ocean fog, timbers presumably shivering. I got out one afternoon while other family members tried to take an afternoon nap (not an easy task given the noise of seagulls and traffic), and sketched down Cannery Row.

 

cannery row monterey

This end is closer to the Aquarium, and is a tourist-trap mecca. Signs everywhere offer quotes from Steinbeck to people who go, ah yeah, must read that book some day, get an idea of what it was like, and then never read it, because they don’t really need to know what it was like beyond what the signs in the street tell them (that would be me, then). I can imagine the smell and the noise and the seagulls following trawlers because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea, and I can say it probably isn’t too different from today, except the smell is more likely to be chipotle grilled popcorn or something. Still it’s fun, and not quite as trashy as Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf pier (popular with pelicans and parolees on the day I went there). I’ll keep going back.    

 

monterey hydrant

Finally, of course, a fire hydrant. While sketching this, a group of young men stopped to look at my sketchbook, and one of them, a black lad decked out in hip-hop gear, was so impressed he said, “Man, you got a motherf*#*#r’s details, man!” I cracked up; that was hands down the best compliment I’ve ever received. Especially for drawing a fire hydrant! And so, I went and met the family for a cold ice cream and a hot brownie. I do love Monterey. We go there every year.

under the sea

monterey bay aquarium

A few weeks ago we spent the weekend in Monterey, staying near Cannery Row. We like it down there – it’s a nice cool place to escape frm the central valley heat. The place we stayed at was a little noisy though, not just from traffic, but from seagulls, bloody seagulls all hours of the day and night. I love the sea, really really love it, I feel at home beside the big blue, but for the seagulls. Always folloiwng the trawler, thinking that sardines will be thrown into the sea, zut alors. Give me the things that swim below the waves. To see them, we went to Monterey Bay Aquarium.

This was the third time we’ve been. The first time was nice and relaxing, while the second time was less so (it was the addition of a constantly-running one-year-old, you see). This time was nicer; the one-year-old is now three, and a little more interested (but not as interested as he was in the trolley buses outside). I did what sketching I could (fish move pretty fast), and it was not easy in those large rooms with the deep sea tanks, it was dark and like drawing blind (and my green and blue microns were near invisible). That Ocean Sun Fish was an odd fish – absolutely huge, it was shaped more like an enormous chicken nugget than a fish.

hovden cannery pipes

The remnants of the old sardine canning industry can be seen here still, and there were lots of cool pipes and industrial features to draw. I love these sorts of things, they remind me of the game Mouse Trap. Thankfully, no little cage rattling down a pole, just a lot of people crowding in the gift shop.