American Sketchbook – Part 3: San Francisco and LA

General notes: This is Part 2 of my sketchbook – Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here. These are sketches with (mostly) Pitt Artist Pens in a little Moleskine sketchbook. You can see larger versions by clicking on the pictures, which will take you through to their Flickr page.

So then I flew to San Francisco, where Katharine and Matt collected me at the baggage carousel, having recognised me from behind based on my hair in my sketches of myself.

We wandered the streets, ate in Chinatown and the next morning went to Alcatraz, where we made up facts and discussed possible adventures which could take place on the island. Escape from Alcatraz with Evil Clowns?

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Also possibly I spent too long living in institutions, because when people were exclaiming over the terrible cells, I thought they looked basic but tolerable? Plus – own toilet! (That is Katharine taking a photo of a painted sign commanding drivers to “Blow Your Horn”).

After Alcatraz and lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf, they departed and I wandered, watching the people, the ENORMOUS SEAGULLS, the bakers and performers until I reached the Musee Mechanique which for a free museum nearly ate a great deal of my money.

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It was full of old, operational amusement machines, photo booths, arcade games, fortune tellers, race tracks, automatons… each only a quarter or 50c to operate, and so fascinating to play and watch. Afterwards, I made my way up to Lombard Street, and down again, then had dinner in the pizza restaurant from the beginning of What’s Up Doc (one of my favourite movies and the reason I wanted to see San Francisco).

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The following day I wandered San Francisco – the Alta Plaza steps (damaged from the best car chase in film history of which this clip shows only a small part) to Haight Street to Mission.

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The houses of San Francisco are gorgeous – carved and painted, pillared and arabesqued. I was sketching one on a side street and met Joel (of ThinkWalks tours), who took me down other side streets to show me favourite and overlooked buildings, along with a brief account of the springs of San Francisco.

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In Mission I went to the committed and deeply amusing Pirate Store (San Francisco’s Only Independent Pirate Supply Store) at 826 Valencia, with its drawers of serpents, shelves of mermaid bait, imminent risk of swabbing, aquarium cinema and warm writing room.

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The weather was warmer here, and the flowers familiar. For most of my time walking, Josh Ritter’s “California” was playing in my mind. I obediently rode the cable cars.

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I ate maraschino cherries at the bar at the ornamental Sir Francis Drake hotel (where I stayed, thanks to my parents).

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I discovered a carousel, which no-one had told me to find, and of course rode it, then visited the Museum of Comic Book Art and SFMOMA, drew People In Galleries (as is my wont), and had cocktails in the Starlight Room before packing, which was a buoyant experience.

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Then at last to LA, where I had a 13 hour stopover, and could not check my luggage. After some emotional moments, compounded by loss of my long-suffering scarf and the difficulties of carrying two pieces of luggage and an ice-cream, I went (via protest delays) by shuttle bus to the airport Hilton, which kindly took my bags and booked me an afternoon bus tour of LA.

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Based on LAX, I had never the least desire to see LA, but the tour operator was funny and the passengers cheerful, the weather fair and now I feel surprisingly benevolent towards the city.

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Then more airport leisure and so, at last, in spite of my best efforts to watch The Fugitive, sleep and back to a Brisbane summer.

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Nothing remains besides a few pages of souvenired paper – LAX lost property information, scribbled-upon maps.

In all, I achieved my main aims: research on how to participate in an art show, Meeting Many People, eating my way across a continent, touring the locations of What’s Up Doc, and making solo international travel seem far less of a big deal than it was growing in my mind. And many more lessons and joys besides, which may or may not get another post once I catch up on other news.

But that is the sketchbook.

3 thoughts on “American Sketchbook – Part 3: San Francisco and LA

  1. Pingback: The Ministry of Silly Walks | Kathleen Jennings

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