Monday, January 30, 2012

Sketches from San Francisco

Here are some sketches inspired by our trip. Pat worked with watercolours, while I spent most of my time using pen and wax crayons (one of my new favourite materials).

Pat painted these trees while we sat in Golden Gate Park.

Pat and I sketched together on the pier. This is Pat's painting of the city skyline.

Meanwhile, I sketched objects in the water.

A collage page from my sketchbook, with ephemera from our trip.

Lately I have been playing around with felt. These are little experiments based on different animals we saw on our trip (rockfish, porpoise, and moon jelly). I might try to make some wee birdies, next.

- Liz

Saturday, January 7, 2012

SF Part 5 (Final): California Academy of Sciences

On the final day of our trip, we went to the California Academy of Sciences! The Academy houses an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, a natural history museum, and it features a living roof. The California Academy of Sciences is located in Golden Gate Park, across from the de Young Museum and the Music Concourse.

We spent an afternoon walking through the beautiful exhibits. My favourite was the Amazon aquarium tunnel, with red-tailed catfish, arapaima, and pacu!

Walking through the rainforest.

Giraffe mount.

Pat and a cougar friend.

Liz on the living roof.

California coastal tank.

Amazon tunnel!

Thanks to friends and family for all the support they have given (and continue to give!), allowing us to finish our school semester and then go on such a wonderful trip. What a tremendous way to start a new year!

And thank-you all for stopping by to catch-up with our adventures!

- Liz

SF Part 4: Monterey and the Coast

One day during our trip, Pat and I took a tour along the coast from San Francisco to Monterey and Carmel. It was wonderful to see the different features of the coast beyond the city, and it also gave us the opportunity to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
I have long been obsessed (I'm sure this will come as a shock) with aquaria and exhibit design, so our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium was one I had long anticipated! Pat and I are also followers of the illustration and design work of Jeff Hoke (author/curator of the Museum of Lost Wonder, and senior exhibit designer at Monterey), and it was great to see projects he worked on, in the round. The integration of exhibits with the building's natural surroundings was wonderful, and we were delighted by both the animals on display and the wild creatures we could view from the windows and decks of the aquarium.

View from the observation decks.

Shorebirds exhibit, with windows out to the bay.

View into the kelp forest tank.

Grey whale model, floating by the ceiling.


Sea turtle.

Cannery Row
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located in the historic Cannery Row area of Monterey. While this part of the town has largely been remodelled to house shops and restaurants, there is one small, preserved building we sought out: Ed Ricketts' lab.

Ed Ricketts was a marine biologist during the 20's, 30's and 40's and, beyond his notable work in the sciences, he is also known for his friendship with writer John Steinbeck. Together, Ricketts and Steinbeck wrote The Log from the Sea of Cortez, and Ricketts was the model for several characters in Steinbeck's works. Curiously, mythologist Joseph Campbell also worked at the lab as an assistant.

The lab, at 800 Cannery Row.

Bird Rock
During our trip, we also stopped by Bird Rock, found along 17 Mile Drive. This natural attraction boasts great views of seabirds, seals and sea lions, although we were just as happy to watch the bold little ground squirrels.

Scenic views.

Ground squirrel!

Our poor little camera wasn't able to capture great pictures of the animals on the rocks, so we used one of those coin-operated telescopes to enhance our views.

The result:
Not bad...

The Lone Cypress
The iconic Lone Cypress can also be seen from 17 Mile Drive. The tree is around 250 years old, and belongs to a subspecies found only in northern California. Although other cypress trees have lived to be much older, some believe, because of its tenuous grip on the rock, that the Lone Cypress may be approaching the end of its life.

Our final stop was the picturesque town of Carmel. We briefly considered spending time looking in shops and galleries, but quickly decided we would rather go to the beach. Carmel Beach was gorgeous, and a great way to end the day.

Beach view, 1.

Beach view, 2.

Pat on the beach.

Pat in a tree.

Return of the kooks.

One remaining post...
- Liz

Friday, January 6, 2012

SF Part 3: Around Town

We spent much time traveling around San Francisco and the bay. Below are some of our adventures around town!

Sittin'. The best way to start an adventure?

Fisherman's Wharf:
Fisherman's Wharf is an amazing tourist trap, at once charming and repulsive. We spent a good deal of time walking around the piers that comprise Fisherman's Wharf, enjoying the bay and eating so much food.

Sushi lunch. Unbelievable.

Soft-shell crab. Om-nom-nom-nom.

View from the sushi restaurant.

Pat in the fog, looking handsome.

Pat in the sun, sketching.

Musée Mecanique:
Fisherman's Wharf is also home to one of my favourite museums, Musée Mecanique. It is a large, converted warehouse that houses arcade games, music makers, and automatons from various decades. The games are all still functioning, and are much loved and abused by the crowds that visit. Entrance to the museum is free, and the games generally cost .25 to $1 to play. Our favourites are the fortune-telling automatons (which sadly photograph very poorly, behind glass and in low light). Some other highlights:

Monkey band.

Baseball and pinball, together!


During our last visit to San Francisco, Pat and I passed very briefly through Chinatown. This time around, we took a nice leisurely stroll through the major streets (we heard later that there are some excellent alleyways that we should have looked for). It was an overcast day, but all the colourful decorations and storefronts were a nice contrast.


Ferry Tour:
On the way back from Muir Woods, Pat and I took the ferry from Sausalito back down to San Francisco. The ferry ride took us from Sausalito to Tiburon, then by Angel Island and Alcatraz Island, before landing in Fisherman's Wharf. We saw seabirds, sea lions, and a porpoise on our trip!

Golden Gate Bridge:
We were lucky and had some clear-weather days when we visited the bridge and travelled around the bay.

Golden Gate Bridge.

Marina, from a lookout.

Still more to come...
- Liz

SF Part 2: Muir Woods

Muir Woods National Monument is home to the world's tallest species of tree (Sequoia Sempervirens), known by the common names 'coastal redwood' and 'California redwood'. Many of the trees in the park have lived for over one thousand years. It is estimated that about 5% of the naturally occurring (worldwide) population of these trees remain today, after the effects of commercial logging.

The park itself was established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, and was named in honour of naturalist John Muir. The land for the park was donated by William Kent and his wife, Elizabeth Thacher Kent, who had intended to protect the land from commercial development.

Pat and I visited Muir Woods 5 years ago, and since then it has been an obsession for both of us. During the last year of our undergrad, Pat created many multimedia projects based on our experiences at the park, and those experiences changed how we both approach image-making. It is an amazing and awe-inspiring place to visit, and we were happy to be back.

Pat at the main gate.

Some indication of scale...

Mythic raven.


More to follow...
- Liz