Gray Skies at Torrey Pines II

Sketch of Torrey Pines Beach by Sarah Sullivan

Gray Skies at Torrey Pines II

This is the second of two sketches I started two days ago. It is very similar to the one I posted Thursday but has two figures in the foreground. In both cases, I used a limited palette of white along with two complementary colors, Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Orange for the first and then Phthalo Blue and Pyrolle Orange for this one today. It is interesting how the change of colors also changes the mood of the sketch.

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Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a Woman with attitude


I sketched this morning with the San Diego Watercolor Society’s weekly life drawing group. I particularly like this model because she projects a range of attitudes. This 20- minute pose was towards the end of the morning, and we were all running out of steam.  As I considered the way she put up her feet and sternly looked at us, I felt that her inner voice must surely have been asking a rhetorical question along the lines of, ‘Really, this is the best you can do?”

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Gray Skies at Torrey Pines

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Torrey Pines with Gray Skys

Gray Skies at Torrey Pines

It was overcast today at Torrey Pines, and the hill in the background seemed to be part of the sky. After a bit, the light changed, and I put this sketch aside to work on a second sketch. Now I think I like this one best, even though the part of me that wants to cover all the paper with paint is not satisfied with the black areas in front.

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Wave Watcher

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a beach scene

Wave Watcher

I spent the morning at Torrey Pines State Beach and sketched this figure sitting out by the waves.

This is an acrylic and gouache sketch on a sheet of 12 X 12- inch black paper.

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Beach Soccer, Two On One

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of a Beach Soccer Game

Beach Soccer, Two On One

I worked from photos again today, trying to capture multiple types of movement. I wish I had left more of the background unpainted, it would have strengthened the focus on the figures

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Run, Run from that Wave!

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of Children Playing in the Waves

Run from that Wave!

Today I used some photos from my nephews’ recent visit and worked at capturing their delight in the waves.

This is an acrylic and gouache sketch on an 8 X 12 -inch black paper.

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What’s a Great Place for Visiting Nephews?

Sketch of two small boys at Torrey Pines Beach by Sarah Sullivan

What’s a Great Place for Visiting Nephews?

My two great-nephews, along with their parents and grandparents, are in town for spring break. Of course, we went out to Torrey Pines State Park, checked out the nature center, hiked the beach trail and played along the shore. And I had the opportunity to sketch these two amazing kids as they shoveled sand, threw rocks, and poured water.

This is an 8 X 12 -inch gouache sketch on black paper

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Sun on the Cliffs at Torrey Pines

Painting of Sunlight on the Cliffs at Torrey Pines by Sarah Sullivan

Sunlight on the Cliffs at Torrey Pines

I went back again to Torrey Pines and painted the same scene as I did three other times in the past week. I feel like I was able to integrate what I learned about the shape of the cliffs, the way the cliffs relate to the beach and the water, and the color. I am still thinking about some of the parts. I may darken the shore along the lower left side and smooth out some of the clouds in the upper center of the sky.

This is a 17 X 12- inch painting on black paper. I used acrylic, gouache, and watercolor.

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Painting by Sarah Sullivan of a Seascape


I often tell myself that I will use my sketches as a basis for a painting. But I don’t do it because making decisions about a painting when I can’t see the subject directly is tough.

Today I took the sketches from 3/20 and 3/21 and, on a much larger sheet of paper, painted this seascape. I liked the cliffs from 3/20 and the shore from 3/21 and wondered about combining the two parts.

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Student Voices

Sketch by Sarah Sullivan of the March for Our Lives

Student Voices

How is it that students can express simple truths while we older folk get it all muddled up?

I was at the San Diego March for Our Lives this morning, listening and learning. Here are some of the simple truths that I read and heard:

  • Schools are for learning, not for lockdowns.
  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
  • Black lives matter.
  • Fear has no place at school.
  • 18th-century laws don’t work for 21st- century assault weapons.
  • Am I next?
  • Vote them out.
  • I am a girl, I have less rights than a gun.
  • Mental illness is universal, mass shootings are American.
  • Never again.
  • I’m not bulletproof.
  • Thoughts, prayers, action.
  • Disarm hate.
  • Will I live to vote?
  • Protect kids, not guns.
  • I deserve better.
  • We demand effective gun control.
  • Help students, not the NRA.
  • March, discuss, vote.
  • Student lives matter.



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