How lucky we were

If I asked both groups of students from my recent workshops in Santa Barbara to pick a favourite day, I’m sure the answer would be unanimous: the day we sketched the architecture of Jeff Shelton. If you’ve never heard of Jeff, have a look at his work. I’ll let you do the research and come to your own conclusions about why his buildings are so much fun to draw.

The plan the first group was to draw Cota Street Studios for the morning, and then move to another location for the afternoon, but everyone loved the building so much that we decided to stay for the full day. And as an added bonus, some residents of the studios saw us drawing outside and invited us into the private courtyard to draw from there too. Such kindness and generosity!

Thanks to our brilliant organizer Jackie from French Escapade, on the last day of the workshop Jeff Shelton and his daughter Mattie dropped by to see our sketches and autograph his book The Fig District for us. He’s the man in the centre of the photo of the baseball cap and yardstick. As you can imagine, it was a huge treat for us to meet him and hear the stories of some of the buildings that we had seen during the week.

The following week, the second group of students had an equally amazing day. After spending the morning drawing vignettes at Cota Street Studios, we were invited to sketch around the corner, inside El Zapato — another very unique residence, with an incredible courtyard and a stunning rooftop view.

This group of students also had a wonderful surprise to end the week: an invitation to visit Jeff’s studio. Who doesn’t love a studio visit?

I have to say how touched I was by the kindness and generosity of Jeff, Mattie, Thomas & Kevin (who invited us into their private courtyard) and Carla who hosted us at El Zapato. I’ll add them to my LONG list of amazing people I have met while sketching on location.

In the midst of all of that excitement I did manage to get a few sketches done. One full page of vignettes at Cota Street Studios…

… one partial page at El Zapato…

… and one thank you card for Carla that we all signed.

15 Comments on “How lucky we were”

  1. jeanne1937 says:

    I really enjoyed this post and visiting Jeff Shelton’s website and seeing his unusual architecture as I love sketching and painting houses. there is a walking tour on utube that I want to watch I got from your link. Thanks so much for sharing.


  2. Betsy says:

    Oh, man!


  3. Wow! What a memorable time you had! I love these stories.



    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yvonne Carpenter says:

    Shari, what a fantastic location – i hope you go back next year!


  5. Northern Traveller says:

    Wow……!!!!!!!!!!!!! FANTASTIC. How lovely life and art and people can be :). xo


  6. Chris Rusk says:

    Awesome. One cannot help ‘freeing up’ with such ‘live’. architecture – everywhere!

    I am always smitten by enamelled anything. The ironworks were equally ‘mind bending’ too.

    You and your group were so lucky! Beautiful work.


    • Chris, all the ironwork gates and balconies are designed by Jeff’s brother. The whole family works on these!
      The tiles are quite fantastic too! For example, on El Zapato, the outdoor tiles are lobsters because Carla is originally from Maine. Jeff designs all of these details himself and his book is full of his original watercolour sketches.


  7. Nancy Poist says:

    What a wonderful experience for all! Yes, please plan again for next year; I would love to join in!


  8. That looks amazing, what an experience.


  9. Oh, I think if I had been there I would never want to leave. Both locations are wonderful and just make me smile!!! All the sketches are so charming and filled with joy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s