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Portsmouth has at least 6 coffee shops (by my count) in its quaint downtown area. I’ve tried them all. The busiest is Breaking New Ground (BNG for short), which is located right in Market Square, the center of Portsmouth. I used to go there often to read or draw, but it became a little too popular with the tourists and bikers for my taste.

I stumbled across another coffee shop a block away called Cafe Vonsolln. It’s named by its former German owner after a street in Munich, his home town. Cafe V is quiet, rarely crowded, and by my taste  has the best coffee in town. I go there to write, to paint, and to just be out in town.

The painting of the girl on the wall is from a series of paintings around town that the city commissioned several years ago. They’re all rather odd, and some are downright creepy—including this one. Best I can tell, this is a painting of a very serious girl with a jump rope surrounded by bees. Right.

Anyway, Sonia and I enjoyed a Sunday afternoon there, and I took out my sketchbook to catch the street scene. I tried to keep the sketch free and loose as I took it all in. Adding the shadows at the end is always a little anxiety-provoking for me. Once you lay down the shadow, you can’t take it back. But it really does add depth and texture to the painting.

I’m working on my characters/people — trying to keep them simple and right-proportioned. I’ve found that the more I work on a character, the more cartoon-ish it becomes. I’ve read one key is to taper the body down to pointed feet. At any rate, there are a few people in this sketch, and by and large I’m pleased with them. 🙂

Overall, a great way to spend an afternoon!

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