Venice Beach and Santa Monica SketchbooksFor years Venice beach has been a place for rejuvenation of my creative energies.  Life in Manhattan is perpetually stressed, leading to rigidity and stagnation.  Nothing remedied this better for me than hopping on a plane to California to chill out in Venice.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

I would always take advantage of the time change, getting up super-early and experiencing sunrise over the beach, with shrieking sea gulls and the occasional pod of migrating whales off the shore.  Sand, sun, tattoo parlors, and vintage clothing shops – that was Venice for me.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

Once a backwater of Los Angeles ruled by gangs and drug dealers, Venice has recently become gentrified with rising rents and radically changed scenery.  Abbott Kinney was once an off-beat street with quaint small shops, now it’s become chic and upscale.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

On my visit this past Christmas, I watched as my favorite convenience store announced they were closing.  You can see rows of old buildings coming down where luxury condos will soon be built.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

The street art is pretty amazing, but some of the murals I photographed years ago have been painted over, covered up, or the buildings demolished.  The gangs are gone and on weekends it’s a mecca for tourists.  Many of the artisans who sold their handmade works have been replaced by vendors selling cheap tourist junk.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

The farmers market always offered new and delicious things.  I biked there and got handfulls of fresh dates and bags of juicy persimmons.  I practically lived on the oranges and tangerines when I stayed there.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

Venice still offers sketching opportunities and beach relaxation over freshly brewed local beer, with very interesting people watching. The back alleys off the main strip are great for exploring.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

There is bright sunshine, amazing sunsets, a fresh breeze off the Pacific Ocean, and drum circles on the beach that attract all sorts of interesting characters.  There is the ubiquitous scent of cannabis that is now legal in the State.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

One thing that has not changed is the huge numbers of homeless people who sleep in the alleys and tents that line the streets.  It’s very sad to see, and typical of much of California these days.  Many of these folks have a weary, tired look as they trudge along wrapped in blankets and rags.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

As always I could never completely escape my world as a geriatrician, so I always paid a visit to the historic Israel Levin Senior Center.  Over the years I became friends with and sketched many of the old folks who hung out here to take meals and socialize. 

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

So here is a selection of sketches completed in Venice and the neighboring town of Santa Monica.  All were done since 2012 when I rediscovered my art supplies that were in storage for too long.  I hope it conveys the energy vortex of Venice Beach and its environs.

Venice Beach and Santa Monica Sketchbooks

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Venice Beach Sketchbook