Thursday, August 27, 2015


At Children’s Fairyland, we fire up the imaginations of little ones every day. Occasionally, though, we’re reminded that we can serve as a muse for adults as well.

Last week, after hours, we opened our fairy gates to half a dozen delightful members of the Urban Sketchers San Francisco Bay Area. They’re part of the global Urban Sketchers organization, whose mission is: “We aim to show the world, one drawing at a time.”  

Here’s what one of our visitors, Susan Ford, wrote on the group’s blog:

“When I saw The Lucky Dragon framed by that wacky wall and doorway, I had to sit right down and make a sketch. I always struggle with perspective accuracy and this colorful, off-kilter entrance was so much more fun to draw! Lucky Dragon's eyes rotated left and right, left and right. Only in a quiet Fairyland devoid of children are you aware of how loudly Dragon eyes squeak as they move.”

And from Carrie McClish:

“Everything was, of course, smaller but I can remember how happy a place it is. Especially for someone about three feet tall. There was Lucky the dragon with his fearless smile, Willie the whale, the little boot that kids still walk through to enter this whimsical place. When I came upon a castle, I had to sketch it!”

Other local institutions that have opened their doors to these local artists include the Oakland Zoo, the Ruth Bancroft Garden, Berkeley’s Edible Schoolyard and Oakland’s Champions of Humanity sculpture.

Urban Sketchers Bay Area is part of a global nonprofit organization that aims to “raise the artistic, storytelling and educational value of location drawing, promoting its practice and connecting people around the world who draw on location where they live and travel.”  

The rules of their game:
  1. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and where we travel.
  2. Our drawings are a record of time and place.
  3. We are truthful to the scenes we witness.
  4. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual styles.
  5. We support each other and draw together.
  6. We share our drawings online.
  7. We show the world, one drawing at a time.
Fairyland supports these wonderful goals, and believes that art can help create community. That’s why we’ll be holding our third annual “Drawn Together” event on Sept. 25—an adults-only event where attendees can watch more than 50 of our local artists creating site-specific artworks. Later in the evening, all of the art will be sold at a single flat rate, with proceeds going to help keep Fairyland affordable for all, and free for those most in need.

What we love about the event is the interaction between the artists and our guests, who roam the park at night, with food, drinks and music. A spirited contest occurs when more than one guest fancies a particular piece of art, but the mood is friendly and fun.

Here’s what a Swedish sketcher, Nina Johansson, said about creating this kind of art: 

“Drawing a city isn't just capturing it on paper, it's really about getting to know it, to feel it, to make it your own."

For information on how you can join our local urban sketchers—who welcome beginners with no artistic background—go to The group usually gathers on the first Thursday of each month for a sketch night that’s open to the public.

To learn more about Fairyland’s Drawn Together event, and to buy tickets, visit

-C.J. Hirschfield

C.J. Hirschfield has served for 13 years as Executive Director of Children’s Fairyland, where she is charged with the overall operation the nation’s first storybook theme park. Prior to that, she served as an executive in the cable television industry.  C.J. is former president and current board member of the California Attractions and Parks Association, and also serves on the boards of Visit Oakland and the Lake Merritt/Uptown Business Improvement District. C.J. writes a weekly column for the Piedmont Post and OaklandLocal, where she loves to showcase the beauty of her city and its people. She holds a degree in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University.

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