While the Golden Gate Bridge rates as one of the most photographed structures on the planet, new views of old landmarks still manage to intrigue us. A new travel book Very California: Travels Through the Golden State by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler (Algonquin) presents California's attractions in a refreshingly simply journal of watercolor sketches and handwritten text. To promote the book, Gessler and Algonquin decided to create a tour that would have the artist visiting and painting bookstores as part of the state's unique scenery. Ten independents, each one a community landmark in its own right, were chosen.
Gessler, a Florida resident, typically arrived early for her scheduled late-April and early-May appearances and started drawing. She usually began with a painting of the store's facade and then moved inside where she searched for the details that made each store unique. "For instance, each store had totally different step stools, or ladders," she told PW. "Book Soup in L.A. had bright orange and green hardware store ladders, and other stores had the work of local craftsmen. You have to look carefully to find the little touches that create ambiance." The original artwork of each store was given to that store to keep for display. When asked to name one of the most picturesque stores, Gessler hesitated but admitted that sitting in the flower garden outside the Thunderbird Bookshop on a sunny Carmel afternoon was a memorable pleasure.