Sketching the Symphony and Street Music

Our Santa Rosa Symphony orchestra has a Discovery Series of concerts where you can sit in on a real rehearsal of an upcoming program. The seats are affordable and you can sit up close if you get there early enough. So if it looks like these sketches are done from close up, you’re right. Second row orchestra seats at the Green Center.

concert1

pen and watercolor in soft cover Stillman + Birn Beta sketchbook, 5.5X8.5″

That meant that mostly I saw the front row of violinists (younger and older) and the back of the conductor.

concert2

Wanting to be as discreet as possible I sketched with a pen, then added a bit of paint at home afterwards.

concert3

When they moved the piano on stage for the Ravel Concerto and placed it, yes, that close, well. . .and then Stewart Goodyear came out cool as a cucumber and those fingers rained notes, not like individual ones, but a curtain of music, and so easeful. And well I guess you can see I got a bit wrapped up in the shape of his beautiful shiny head. . .but the fingers – ahh – and conductor Andrew Grams hands – ahh. And Ravel’s romantic music – ahh.

concert4

That was some concert! and ending with Clair de Lune!

Later in the week Bob and I spent a day in Berkeley and Emeryville, our old haunting grounds before we moved to Sonoma County. We stopped for some lunch and window shopping on Fourth Street in Berkeley.

4thStreet

And while sipping a Pumpkin Latte outdoors at Peet’s I had a few minutes to sketch. The East Bay Urban Sketchers sketched in this location for their meet-up this week. Rather than the bright sunlight, they captured the bright lights of decorations at night. Check out their wonderful sketches from the night scene here!

And for more sketches on Fourth St. in Berkeley go to this one from two years ago when we made the same trip! https://susancornelis.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/in-the-sketchbook/

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A-bombination

If you let one thing lead to another, you might end up with these. . .

bombinate

monoprint with fluid acrylics on BFK Rives paper and stone paper collage, 10 X 11″

Bombinate. I bomb. You bomb. We bomb. They bomb-inate [buzz and hum] and taste the sweetness of the seasons, a spicy mixture of humus and herbs.

Abom(b)ination, an assault, an intense combination of bombs and angry countries, nations in abom(b)inate mode with no nature to groove on or calm them down.

I’ll bombinate with the mushrooms and lichen, hum for world peace and try not to expect too much, too soon. Try not to be too disappointed when the bumblers don’t return and the other kind of bombing abominators get too bumbling.

Dictionary definitions:

bombinate: to make a humming or buzzing noise

abomination: a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit, etc.

You probably know what I’m getting at here without my spelling out the politics of it. The art technique of it is more fun to talk about. In Muse Group we used stone paper for the printing plate in our lesson on monoprinting.  Not the usual, but that’s what we had. The “plate” was in most cases more interesting than the print.

yellowfloweracrylic on stone paper with collage, 10 X 11″

Can you see how the print at the top is the mirror image of this one?  The stone paper is a bit like Yupo, if you’ve ever tried that. You get all kinds of interesting textures with juicy paint. Use a rubber tipped color shaper to scrape paint off before it dries. After pulling a couple prints I did some scraping and shaping and let this one dry, then added color and line and collage elements later.

The word bombinate came from interesting-word-file which I started years ago. I could just imagine the bumble bees going after the pollen in this delectable flower!

The Botany of Fire

As the fires now rage in southern California those of us in the north watch with compassion and relive the terror of those days in October when we watched our city burn. In the interim we’ve had good bit of rain to green things up here and to begin the clearing of properties. Yesterday I turned my attention to some of the strange and, dare I say, wonderful vegetation that survived the burn on a property where the dwelling sadly burned to the ground.

AngelaRd2pen and w/c with white gouache in 9 X 12″ toned Stillman and Birn sketchbook

A palm tree, blackened and charred but possibly not all the way through. These plants hold secrets within their cells that we could learn from.

AngelaRdbark

Trees don’t bleed like humans, except metaphorically.  These palms are relatives of the grasses with fibrous material to the core. I’m rooting for them to shed their outer layers and come back with fronds greener than ever. The hillside above and below here was already vibrant with luxurious new growth fertilized by the ash.

AngelaRd1

But for now these ghostly figures tell the story of the raging fires. Quan Yin silently witnessed it all and now watches over the restoration. She stands serene and unwitting of the worry that this artist has placed on her brow in the art here. This is after all my telling of the story, with hopefully enough of the recognizable to touch some place in you.

 

Doorways to openess

Fountaingrove is where neighborhoods of gorgeous homes sit in the hills above the city of Santa Rosa. They are the homes to many of our doctors and other professionals. It used to be that if you drove around you’d notice the homes and landscaping. The properties cleared out now by the Tubbs fire of two months ago, your eye is now drawn first with dismay to rubble from the fire and then to the lovely brick and masonry entranceways that lead the eye unobstructed to open views of the valley below.

fountaingrove1

Or in this case to a house across the ravine that did not burn.

fountaingrove2

On this cul de sac the workmen were busy doing the work of clearing debris. No shovels and wheelbarrows here! I have captured only a couple of the machines at work. “The Claw” does most of the heavy lifting. And there’s a fellow who sprays a stream of water to keep any particles from going airborne. The woman in the bright vest was seated for a while watching the action. I figured she was there to direct traffic or something. But suddenly she jumps up and starts barking loudly enough for two back hoe operators to cease their machines’ noisy rumbling and listen to her instructions.

She came over to check out my drawing and introduced herself as a QC operator. That stands for quality control, if you hadn’t guessed. So the construction guys have to pay attention to her. She explained that there are different companies working contracted to work together to get the job done quickly and safely. These were homes built after 1980 so they didn’t have to worry about asbestos control and the job was going more quickly. It was getting dark when I left and they worked on. I liked the idea of a pretty lady boss, so I put her in the sketch twice!

Beauty among the ashes

Exploring yet another burned out neighborhood in the path of the October 8 Tubbs fire I drove out Mark West Springs road. While walking down a street of flattened homes this antique car rose out of the ashes and stared at me like a giant beetle. The squashed garbage cans seemed to be having a dialogue with it, so I sat down to listen to what they had to say about the event.

antiquecar

pen, watercolor and gouache in 9 X 12″ Stillman + Birn toned Nova series sketchbook

The constant drone and thunking of the bulldozer down the street and conversation of workers kept me company while I followed the lines with my eyes, unencumbered by knowledge of familiar shapes I’d drawn before. Squashed circles and wavy/sharp edges and broken pieces set the brain free to engage in a pure effort of drawing as it should be, without distractions of the mind.

A couple of workman stopped by to ask me if I had lost my house here. People are always ready to offer condolences. A supervisor with a company on contract with FEMA or OSHA or, I wasn’t quite clear, engaged me in conversation. He had come from Miami, where he lives.

“I was there in the middle of the hurricane destruction,” he said, “and it looked a lot like this does” waving his hand over the flattened neighborhood they were clearing.

markwest

Continuing up Mark West Springs way and out Reibli road and other country lanes, I traced more of the fire destruction and found a peaceful spot by the side of the road. It was a typical scene with layered colors of alternating lush vibrancy and dark, burned areas with debris, like the trees above, still green at the tops with browned scorched leaves and black charred trunk. The human habitation was leveled and peppered with white and black ashes, and the grasses were surging back encouraged by recent rains. Even here the cranes and bulldozers droned on in their clearing jobs around every corner in the road.

She has a lot to balance

balance

fluid acrylics mixed with pouring medium on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

She has a lot to balance right now. Sometimes she wonders if she’s up to it, what with all the competing demands for her time.  Often two opposing forces merge in a fast moving river and she gets taken downstream for a while until she can find a grassy bank or sandy bottom to gain a foothold. She would like to say “It’s my life, my decision what I do now.” But she knows there’s no point. She’d make the same choices and end up here again.

And then she notices. . .how rather perfectly that ball is already balanced. . .

Is there anything more wonderful than watching paint flow?! Tipping and pouring and tipping back another way and watching the streams of color merge. Then maybe someone or some creature or story emerges. In this case it was a woman and the ball she is balancing was a medallion made of poured paint that completed her story. Two very simple paint strokes finished it. Can you guess where?

Moving on a bit

The fire contemplation persists, though not on purpose. This lady rises up on her own, appearing during a string of bad hair days, determined to use that which she has at hand to have her say.

ladyofflames

acrylic and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Lady of flames has moved on to egg laying, using ashes to adorn her hair, and pieces of bark and branches in her hat. And from this unlikely combo sprouts a bloom and a brand new egg.  How amused she is by this hat-become-nest. A new fashion. Combined with a bit of feather and frill it suits her healing spirit. And all the while a heart shaped coal burns softly in her throat, reminding her of the flame from which she so recently arose.

The fire engine red of the trucks and the fire itself has become the firey red of autumn foliage, vineyards in richer warm hues than any palette could produce. I no longer have hens, but I know that they lay fewer eggs when the days grow short. Then each egg becomes a special gift.

Perhaps an egg would heal my hair problem?