Volunteers at TLR

Still a highlight of my week, after 6 months of almost weekly visits, is The Living Room, a day shelter for at risk and homeless women and children. I’m a volunteer artist there, recording visual stories, making friends with the women, watching the children play, getting to know some of the unique challenges of living without a home.

Yesterday I hung out in the small building where all the clothing, toiletries, bedding and other donations come in. The two volunteers there allowed me to take up precious space while I sketched their story.

 

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In the hour I was there a steady flow of donations came in and the phone rang with offers of even more.

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It was quite a job, keeping track of it all, sorting and organizing. And I know from hanging out with the women who take advantage of this program, that these free items not only sustain them, but lift their spirits when so many other parts of their lives are not working for them. Being able to dress their children up in cute outfits, to bathe with fragrant toiletries and put on make up and dress in “new” outfits and jewelry, helps them to feel that at least some of the world is on their side.

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Honor Them

After so many years it’s become a habit. . .picture first and then the words follow. It’s a kind of ekphrasis. According to the Poetry Foundation, “an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.”

Sometimes this occurs as the art is being created, as in this case, when one pillar appeared and then more.

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monoprint, collaged monoprinted papers, acrylic, China marker on w/c paper

Those who grow our food are the pillars of our world.

Honor them.

Perhaps you would agree. And if they come from other countries, willing and eager, welcome them!

Back Yard Nature Journaling

It’s raining hard now of course, but earlier this week I treated myself to an hour in my studio garden without feeling compelled to pull any weeds! But I’m not one for idleness, so I found the largest Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar munching away on a vine, and brought him and the vine to the garden bench where I had my sketch stuff.

He/she hardly paused in the munch munching while I held the vine in one hand and sketched/painted with the other, observing up close the wonder of that marvelous insect body with all it’s colored spikes and feelers and legs it employed in the balancing act of moving the fat body sections along the stem. I have a hard enough time coordinating the movement of my four limbs. It’s hard to imagine all those parts moving in concert!

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The leaf was almost gone by the time I finished the painting and moved to the Matilija Poppies which were fluttering their ballerina tutus in the wind. And then I added the “adult”, parent? of the caterpillar. They were fluttering around the garden too quickly so I’ll admit I pulled out my phone and got a picture to source the image of that beautiful midnight blue and black butterfly.

There was no idleness anywhere around on this spring afternoon. The air was filled with bird song, that monotonous cooing of the doves and loud buzzing of scores, hundreds? of bumblebees.

Well actually there was the idleness of Phil the cat, who dozed while I sketched and later woke up to get his picture taken and claim some credit for the art.

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Watercolor Tips for the Urban Sketcher

The Watercolor Tips for the Urban Sketcher workshop was on Saturday, held at beautiful Sunset Gardens at Cornerstone in Sonoma. It was one of those exquisite sunny (but not hot) days and the gardens were showing off their spring blooms.

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I’d started the planning of this “new” workshop with a list of watercolor tips. It got very long and boring, because watercolor can be a challenge and there is so much to learn. So I broke it down into the elements that work best when you’re out “on the streets” sketching and need to get the color down quickly! We had spring flower gardens to entice and serve as subject matter, so that’s where the focus was.

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The demos were about getting juicy color down quickly, using analogous colors and complements to make interesting color shapes and create color drama.

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For the novices the workshop was about learning how to get rich color from the palette. More advanced students were encouraged to mix color on the paper, painting wet against wet, charging color into wet shapes, and painting lively shadows.

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The three hours went by in a heartbeat, with the fragrance of sweet peas and roses to intoxicate, and the good company of fellows sketchers to enjoy.

Show and Farewell Party at Pie Eyed Gallery!

Have you ever stopped in at the colorful Pie Eyed Gallery at 2371 Gravenstein Hwy South in Sebastopol to see Lauri Luck’s and other local artists’ work. . .and maybe have a piece of the most amazing pie? In any case you won’t want to miss this weekend’s show, which will be the last and have more art than ever – mine included. I’ve released a flight of my Party Chicks (paintings) for the show and I’ll be there this Friday for the opening. Hope you can make it. Here’s the details:

Opening: Friday May 10th from 3-7

May 11th and 12th, open both days 12-4

2371 Gravenstein Hwy South, Sebastopol

Look for the ART and PIE sign and turn at the Giant Yellow Duck!

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Nests and Eggs and Musings

The eggs that are hatching in my garden now are the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly larva. But for many years I had chickens behind the studio. And I’ve always been a bit enthralled, especially in spring with the way nature reproduces itself with the wonder of eggs and nests. My own wonder has led to incompetent to efforts to make nest-like constructions in my art. I suppose this one is the spring 2019 version, “hatched” in my Muse Group last month.

suspension

Suspension

hanging on by tendrils

threads woven of plant fiber

married with that animal matter of fertility

eggs colored pastel in dyes for the season

warming under feathered bodies before their big break.

mine are remembered each year in flat painted form

they have no smell, no thickness even,

but they will never crack

frozen in memory, always perfectly as they were/are

reminders of tadpole hunting in ponds

with little boys two decades ago

Ah, over two decades ago I haunted ponds in Tilden Park with two little boys who loaned me their wide open eyes each new day. Pollywogs and chrysalids came home with us from those expeditions, and frogs sang to us at night from our small backyard pond on Albany hill.