30 Faces/30 Days on the 18th day

I’m still at it most (not every) days, trying out the prompt on Sktchy’s 30 Faces/30 Days challenge. Each day comes with a teacher’s tip and a photo of a “Muse” to sketch. I’m learning so much, and finding some new teachers with different approaches to infuse into my own portrait work.

The following are my sketches, with the names of the teachers who gave the tips listed. You might want to look them up, or have a try at the challenge! It’s a course this month, for only $30.

30-30negativespace

Look how simple! Just drawing quickly in pencil, and picking two shapes , negative/positive, to add color. (teacher Chantal V.)

30_30sculpt

Using line here in a sculptural way. (teacher patrick Hochstenbach)

30_30Teeth

I did love it, for the first time ever, doing teeth! (Teacher Margriet Aasman)

30_30markproportions

Marking off proportions first for greater accuracy. (Teacher: France Van Stone)

30_30warmcoolshadows

Contrasting warm and cool colors. What an expression, huh! (teacher Gunhild Hope)

30_30energizingline

This one on gray toned paper. Making lines with energy!  (Teacher: Margriet Aasman) The gray paper somehow makes it easier to tone the skin color. There’s almost no white here, just a tad on the lip and not even in the eye!

 

Bay Area Transit Adventure

Monday was total transit adventure. Remember that hilarious movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Marten and John Candy? Well, it wasn’t that bad, but I think door to door the travel time to San Francisco and back was six hours. So much for the SMART train with its new connection with the ferry at Larkspur Landing. But hey, Bettina and I needed an adventure.

Mine started with squeezing into the very last parking place at the airport stop at 8am and then spending most of the train ride on the phone with my husband, who finally drove out to the parking lot to get my (new) license plate number so that I could pay my parking fee of $2.35 online.

The train is really comfortable, though Monday turned out to be the one day when the coffee bar is not open! And although the train now goes to Larkspur, the walk to the ferry is a good 10-15 minutes and there are no signs and several turns.

transit1

But all that was forgotten when we arrived at the Salesforce Transit Center and took the gondola up to the garden which, like the High Line in NYC, is a lavish oasis surrounded by the city’s highest skyscrapers. We met up with Cathy and hunkered down next to the trail which, midday on a work day, is a virtual parade of office workers, many in pairs, discussing margins, capitol incentives, chips on the table, androids and other engineering and marketing team issues. Since they were walking quickly past, I got just bits of phrases. . .

transit4

The reflections are as spectacular as on an alpine lake!transit2

After an hour or so the sketch opportunities had not diminished, but our tolerance for the corporate talk we’d been hearing had dried up, and we headed back to the other transit center, namely the Ferry Building.

transit3

to watch the afternoon rush hour unfold at the Golden Gate Ferry we would be taking home. We watched until the next ferry arrived, and headed into the throngs just as it was loading, figuring that would be our best chance to get a spot.

ontheferry

And we made it on! got a seat and everything. Had a glass of wine and enjoyed the trip across the now dark Bay. This sketch was from the morning run, and the sea motion made it a bit rocky.

And then we arrived, with 6 minutes to dash in the dark across a busy parking lot, down a path, dodging the bikes whizzing by, left along a busy throughway, up a steep ramp and across a bridge, huffing and puffing, and gasping for air we caught sight of our train, just pulling out of the station . . .without us.

My husband texted me that running and missing a train sounded romantic! Ha. Not to worry though, as we soon caught the next one and spent the next hour chatting with the conductor who was full of useful information about why things are the way they are in train- and ferry- land, while we finished our sketches.

A long day, to be sure, and I’m not sure I’ll leave the car at home next time. But all in all, a satisfying adventure, not soon forgotten. You should try it!

The Sweetest Cat no longer in this world

We’ve known for the past month that our beloved Phil, the sweetest cat in the world, was preparing for his final passage. It almost seemed he was waiting to spend his last days with the boys who grew up with him. Who can know such things? They lavished him with attention in the two weeks they were here for the holidays and he responded with steady purrs and the kitty conversation Phil was known for. He passed away on the evening the full moon rose.

philcollage

All my students and many folks who came to open studios over the years will remember Phil, because he was the official greeter, happy to receive a neck or belly scratch from all visitors.

I’ve gone back in history to find sketches and paintings of Phil I have posted here on the blog. The above collage is his “official” portrait, hanging in our home along with other beloved pets.

philhelps

I was never able to sketch or garden in our yard without the company of Phil. He would nudge me to let me know I must give him attention before I could get on with my business.

phil

When I was trimming plants in the garden I would have to take special care not to snip his whiskers or tail, because he couldn’t seem to get close enough and was always talking.

phil

Phil would eventually find a spot on the bench to nap after a long spell of purring.

phil

Phil was a teenager when he adopted us about 17 years ago, just showing up and insisting in no uncertain terms that we belonged to him!

sunrisePhil

He acquired the habit of throwing himself down suddenly in front of people on our walkway, exposing his belly, with a clear message that he was to receive love before one could proceed.

sylvester

And then Sylvester showed up, and his devotion to Phil was so complete that even though Phil gave him the message, in no uncertain terms, that this property was  his territory, Sylvester persisted. . .and eventually they came to terms with the arrangement and became Phil and Syl, eating, sleeping, and lounging together. When I finally got around to doing Sylvester’s portrait, I knew it would be incomplete without his best friend.

Recently on the cold winter nights when Phil was so weak, Sylvester warmed him with his body and checked on him throughout the day.

This may not be the end of my portrait-making of Phil, though it is the end of Phil, the sweetest cat in the world, who we will never forget! The boys want to plant a tree in the yard for him above where he is buried.

We would love to hear any of your memories of this lovable feline family member!

30 faces/30 days

Another one of those 30 day challenges? Yeah, I’m afraid so. This one was right up my alley, so I couldn’t resist – Sktchy apps‘ draw 30 faces in 30 days. Sktchy app “is a portrait artist’s dream come true. Join to share your art, connect with fellow artists around the world, find and save inspiring reference photos and participate in our weekly Portrait Party.” And this month you can also get all kinds of tips on interesting ways to fertilize your practice of obsessive portrait sketching!

So I signed up for it. And I’ll be sharing some of my portraits here, for better or worse, because that’s what always happens when you plunge into a challenge!

30.30blind

Day one gave tips on warming up with blind contour drawing. I hate to say this, but I like this blind contour (meaning you don’t lift your pen/pencil once or look at your paper while drawing) drawing better than most of my other faces.

 

30.30day

But I couldn’t resist doing it again, not blind. I like the first drawing better, it’s more interesting.

30.30Maura

My son was still home, along with his partner Maura, and they enjoy sketching too, so there was a fair amount of time spent at the dining room table sketching each other.

30.30AndrewNaw!

and I was having difficulty catching him at the right angle and in the right light, so I ditched the idea of getting a likeness and went rogue! So the image here is total invention, with the earrings being the giveaway.

30.30candlelight

And then as we were waiting for dinner, and sketching in candlelight, where I couldn’t even see the colors in my palette. . .

30.30vanishingpoint

This was a new concept for me – finding the vanishing point on a face! illustrated here. The models or “muses” on Sktchy are often wonderful subjects to draw!

30.30hair

Another great Sktchy subject! I wanted to add color to this, but was afraid I’d mess it up. Don’t you love his hair?!

I’m still at it! More coming.

Meet Maria

When I first starting going to The Living Room to sketch the stories I felt shy about just showing up and sitting down with the women. I had been given permission by the staff, but at first it was a bit like showing up at a party where no one there has actually invited you. Or even like the first day at a new school, an experience I had many times as a child, since my family moved a lot.

But it was my good luck that one of the first people I met, as I sat down in the singing group, was Maria. It was so easy to talk to her, and she volunteered information about how things worked there, so that I felt more at ease. And the next week, when I showed up at the Knitting Group, she let the group know what who I was. Over time I learned that it came naturally for her to offer help to women who had newly shown up at The Living Room, bewildered, anxious and in need of  direction. By the time I did this portrait, I had already sketched her numerous times in activities and events there.

Maria

 

Catching moments

This is the part of winter here where I start to think, maybe this is my favorite time of year! There’s all kinds of hidden glories in the garden. Mushrooms popping up. Mosses and buds and those gorgeous bright green grasses replacing all the sunburnt ones, bare bones of trees, morning fog burning off in mauve mists.

But this is an art blog, and with family here I haven’t yet had much time to get my brush out. . .except

Osprey2

on a walk at the beach with the boys I plopped down in the sand for a few minutes to hang out with an osprey. Somehow these sketches always look better photographed in the nature where they belong. My raptor companion was long gone before I finished, but the drift wood remained. The little Whiskey Painter palette is so cool. I taped a magnet to the clip which holds the sketchbook open. I can open up the palette, which sticks onto the clip magnet, and use my water brush.

osprey

Messy but I caught that moment!

 

Drew 2

Another moment caught (messily) in the living room. . .hanging out with my son, who was sitting in our new yellow chair, which looks like something that Alice (in Wonderland) might like. I got the body all backwards – his shoulders are broad and his belly is not. He just caught me at the computer posting this, so I had to clarify! I guess that’s just the price one pays for having a mom who is a sketch artist!

 

Christmas at The Living Room

It’s a sunny morning, the day after Christmas, and my sons and I are headed to the beach for a hike! Both of them now live in land-locked places and appreciate the ocean air when they’re home.

So I’ll take a few moments while they’re eating breakfast (it’s been busy here lately!) to share my day of celebrating Christmas at The Living Room with participants, staff and Santa Tim and Jingles last week.

TLRmotherchildXmas

The week before I’d wrapped presents with the moms in the MAC (Mothers and Children) program. On this cold and rainy morning there were no children outside in the play area, so I headed into the MAC house which was packed with moms and their youngest children and a grandma or two. This little one was enjoying her new doll. . .

TLRMACXmas

. . .while other children were being entertained and entertaining the moms. I came too late for the young man who comes with his guitar to sing Christmas songs with the families. I caught what I could with my pen, took some pictures and added paint later.

The holiday feast was next, with roast beef, twice baked potatoes and all the other trimmings, and with an infinite supply of Christmas cookies, all served at white clothed, festively decorated tables by a large crew of volunteers.

lrsantasknee

(above sketch from Christmas 2018)

Then Santa and Jingles showed up to pose with Moms and kids and staff and even some lucky volunteers.

santa andme

You may have seen this very same Santa on the front page of the PD paper this week!

Happy Holidays to one and all!