Visitors and more summer music

My son Andrew and his partner Maura have been visiting this week. They both live in “the city” and seemed happy to just hang around with us, making good food and eating it. Fun summer things like opening a watermelon and eating it sloppily over the sink. We threw in a handful of activities, like a trip to Doran Beach where the north coast wind was so cold that we hunkered down in the protection of the dunes and they practiced headstands and stalked the creatures.

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Yesterday we attended the Rivertown Revival Festival in Petaluma, which combines music with boat races and steam punk style and interactive art and $5 weddings. . . I watched a very large snake wound around the body of a guy drink water from his dixie cup. Things like that happen everywhere. I shared my sketches of this festival three years ago here.  Only thing is that this year it was so hot there, that even with my parasol, two water bottles and loose fitting clothes I felt like passing out!

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Even the sketching didn’t quite revive me. But here she is Miss Moonshine, the opening act with Andrew and Maura on the hay bale seats.

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Next we caught the Cahoots on the Barn Stage with their sassy cute violinist, before checking out the porcupine who came out of his cage to get petted and misted with the spray to cool down, (while we also stood in the spray to get cooled down enough for the trek back to our car.)

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Back at home under the fan I sketched from my pics. It was definitely a parasol day!

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Catching up on some music sketches here. . .on another very hot day the Rosetown Soul Band was playing some serious hip swayin R + B music in a narrow courtyard packed with people at Montgomery Village Shopping Center. There was standing room only, not the best for a steady drawing line, but great for getting the vibe. This was a kind of sketch/dance combo.

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Now the kids have left and I’m packing my bags to head to Chicago tomorrow for the annual Urban Sketchers Symposium. There has been an insane flurry of activity on social media in preparation for this much anticipated event. In preparation I have been obsessing for weeks about what should be in my palette, what paper, pens, etc. should come in which bag. Not to mentions clothes. . . We sketchers are as bad (almost) as photograhers (I’m married to one so I know) when it comes to gear-mania.

I won’t have time for blogging while there, but have learned to use Instagram and might even try a bit of instant video there if you want to tune in. And the pics I take will also be on Facebook, so please join me there this week.

The Travel Sketching workshop is coming up August 26. It is full at this point but there’s a short wait list and space may open up, so contact me if you’re interested. Also I will be scheduling another sketch workshop for the fall.

 

Nature Sketching in the Sierra Buttes

Three of my sketch buddies and I rented a house in Sierra City, CA for a few days last week and indulged greedily in things we love passionately, nature and sketching in equal parts. Oh and some swimming, hiking, boating, and eating. The weather was sunny and hot of the dry mountain sort which is comfortable in the shade and sometimes even in the glaring sunlight for a while.

 

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Day one we explored the Wild Plum Trail and falls, soaking our feet in the rushing mountain stream. I brought a concertina folded w/c “book” to explore whatever caught my eye, starting with the roaring stream.

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Sketching rocks and rushing water and ferny side shows is a an entrancing form of meditation. There’s no way to get your drawing “right”, so you satisfy yourself with diving deeply into the shapes and colors, all the while experiencing the awe of discovery.

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In the afternoon we moved to Sand Pond at the foot of the Sierra Buttes and went swimming. I struggled with the sky color and so tried out my different blues. Since that day I have decided to add Manganese Blue Hue to my palette and see if that helps. Please let me know if you have another suggestion.

The sun was literally blindingly white making it quite impossible to judge color or value while painting. I decided it was far better to view the sketch in the context of the natural setting where it makes the most sense!

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My favorite shapes were the bare white ones against the dark green forest background, so I painted a strip of green and used dark paint and my white pen on top.

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The dragonflies were everywhere. At one point three of them stopped on my towel and I was able to sketch quickly and then take a picture to finish .

sierrabuttes15This sketching in nature is no elegant affair, as you can see here where I sit perched on a rock, post swimming, with as much protection from the afternoon sun as I can muster.

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Next day we found a lovely spot where the Wild Plum creek and Yuba River meet. I’d played around with spraying inks over seed pods from the forest floor and glued them into my sketchbook for a start. The tree was added on site and then more forest floor gems added for the picture on the rock before adding writing in the white space.

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This mossy tree base just invited one to sit. But then it seemed to say, “sketch me” and,so I did, imagining the creatures that live in that hole.

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Another day we took the ferry boat across Salmon Lake and hiked up to Deer Lake.

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At times it was a steep climb up wildflower strewns meadows, past tiny lakes and even patches of snow.

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And always the search for the perfect sketchable view of the Buttes, here once again.

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And here in town with the last of our energy a timed 15 minute sketch of the church above below the Buttes.

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On the last day I got my wish to take a boat out on Salmon Lake. We lasted about 30 minutes in the antique row boat we’d rented with the clunky paddles and found another sweet spot for the last sketches of the trip.

 

 

Ferry Boats

On Saturdays the Ferry Building and environs in San Francisco is host to a confluence of attractions, from the wonders of the bay with ferry boats and sail boats and ocean going vessels to world class farmer’s market, eating and of course sketching! The SF Urban Sketchers Ferry Boats and Piers Meet Up was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the day.

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We met up at a quieter spot away from the Ferry Building crowds between Piers 3 and 5. The day was that rare (in S.F.) combination of sunny weather with little wind and mild temperatures that made it possible to even sit in the sun for a while without roasting.

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Here I am practicing urban architecture to try to prepare for the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago later this month. One thinks that a sunny warm day will be best for seeing the light and shadow shapes on buildings, but honestly when the million watt sun is beating down on the white paper and your eyes are blinded by all the reflections, one can almost long for the overcast weather in the U.K.! And then there’s the constant looking up at the skyscrapers and down at the paper, back and forth. . .

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Ah, but the shapes and angles – the geometry of architecture. It is quite mesmerizing. It does help me to put some folks in the foreground to humanize the scene, or just out of habit.

I’ll be taking the art up to the mountains for the rest of the week and will try to post some pictures on Facebook and Instagram. So please connect with me there!

4th of July postscript

My boys are grown up now and there’s no grandchildren, (yet anyway) but I do enjoy a bit of the chaos and color of children’s events and have the perfect excuse to go – sketching! So July 4th’s sketch-venture at the Healdsburg Plaza was the Annual  Rotary Duck Dash and Kids Parade. Oh, and there were plenty of canine characters too, some of them upstaging the kids and yes, ducks.

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The Russian River Ramblers were playing Dixieland Jazz. There was free ice cream, fishing in duck shaped kiddy pools, and lots of prizes for not only costumes but if your rubber ducky won the duck dash.

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It was all a bit dizzying to try to sketch all the frenetic activity which could be seen sitting almost anywhere. So we picked some shade and plunged in.

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I got out my red and blue Inktense watercolor pencils to color things in. It really was a sea of red, white and blue. But I ended up painting over it in watercolor. Next time I think I’ll use colored brush pens or markers or just stick to watercolor.

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These beautiful girls had some function related to the Duck Dash. Everybody who wasn’t a parent or kid had a role to play in this community event.

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Uncle Sam was there too of course. This is a sketch I did of him 3 years ago, but thought I’d revisit it here.

We’ve got a lot of politics going on every single day, if you know what I mean, so it was nice to take a break and just be with other people celebrating our families and our living-togetherness, not our us-versus-them-ness. Now back to work finding a way to include everyone beyond as well.

Summer of Love at the de Young

I was a high school (almost but not quite college) student in Stockton, Ca that summer of love in 1967. Even though I could drive and had a car I was not allowed to join the hippies in the Haight in S.F. However the music, the fashion, the psychedelic/consciousness expanding (drugs secretly imbibed) were a kind of salvation as I felt boxed in and bored with my suburban existence, etc, etc.

Walking into this Summer of Love exhibition at the de Young museum last week, it all came back. And I was in good company with my sketch buddies of the same era and other museum goers who were ready to share their memories.

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I wanted to record it all – the hippy fashion, the posters and button art/quotes, the lights and lyrics. Most of these were sketched standing with the paint added later.

“What’s scandalous about jeans is how you outrage them.”

Denim -ocracy (We’ve still got this!)

“I’m from Berkeley, but I’m not revolting.”

One little comment here about this exhibition, which I loved! They used the same mannikins from the Oscar de la Renta show and gave them no wigs! We were the hair generation! How could they not put hair on them?! So I added it in the sketches.

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The fashion in the show is flea market finds – artsy, craftsy, hand sewn (we girls all knew how to sew and repurpose clothing back then) cross cultural. . .

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And then there was the protest art, which we are now seeing such a resurgence of. I particularly enjoyed these two pieces. Hmmm. Does this give you an idea of someone else who could be a fine subject for art pants like these?

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In the heart of the exhibit is an empty room with light shows throbbing on every plane and bean bags chairs on the periphery inviting weary museum goers to curl up, watch the show and listen to the music. Now this is my kind of exhibit! I always get tired feet in big art museums so I was one of the grateful ones. After a nice rest I sketched this young couple sharing a bean bag.

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. . .while listening to, who else! Janis. . .

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This is me, grooving for a few minutes. A totally natural high. By this point in the day we were all pretty giddy as years had been shorn off our ages.

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And we weren’t the only ones. Like this fellow who we spoke with. I sketched this later that night from a picture I’d taken. My husband came out to my studio and the walls were pulsating with Jefferson Airplane as I painted. “Remember what the doormouse said”  Or just go see the exhibit.

A Square Creates Order (or tries)

A square attempts to bring order out of chaos here in this demo from the Patina workshop last weekend. The last touch was a bit of scumbling over the rough surface with a finger dipped in bronze paint.

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Workshop demo: acrylic on textured surface, painted foil and mylar collage on w/c paper

Try looking in the mirror. This personhood has so many fun house distortions . Open those windows and the pieces buzz around and fly out. Airborne they eventually become stars and find their way home to a green planet somewhere you are.