fountain pen and watercolor in 8X8″ Handbook sketchbook

The pie was made, the salad ready to go.  I was not on turkey duty and the guests had not yet arrived.  I arranged the table centerpiece and sat down to sketch it.  Little figurines from when the kids were little, some made with Sculpey clay, and only gotten out this one day each year.  Candles and persimmons.


No time to sketch again til after the feast when we’d settled into a lovely post turkey lethargy. The candlelight made it difficult to see the sketchbook and I’d had my share of wine, but gave it a go anyway. I had signed up for the “Urban Sketchers Virtual Meetup: sketch your Thanksgiving meal or the aftermath” and promised I would sketch!


The aftermath was also some relaxed time hanging out with the family, here the son and his girlfriend, both architects.

It’s quiet again now and my stomach is recovering from too much wonderful, but oh so rich, food. Hope your Thanksgiving was a sweet and bountiful one!

Celebrating Autumn in Sonoma County


fountain pen and watercolor in 8X8″ Handbook sketchbook

Once or twice a year my artist friend Chris Carter comes to town to teach a workshop and we get some time to go sketching together. After lunch at our local Willowood Cafe  we headed next door to sketch the lovely bamboo garden and green and red building housing the Bamboo Tea House, only to discover the bamboo and other plants dug up. It was a lovely but bittersweet scene, since they just lost their lease and must move.


Next stop, Lynmar Estates winery, home of many memories of sketching in the gardens, doing workshops there, wine tasting and more. The fall colors upstaged the people, as you can see.  With these quick sketches I’m learning to leave out what I don’t have time for.  Well, maybe I shouldn’t have left off the lady’s head!


Next day my sketch pal Carole and I were out again, enjoying the Dry Creek area , first for a hike up a trail that wild boar apparently frequent. Hence the trail name “Boar Scat Trail”.  We saw plenty of scat and signs of snouts routing around in the dirt, but luckily none of the wild boar.


We’re both more interested in people scenes than landscapes these days, so next stop was the Dry Creek General Store, frequented by everyone from local vineyard workers spending an afternoon drinking through their six pack of beer on the porch outside, to stylish young adult cyclists and wine tasters (from the Bay Area, is my guess). Throw in some leather jacketed, tatooed bikers and you’ve got enough subjects to make a sketcher drool.  I even tackled the bicycles, which totally confounded me with all those spokes and elliptical shapes.


I took a break from sketching people to record some of the winery signs on one pole at the intersection. Honestly, this was not even all of the wineries up that road, and there were an equal number in the opposite direction! Time to clean my fountain pen which was not flowing well.

Looking up at the porch, where people were waiting for their lunch orders I caught one man before the whole group left.  The Christmas elf on the porch (a part of the holiday decor) generously offered to stand still so that I could finish the sketch.

Drum Leaf Binding


fountain pen, watercolor 6 X 12″ (hot press paper)

Last weekend I tagged along with Bob to the San Francisco Center for the Book where he was attending a workshop in “Drum Leaf Binding” with John DeMerritt. Happily this means more home made sketchbooks for me! And I took the opportunity to practice my reportage sketching, trying to capture the “story” of book making in a state-of-the-(historic)art workshop. There were the tools, like the guillatine, that stayed still while I sketched. . .


. . .along with the people in deep concentration on their tasks, like letter setting tiny type. . .


There were a couple classes going on.


John, giving safety instructions for using the big blade.


Here he’s demonstrating something like how to line up the signatures. I was too transfixed trying to capture the action to pay attention to the instructions.  Luckily Bob followed it all and we came home with the most perfect little book, which he quickly duplicated to make sure he had the steps down.

Encrypted Message


acrylic, collage (painted screen material) on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

encrypted message

to save the land and the sea,

the mountains and trees

the very air we breathe 

when the time is ripe

it will open the door

The obsession with GOLD remains. I was looking for a way to make gold mesh and found three easy-to-obtain materials to paint:  1) cheesecloth, 2)a mesh fabric you can buy at the fabric store, and 3)light-weight window screen material (available as yardage cut from a roll at the hardware store).

You can use the mesh as a stencil to sponge paint through and also as collage pieces to cut and glue.

The gold “sky” in the piece above was created by painting over a piece of cheesecloth with two shades of gold acrylic.  The screen material is gray, but I painted it gold and also black, which resulted in the random markings seen here.



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

sometimes the earth moves

and the sky gets dislodged

a new route opens up and out

creatures large and small

suffer vertigo

discover friends

learn to protect one another

A National Geographic picture, torn into three pieces and glued on somewhat randomly.  (I liked the bird in the hand idea).  The lesson in Monday Muse was to paint out from a picture(s), integrating it/them to the paper surface.  The picture becomes the prompt for what is painted, so there is practice for mixing colors that match the image.  In the picture are also plenty of ideas for content, either somewhat realistic (as I did here) or more abstract. Next time I’ll try that!

Ode to Georgia


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

My lovely hat serves to disguise my hollow emptiness. No one knows my true identity, not even I. I blame the moisture and dryness, the heat and the cold, and the bugs, of course.  There’s so little left of the me that was. But it’s enough to wonder,  Who was I?

Just another garden variety identity crisis. We artists have them more frequently than most, and the Buddhist in me has them all the time as I seek the one who is seeking.

On Monday this week we played with heavy body paints, slathering them on thickly with palette knives and rollers, smooshing a bit with fingers and scraping back through wet paint.  Fun!