Everyday Sketches

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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Messy but I caught that moment!

 

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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!

 

Grandma Buddy’s Trees

My son Andrew is arriving tomorrow and Ben the next day, and I was rushing to get a tree before the next rainstorm which is due today. Grandma Buddy’s Tree Farm is five minutes from our home, so I popped in to get a tree yesterday, and scored the most gorgeous freshly cut 6 foot tree for a bargain price. There was no time to sit and sketch the fairyland barn draped with “snowy” wreaths, electric trains, candy canes and hot chocolate. . .

But remembering a lovely afternoon spent by the pot bellied stove there December 2016, I will turn the clock back and re-blog those sketches.

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Thank you Grandma Buddy!

 

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Now I better get back to decorating that tree! If you haven’t gotten yours yet, you’d do well to get over to Graton’s Grandma Buddy’s

Petaluma Marina

Just about the time we’d had enough of this rain (that we’d been praying for) the sun returned today. . .in time for the monthly Ready, Set, Sketchers meet up at the Petaluma Marina.

There’s always some “elements” to challenge us. Today it was a cold wind and scintillating glare from the water, but oh how lovely to get out in it and with other sketchers.

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There was a lot to choose from at this spot. I was attracted to the shape of the the 101 freeway bridge as much as the boats on the water. And then there was the SMART train which whooshed past every so often, bypassing the poor drivers who were hung up on the “narrows”. How many times haven’t I been one of them!

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With a half hour time left, I opted for a simpler subject to study the strange and wonderful curved lines and shadow shapes of some smaller craft.

If you want to get out and join us on the second Saturday of each month in Sonoma County go to the FB link above. Hope to see you there.

Evacuation and beyond

Alas I had in mind the blazing colors of autumn growth when I painted this in Muse Group a couple weeks ago. The theme was the “tree of life” and we were painting on crinkled Masa paper. We’d had a lovely uneventful “fire season” at that point and even a few drops of rain. But by now you probably have heard about our massive Kincaid fire, evacuations, and lengthy power outages. The sentiment is strong here. . .oh no not this again!

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acrylic and collage on crinkled Masa paper, 10 X 10″

When the neighboring towns of Windsor and Healdsburg evacuated and the winds were blowing our direction, we packed up our photo albums, hard drives and important papers and headed down to a hotel in Daly City, just below San Francisco where we figured that PG+E would not cut the power. There we stayed for four days, glued to the news and texts from friends, to await the terrifying spread of this firestorm.

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While our brave fire warriors battled the flames and thousands of courageous evacuees buttressed themselves against the sudden drop in temperatures without heat and power, we hunkered down in Daly City and made a hotel our temporary home. To manage the anxiety I sketched, starting on Day 2.

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On Day 3 we visited sketch buddy, Laurie Wigham and John, in nearby Bernal Heights. Laurie took me up the hill to enjoy 180 degree views of the city. In her good company and from that vantage point I could feel more philosophical about the possibility of losing our home.

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Daly City is well endowed with malls and access to a freeway that is a major artery to SF and the bay area. The eating establishments within walking distance of our hotel included Inn n Out Burger, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Mr. Pickle and Miss Tomato sandwich shops. The waiting and constant attempt to get updated news was exhausting. We wandered malls to find dinner.

By Day 4 I decided to go for a nature walk around nearby Lake Merced. It turned out that the “trail” was next to rushing traffic, BUT the lake was teaming with birdlife! So I spent a delightful hour in nature therapy, listening to bird conversations and arguments. I couldn’t quite tell which they were.

I have no more illustrations for after that. The winds died down. The fire is mostly contained. No one died in this fire though around 87 homes were lost. We’re out of danger for now, though our hearts are now with southern California as the fire monster is not ready to rest yet. The population of Sonoma County is back home with electricity mostly restored, grocery stores at least partially restocked and air that so far is mostly breathable.

And now we know, that all can change once again. There’s not really a home free anymore.

Preston Farm and Winery

The Ready, Set, Sketchers had a meet up at Preston Farm and Winery on Saturday. It was a perfect day to drive out in to (wine) country in Sonoma County. Some of the sketchers situated themselves in the garden by the house and others outside the chicken coop. Some managed to fit in time for some wine tasting. (I was tempted but knew it would be hard to go back to sketching afterward!) And I found a rather peaceful spot by the country “store”. I can never resist the colorful pumpkins and gourds!

It also turned out to be precisely the place where people come for the photo ops. Bring your 2 year-old grandchild named Andrew. Plunk him down in front of the display, and put a bright orange pumpkin between his legs, and then make all kinds of ridiculous sounds to get his attention as you take the picture that will immediately go out on social media to the rest of the adoring clan.

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There were lots of Andrews and Annas getting their pictures taken, calling back my memories of taking our little Andy and Ben to the country to experience the delights of pumpkins and autumn bounty!

And there was the friendly gray cat who refused to pose for me, but occasionally tried to jump up in my lap.

The Ready, Set Sketchers meet up on the second Saturday of every month at a different location in Sonoma County. If that sound good to you, you will find the announcements on their/our Facebook page. Or contact me and I’ll get you on the email notification list!

 

Dia de los Muertos

How do you draw swirls of skirts in motion? I have no idea except to attend a Folklorico Ballet and drink in the excitement of the mariachi music and families and color, color, color!

I arrived late at the Museum of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa for the Dia de la Muertos celebration in the courtyard. Plunked myself down on a wall in back and started in.

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Next came the couples, and the children, and I was getting a bit dizzy trying to watch and sketch. Noticed some caballeros waiting to go on and gave that a try.

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They were a bit easier. not so much swirly skirt stuff, but kind of stiff looking.

Afterwards I entered the Art Museum, past the dancers changing into street clothes, and viewed the (not to be missed) Tierra de Rosas exhibit and then into the history museum for the Dia de los Muertos exhibit where I got at least two ideas for Muse Group lessons! Both exhibits will be up til November if you haven’t already seen them.