Everyday Sketches

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!

 

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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.

An Afternoon at Point Reyes

I used to think of Point Reyes Station, CA as a sleepy little town on the way to the spectacular north coast park trails, beaches and Tule Elk, not to mention Tomales Bay. But that couple blocks of the town is a busy, happening place on the weekend, especially in fine weather. Bob and I were there for the opening of our good friend Todd Pickering‘s exhibit: This Sacred Land: Images and Words from Point Reyes at Toby’s Feed Barn.

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I had a few minutes before to sit at a picnic table in the sun outside Toby’s Feed Barn and the farmer’s market and enjoy some music and a bit of sketching. Jerome’s tunes were sweet and folksy. Later he shared with me that he spends his days at the parks nearby, enjoying the nature scene and contemplating making it a more permanent residence.

Todd’s exhibit of black-and-white photography of land and nature worked evocatively with written words by locals about their experience of the sacred in the land there. One has to feel awe at his ability to capture Raven and Moon, the secret poses of Owls, the mystical ocean, and more. If you’re in the area you should stop by and see it. It’s open til September 30.

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Sitting down on one of Todd’s custom made wooden benches, I was compelled to capture this musician, whose solo act was music played with hands on this unusual metal drum. I got a bit carried away with his head piece, which perfectly matched the extra terrestrial vibes of the sound and instrument!

Good Friends at TLR

There’s a lovely courtyard area at The Living Room, Santa Rosa’s day shelter for women. With landscaping, picnic tables, chairs and shade it’s an inviting space to eat, visit with friends, counselors, and have a moment’s peace. It’s become my favorite place to sit and sketch visual stories about what happens here.

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Dogs are as welcome here as the women (only accompanied of course). And these dogs are a select population. Some of them live in houses and apartments, but many live in cars or camp out with their mistresses, and they rarely appear down-on their-luck. In fact I venture to guess that they are blessed with an extra dose of loving care in that they are devoted companions.

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Some are lap sized and cared for as a child. They all seem to have the effect of calming nerves and dispensing love when its most needed. No wonder the bottom line for finding housing is a place that accepts your best canine friend!

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Sometimes they are curled up together napping or resting on a comfortable couch.

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Recently the community suffered the sudden loss of a friend who was loved by everyone. The memorial was attended by women in the community who shared their memories, prayers, and their tears. These pets seemed happy to offer their doggie prayers, and as always to help make this place feel like home.

Dominican U. and Peacetown Concert

Occasionally it’s quite pleasant to hang out on a university campus many decades after one has graduated. You can still enjoy the vibe of learning, and even imagine that it would be fun to be a college student again, (sans writing papers and taking tests of course). Dominican University in San Rafael, CA has a lovely combination of grand buildings and exotic gardens and the serenity of its connection to the church.

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This campus is sooo different from U.C. Berkeley, which is just across the bay with its throngs of students, myriad posters and causes and academicians with deadly serious countenances. We enjoyed this quiet spot at the back of the school and bordering a vegetable garden.

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In fact there is such diverse vegetation that the campus grounds resemble a botanical garden. In this sketch I reversed the order and painted first and then defined with pen line.

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Back in Sebastopol, AKA Peacetown, later in the day The Love Choir members were singing their hearts out with Mr. Music and Moon Puppy on keyboard. It was (almost) the last of the summer concerts in Ives Park. I caught a bit of it before heading home, sad that I’d not made it to any of the other Sebastopol concerts this summer. And now the summer is over, sigh! Well, not entirely yet. . .

Ahh, summer!

Ahhh, hot! So we scrapped the idea of getting our shed cleaned out today, which would have been suicide in this heat, and packed up the umbrella and beach chairs for a morning at Doran Beach in Bodega Bay. It was heavenly.

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I enjoyed watching the little boy play in the sand while the pelicans swooped and the harbor seals barked from their island off the coast. I couldn’t help remembering with bittersweet yearning those days when we would take our rambunctious little boys to the ocean and get to see it all fresh again through their eyes.

As I’m enjoying my musings one of them, 6’2″ of him, lay engrossed in his book by my side under the umbrella. Well, that part is fun too. Always nice to have that fresh 26 year old energy to liven up our home!

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Challenging myself here for a few minutes of painting those distant shapes that my eyes can’t quite get in focus. Then it was time to hit the Fishetarian Fish Market for dripping, finger licking fish tacos.

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Last weekend I met up with the monthly Ready, Set, Sketchers! gang in Geyserville, in the heart of Sonoma County wine country. About one block of historic buildings, housing gourmet restaurants like Catelli’s, wine tasting, and other assorted stores.

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. . .like Gin’gilli’s Vintage Home, with a little bit of everything you might want in your home. I found a chair in the shade outside and just kept adding on to my nutty picture.

 

Amsterdam Last days

It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures. -Vincent van Gogh

On my last full day in Amsterdam I visited the Van Gogh Museum and emerged two hours later feeling that I’d just encountered the part of myself that knows what it means to be an artist with a pressing need to draw and paint the world. I felt a kinship to this strange man who loved the common people, the miners, the potato eaters, and celebrated that love through his painting. . .kinship with his need to get out of the studio into the beauty and harshness of nature to try to find its “language”.

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Afterwards the trees outside the museum seemed to have stepped right out of his paintings, and I sat to ponder them while eating my sandwich. A bee was flying around my food and I welcomed it, like the birds, as a part of this glorious natural scene! When my attention was distracted I took a bite and felt an electric shock in my mouth. Out popped a dazed and dying bee into the grass. My tongue was on fire! What would Vincent do? Surely not freak out, but start his painting! Which is what I did (and clearly survived).

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Laurie Wigham met me for lunch afterward, and while I talked, she did this cafe portrait piece of me, direct watercolor with touches of after-the-fact water soluble pencil!

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My last morning I had an hour to head out for a last sketch before catching my shuttle to the airport. Ah, if only I had another week, I thought. . . but this will have to do for now.

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The flight back to San Francisco was fully booked. It was delayed and the waiting area was full of people already hot and weary, anticipating the eleven hour flight. My last sketch kept me from grinding my teeth, almost.

On the ride home my seat companions were a couple from Holland making their first trip to the U.S with their three teenagers. They got to practice their English and get some tips from a Californian. The man was a dyke engineer, so I got to ask my questions about how it’s possible that Amsterdam is not under water when it is over four meters below sea level!

The scene I never got to sketch on location!

I want to thank you if you’ve lasted through this rather long story documenting just a week of travel. It would have felt like a dream if I hadn’t put it down in this way. Actually as I look at my sketchbook, I think I’ve painted a dream.

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.  – Vincent van Gogh

Exactly, Vincent!