Travel Sketchbooks

Marin French Cheese

Sleeping, preening, floating, staring into the distance at something. That’s some of what the geese were doing by the pond at Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma yesterday. You’ll have no trouble guessing what I was doing, along with a large contingent of Ready, Set, Sketchers.

Well, that and taking cheese tasting breaks.

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Bettina snapped a pic of me for the blog.

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There were kids fishing in this little pond, ducks quacking around the picnickers, and groups of cyclists loudly comparing notes about their route.

I think as usual I got more complicated than I wanted in the first sketch, so with little time left I tackled just the understory of a tree.

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Then for lunch, a turkey and brie sandwich on rye under the trees with friends. It doesn’t get much better than this on a fall day.

S.F. Botanical Garden

On Sunday I spent the day at Golden Gate Park’s Botanical Garden with over 40 nature journalers and John Muir Laws.  If you don’t already know, Jack is a Bay Area treasure; a naturalist, artist, author-illustrator of numerous nature guides, and entertaining guy who helps people to wake up and interact with the natural world by journaling about it.

 

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You can’t help but fall in love with the massive tree that greets you inside the gate. While Jack was talking, my eyes were tracing the curves, like a warm up doodle. I must admit, the tree got compacted to fit on my paper, but it didn’t seem to mind, and neither did I.

 

Next there were docent-led tours of the park to get us started thinking about what we might want to sketch.

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With such a multitude of exotic species to choose from, it was particularly hard to pick a subject to examine and sketch. I decided to try some of the more exotic varieties that would never be found growing in Sebastopol.

And started with a close up of this Snakebark Maple, which was labeled RARE. When you take the time to look closely, not only do you start to see so many different patterns and green mixes, but bright pinks and reds as well.

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The Ancient Plant Garden gives the opportunity to go waaay back in time and trace the evolution of plant life. Admittedly I used a bit of artistic license in the coloring here, but this giant fern was mostly in the shade.

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The leaves on this Gunnera plant from the Jurassic era were about four feet across, but I was drawn in by the reddish “fruit” cones, and the fact that there was a bench with a good view of this. There was also a lady from the sketch group who was drawing there. We engaged in lively conversation, which made it difficult for my eyes to follow the lacy folds . . .and I got quite lost and had to make stuff up. Once again lots of red in all that green.

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With just a few minutes to spare and no time to draw, I took a different approach, sketching a familiar plant, Anemones, from a distance and with watercolor. As my eyes began to focus better I caught sight of the familiar figure of St. Francis in the background.

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.

Climate Strike

I don’t know what it will take for enough people to wake up to the dire state of our world’s climate change to save us. But it surely was a ray of hope to see our youth showing up and crying out for change at the Climate Strike yesterday. . .  and in no uncertain terms!

I was at the youth rally in Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square, attended by folks of all ages from groups of younger school children to grandparents. I arrived just as the march from the SR Junior College arrived at the square in a massive surge which filled the street for many blocks. I heard the count – 2000 of them!

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The traditional Aztec dancers in the feathered headresses led the way and then performed a ceremonial blessing as the entire crowd formed a massive ring around them.

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I was there, along with my friends Bettina and Carole to participate by doing reportage sketches of the event.

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I wandered around trying to find a vantage point and preferably one in the shade, since the temps were climbing up to the 90’s. I got some of the backdrop roughed in and realized I’d have to stand and do some sketching in the sun or standing in the thin shade of a telephone pole! But little by little I filled in pieces as I found them.

While standing in the crowd a woman about my age came by with her sign and said to me, “I’m not liking this agism thing going on!” I guess she had probably been demonstrating on Earth Day and such for much of her life and didn’t like the invasion of the young folks. Meanwhile I was thinking this was the best sign possible!

One of the speakers, all of whom looked like high school and college age (and one middle schooler), said “We were raised by the generation that said ‘we won’t be there then.'” (meaning when life becomes unbearable on this planet)

Of course I’m one of them, who at least in my private thoughts have heard that selfish statement come up. But we all need to hear these young people and feel their distress as our own!

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At the Global Climate Summit march last October we interviewed active participants and sketched their stories to provide a different kind of coverage of the protest. A collection of these climate stories was created.  You can also see some of my sketches and pictures from the event in San Francisco here.

My friends and I were hoping to make contact with some of the young speakers in order to do some sketch stories. So we hung out by the podium and were lucky to “enlist” two high school seniors who were charismatic speakers and leaders in the youth movement, Natasha and Annabelle. And as a bonanza they turned out to be good friends of many years as well.

friends So sitting in the generous shade of a tree, Bettina interviewed them while I sketched portraits and Carole sketched on fabric, which will become a fiber art  protest piece. The girls warmed to the task, and we were charmed.

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We asked them to speak about their personal fears about global warming, but they were also very tuned to their “mission” about climate change.

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This was not the first time I’d heard young people say that they felt it was not fair for them to bring children into this world. That’s particularly hard for me to hear as a someday hopeful grandmother, but I certainly know where it’s coming from.

One can get quite depressed thinking about what we human beings have done and are still doing to our planet. But these youth know they don’t have the option to be inactive, and they are highly motivated to vote. So look out climate-deniers! The youth wave is coming.

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!

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. . .

The Duo Quartet

A couple weekends ago I got invited to a concert with The Duo Quartet (Nina Gerber, Chris Webster, Pam Delgado, and Jeri Jones) on the grand shady lawn of the Davis’ family. We arrived after it had started and grabbed a seat at the back. Not the best place to see the musicians, but excellent for listening and grooving on the lyrics and tunes of this dynamic foursome of kick ass women! Like I want to be cool like them when I grow up.

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So, peeping between the heads of the people in front of me I managed to see enough to get something down in an old toned sketchbook I started back in 2015. A bit of white gouache at the end perked it up a bit. The audience was mostly grey haired and groovy and appreciating, like me, this brand of folksy rock n roll with lyrics you could relate to, or at least remember what it was like back when the hormones were raging.