day of the dead

Oakland Museum

The S.F. Urban Sketchers met at the Oakland Museum yesterday. It’s a bit of a schlep to get there from Sebastopol, but so worth it! Since I lived in the East Bay for sixteen years, I know how to navigate the crazy knots of freeway pretzels to get there.

Once at the museum you are treated to three levels of engaging exhibitions and interactive installations. It was free admission day and well attended by families with strollers and children of all ages. And the sketchers turned out in numbers.

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This installation is hard to describe – like one of those bouncy houses for kids’ birthday parties, only not for bouncing. The colors were gradually changing and you could walk through the big spheres. (No paints allowed in the museum exhibits, so the watercolors were added later.)

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It was hard to capture in a sketch, so I did this one when I got home and it seemed a bit more accurate.

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Level 1 downstairs was a goldmine of taxidermy animals! I believe I could have stayed there for hours and maybe days! While in a trance trying to get the raccoon’s hands right, I heard a small child say something to his father about the drawing and felt him breathing down my neck. The father said “Sure! When we get home let’s get out your marking pens and you can do your own drawing of the raccoon!”  I thought, yeah, that’s one of the reasons we sketch in public.

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The dioramas were so dramatic! You’re not likely to run into this kind of animal action outside of National Geographic TV.

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Going for the snarl here.

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This haunting installation in recognition and remembrance of the people who lost their lives in Oakland’s Ghost Ship fire of a year ago was linked with the Day of the Dead and butterfly migration/metamorphosis exhibits. After sketching this I met a boy at the origami butterfly table and we helped each other fold paper butterflies.

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The meet ups always end with sharing our sketches. A large enthusiastic group of old and new sketchers assembled in the cafe to meet, see each others’ sketches and share ideas. What a fun way to spend a Sunday!

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Howl-O-Ween and Day of the Dead

The Plaza in Healdsburg, CA was a busy costumed place last weekend with canine Halloween fashions on Saturday and Day of the Dead celebrations on Sunday. Couldn’t resist showing up to sketch at both events.

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The Howl-o-ween Dog Parade was a benefit for the Sonoma Humane Society charity veterinary services for fire victims. It was less a parade and more a costume judging contest with lots of ribboned and tutu-ed and hatted dogs in costumes. Also kids and families milling around – in constant motion of course. I got frustrated enough trying to find a subject to sketch and finally just put pen to paper to catch whatever I could!

howlathon3At home later I had fun doing some quick sketches from my pics. Poor Doggie Parton. Her wig and hat kept smooshing her ears and slipping off her head, and  I imagine that tutu was a bit scratchy too.

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And the Unicorn pooch was clearly feeling a bit burdened by his white swaddling and extra set of ears. But hey! the event raised money for their less fortunate canine counterparts who lost their homes in the fire, so they were doing their part.

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The Howl-0-Ween event was over quickly and we stopped at Martin Ray Winery on the way back and sketched chickens. Not only does Martin Ray have fabulous wines and wine tasting room but exquisite gardens and even free range chickens that come right up to you begging for a treat. Trick or treat! The sign on the bar reads, “We don’t coop. Watch for poop!”

We had no seed treats for the cluckers, but it did seem like they might have an interest in painting with us. Those beaks got quite close to the wet paint. Be assured though, that the sketch in the following picture is the work of Becky, not our hen hosts.

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On Sunday two streets were closed off around the Healdsburg Plaza for a day of celebrating the Dia de los Muertos. diadelosmuertos2

These days every business, every store front, every organization, and every event is an opportunity to thank the First Responders who confronted the firestorm head on, saving lives and properties, even as so many were lost. So on this day of remembrance, a whole block was given over to the firemen and their life saving equipment.

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The theme was “An Event of the Heart”. I had to blink to remind myself that I was in Healdsburg and not in the heart of Mexico! Music, dancing, altars honoring the dead and food. Colorful, spicy, and loud. A family affair for all ages, welcoming us gringos as well. A lovely lady was feeding the incense offering to the ancestors.

Who am I?

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Higgins India Ink, acrylic, pencil on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

This is an after Halloween/Day of the Dead posting of a piece done last week when the Monday Muses explored BLACK.  The image summoned a disembodied feeling, and the question of who am I ?  Frankly, as I grow older and shed various identities which have burdened me in the past, there’s less of a need to call myself something.  Artist maybe? and all those family titles, but perhaps the meditator in me prefers the No Self non-identification even better! It’s so freeing.

There’s openings now in the Monday Afternoon Muse Group in a new 4 week only session which starts Nov. 17!  If you’re interested in joining us, please email me.