There seems to be no end to our sunny days this fall. I keep getting out to hike and sketch, thinking the seasonal rains will start any day now. But not only the rain is late this year. The commercial crab season opening has been delayed by the whale activity. And that meant that not only was it a good time to head out to Bodega Bay for those delicious fish tacos at Fishetarian at Lucas Wharf, but also to try once again to sketch crab boats at the dock.
My eyes were blinded by the bright light shimmering off the water and bouncing off my white paper, so I called this a warm up, both to the body and the hand! And then with bellies full of fish we headed across the bay to where the commercial crabbers are docked.
Confronted with a marina filled with fishing boats almost as far as the eye (mine anyway) could see, I jokingly said, “I think I’ll sketch the whole scene!” to which Cathy replied, “Shall we say 15 minutes?” So that’s what we did.
I wish I’d let myself try it again, but I did want to practice on a particular boat.
I picked the Sea Farmer for its orange buoys and crab traps and mostly left out the other boats.
Later in the week I was sketching at Pat’s garden again, enjoying the warm weather. Started with a rusty wheelbarrow, not knowing where it would lead next. . .
. . .then added a sketcher to fill in the space and tell the story. The shrooms are garden art.
Enough of that monochromatic business with Sumi Alone! Yesterday I indulged whole heartedly in fall color in Pat’s garden. Who can resist a smoke bush with the light shining through the foliage? The “smoke” happens in the spring with the sprays of lace-like flowers that explode in delicate halos around the leaves, but autumn is when the real firy colors are revealed.
I had no intention of putting yet more pumpkins in the sketch. I’d done enough of those already this year! But I needed something warm for balance, and they were there after all. The heat lamp is a great reminder that we must do our congregating outside now, if at all, and Pat’s family is ready to follow protocols and stay safe!
Pat’s garden can be inhabited like a Where’s Waldo picture, where there are creatures everywhere (of the statuary sort) if one slows down enough to look. And slowing down and looking is what we’ve been doing there for the past few weeks in order to sketch.
I sat down to sketch this scene in the afternoon light, which at this time of year dwindles quite rapidly. The light and shadow shapes were what drew me, but minutes into sketching, I looked up to see the light had gone! And remembered that you must always notate the shadow shapes before they change and you lose them! Consequently I was on my own, making it up and hoping for the best.
There’s something about my friend Pat’s garden which sets me to dreaming. You know the kind of summer vacation on the edge of boredom but slipping softly into something more like dreamtime, fairy garden time where everything taken in by the senses is a kind of an amazement.
The thing is to find a spot out of the blistering sun and just see what’s there. And in Pat’s garden there’s always something blooming or fruiting and a creature left behind by the fairies. And in my sun drenched stupor I start drawing and painting, trying to put it all onto an 8X 8″ sketchbook page. I think I almost did it here! At least I got the stupor on. Haha!
I’ve had my eye on this corner of Pat’s garden for weeks now. The lichen covered swinging bench and the backdrop of colorful trees and bird sculptures. There was almost an hour to spend gazing at it and developing a strategy, so I moved things around a bit in a rough pencil sketch and then went for it with direct watercolor.
And here’s a glimpse of the scene. . .
With more time I would have put lots more detail, but my friends were there, and you know how desperate we all are to be with each other in the 3D, or “real life” as we call it, masked and all, but in flesh and blood, talking about life with Covid and with Art.
There are many rare finds in Pat’s garden. A collection of antique garden tools, a windmill, vintage gas pump, and rusty relics from the yards of her friends who lost their homes in the Tubbs fire. And then of course the flowers so bold and outsized that you feel like Alice when she took the “eat me!” pill and shrank down. But the stone gargoyles were too wonderful not to sketch. Mine copped an attitude which I had not intended. Supercilious?
And the rudbeckia, in another garden where I found a few inches of shade to sit. . .Giant!
The following week I got wooed by the wisteria, no longer in bloom of course, but providing lovely shade. I totally lost myself for a while in the winds and twists and when I woke up, I added the ladies to bring me out of my reverie.
About 15 years ago I renamed my art business IMAGINE WITH ART when I wanted to change my emphasis to be more about creative process than about product. I wrote the word Imagine in the wet concrete outside my studio door and added the name to this antique brush which has hung outside my door since then.
I recently got around to sketching the brush, when I saw the flowers in the planter below, showing off in the late afternoon sun.
And then, joy of joys, my current Muse group “sisters” were all invited to Pat and Lee Davis’ stunning home gardens (definitely plural gardens!) for a morning of sketching, which turned into a (kind of urban sketchers’ type) on location event with space for social distancing.
Oh, to have that kind of sitting-separately-but-together-serenity-in-a-garden-with-friends experience again (after all the Covid-shut-down-fear-and-alienation, and even while it’s still going on everywhere)!
It’s a simple cure for what ails us. Pick up a pen or pencil: draw what you see: put some paint on: notice how you feel now.