For weeks now I’ve had my eye on a colorful boat on dry dock at Swantown in Olympia. It has all the qualities a sketcher goes after – not just red (and every other)color, but shapeliness with all sorts of energetic edges and angles, assorted flags flying merrily in the breeze, and most of all, it literally vibrates with stories spanning many decades.
I finally got over there last week on a sunny but cold and windy day. I’d heard the owner was himself a raconteur and hoped to meet him. Dorje is his name and he was generous with his stories as I stood in the cold hoping to last long enough for a sketch. The boat’s name is Dharma Kun Dunga (I believe) though there are no boats of its kind in mountainous Tibet. It’s oriental beginnings were sometime in the 1910’s and it had at some point been fished out of a sea where it had sunk. (I was struggling to catch the fast moving story!) Dorje told me the boat had belonged to him for about 25 years and the murals were his own creation. He had the air of an art lover and swashbuckling seafarer, even while in dry dock. I couldn’t wait to sketch!
Something about this fellow and his independent spirit loosened up my pen and paints and let me throw caution to the wind. The ink drawing happened on site, and the mixed media painting, at home in my studio once my fingers had thawed. The last thing was the black shadow which seems to reach out for more adventure – the boat’s and my own!
No this is not a vacation cabin in the mountains. It’s the view out our dining room window the day after Christmas. . .a white one! And yes, it’s the first white Christmas I can remember since childhood. And the first snow this coastal California girl has seen in over a decade. At this writing there are about 6 inches and more on the way with this Arctic blast of weather lingering for a few days.
Yes there’s been a certain amount of anxiety about what to expect, but we’re just staying home and so far I find it enchanting. The teens have skied down our street and you can hear the little kids shrieking with delight as they go down the hill across the street on their saucers. And yes, this is unusual for here in the Puget Sound area, about 20 degrees colder than usually this time of year. But my ski jacket from (ahem!) 30+ years ago does the trick to keep me comfortable. I’m so tired of hearing “there’s no bad weather, just bad dressing. . .” from everyone here, but it’s true.
So Andrew was folding paper and making sketchbooks across the dining room table from me and I was gazing out at the birds and playing with my new Posca pens, while Bob and Ben were working on a programming project.
I figured the Posca pens would be opaque enough to draw in the snow over the watercolor-painted foliage. But every watercolor artist knows the truth that the whitest white is the white of the paper. Lesson learned. But it worked for the snow in the shadows! More on the fun of Posca pens and painting snow next.