reportage

Police Riot Fashion

I’ve been quite impressed with police riot fashion. It seems to be a cross between Darth Vader and giant murder hornets, don’t you think? When I got done with the drawing I realized that I left off a lot of things – walkie talkie, tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, a rifle that shoots the rubber bullets, and those plastic ties they use when they arrest people. Did I leave out anything? riotfashion2

 

Black Lives Matter

I’ve been pouring over images of demonstrations around the country and world, sharing in the grief, anger, and solidarity of this grass roots movement demanding the end of police brutality. As a visual artist I have been looking for new ways to draw the winds of change. Blacklivesmatter

I simply don’t know how to do a sketch of a scene like the one above, a demonstration in Santa Rosa, California, live.  So I decided to practice, to be ready to sketch again live when I might have figured it out. So I put the pen to paper and kept it moving, not concerning myself with accuracy. I was ready to toss the results, or hide them, but then I liked the energy of it. I liked the squiggly lines and getting to use my various marking pens, and not worrying about perspective and shadow shapes and such. I could feel the energy of the crowd and it was liberating (art-wise at least)!

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This picture evolved after spending almost an hour scrolling through pictures and articles from around the country which were posted in the New York Times on line issue. I started with the speaker in the middle and kept adding on until I filled enough of the picture space. And all the time imagining what it was like to be a young demonstrator face down in a park full of hundreds of others, enacting the experience of George Floyd under the knee of a cop, unable to breathe for over eight minutes.

Jodi

Sorrow poured on sorrow and anger overflowing it all. What dark and challenging times! So I want to share the recent death of a homeless friend of mine, striking the note of what value her life was to those of us who knew her.

Jodi was one of those people for whom the term “salt of the earth” seemed to apply. She smiled and laughed a lot and was always very animated. She would have made a fabulous campground host, which is what she and her husband had planned, until he died suddenly.

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For a while Jodi came to The Living Room almost every day to eat, sometimes to do laundry, shower, and rest her body after sleeping in her car. She was a loyal friend to many and one in particular, who was like a sister to her. And she had a connection with dogs, knew the homeless dog population well, and cared for them in every way she could.

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Jodi was one of the women of whom I did a portrait story for a project I have been developing for The Living Room. I dropped off her framed portrait this morning to display with her memorial in the parking lot of TLR, where people in need come between 10am and 1pm each weekday to receive hot food and other necessities. Chairs are placed six feet apart in from of the memorial so that people may stop and take a minute to write in the book any memories they have of Jodi.

As I was leaving today two of her friends saw the memorial and were dismayed to hear she had passed. In that moment they had me and each other to share memories with. Hopefully many more will see and share their memories of her and feel uplifted by her example.

 

The Living Room continues to serve

I’ve been missing my friends at The Living Room, the day shelter for women and children in Santa Rosa. The portrait project I’ve been working on for months came to an abrupt halt with the Shelter in Place order and The Living Room had to follow along and close its doors to prevent contagion spread among staff and the homeless women they serve.

But now the creative and hard working staff has reopened not the gate, but a window and Monday – Friday is serving those scrumptious and nutritious hot lunches they are known for. . .to go!

But they’ve also been coordinating with other groups to do what they can to continue to serve the homeless and at risk population, which has now grown exponentially. One day staff was making hand sanitizer in the dining room while practicing social distancing.

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I wish I could have been there to help and of course sketch live! But I was able to add this sketch, done from a picture, to my growing book of stories from The Living Room.

 

How the Days Get Filled

Well, yesterday Bob and I spent about three hours combined doing a deep cleaning of just one of the wall areas in my studio. And then there’s the hours fixing computer glitches after my computer was upgraded. And there’s the keeping up with phone calls and checking in with friends and keeping up with the (bad) news.

But in between it all some art is happening and it’s my salvation! So yesterday I sat up on the road above my studio to listen to the birds, enjoy the view and do some “Shelter-in-Place Sketching: My Neighborhood”,  a Meet up organized in the San Francisco Urban Sketchers group.

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For the sake of those of you who have never been to my home/studio, and might even live in another country, I labeled things. Clearly sheltering-in-place here is not a particularly difficult occupation, especially in springtime.

I live on an acre on a private road, so there’s not much traffic of the human sort, but still, in the half hour I sat there I got to talk to my neighbor and wave to our postman.

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Still glorying in the wonders of our trip to New Orleans in early March, I have done some thumbnail sketches from pictures, good practice for the art of urban sketching which requires that one leave out a great deal of detail and capture the essence.

In the cleaning of the studio I pulled out a portfolio of portrait paintings I’d done in the 1990’s. They were so clean and accurate. Not like these messy concoctions I enjoy so much now. My vision is not what it was then, or even ten years ago, so the painting has changed. The farther away my subject is, the more I must simply get the “feel” of it and  sacrifice accuracy in the process. The result is different, but no less satisfying. I share this in the hopes that you may also accept wherever you’re at with your art as worth the effort to express yourself. That’s why we do it anyway, isn’t that true?

And then I’ve been drawing portraits for the #30faces30days April challenge on Sktchy. But I’ll save the results for another day.

 

NOLA Part II

On Saturday we met up with the New Orleans Urban Sketchers at the Historic New Orleans Collection  in the French Quarter. I must admit that another museum was not what I would have chosen on a sunny day in a city with so many sights to see. But we were welcomed with a heady combination of southern hospitality and urban sketcher friendliness. We were given a lovely sunny courtyard with French Quarter architecture and a history-savvy docent, away from the tourist-choked Royal St. outside.

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By this point I knew better than to spend my time with the frustration of ornate balconies and walls of columns and shutters, and picked the vignettes that told my chosen story. The scent of alyssum and violets behind the curtained window afforded flashbacks of my mother and grandmother.

For those of you who are sketchers, my sketchbooks were hand-sewn signatures of CP Fluid 100 paper which later will be bound in a book. The above size is the smaller, 7.5X11″ when open, as above.

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When we emerged again onto Royal St. we were hungry, but wandered a while, checking out the shops devoted to Mardi Gras, wild hats and jewelry, and hot sauces before settling on the Royal House for lunch.

Then back to more of the History Museum. One thing I learned from a week in NOLA was that my taste for history had not been totally destroyed in school by chapter books and memorized battle dates!

One sign in the exhibit: in a life sized picture which put the viewer in a seat in one of the early trolley cars: DEATH RIDES THE HIGHWAYS, BUT YOU ARE SAFE IN THE TROLLEY CAR!  Ironic that in the day of the Corona virus one might feel safer in ones car  on the highway than in a trolley car.

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And then one of the high points of the trip, the street musicians I’d hoped to hear, and in particular Doreen, who could lean back and blow that clarinet with every muscle and cell of her body and make you want to weep with it. That’s her husband on tuba and daughter on drums. Standing across the street in a crowd I managed to draw this and paint it later.

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She had glittery blue braided into her hair. Afterwards I shamelessly asked for her picture, and tired as she was from a long session on the busy streets, she beamed that warm smile.doreenandI

Note the vestiges of Mardi Gras on the balcony above, which one finds everywhere in the city. As we walked the streets of the French Quarter there were small marching bands and processions on every other street “celebrating” funerals,  weddings, and who knows what! When we reached Bourbon Street, where the amped music flooded the street along with liquor that permeated the air, we headed home.

 

Bay Area Transit Adventure

Monday was total transit adventure. Remember that hilarious movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Marten and John Candy? Well, it wasn’t that bad, but I think door to door the travel time to San Francisco and back was six hours. So much for the SMART train with its new connection with the ferry at Larkspur Landing. But hey, Bettina and I needed an adventure.

Mine started with squeezing into the very last parking place at the airport stop at 8am and then spending most of the train ride on the phone with my husband, who finally drove out to the parking lot to get my (new) license plate number so that I could pay my parking fee of $2.35 online.

The train is really comfortable, though Monday turned out to be the one day when the coffee bar is not open! And although the train now goes to Larkspur, the walk to the ferry is a good 10-15 minutes and there are no signs and several turns.

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But all that was forgotten when we arrived at the Salesforce Transit Center and took the gondola up to the garden which, like the High Line in NYC, is a lavish oasis surrounded by the city’s highest skyscrapers. We met up with Cathy and hunkered down next to the trail which, midday on a work day, is a virtual parade of office workers, many in pairs, discussing margins, capitol incentives, chips on the table, androids and other engineering and marketing team issues. Since they were walking quickly past, I got just bits of phrases. . .

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The reflections are as spectacular as on an alpine lake!transit2

After an hour or so the sketch opportunities had not diminished, but our tolerance for the corporate talk we’d been hearing had dried up, and we headed back to the other transit center, namely the Ferry Building.

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to watch the afternoon rush hour unfold at the Golden Gate Ferry we would be taking home. We watched until the next ferry arrived, and headed into the throngs just as it was loading, figuring that would be our best chance to get a spot.

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And we made it on! got a seat and everything. Had a glass of wine and enjoyed the trip across the now dark Bay. This sketch was from the morning run, and the sea motion made it a bit rocky.

And then we arrived, with 6 minutes to dash in the dark across a busy parking lot, down a path, dodging the bikes whizzing by, left along a busy throughway, up a steep ramp and across a bridge, huffing and puffing, and gasping for air we caught sight of our train, just pulling out of the station . . .without us.

My husband texted me that running and missing a train sounded romantic! Ha. Not to worry though, as we soon caught the next one and spent the next hour chatting with the conductor who was full of useful information about why things are the way they are in train- and ferry- land, while we finished our sketches.

A long day, to be sure, and I’m not sure I’ll leave the car at home next time. But all in all, a satisfying adventure, not soon forgotten. You should try it!

Grandma Buddy’s Trees

My son Andrew is arriving tomorrow and Ben the next day, and I was rushing to get a tree before the next rainstorm which is due today. Grandma Buddy’s Tree Farm is five minutes from our home, so I popped in to get a tree yesterday, and scored the most gorgeous freshly cut 6 foot tree for a bargain price. There was no time to sit and sketch the fairyland barn draped with “snowy” wreaths, electric trains, candy canes and hot chocolate. . .

But remembering a lovely afternoon spent by the pot bellied stove there December 2016, I will turn the clock back and re-blog those sketches.

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Thank you Grandma Buddy!

 

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Now I better get back to decorating that tree! If you haven’t gotten yours yet, you’d do well to get over to Graton’s Grandma Buddy’s

Escanaba cont.

Escanaba in Da Moonlight is still running at the Left Edge Theatre in Santa Rosa through December 15. Hopefully there’s still tickets, because you just don’t want to miss this hilarity in an all female cast.

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After struggling to sketch live during the rehearsal, I thought I’d enjoy some rainy day indoor sketching from pictures, arranging the characters in my own way. What’s the red liquid in the jar? Is that the potion with the moose testicle in it?

Escanaba in Da Moonlight

When you recover from turkey day and listing all the things you’re grateful for, you might want to get tickets for the latest show at Left Edge Theatre, Escanaba in Da Moonlight. The cast let me sneak in last week during one of the dress rehearsals to do some sketching.

This was a challenge on two accounts. First, there was no light on my sketchbook so I was sort of feeling my way onto the page. And second, the all-woman cast playing deer hunters is so hilarious – and I mean belly laugh hilarious- and the action so fast moving, that I was constantly having to stop and to retrieve up my pen, or just wait til I could catch my breath!

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I even found myself ducking as the character in the center here poked a hole in a beer can after shaking it up, to administer it as “medicine” in a stressful dramatic moment!

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Yes, you read it right. Not only did they drink moose testicle juice but had spiritual experiences involving God and bucks.

The show runs through December 15 at the Left Edge Theatre next to the Luther Burbank Center. I’m going to see it again without the distraction of a sketchbook on December 8. See you there?

And now for Thanksgiving dinner. . .have a happy one!