Victoria is one of the first ladies I met a year and a half ago at The Living Room. She was in the knitting group and later I would see her in the art groups. One day she told me about her connection with Homeless Action, a group of grassroots activists in Sonoma County working towards ending the suffering of people who do not have a home. She was particularly involved in the legal struggles to protect homeless people on the streets from being arrested when they had nowhere else to go.
Her story is one of the most remarkable I learned when doing this portrait project.
Victoria would come to the art group that Ruth and I led on Fridays. Sometimes she would burst into song and others would join in. After doing some art play sometimes we would do a free write, like I do in Muse Groups. Hers always revealed a quirky sense of humor that would keep us laughing.
One day she brought some aged wooden shingles she’s picked up in a construction trash pile, and we gave her the paints she wanted so that she could paint the madonna on one. When the others saw what she’d done, they wanted to try it too. The madonna is still in my car and she asks about it. I’m happy to hold onto it and the blessings that flow from it until she has a more permanent living situation.
I have lost touch with my friends who, before the pandemic I would see on my weekly visits. So you can imagine that I was relieved to see her on one of my trips to the The Living Room after the pandemic started.
I sat with her on the roadside while she ate her lunch. She’s still in the shared living situation and involved with yet another group serving homeless people: SAVE Sonoma Applied Village Services and, due to being in the high risk (virus)category, does what she can by phone. But her current housing is time limited and she fears what will happen next, when there is so little permanent housing available, a problem she knows well.
Back now from my trip to Vancouver and Victoria to visit with my son Ben. We had a great time. The cities were all about tulips and cherry blossoms, gazillions of them blooming on every street!! Not what I would call a relaxing vacation, what with cleaning and moving him out of the apartment, ferry rides and border crossings and days in the cities, but days rich with sights and new experiences, meeting his college friends and hanging out in the finest coffee shops in the world (according to my coffee expert, Ben) as well as pubs. Some hiking in those lush northern forests and eating great seafood. I visited the Art Gallery of Victoria to see Emily Carr: On the Edge of Nowhere, a British Columbian painter whose biography The Forest Lover I’d enjoyed years ago.
And had scant time for sketching. . .but here’s some airport and ferry sketches.
. . .at our little airport in Sonoma County waiting for the flight to Seattle (I drove from there to Vancouver).
iPads Rule in airports. I knew if I brought one I would never get around to sketching, so instead took advantage of the models.
Sabrina had dark glasses on and was texting on her iPhone the entire ferry ride, so I figured I was safe sketching her anonymously. I made her look at least 20 years older, not on purpose! And she caught me. It happens sometimes. So as a concession to her I let her take a picture of it, which I assume immediately got posted on Facebook or something like that, and promised to post it here. She’s really soooo much cuter. It seems when I’m doing a really quick sketch I either make people look much older or younger. I guess there’s a kind of averaging thing going on unconsciously, when what I’d really like to be doing is more caricature. Got to work on that.