watercolor illustration

Welcome to my studio! (video)

We built my art studio when we moved to Sebastopol, California from the SF Bay Area 20 years ago. It’s a simple building where my creative spirit has taken flight and supported me for these many years through the many vicissitudes of modern life. It has been the home for my workshops and the setting for many ongoing friendships with students. And for years I opened it to the public for open studio events twice a year.

Since the pandemic and sheltering-in-place began three months ago, it has become a kind of hermitage. I have had to cancel workshops and rethink the ways I use my studio, as well as find new ways to encourage myself and others to actively pursue art. In that spirit I invite you into my studio to imagine with art with me.

Since the video here has no voice over, let me just orient you. As you enter you will walk counter clockwise around the room, looking out some windows as well. Those of you who have been here for classes will notice the more open floor. I took down one of the tables to make room to move for streaming Jazzercise classes! The comfortable chair is an addition as now I have the space to read. The paintings on the wall are mostly mixed media acrylics. There are tables to do Muse painting/collage, watercolor illustration, a wall section to clip Muse pieces up as they are “born”, a section for portrait stories of homeless women, and of course birds, birds, birds and then the garden where they live outside.

Enjoy watching the video, while I enjoy imagining meeting you here in person!
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To watch, click on the picture or see it here.

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

 

Butterfly Love

About 18 years ago I learned about the rare pipevine swallowtail butterfly from a local treasure, Louise Hallberg of Hallberg Butterfly Gardens. Louise was a butterfly whisperer, and I wanted to be like her. I found the host plant living in a hilly ravine in my neighborhood, and planted some under an apple tree.

Each year I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the butterflies in February and watched as the vine extended its reach. In those early days I was busy and it was not til a few years ago that I started noticing the orchid-like Dutchman’s pipe flowers hiding under the leaves on the vine, and a couple more years til I noticed the starfruit-like fruit on the vine and the tiny clusters of eggs.

Yet I always wondered where the caterpillars went to to metamorphose into the pupa or chrysalis stage. . .until this year.

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Maybe it’s because I’m home all the time and walking back and forth to my studio from the house, but this year I watched a butterfly drying it’s wings, newly emerged from its dormancy. And this week I have been watching caterpillars as they migrate, looking for a place to form their chrysalids. I fear for their safety from predators. (Louise used to bring them into her house and keep them safe while they went dormant.)

And then I got to watch a caterpillar do it’s “transition” on the gutter above the door to my studio!  In 24 hours it became a jewel-like chrysalid with its “coat” dangling on the end of a string! The next day it was a different jewel-like color. I must say I’m enchanted.

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Something is definitely going on in our ecosystem this year. In addition to the caterpillar/butterfly action this week we were visited by a bobcat in our backyard one day and a great blue heron the next. And the birdsong. . .well I’ve written about that. It’s operatic! Have you noticed nature reaching out to us humans more this year as we quiet down?

 

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.

 

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?

Hot Breakfast and Lunch at The Living Room

For the past three months I’ve been making weekly visits to The Living Room, a day shelter for women and children in Santa Rosa. It’s become one of the highlights of my week.

The Living Room is the kind of program that breeds devoted volunteers who’ve been coming for years – like the weekly teams that cook delicious and healthy hot breakfasts and lunches for up to 80 people. hotlunch

Here’s a (standing) sketch I did while trying to stay out of the way of the cooks and servers. They were gracious to not complain!

My main role at the Living Room is to tell the visual stories as they unfold in the moment. The staff and participants have been generous and welcoming and allowed me to be a fly-on-the-wall, (even if sometimes under foot as well).

As I sketch I also get to hear the stories of homelessness and lives in transition. They are the stories of women of great spirit who are becoming my friends and teaching me about what is happening here in the county with our housing and other poorly addressed problems.

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There’s a room full of toys for the MAC (mothers and children). It was a busy place that morning and the only place I found to sit was in a teensy chair next to this charming fellow who was rolling out his clay. Believe me it was hard to draw when another part of me was dying to play with the kids.

There are volunteers who can entertain the children so that overburdened moms can take care of other pressing matters – like where to sleep tonight, or how to get to medical appointments.

But moms might also have a break from serious concerns for an hour to participate in one of the groups – art, singing, knitting or meditation!

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On Mondays Dave arrives with his guitar and song sheets and a professional lead singer.

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. . .in the dining area, where some women are stretched out asleep and others assemble for a chance to sing favorite songs and lighten spirits. That day the songs were those I knew by heart and could sing along while sketching! It certainly lifted my spirits.

I’m working my way around all the activities and am hoping to put the sketches together as a banner to be hung on the walls of TLR, as well as a calendar at the end of the year, perhaps to help with fundraising.

We all love to see our lives in picture form. Apologies though to the women who have allowed their image to be so roughly rendered here. Hopefully the spirit as I experienced it will shine through.

More sketches coming. . .