watercolor sketch

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!

Catching moments

This is the part of winter here where I start to think, maybe this is my favorite time of year! There’s all kinds of hidden glories in the garden. Mushrooms popping up. Mosses and buds and those gorgeous bright green grasses replacing all the sunburnt ones, bare bones of trees, morning fog burning off in mauve mists.

But this is an art blog, and with family here I haven’t yet had much time to get my brush out. . .except

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on a walk at the beach with the boys I plopped down in the sand for a few minutes to hang out with an osprey. Somehow these sketches always look better photographed in the nature where they belong. My raptor companion was long gone before I finished, but the drift wood remained. The little Whiskey Painter palette is so cool. I taped a magnet to the clip which holds the sketchbook open. I can open up the palette, which sticks onto the clip magnet, and use my water brush.

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Messy but I caught that moment!

 

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Another moment caught (messily) in the living room. . .hanging out with my son, who was sitting in our new yellow chair, which looks like something that Alice (in Wonderland) might like. I got the body all backwards – his shoulders are broad and his belly is not. He just caught me at the computer posting this, so I had to clarify! I guess that’s just the price one pays for having a mom who is a sketch artist!

 

Christmas at The Living Room

It’s a sunny morning, the day after Christmas, and my sons and I are headed to the beach for a hike! Both of them now live in land-locked places and appreciate the ocean air when they’re home.

So I’ll take a few moments while they’re eating breakfast (it’s been busy here lately!) to share my day of celebrating Christmas at The Living Room with participants, staff and Santa Tim and Jingles last week.

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The week before I’d wrapped presents with the moms in the MAC (Mothers and Children) program. On this cold and rainy morning there were no children outside in the play area, so I headed into the MAC house which was packed with moms and their youngest children and a grandma or two. This little one was enjoying her new doll. . .

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. . .while other children were being entertained and entertaining the moms. I came too late for the young man who comes with his guitar to sing Christmas songs with the families. I caught what I could with my pen, took some pictures and added paint later.

The holiday feast was next, with roast beef, twice baked potatoes and all the other trimmings, and with an infinite supply of Christmas cookies, all served at white clothed, festively decorated tables by a large crew of volunteers.

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(above sketch from Christmas 2018)

Then Santa and Jingles showed up to pose with Moms and kids and staff and even some lucky volunteers.

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You may have seen this very same Santa on the front page of the PD paper this week!

Happy Holidays to one and all!

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!

Life on the Move. . .Homelessness

Imagine if your whole life rolled along with you on two small wheels, exposed to the world. You bring it with you because you have no home, and you cannot afford to have your few remaining belongings stolen.

Having spent a year now volunteering at The Living Room, listening to the stories of women who come there for warm meals, rest, companionship, and services, I can now imagine it better than before.

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One of many suitcases, backpacks and bundled belongings to be found any day at The Living Room.

I recently read that HUD had released a new report on the State of Homelessness in America. The five US cities with the highest rates of combined sheltered and unsheltered homeless have numbers more than six times the national rate and Santa Rosa is number 5, running behind only Washington, D.C., Boston, New York, and San Francisco. Add that to our notoriety for firestorms!

So who are all these homeless people? One of my friends at The Living Room (TLR) writes:

When most people think of the “the homeless” they call to mind unkempt and dirty-clothed panhandlers they encounter in their travels. In fact, in Santa Rosa most of the people sitting in the libraries reading; many of the folks typing at laptops in cafes, and lots of browsers in shops and bookstores are homeless too. We are everywhere. We’re dirty, we’re clean, we’re young, old, strung out, sober, well dressed and rumpled, crazy and sane, just like people in houses, only we can’t conceal ourselves from view.  – Maureen

Her words gave me pause. Those of us who have a home do not have other people traipsing through our personal lives throughout the day. We have homes that are off limits to strangers, not to mention doors to close, closets and drawers that remain untouched by any but ourselves. And we can sleep knowing we won’t be disturbed by someone we do not know or trust. 

Every day I’m at TLR I meet another fascinating woman like Maureen who has something to teach me about coping with life when you’re homeless. As the women are willing to share their personal stories more publicly, I will be sharing some of them here, along with more sketches and portraits of them..

 

 

 

Marin French Cheese

Sleeping, preening, floating, staring into the distance at something. That’s some of what the geese were doing by the pond at Marin French Cheese Company in Petaluma yesterday. You’ll have no trouble guessing what I was doing, along with a large contingent of Ready, Set, Sketchers.

Well, that and taking cheese tasting breaks.

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Bettina snapped a pic of me for the blog.

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There were kids fishing in this little pond, ducks quacking around the picnickers, and groups of cyclists loudly comparing notes about their route.

I think as usual I got more complicated than I wanted in the first sketch, so with little time left I tackled just the understory of a tree.

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Then for lunch, a turkey and brie sandwich on rye under the trees with friends. It doesn’t get much better than this on a fall day.