daily painting | bench, firepit, mushroom

Bright yellow mushrooms were blooming in the expansive front yard of the Wisconsin vacation cabin. They seemed to pop up magically, like wood spirits conjured them in the night. I lay down on my belly to photograph this cheery fellow, so I could paint him later. The bench next to the stone fire pit watched over these little fungi. Very cute. Maybe deadly.

9″ x 12″ watercolor, pen on paper = $140




daily painting | north woods deer skull

This buck skull was on the windowsill of the cabin in Wisconsin. It was compelling — it had a voice and a mystery and called to me. I wanted to do a monochromatic painting of it (Daniel Smith Moonglow). This painting pulls me in. I have been a bit obsessed with death since my mom died 13 years ago. It is the great enigma that we cannot understand until we take our last breaths. The final great adventure. Earlier this year in a space of 10 days I attended 3 funerals, and since I am closer to the end of my life than the beginning, I find these questions fascinating. But not scary. I just want to live to the max until the very end — to be awake, to pay attention, to create, to love.

8″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $100




daily painting | diane’s tomato

This luscious tomato that Diane grew in her Tennessee garden came along for the ride to the Wisconsin north woods. She graciously allowed me to paint it, keeping it out of the salad for the moment. It’s called a Cherokee purple heirloom tomato, which is an awful, racist moniker for this fruit, kind of like naming a football team the Redskins — or like calling a team The Brooklyn Jews or the Houston Negroes. Pardon my opinions — these things get me riled up. But the tomato was both beautiful to look at and even tastier to eat. I put it on the railing of the cabin front porch to paint. May the people who name teams and tomatoes grow into a more conscious and sensitive folk.

5.5″ x 5.5″ watercolor, pen on paper = $40




daily painting | conover wheelbarrow

Oh boy oh boy. 2nd annual vacation at the A-frame cabin on Pioneer Creek (that runs into Pioneer Lake) in the north woods of Wisconsin, almost into the UP of Michigan. Came into the library (has wifi) to post this, so I’ll catch up on blogs next week after I return. It’s glorious being off the grid. Friend Diane catches bluegill off the dock until her arms wear out (not to mention a 23.5″ walleye!) I sit on the front porch — or at picnic table on the lake — or on the dock — painting and sketching away. Flickers call shrilly, muskrats cross the “crick” with plant material in their mouths, muscular river otters swim by, broadwing hawks circle overhead, perhaps migrating. At the lake a bald eagle swooped down and caught a fish. Probably inspired by the bass Diane was reeling in. Much magic, here.

5.5″ x 5.5″ watercolor, pen on paper = $40




daily painting | barnhill phone booth

There is this old phone booth along the waterfront in Alameda, a relic of the past. Its only connection is to various plants and a few nautical lines. It used to have an old surfboard in it (I think it was on hold) but some damn thief swiped it a few years ago. Charming, this scene — I saw another local artist sitting out there painting it, and so I had to do my own version. Terrific funk factor in this part of Alameda. May it stay undeveloped.

7″ x 9″ watercolor, pen on paper = $80




daily painting | subterranean

I’m reading an inspiring book, No Secondhand Art. Sometimes I focus on working hard to do a daily painting, and trying to make it good to add to this blog. I was moved over the weekend to take an older watercolor abstract and work into it with acrylics, expressing deep emotion as a way of personal expression. It was cathartic — almost always is. It “brought me ’round” — it’s so important to honestly create. To forget about “the market.” To forget about social media. To do it. The satisfaction was great, and I like this painting very much.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on paper = $795




daily painting | sharpie

Ok this is kind of funny. I went out to my car to get my bag-o-paints and supplies to do a painting this afternoon. Rats! Forgot my car’s being fixed up today and is in the shop. So I found the tray of paints (only blues and reds) I keep in the house, and the absolute wrong brush. So I did it anyways, partly as a comfort against the sticker shock of the car costs (well, she does have 120K on her).

I’m a volunteer at GGRO, Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. We track the autumn hawk migrations in the Marin Headlands, and we caught and banded this darling little sharp-shinned hawk last week. They always have this wonderful surprised look. The banding process, along with data collection (weight, tail length etc) all add to the body of knowledge that helps scientists gauge the health of these populations. It is a great privilege, being a citizen scientist and getting to be close to these wild birds of prey. They are released unharmed.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $90




daily painting | changing gears

I was again exploring Alameda Point looking for a scene to paint, preferably something decaying or rusty. This is the side of the wonderful bike shop, Changing Gears, a non-profit bike co-op that trains young ‘uns how to repair bikes. They fixed me up well last week and today I stopped in to buy a bike bell (it’s a red pepper! So cute!) and I liked the shadows against the old building and the basketball hoop. Fun to explore painting shadows — it’s easy to make them too dark.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $90




daily painting | divisions

Strong colors that shout for attention continue to attract me. Deep psychological reasons, I suppose. But mixing up my daily painting practice with various styles helps, especially when I get frustrated with a muddy watercolor sketch of a garden and want to get relief by going wild with acrylic abstracts. Going at a small painting like this with wild color seems to satisfy that need for deep expression. Want to know what’s goofy? Sometimes when I am stooped over with grief or sadness I still gravitate toward the glowing hues. Maybe it’s a sign of mental health. Or of being unhinged.

12″ x 12″ acrylic on claybord = $185