daily painting | quarantine art club

Two-to-four-o’clock this afternoon was a chunk of heaven. Friend and neighbor Liz and I did session four of the Quarantine Art Club (perfectly named by Liz). From a 6′ distance we sit and draw and sketch and paint in and around our marina in Alameda. I loved this little dinghy suspended from the stern of its mother ship and went straight for it. The drawing was the thing here, as I loved the whole scene, and then I added color. A good drawing can easily become an overly complicated painting, and once I was done with the watercolors I thought it was a little too dark and busy so I added acrylic pen to jazz it up a bit and, hopefully, unify the piece. Then it became a party on D dock. The warm sun, the laughter, drawing and painting and relaxing and, best of all, the company of a good friend. Two hours of joy.

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




daily painting | D dock

So my dear friend and neighbor Liz and I are continuing our Social Distance Sketching Sessions. Today we sat outside on D dock in our marina and sketched what was in front of us; we’ll do it again as there’s lots of fun stuff to look at and draw — funky sailboats, dinghies, floating homes, the looming cement silos in the parking lot. The sun was warm, we laughed as much as we always do and gossiped about marina residents and complained about people having small gatherings on their boats and flaunting the 6-foot-apart rule as if they are invincible (so irritating!). But it was a lovely session and it took our minds off the spiraling viral emergency. This is truly a wonderful place to be held under house arrest.

7″ x 7″ watercolor, fountain pen, acrylic on paper = $60




daily painting | sunny apple

On a recent bright sunny afternoon, the warm rays coming through my window were striking, so I took an apple out of the fruit bowl and positioned it on my dining room table where the sun was saying hello. It actually felt hopeful, all that golden warmth glowing on the apple. It was a peaceful scenario, belying the full-throttled crisis we are all living in right now as Covid19 roars across our country, helped by lagging government officials who pretended it wasn’t on its way. That tricky little bitch! Spreading herself gleefully, often through folks who are infected without them knowing it. So. Here we are, in the thick of it. And as a country we are strong, and we will get through this. And this too shall piss (nope, not a typo). Those of us seniors who live alone are challenged by the isolation (I certainly am) so here are some of my adaptations, in case what I am learning is helpful: • I only do one day at a time. Period. This morning I felt a bucketful of anxiety pressing on my chest, so I got out my headphones and tuned into a meditation recording I use to guide me spiritually. It makes a big difference. Starting my day like that really helps. • In the morning I talk to myself out loud about how I will organize my day — which tasks I will undertake, what art I will create, who I will call, how I will get exercise. It’s like a daily roadmap. • I also write in a journal, which helps me get anxious thoughts out of my head and onto paper. They seem more manageable that way. • I try to remember that hope is the one thing that we all need to get through hard times of any variety. We are made of sturdy stuff and, one foot in front of the other, will get to the other side.

An added note about the painting subject matter — my table has these pretty little fringed table runners on top of the tablecloth. They are delicate and beautiful linens, purchased a number of years ago in Istanbul at an open market. I fell in love with the fine craftmanship of the pieces (probably “craftwomanship” is more accurate) and, though at the time I did not have my own home but lived in an apt. with a shared kitchen, I suppose there was a part of me that hoped one day I would have my own kitchen and dining room table. Hope is a funny thing — I had no basis for that possibility, but it was in me anyways. Keep hoping, everyone. It is fuel for our hearts and souls.

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




daily painting | zooming in

I took Sue’s glorious photo of California poppies and zoomed in to do another painting which I hope is instructional for my dear art student. And I’m oh-so-cleverly punning around (ha!), as using Zoom software for video conferencing is the way so many of us are connecting in today’s upside-down, infected world (STAY AT HOME! STAY AT HOME!). Paints, pens, watercolor paper are all helping me keep my head on, along with my careful ventures to my studio in Oakland, where I am alone and isolated and also safe as usually I’m the only one there; yesterday I started to rework a large acrylic abstract. I am so fortunate to have that getaway. Everything is normal inside my space there.

I got blown sideways last night as I had a full-on panic attack. It’s been decades since that has happened (though I certainly have had panicky moments) so I didn’t know what was happening at first (I was listening to music for god’s sake!). So I am treading gingerly and carefully and lovingly today around my emotions, creating safe mental spaces to get through this viral and exceedingly lonely emergency; the one thing that helps is only doing what’s directly in front of my nose. And breathing. Deeply. And getting outside (safely!). I am extremely fortunate to have a lovely place to live on the water. Which is what I was enjoying last night, out on my deck, admiring the watery views, when the panic ambushed me. Our brains are weird.

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





daily painting | sue’s poppies

So my student Sue gives me photos she has taken and we paint them together. We used to do it in the same room, but we’ve had to change our methods. She sent me a lovely pic of California poppies, and today I did a small painting from her lovely shot. I feel guilty, actually — the photo is her creation and I’m taking advantage! But hopefully some learning is taking place (like, I’m learning how to videotape, I’m learning to appreciate social interactions I used to take for granted, I’m learning to only do one day at a time during these lonely days). Anyways, poppies are so cheery and gorgeous and vibrant and floppy. I love them. Thank you Sue for letting me paint from your wonderful scenes. It’s helping to occupy my mind and keeping it from sliding into dark places.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen on paper





daily painting | social distance sketching

My good friend and neighbor Liz and I, missing going out for coffee, bring hot drinks in our commuter mugs and find benches near our marina along the water where we can escape house arrest and sit and chat and laugh and sketch while 6 feet apart. We did a kind of drawing experiment and drew outlines of skylines across the estuary in Oakland, rough outlines of boats in our marina, and our floating homes. It created kind of a jigsaw of abstract shapes, and I then filled in the drawing in this mini-sketchbook with color (watercolor, acrylic pen). It was kind of a paint-by-numbers, and was lots of fun. Her words were also reassuring, as I talked about the discombobulating experience of social-distance-senior-shopping at a local supermarket that opens its doors to us grayheads before they let others in (Berkeley Bowl is doing a brilliant job in this crisis; I was happy to buy most of the foods I wanted). It was a very upsetting experience and set my teeth on edge and it took the rest of the afternoon to calm down, though walking on Crown Beach in Alameda helped a great deal. It was almost normal there — windsurfers and kids playing in the sand and plovers running along on their cute little legs in the shallow surf. These are upside-down times, my dear blog readers. One day at a time. It’s all pretty awful. Hang in there.




daily painting | birds from heaven

Adapting is the name of the game these days. My darling art student Sue and I are not meeting thanks to all of us being under house arrest, so I’m enjoying learning to videotape my painting process so I can send her instructional videos. Sue selects the subject matter from photos she has taken, and this Bird of Paradise was one of her shots, taken near her home. So I set up my iPhone using a spotting scope tripod with a stick attached, like a boom, with the phone balanced on the end, and film the process of painting small watercolors on my kitchen counter. I’ve fired up new software (Premiere) which I use to reduce the file size as the videos are too big to easily send digitally. It’s satisfying to have my mind occupied by painting and learning new geeky stuff which for me is fun and challenging.

For this piece I started with my indelible ink, fude fountain pen (“fude”, pron. foo-day, is a kind of bent nib), drawing it from the photo displayed on my laptop (yes, there are splashes of paint on the surface!). I added watercolor, then more lines and pops of color using pastel pencils, finishing it off with white acrylic pen. I wanted to keep it loose, and while filming it I added my commentary which is quite the ego-stroke. I’ll continue this process, doing more paintings and maybe at some point I’ll start an online painting course. I’ll try this in my studio too, with large abstracts.

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





daily painting | house arrest

Well, here we are in a full-blown crisis. No two ways about it. In honoring the need to shelter in place to hopefully diminish spreading covid-19, what do we do? Adapt, help others when we can, educate ourselves, be careful, disinfect, replace our fears with hope as best we can, watch videocams of eagle nests. We will get through this. And, this time can be a gift, allowing us to do things we often don’t have time for in our busy lives. More painting! Duh. Since a lush calla lily bush is near a certain nearby office, which is now closed, I appropriated a few blooms for the sake of art. I LOVE these flowers! My faves. So simple, elegant, hearty, sensual, exuberant, open. Likely I’ll do a few more renditions of this arrangement. Today I will even make an attempt at videotaping doing a small painting. We’ll see how it goes (I’m strapping my iphone to a lamp with a flexible arm). My lovely art-loving friends and fellow artists, let’s just do this one day at a time. And shore each other up by phone or text or however we can and keep social distancing in place. Thank you so much for checking out my posts. I appreciate it very much.

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




daily painting | sunol scenes

Last week three of us golden eagle-watchers were delighted with a day of delicious respite from virus madness. We were on non-public land in the Sunol hills (we are part of an E. Bay Parks volunteers group) so our only sightings were coyotes, golden eagles of various ages, fence lizards, hawks, ranchers with cattle dogs and water district trucks. The weather was warm and sun-saturated, and we drank it all in like the thirsty, worried urban residents that we are. We snapped photos of these scenes, so I’ll bring out my paints for more cow portraits. God knows I will have time and space to do that, as I follow old-lady shelter-in-place directives from the Governor. Plus design work is a dried-up puddle, as clients’ businesses are hit hard by deserted campuses and worried customers. I have time on my hands. But I might have to troll my neighbors (at a 6-foot distance) begging for toilet paper. Preferably unused.

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




daily painting | yellow flower

I dove into my archives of photos taken for possible paintings and found this one; I think it came from my studio garden. It’s a mix of watercolor, pen, acrylic pen and pastel pencils (so fun, those are!). So. I think painting will help me get through these crazy life dramas we are all experiencing. I spent yesterday with several scientists; one with infectious diseases expertise, and the other works in a lab (yes, testing the COVID19 virus). Best advice — for god’s sake let’s all stay calm and take things down a notch. This virus is not very tough and easily defeated by hand washing, cleaning surfaces with bleach, washing our clothes and putting them in the dryer. It’s very contagious. We also have the most useless leadership in Washington DC so we’re kind of on our own, and kudos to Gov Newsom for taking a strong leadership role here in CA. Hang in there, everyone — let’s take care of each other, be wise and careful, look after our elderly loved ones, be thoroughly precautious, and ride this out.

7.5″ x 7.5″ watercolor, pen on paper = $75