daily painting | (ret.)

I woke up today having decided a few things. I’d love to frame this in a spiritual way but the deal is, I QUIT. I decided the time to retire is now. What am I retiring from? Here’s my list: 1. Carrying worry for my family. I cannot control the well-being of my sibs who are ill, my children who have their own lives to figure out, the well-being of my grandkids. None of these things are my responsibility; hell, my kids are in their 40s and whatever they need to sort out is up to them and I have zero control over how we relate to one another. 2. Art career path. I have no ability to manipulate its trajectory. I will never be an Instagram influencer or a Facebook darling. I am walking away from The Struggle of trying to be successful. Instead, I renew my commitment to paint every day, to show my work when I can and to express myself authentically and keep finding my own voice. And scream it at the canvas. 3. Trying to control my future. I’m here today, and I am showing up. I can’t determine who I will love, how I will find comfort, when I will die. Nor can I worry about the economy and how it affects my old-lady money. What I can do: Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. Let go of the outcome. This is my mantra. Today the ambulance came for an elderly, ailing neighbor. I did not see the ambulance take him away, so today may have been his last day (not sure). Someday the ambulance may come for me, and I won’t waste my energy trying to resolve situations over which I have no control. I am not abdicating responsibility. I am, however, taking leave from trying to fix things I cannot.

OK so here’s about the persimmon! (How can I tie this in to my blabbering?) There’s a healthy, huge persimmon tree behind our marina laundry room. These fruits are gorgeous. I love their color, and as they ripen I’m sure I’ll paint a few more of these beauties. Maybe the parallel story is that these guys ripen ONLY according to nature’s schedule. I’m plenty ripe and juicy myself, as I steady myself for my 68th birthday. Don’t think any rot has set in yet but I’m not entirely sure.

[I would like to add, please vote, everyone, if you haven’t already. Just saw a 104-year-old woman on the news interviewed at the polls (on her own 2 feet!) where she voted and she said, adamantly, that in all her years she has never experienced a more important US election — and she’s lived through two world wars.]

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




daily painting | fort baker sentry

Claire and I had the best break a few weeks ago — after doing more chores in Uncle Fuzzy’s house we headed to Fort Baker in Sausalito hoping we could get a snack and sit outside the Presidio Yacht Club which is the coolest, funkiest, unfancy yacht club you’ve ever seen with forgettable food, watered-down drinks and the best view of the Golden Gate Bridge you could dream of — you’re sort of underneath the north tower looking up and it’s gob-smacking (especially at night). Alas, the yacht club is only open weekends these days, so we wandered around a bit and I took a few photos of nearby old military buildings. This one, a shuttered old shack all alone on the hillside, has a sign on the door indicating hazardous materials are stored inside. Likely whatever is in there is a pile of salt-corroded rusty bits by now, but this sentry, nestled in the coyote brush and california-dry grasses, was intriguing and I thoroughly enjoyed painting it today in between tasks like wrapping up a sold painting for mailing, clearing out dust bunnies in the living room corners, washing ash off my upstairs deck all while very much cracking up as Obama took the gloves off in today’s campaign speeches. Full day, fun day. Lovely to breathe the clean air and enjoy the watery views from my spot here on the estuary.

10″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper = $130




daily painting | saturday sensations

No posts last week; was a bit burnt — Covid fatigue, regular bouts of nausea from political news, worries about my family, feeling the loss of Uncle Fuzzy, missing my grandkids, getting through the heat wave. Needed to step back, rest, stop trying to produce successful paintings. By the weekend I was coughing up boluses of emotion like hair balls and needed serious time in my studio. I had a hunger to take out all my oil pastels (like crayons; sticks of pigment) and lose control with them, using them on boards (and canvas; more on that tomorrow) with abandon; I love this medium but they take forever to dry so I don’t use them heavily. I ended up with this small painting. I’m still liking it on Monday, which I guess is good; I might be happy with a painting one day and then the next day think it’s dreadful and who the hell do I think I am, calling myself an artist? Ack. Creating art is tricky and tough and satisfying and treacherous and full of land mines, especially if an artist is emotionally involved in her creations. Today I’m bumbling around, just doing what’s in front of me which helps. Following Hillary’s advice to women: Get up every day and keep going. OK art fans I’m going to upload this post now as it’s almost time for Zoom Zumba class. Thank you dear ones for reading my blurbs.

8″ x 8″ acrylic, pencil, oil pastel on claybord = $75




daily painting | pacman pom

My lovely friend and almost-relative Nancy in San Diego kindly sent me photos of her prolific pomegranate trees, as I love painting these interesting colors and shapes. It’s so cool how they grow together, almost conjoined, on the branch, and I honestly don’t know how the trees support all that heavy fruit once October arrives. One pom had split open, making it look like Pacman or a hungry whale roaming the sea for plankton (food segue: I made a yummy pomegranate-related favorite recipe the other night, roasting “matchsticks” of butternut squash, flavored with ground sumac and accompanied by a yogurt sauce with pomegranate molasses).

I love Autumn. But I am particularly enjoying this year’s season change because I’m hopeful the crushing heat waves will dissipate, the air will clear, and we will have November election results that give relief. Then we can figure out how to get through quarantined holidays; hooboy. What a year! Let’s all keep on keeping on, friends and loved ones. We’ll get through this. We are sturdy folk.

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




daily painting | sidewalk pumpkins

Walking down Spear St. a few weeks ago in San Francisco to meet my small, tough group of friends and family to do the Bay to Breakers (Covid-style, no crowds), a vendor had a pumpkin stand and was calling it a day and putting away the baskets of these orange lovelies. It was an incongruous and delightful sight, and I snapped a few photos, thinking, “Where am I, Half Moon Bay or downtown San Francisco?” Anyways, that B-to-B group had way more grit than I did! My fierce brother outwalked the group, even with Parkinson’s (his 49th Bay to Breakers!). My sister is being beat by breast cancer, and she soldiered on to the finish line, as did her son and my brother’s two friends, the Michaels. I petered out after 4 miles as my hips were complaining too much and I don’t even have an illness to blame it on. Not so tough. But it was a blast. SF is a great walking city. Now, let me switch to another walking story, which will make this post a bit lengthy and thank you for your patience.

My ailing sister, who is squeezing every last drop out of her life (who on earth gets kicked out of hospice, twice? Because she wasn’t done traveling? She’s a rock star!), was recently visiting from Seattle and doing, in her words, her Farewell Tour. She wanted to walk around our old neighborhood in Mill Valley, and I asked to join her. I was a bit reticent, as there are memory-bombs around every corner, and many are awful. But I also very much wanted to go, especially with her.

We had a ball, sharing funny memories and remembering stories about childhood friends and neighbors. We walked to our house at the end of Homestead Blvd, which is now nicely paved instead of gravelly and filled with potholes. Kay knocked on the front door, asking the owner if it was OK to walk through the yard, and she graciously invited us in to see the house.

Lordy, it was amazing. Sandy has lived there now 50 years! And it’s beautiful. It is filled with light and love and art and paintings of birds instead of pain and loneliness and abuse. It was a wonder. It hasn’t changed a lot (a few added skylights), but it is transformed, as Sandy is a warm, kind woman (and a birder and an artist!). It was a seminal moment for me, as now I think of that house, that contained so much sorrow when I was a child, as a place of joy and beauty. It was one of those marvelous curveballs life throws at you — and it became a surprise home run. Score!

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




daily painting | alameda dahlias

Sidewalk blooms flourish outside urban Maker Farm near my marina (these dahlias are from a summertime photo). Spent better part of weekend slopping drippy wet paint around, using my kitchen counter as an artboard; I have new paint spatters decorating my laptop. Had to make myself turn off TV news and put on headphones (blues channel, Amazon Prime station) so I didn’t grind my teeth as I painted. I worked on 4 or 5 paintings and only got one “keeper.” Which is fine, I am not so concerned with final results, but it is nice to get one I want to show here. I felt elated to have cooler breezes and improved air quality, and gosh am I getting good at adapting to this Covid-infested world. Grateful for friends with whom I can visit at a safe social distance. Glad for walks through Mill Valley with my sister, stomping through our old neighborhood and having the current owner of our childhood home invite us in, everyone wearing masks (we knocked on the door to see if we could walk through the yard; I’ll write more about that amazing experience in another post). Happy for times with Claire as she works on getting Uncle Fuzzy’s house cleaned out. So pleased to have talks on the phone with grandkids. Life as an old lady is pretty good even in this 2020 shit show. Worth it to put on my rubber gloves to dig through yuck and look for the sparkly things.

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




daily painting | fuzzy’s apple tree

There is an apple tree in Uncle Fuzzy’s back yard that was lovingly tended to by his neighbor, Penny. These red orbs caught the afternoon sun beautifully, so I snapped a few pics while visiting Claire there recently and soothed my heart by painting them today while embracing my own disbelief that Fuzzy is no longer with us. Death is so damn final. It’s hard to accept, and at the same time I treasure my fond memories of him (and also am grateful for not-so-fond memories of his stubborn, irascible nature). He lived fully and gratefully, and I miss him. [And, dear Fuzzy, if that was you out on the lightpost near me in the form of a gorgeous adult red-shouldered hawk, thank you for visiting!]

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




daily painting | uncle fuzzy

Russell Spalding Delong lived a good and full life. He left for his final migration Saturday, Sept. 19, at age 84, surrounded by love and singing and affection. I would call that a good death, my dear Fuzzy. He even got banded by the UCSF team who picked him up, as he donated his body to the medical team there. What a pure privilege to spend so much time with him over the past several months, helping Claire, his heroic, angelic, generous friend and caregiver. Uncle Fuzzy (so named for his furry, bearded face) was a character, to say the least. And he lived large — boy howdy, did he! From helping to launch GGRO (see GGRO.org) in the 1980s to traveling the world in a men’s chorus (he had a magnificent, deep basso voice) to finding the love of his life in a Pacific Sun ad when in his 30s to managing the bouncy fluffballs that were his Keeshonds (who were always Molly and Peter no matter how many pairs of dogs he had over the years) to being a dedicated member of the Mill Valley Monday night poker gang — well, the list is long. He was irascible, stubborn, difficult, opinionated, single-minded. He was also lovable, kind, funny, scrappy, loyal, tough and an enthusiastic story teller. Dear Fuzzy, you are missed. And loved. I hope your final flight is taking you to places more beautiful than you’d ever dreamed.

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





daily painting | monochromatic poppies

I played with monochromatic media yesterday, working from a photo I had of poppies in Tilden Park. I love those white, papery petals — they seem fragile but are quite sturdy. [Uh oh. I’m climbing on my soap box again, I can feel it! Fair warning.] So there’s a cliche or stereotype that really bugs me — that being emotional is being weak (this usually is applied to women). I can’t stand that. Tell me, is giving birth to another human being weak, for god’s sake? Of course not. Is crying a sign of fragility? Horse poop. In my view humans who are not afraid to express emotion are the sturdiest folks on earth. OK, rant over. Pretending I’m Roseanne Roseannadanna over here. Changing to another topic, the air is clean and lovely here today. And my heart aches for the thousands of people run out of their homes by fire and smoke and destruction and catastrophe. We have much to do. Please vote.

7.5″ x 7.5″ water-soluble graphite, pen on paper = $75




daily painting | good times.

This 12″ x 12″ board has had about 9 lives. A difficult, fussy, persnickety, demanding painting, this one. I don’t know how many layers it has — I kept starting over as I thought each version sucked. Finally I started adding circles with oil pastel crayons, paint, crayons and pencils and kept going and started to like it. I’d truly given up on it (and on trying to do small paintings on boards altogether) so it was kind of a happy surprise. It seems cheerful, yes? Kind of like a party. Which is curious as it’s the polar opposite of how I’m feeling during this shit show that is 2020. At least I can almost open my windows today. Maybe. Fingers crossed. Here’s hoping. Anyways as I was working on this in my studio last weekend, between layers of paint I went to stock up on Chardonnay at The Wine Mine, next door; the air was so thick with smoke I could barely see the nearby Oakland hills. The young woman behind the counter had a double mask on, as did I — one for smoke, one for Covid. I noticed and remarked on her face apparel. “Good times,” she said, which made me laugh.

12″ x 12″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil, crayon on claybord = $185