daily painting | dahlias

The urban farm around the corner has lush and colorful green goodies growing outside its front gate and it’s fun to drive by and see what new blossoms have recently popped. These plate-sized dahlias were a knock-out, and frankly hard to capture with watercolor (at least for me); they are so full and blowsy and I mean that in a good way. They remind me of fireworks. I used a number of my acrylic pens to add bits of color to lighten up the piece as it was a bit dense; I really wanted to capture how uncontrolled they look. Like free-thinkers. I think I’ll drive by slowly again today to see if anything new has bloomed lately in the sidewalk containers. [WOOT! It’s Kamala, our local dynamo! Great choice, Joe.]

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




daily painting | talk to me

How the hell to tell when a painting is done? It’s a best-guess kind of game. “A painting is never done,” an artist once said, “you just have to know when to stop.” This is a larger one and it called for various shades of red. Maybe because I’m so angry at the state of things in the country. Who knows? I’m always suspicious of someone’s interpretations of an artist’s motivations when it comes to expression; it is patronizing and insulting, in my mind, to analyze. The best thing is when someone has their own emotional reaction to a painting — the connection to a work of art is the thing. A million years ago in a former lifetime (that’s code for the 1980s) when I returned to the Bay Area after living in rural Oregon I was so thrilled to return to San Francisco museums I stood in front of a Matisse and burst into tears, she was so beautiful (“The Girl with Green Eyes”). Always good to feel. To express grief. To cry and wail and let storms move through you. You won’t crumple, really. You’ll recover and feel better for letting go. That’s my motto, anyway. You should see how many boxes of Kleenex are on call around my house, at the ready.

41″ x 43″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on unstretched canvas = $2290




daily painting | zucchini blossoms

Zucchini plants are so luscious. These are growing outside the funky little farm near me in Alameda. I love these shapes — large floppy leaves, unfurling orangey-yellow flowers that look like a dragon’s mouth, dark green cylindrical veggies that will be harvested later in the summer. A little corner of green drama. I was pretty funky yesterday and getting my paints out helped. As did a hike in Oakland’s Tilden Park to enjoy a sunset happy hour picnic with a friend as we took in spectacular views of SF bay. Retrieving our flashlights from our backpacks we then walked down the trail to our cars at dusk and saw bats! Dozens of them! The coolest. And saw/heard Barn Owls. I can’t wait to go back. How grateful I am to have such healing beauty close by.

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




daily painting | turbulence

Lately I’ve been working on small acrylic abstracts on boards and have gotten so frustrated I wipe the paint off or let it dry and start over. In my studio yesterday I stopped trying to make this damn thing work and started slopping black paint on it and using sticks and crayons and palette knives. And then, big surprise! I liked it. It’s the usual — the harder I try to make a good painting the worse it gets. Only by letting go of the end result and enjoying the process is there a chance of getting a keeper. This one certainly holds several heartfuls of turbulent emotions as I try to navigate this upside-down world and stay sane in the midst of — well, a lot of shite. You know what I mean. Don’t need to list the dire circumstances here. OK now to my online Zoom Zumba class — one more tool in my kit to try and keep my brains from dribbling out my ears. Not sure it isn’t too late though. Messy.

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




daily painting | sunflowers & barbed wire

Holding my head up — at times it’s a terrific challenge and challenged I certainly am. I find many of my friends also deeply saddened and depressed as we all slog through these dark and dangerous times, pursued by a virus that is smarter than we are and that is facilitated by corrupt, fumbling political leaders who have a shocking disregard for human life. So I look for comforts and remedies that are mostly not self-destructive. Last night I walked down to a bench outside my marina to watch a gorgeous moonrise over the estuary. It was stunning. A respiratory therapist staying in the hotel nearby also kept me company (it’s a long bench and safe). He travels here to work at Kaiser. I was unable to stop the tears, and he was kind; an angel sent to give me solace. But, back to sunflowers! They are tough and have strong stalks that support heavy blooms. They are native to N America (Europeans brought seeds home with them or Van Gogh wouldn’t have painted that glorious painting). They are easy to grow. They nourish all kinds of creatures including humans (one of my most favorite treats as a child). These are growing along the sidewalk, in front of barbed wire that surrounds a funky, interesting little farm just next door to us in Alameda that produces these glories amongst recycled old shipping containers. I will go back to paint more as there are zucchini, chard, dahlias, and many more luscious things growing in containers along the street. These cheery, seedy sunflowers towered over me and held their heads up just fine. Their messy beauty and resilience remind me to keep looking up.

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




daily painting | covid test view

A few weeks ago I joined the long line of cars creeping slowly into a downtown Oakland Kaiser parking garage for my Covid test. Across the street was this old brick building, all boarded up, which had interesting colors and shapes. I wonder what it had been used for originally? Guessing it was at least a half century old and likely older. I snapped its pic and painted this yesterday in my kitchen. Happily my health is good, the test was negative, I’m careful with masks and staying home except when helping with Uncle Fuzzy (I all but put on a hazmat suit to go get my mail) and I try not to lose my temper when people I see out and about in Alameda don’t wear masks and seem careless. I don’t understand — how could this pandemic be more serious? Especially here in the US? Aarrgh. Have to temper my old lady rage. (One great thing about getting older — you can be cranky and no one cares.)

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





daily painting | russ’s magnolia

Russ, my dear friend in Mill Valley who has lung cancer (also known as Uncle Fuzzy) has a glorious magnolia tree in his back yard. Claire is Fuzzy’s gifted and generous caregiver who moved to Washington last year and is graciously extending her CA visit to include caring for Uncle Fuzzy; I go over there sometimes to help out. She and I have been admiring the showy blooms and taking pics of them as they only last a day or two. Came home and painted this shot of the tree behind the fence. The flowers are YUGE, lush, billowing, dramatic, exotic, showy and over-the-top (well, they are over the top of the fence, after all). Though the circumstances are difficult (the docs added chemo to the regimen of radiation treatment today), Fuzzy is tough and determined to fight. And I get time with Claire. She is amazing and when we have a few mins to sit on the front porch while Russ is sleeping and tell stories and giggle, it’s fabulous. I cherish these moments, fraught as they are. I appreciate being part of this completely nutso world and I am so grateful for these connections.

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





daily painting | mill valley daisies

Uncle Fuzzy is ailing. Fuzzy (named decades ago because of his beard) is a beloved part of our banding team (see GGRO.org) and is a legend in GGRO both for his 35+ years in the program (started in the 1980s) as well as for his irascible, querulous personality which sometimes camouflages his big heart. We Thursday banders love him like crazy, and Claire, his devoted caregiver and also a bander, works wonders with him (Seriously. Truly amazing.). We are all helping him fight the good fight against cancer, and he’s just crusty enough to win it. No shrinking violet, this one; he’s quite a tough old bird, to spin a few metaphors in the blender. Speaking of flowers, I snapped a pic of a yard around the corner from Fuzzy’s house in Mill Valley with an intention to paint the scene. It was a riot of freewheeling daisies; beautiful and fresh and healthy and comforting. Onward we go, embracing life. And death too.

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





daily painting | seattle anthurium

My sister lives in Seattle (Fremont/Ballard area) and takes “walkabouts” and often comes back with gorgeous photos she has taken. She sent me a gobsmacking shot of an anthurium and she gave me permission to paint it. She has an amazing eye for such scenes of wonder and beauty and I often benefit! This was fun to draw (with my fountain pen), paint (watercolors, limited palette) and then add dabs of color with Montana acrylic pens. I finished it this morning while the fog blows through my marina, Chicken Marbella cooks in the crockpot, I anticipate my Zoom Zumba class and spend quite a bit of energy trying not to worry about the world, family illness and stressors, US politics and Covid-related anxieties. Sometimes I am successful, sometimes not; that rabbit-hole of despair sometimes catches my foot when I get out of bed in the mornings. Staying focused on activities helps immensely. As do bike rides, painting, sometimes breaking down in tears and letting emotion wash through me, Netflix series, happy hour (at a distance) with lovely neighbors, meeting Claire to help with our fellow bander Uncle Fuzzy as he fights lung cancer, and only doing what’s in front of me. I’m still relying on Hillary’s quote, “Get up every day and keep going.” And, “This too shall piss.”

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




daily painting | passione

Snapped a pic of this intense, magenta-red passion flower in a bush flowing over a Berkeley neighborhood fence on a recent walk; it towered over me and I leaned back to photograph some of the blooms. Such vibrancy! Colors of flowers, especially pinks and reds, are about impossible to reproduce as the vivid hues just can’t be found in a tube of paint. So I did my best with my Daniel Smith watercolors and added some lines with acrylic pens. Berkeley gardens are the best — lively, interesting, unusual. Plants I’ve never seen before growing in sunny gardens; no cookie-cutter landscaping in those front yards. How it relieves me to splash watercolors around especially in these dark and frightening times. Gorgeous flowers, sparrows at the birdfeeder, Osprey flying overhead — these things help me keep me afloat. [As I write this I’m listening to Chuck Rosenberg’s podcast, “The Oath,” and he is interviewing Leon Panetta who is describing his Italian dad’s immigration to the US so it seems appropriate to use the Italian word for passion in the blog title; forgive my wordy descriptions!]

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