daily painting | berkeley cacti

I was wandering down 4th St in Berkeley to a coffee shop to meet a friend and noticed this unpretentious little cactus garden along the sidewalk. It was a cold, cloudy day but the humble juxtaposition of cactus and golden-yellow flowers against the red fence was lovely. Berkeley has the most interesting front yard plant life! Exotic varieties of plants and flowers. It’s really fun to wander through the neighborhoods (this one a mix of industrial and artsy; clapboard homes built more than half a century ago and art studios that used to be factories). I liked the slightly decayed heart-shaped cactus leaf (middle-right), and tried to make the cactus on the left appear less phallic, but that’s pretty much what it looked like. This scene was a charming combo of blooming flowers, falling-over prickly cactus protuberations (yes, I am trying to impress you with my vocabulary) and industrial fencing. Thanks for forgiving me the long break in posting; been recovering from quite the nasty cold but today will bring out my paints again to try and capture more Berkeley flora.

6″ x 8″ watercolor, pen on paper = $60




daily painting | quonset hut

Had another wonderful, chilly, sunny January afternoon with fellow artist Liz searching for falling-apart structures out at the defunct navy base on Alameda Pt. We don’t care for charming gardens or beautiful homes. Give us a wonderful tiny little navy quonset hut sheltered in the shadow of a monstrous, mysterious structure any day. This one was painted in the standard US govt pale, pukey yellow, and had the greatest rusty streaks and a mildewy sidewalk in front. These corners of my island are so interesting and surprising. I suppose one day they’ll be razed and replaced with condos. But for now it’s a treasure hunt for these forgotten bits of our military past.

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




daily painting | coarse texture

My abstract paintings contain waves of feelings and emotions. “Go deep,” my teacher, Leigh Hyams, used to encourage her students. This started as an older piece from years ago, pulled out of the closet and reworked. I am grateful to this canvas for containing grief, hope, loss, sadness, heartache, faith, gratitude. Kind of a stew of things for the end of 2019. Sometimes I look at a completed painting the next day (or the next week or month) and think, “Ugh. What the hell? This sucks. Who the eff do I think I am?” But I console myself that the paintings are from a true part of myself. This one had this bit of blue on the bottom which felt like a glimpse into clear, gorgeous, turquoise waters. But the canvas itself is rough and textured and bumpy, which more or less describes 2019. I’m not crazy about these colors. But it’s what the painting asked for.

45″ x 35″ acrylic, oil pastel, pencil on unstretched canvas = $2050




daily painting | my freak flag

I am newly devoted to more time in my studio doing large abstracts. Yesterday I pulled out an old watercolor abstract on paper and worked back into it with crayon, ink, acrylics. It was cathartic and therapeutic as I bounce across life’s bumps. Art heals—go out and do it! Create, whatever your media — teaching, gardening, drawing, counseling, singing, inventing, making furniture. I sincerely commit to begin this decade with hope and an open heart. Someone recently said, “How the tables turn when the heart is open.” It’s risky and scary. Cynicism and self-protection is much safer. But magic happens when one’s heart is courageously open to live life in full color.

30″ x 22″ watercolor, acrylic, ink, crayon, pencil on paper = $795




daily painting | new year

Was great to be back in my studio after a fun Christmas with family in San Diego. This work feels like an illustration of transition — saying goodbye to a busy, colorful decade, including all the dark bits, and entering into the unknown (I outlined the edges of this to show that there is a chunk of white paper on the right edge). Blank canvas (paper, actually), so to speak. If I am around at the beginning of the next decade, what will the colors be, in retrospect? Life is such a crazy mix of joy and loss and grief and color and beginnings and disappointments and discoveries and love. Today, anticipating a new year, I am repeating a helpful phrase, “I relinquish all resistance to the present moment.” I also like, “I yield unconditionally to the flow of life.” Because I have so many unanswered questions in my life, these words comfort me. It’s a pipe dream that some day I’ll have everything figured out. So I’ll keep muddling along, wanting to keep my heart open, hoping I am paying attention, dodging bitterness, learning and growing.

22″ x 30″ watercolor, acrylic, ink, pencil on paper = $795




daily painting | roxana

Once again I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Tuesday night figure drawing group in Oakland. Scott is a gracious host and organizer and lets me visit when another regular member of the group cannot make it. A robust gathering of men and women artists who have been creating gorgeous figure drawings and paintings on Tuesday nights on Piedmont Ave for a number of years, where the jokes fly and the boombox plays Willie Nelson, Mozart and Etta James. Great fun being amongst such a talented group. I feel like I get to sneak in and, for an evening, enjoy the camaraderie of smart, funny, talented painters who do careful and gorgeous oils and watercolors while I splash my paints and water-soluble graphite media all over the place. I am beyond grateful.

8″ x 6″ pen and artgraf sepia graphite on paper = $60




daily painting | birthday tulips

My thoughtful daughter sent me tulips for my birthday and I used my gorgeous Gump’s vase, a gift from dear friend Lenka, to hold them. Took a pic (birthday is in Oct) to paint later. Later was yesterday. I am surrounded by love and thoughtfulness from a number of friends and loved ones and it humbles me. The other day I went with Lenka and friend Helen to see the movie, “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, with Tom Hanks playing Mr Rogers — especially fun, as Helen, a chiropractor, works in the same office with Dr Heller in Alameda, dad of Marielle Heller, director of the movie. The flick was a home run. Could’ve been sappy and corny but wasn’t; heartwarming but not saccharine. I love going to the movies with my pals as Lenka takes my hand and holds it if the movie makes me cry. This one definitely had me digging for kleenex (but a Hallmark commercial can have the same effect).

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




daily painting | gull dreaming

I enjoy hanging out along the estuary in Alameda near the Fruitvale bridge hoping to spot the resident peregrine falcons who nest there. A gull family also enjoys that spot, as it affords easy access to the trash bin. I am quite certain these gulls dream of colorful scenes of human junk food falling out the sky (perhaps enhanced by bits of Cheetohs in the garbage can or maybe crumbs of pot brownies left by humans). I started this as a watercolor, but it needed jazzing up. It’s fun to watch the gulls pad around on their flipper feet. Sadly, one of the offspring has fishing line tangled between its two legs but it can walk and fly. Because it is fully mobile, wildcare experts advise that catching a gull is nearly impossible, so I am thwarted in my desire to cut the line off its legs.

11″ x 14″ watercolor, pen, pastel, pencil on paper = $195




daily painting | ghosties

So here’s a just-completed abstract, recycling an older work on paper. I was working on this over Halloween, and the hauntings of creatures was an influence — especially since I seem to be steeped, lately, in family memories as several of my siblings are ill. These random scenes keep flooding back, arbitrarily — playtime with my little sister in the “rumpus room”, my brother’s leaving for college, falling madly in love with the Beatles while I experimented with big-girl makeup. Not consciously dredging up these pics in my mind; they have a need, apparently, to present themselves. Our brains are weird. My heart aches, though, with health worries about loved ones and it’s best not to resist my emotional bouncy house.

I also am entering a new phase of my direction as an artist. I’ve decided to back away from the challenges of marketing and Open Studios and spend my energy working on large abstracts in my studio. I will still post here, and will still do small watercolors as I love to do them and my practice doing daily paintings of all sizes will continue. The challenges of showing my work will probably always be with me, as I feel so raw and vulnerable when people view my paintings. A lot of me is splashed and exposed on those canvases and works on paper.

22″ x 30″ watercolor, pastel, acrylic, ink on paper = $795




daily painting | PEFA

“PEFA” is the official scientific abbreviation for Peregrine Falcon. This amazing guy was caught in the Marin Headlands by my banding mate (check out GGRO.org) and we banded him, collected measurements and let him go. But not without photos! PEFAs are such an amazing story of humans actually helping wildlife, as they almost became extinct, but the banning of the pesticide DDT saved this species, and every year we band more and more of them. I can’t say strongly enough how mad I am about these amazing birds. Just watching them fly through one of our banding sites is gob-smacking, the way they swoop and dive and jet around. Feathered acrobats. What a joy and a privilege to get up close and personal with such a creature.

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