daily painting | convergence

Energetic, this one is. My emotions were all over the place this afternoon when I finished this small abstract — angry, frightened, frustrated (US politics! Lordy!). I’ve been working on this, reworking it, hating it, liking it OK but not with conviction, and on and on and it just wasn’t happening. Partly out of impatience, partly working intuitively, I took out my big fat oil pastel sticks and vigorously added lines and marks. I felt released.

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




daily painting | cyclamen

I’m not the greatest gardener. But this tiny little cyclamen plant seemed manageable and was so cute on my kitchen windowsill. This kind of plant has such interestingly shaped blooms that seem to sit on their own little square-ish platforms. I have been painting lately, but without postable results, plus I am seriously standing back and reconsidering my art career and where to go from here, so I have been less diligent about daily blogging. It’s one of those life moments of reassessment and seeing if I need a complete change of direction. So far, though, I have no clear path, so I will adhere to the helpful image of driving on a dark road on a stormy night — my headlights only illuminate a few feet in front of me, but I’m still moving along. I absolutely hate not having clear plans! But then there’s that saying about how when we make plans, God laughs. Life is sad and bumpy sometimes, but I keep feeling a strong inner knowing that I need to have faith, trust in the The Divine, and I will know my next move when I need to. Faith and trust! Ugh! So terribly uncomfortable, the not-knowing. But here I am today, on a lovely October afternoon on the water, listening to Vern swearing next door as he fixes the floats on a houseboat (must not be going well), and dreamily remembering a very special Northern Harrier we banded in the Headlands yesterday. A ridiculous amount of bounty.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen & a smidge of pastel on paper = $90




daily painting | alameda lilies

OK so I’m just guessing about the genus of this flower; it was in a front yard in Alameda and I snapped its pic one bright day. The plant was a riot of coral/orangey colors and it felt unruly and anarchistic. It was probably quite compliant and acceptable, so I suppose I’m assigning it a personality according to today’s mood. Which is rebellious and angry as I badly want accountability of Washington scoundrels. And I’m mad. And frustrated. And still dreamily thinking about Sunday’s Peregrine Falcon (I’m certain he’s still thinking about me too as it was love at first sight — wait, no, maybe he just wanted to kill me). Must hurry this along as it’s in the mid-90s outside which means sitting here upstairs at my computer it’s a lot hotter. Time to go satisfy my news junkie tendencies. And guzzle some Gatorade.

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





daily painting | PEFA

So I’m breaking with protocol here to post these photos of a most glorious Peregrine Falcon we caught and banded yesterday (indulging my bird nerdiness here today). My 2nd “PEFA” (the official scientific abbreviation) I’ve been up close and personal with in 12 years of banding with Golden Gate Raptor Observatory in the Marin Headlands (check out GGRO.org). Using pigeons to attract the hawks, and passive nets to catch them, we are out there from August through November. We only catch a couple of PEFAs a year, as they rarely fall for our seductions. Note the wings, crossed over his back —they are long and pointed. And the enormous eyes that can spot things from great distances (I especially love seeing their nostrils up close, as they have small cones or baffles inside them so that when they are stooping [diving] on a little songbird for lunch, going 200MPH+, they can still breathe).

The 2nd photo is of the official “color band” which we put on this young male’s leg. If you see a bird in the air or perched and can get the band number, please let GGRO know! (A tall order, as these acrobatic flyers swoop and zoom by at high speeds.)

If you are still reading this, you are also officially a bird nerd and here’s another fun fact — the talons in this pic are pretty relaxed but I’m told that mid-air they ball them up and punch their prey in flight (like pigeons), knocking them out. The prey then falls to the ground for the PEFA’s next meal. You may be thinking, Eeeew! Brutal! But hey, falcons have to eat too.

If this fascinates you, come on out to Hawk Hill in the headlands and see the birds fly overhead. Right about now through early October is the “peak” time for migration. At around noon on Hawk Hill on weekends, a docent may have a live hawk to show you. Most of the birds we catch are “juvenile” (first year) birds, Cooper’s Hawks and Sharp-shinned hawks and Red tails.

left photo taken by Ryan Bourbour




daily painting | bay leaves

The other day I was, as the day wore on, steadily slumping under sadness and loss. Despite my sticky dark brain fog I remembered that the redwoods up in the Oakland hills always soothe and comfort me, so I put on my hiking boots and headed up to Joaquin Miller Park to my favorite trail that winds uphill through the hushed forest, past excited spaniel puppies exploring the great wilderness and energetic mountain bikers politely making way for me on the path. On the fern ravine trail, the park folks have added stairs in the steep bits, and the trail was carpeted with deliciously fragrant bay leaves of all colors. I took a pic and took out my paints once home. Such interesting textures and hues but I wish I could do a scratch & sniff blog! So yummy, the flavors in the air. 

What a godsend those parks are — minutes from concrete jungle urbanity, a rejuvenating and healing retreat from all the sharp edges of this nutty world. I felt 100% better after my hike.

watercolor, pen on paper





daily painting | the yaquina

I was honored to be commissioned to paint my sister-in-law Jane’s dredging vessel, The Yaquina (inset is photo taken by Jane). The fun part of this photo, from which I painted the piece, is that it was taken at the mouth of the Siuslaw River in Florence, OR, where I lived as a young married woman. The Yaquina dredges river mouths along the Oregon and California coastlines and Jane is 2nd in command of this hard-working ship. I was fortunate to have been invited on the ship last year when it was undergoing maintenance at a shipyard near me in Alameda; I got a grand tour and was allowed to sit on the decks and paint. SO cool.

It’s a complete delight to be connected with my ex-husband’s sibs and their kids. I’ve been divorced for many years but to be still in touch means a lot. As I get older, family connections are everything.

11″ x 14″ watercolor, pen on paper




daily painting | dappled light

OK so I have this ongoing distaste for painting landscapes. Give me an old building or a disintegrating tractor or a flower in a garden any day. But I took a photo of the gorgeous dappled light on a woodsy trail up in Joaquin Miller Park in the Oakland hills one day, and tried my hand painting it (white acrylic pens rock!). A favorite hiking spot of mine, this trail, as you walk through the redwoods and the peaceful, healing space they create. They embrace me on a lonely day, and I often tell them, Thank you. Sometimes I am very fortunate and spot a red-shouldered hawk in the air, expertly maneuvering through the tree limbs, dazzling me.

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




daily painting | page 9

Another page from my sketchbook project chronicling some of my early life and my spiritual stuff (I’d say “spiritual path” but it’s such a new age cliche even if it’s true; I’m bored to death with that language). The book is finished and is deeply personal and emotional — a loving thing to do for myself — to see and acknowledge a sad and lonely little 10 year old Emily who is a vital and sensitive and important part of my innards and I value her insights. This project is also stirring up all kinds of grief and memories (the texture of the cushions in our rumpus room as a kid!), and I believe that is in itself a healing process. The sketchbook also is about celebrating all the help I’ve gotten over the years, both seen and unseen; I do think I’ve had lots of help from The Divine, and the more my heart is open for magic to happen, the more I see the amazing gifts around me (like one day stopping in my tracks as I walked past our marina mailboxes — a hummingbird was lunching on the sweet nectar of nearby flowers; as it hovered in the sun its iridescent feathers dazzled and it cast a beautiful shadow).

I have designed my own personal belief system which works for me. Though I had an early adult life in the Christian church as a born-again, I think my current spiritual connections run deeper and are more satisfying and comforting and real. Every day I am helped and taught, and my challenge is to stay in that place of trust and not go into the rat-hole of loneliness & isolation, which is a childhood default place that feels safer. And is completely miserable. It’s my daily practice. Staying present.

8″ x 5″ watercolor, pen in sketchbook




daily painting | book

I’ve mentioned this topic before, but an important part of my life is my healing journey. When I was in my 30s (lo, these many years ago!) I first started a therapy process and decided I would see just how far I could take it. A kind of personal science experiment — when one has a difficult and painful childhood, are there limits to how much one’s mind and heart and spirit can heal? I wanted to find out; night terrors and sleep-depriving nightmares had made me desperate to find help. So I threw myself into it, going to counselors and therapy groups and in-patient treatment programs for adult children of alcoholics. I read books and went to workshops and 12-step meetings and new-age churches and sought healers and shamans and spiritual directors. I’m quite certain I was thoroughly obnoxious about the whole thing.

Anyways, I found out one important bit of information — the human spirit is powerful and strong and there are no restrictions on becoming whole. No limits at all. I am not “sick.” I am not mortally wounded. I am a sensitive human who grew up with emotionally mangled, lonely parents, and I still learn every day how to be kind to myself. My therapist advised me to create an art book that chronicled my early journey, my pain, and, importantly, my connection to Great Spirit, which is the name I choose to use for God or Spirit or The Divine or Higher Power. This page illustrates the serendipitous event of having stumbled into Leigh Hyam’s art workshop at Esalen in 2008, without knowing anything about her. She opened me up and it changed the direction of my life. It was definitely meant to be. OK going back to the book now. More pages to complete.

8″ x 5″ watercolor, pen in sketchbook