daily painting | december fruitiness

Though I painted this last month (it got lost in the holiday shuffle), this piece still cheers me today with its bright pink and red hues. Pomegranates are so bold and unapologetic for who they are — strong colors, tough skin, lumpy shapes, funny little tart seeds, called arils (my mouth is puckering just thinking about them!). Something about things continuing their growth patterns even when the world seems to be collapsing all around us brings comfort; fruit still ripens, flowers still bloom, cute little wintering ducks still dive for food out my window, hilarious finch-fight drama at the birdfeeder. I found it very hard to get through my afternoon yesterday and I can only think it was because my whole body felt immersed in grief. I sat in my chair in my studio and wept. Then it subsided a little and I got back up and grabbed my paintbrush and continued with a small painting. I am riveted by political news today that is both horrifying and historic. So I didn’t head back to my Oakland studio; instead I applied for CA grants, worked on a graphic design project that I received today for the first time since last March, crossed my fingers the E Bay Pump folks fixed the marina pump that whined all night outside my window for a second night, checked in with friends who are ailing, tended to household chores, cleaned up computer clutter. Today I feel no need to be heroic or strong. I am just here. Staggering onward, rejoicing (thank you WH Auden).

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

 

 

 

 

daily painting | christmas still life

You know you are an artist when you roam the produce dept at Berkeley Bowl looking for still life material instead of recipe ingredients. In this case I “shopped my refrigerator” and put this together on this most remarkable Christmas Day, the first day in my 68 years to have a solo quarantined December 25th. Wow, I must say it’s been pretty damn interesting. And amazingly happy. I knew it would be a quiet day here in the marina (neighbors’ remodeling projects temporarily stilled), and I’ve been paying attention to and appreciating a complete lack of family drama. Is that a good thing? Am I destined to become a recluse? Who knows. But I admit I am glad to observe my adaptability to this somewhat sequestered life. And I completely enjoyed a rainy, windy holiday walk on Crown Beach with a good friend. As I sit in my slightly rocking houseboat enjoying a winter storm’s arrival, anticipating putting together a Christmas feast just for one, I am standing outside myself a bit and watching my life as an aging woman. Content, surely. Filled with grief — how could I not be? Flexible, sturdy and rolling with the 2020 punches. Merry Christmas everyone. Though, as a dear friend said, “Merry” and “Christmas” are not exactly a well-matched pair this year.

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

 

 

 

daily painting | smudgy trumpets

Searching for subject matter, I found a photo of this trumpet vine that grows outside my studio. Played with watercolor, was dissatisfied, added pastel, added acrylic pen and more pastel and then just said oh hell I’m going to have at it with the chalky, brightly colored sticks and smudge this thing into a pink, hot mess. It’s satisfying just to let go and forget about end results. Sometimes that makes for a good painting. Sometimes not. My mind’s not made up about this one, but my dark moods these days obscure my perceptions. Yesterday, though, offered relief and peace and those moments really sparkle against the murky grays of my grief — it was the 15th anniversary of my mom’s death, and my sweet brother and I went to the beach to visit and reminisce about our family. It was comforting to be in agreement as we reflected on our experiences with mom and dad and to love and console each other as we watched the surfers at Rodeo Beach, spotted dolphins foraging for lunch, soaked up the sunshine, remembered summer vacations as kids, and mainly just appreciated being together as the numbers of our sibs dwindle. So soothing to my sore heart.

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | december persimmon

I think most of us would agree that this is a December unlike any other. For the first time in forever I will be locked down at home instead of in San Diego for Christmas with grandkids — so many Americans will be quarantined as well, lonely for family. I am grieving my sister, who was taken out by cancer, but I cannot ask my friends for hugs. I watch in horror as Covid death numbers rocket through the stratosphere in the US. I worry myself sick about my daughter’s family. I watch politicians deny and subvert the truth. It’s like trying to breathe after having been swept off the mountain by an avalanche, crushed under eight feet of snow.

And yet. Small treasures keep my focus on the glory of just being alive today. Bike rides to Crab Cove to meet a kind and warm friend and together watching leggy black-necked stilts at the water’s edge (I looked them up!). Spicy, hammy bean soup in the crock pot. Getting out my tray of watercolors and painting this persimmon I set up on a flowery napkin I lifted from Uncle Fuzzy’s kitchen. Doing mindless chores like laundry which soothes me. Celebrating my health. Drinking my sister’s favorite brand of tea I ordered on Amazon, brewed in the little metal teapot she used every morning that her wonderful husband mailed to me. Netflix series about spies in WWII. Green herons out my kitchen window. Inhaling fabulous apple-cranberry homemade pie a friend made. Marveling at the hopeful news of vaccines. Dancing lights on my ceiling, reflections from the water outside my boat. Finches fighting at the birdfeeder. These are small slices of life that keep me from being squished, giving me a breathing tube that reaches up through the suffocation of snow into fresh air. I know I am quite sturdy, all-in-all, but Jesus, Mary and the Pips what a year.

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