daily painting | blue berries

OK this is going to feel a little weird. Here goes.

During my almost 3-week stay in Washington, most of that time with my sister in Seattle who was dying of cancer, it was so interesting to walk through her neighborhood (Fremont) and see various front yards. I’ve never before seen anything like this bush which had neon-pink flowers with blue berries at the center. Like the berries had turned into some kind of magenta fireworks. They were gaudy, even — colors looked cartoonish. But they were so cheery to see during my chilly November strolls.

What is strange as I post this is it will be the first time Kay won’t be reading it. She enjoyed reading my blogs every day, which meant I had to be sensitive in how I wrote them, if I mentioned her. She passed away two days ago, Sunday morning after a battle with breast cancer that lasted on and off for 21 years. She was mostly healthy and cancer free after that first diagnosis and the subsequent and innovative treatments (a cancer clinic in Seattle was set up based on things medical professionals learned from her regimens), and she was grateful for that bonus time, for the initial diagnosis was quite dire. But she beat it. For awhile.

Kay was never bedridden but the pain was increasing and the nights were getting pretty rough. Just a few days before she passed we had a long walk through Seattle and her stamina exceeded mine. She was really something.

Goodbye, Kay. You and I had a difficult relationship at times, yet we loved each other very much. And it was an honor to be with you in your final days. I am so happy you are no longer being painfully savaged by that awful disease and are now at peace.

6″ x 6″ watercolor, pen, acrylic ink on paper

 

 

 

 

daily painting | second-hand boat

Near the beach at Fort Worden, a state park in Port Townsend, WA, a small boat rested in the dunes, relieved of duty (a retired lifeboat, perhaps? curious that it has chains at both ends — maybe it brought shipwrecked fishermen to safety). It completely charmed me. One of the reasons I loved this sandy scenario is because I was visiting my dear friend Claire who lives in that part of the gorgeous NW and together we roamed the beach there a couple of times; one day was sunny and bright and we identified Mergansers (cute diving ducks with punk hairdos), marveled at the soothing sound of beach waves washing over pebbles and collected shoreline stones smoothed by the swells of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca (ha! accidental alliteration!). Another day we set out to collect bits of driftwood and it was so windy it took both my hands to open the car door. I really love the wildness of this watery corner of the US, with its fierce storms, soaring bald eagles, brilliant night stars and island-hopping ferries. My precious times with Claire those few days will long be cherished and tended to in my memory banks.

But I’m not super crazy about this painting, so I’ll likely do another one once I’m home. Getting low on watercolor sketchpads here in my sister’s digs in Seattle and I am soon heading back to California, saying goodbye to my sister who got the short end of the breast cancer stick. She’s well-cared for here and deeply loved and her husband, daughter, caring friends and hospice team will look after her with empathy and tenderness. Which gives me peace as I head back to my Alameda life. [There were no authentic, accurate expressions of loss and sadness I could conjure up today. So I got out my paints.]

7″ x 10″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | kay and camera

My sister Kay here in Seattle is finishing up her memoirs as she gets ready to leave the planet. She asked me to create some artwork for the cover of her book, and gave me a black & white shot taken of her with her camera, circa mid-1970s, to use as reference. I’m honored to have my painting on the cover of her life story, and I’m fond of this image of her looking through her viewfinder, as her life has been lived with curiosity and hunger for knowledge and beauty. I love you, Kay.

10″ x 7″ watercolor, pen on paper