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

 

 

 

daily painting | poinsettia

This poinsettia is a just-finished commissioned piece. Nope, I’m not ready for the holidays either (I went to the Dollar Store earlier today and got bombarded by Christmas music — one of those motion-detector-activated cutesie holiday decorations and I about lost my lunch).

But the calendar says Thanksgiving and Christmas and Hanukkah are lurking and I’m collecting tips for roasting the Thanksgiving turkey this year (kind of looking forward to it actually; it’s been awhile).

I hope we all enjoy heartwarming times during the coming months. Or find the stamina to get through the events. Or maybe flee to Mexico for a tequila-soaked Christmas. Hell, I’m still polishing off the Halloween candy corn.

A note about my artwork: I’m in a transition phase in terms of how I create art. I will be doing fewer posts, having decided to spend as much time in my studio as possible working on large abstracts. I am also delighted to have more opportunities to teach art workshops. I will update my blog here and there as I have new works.

14″ x 13″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

daily painting | boat-hopping egret

It’s lovely to live on the water and happen upon these moments. I see egrets pretty much daily, and they are so beautiful and graceful, carefully and delicately moving through shallow waters looking for lunch (or landing on up-turned boats on the dock). The pure white of their feathers always makes me stop in wonder. One time I watched a bird snag a small crab and that feisty shellfish won the life-and-death battle. Too much trouble. Back into the drink it went.

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

 

 

 

daily painting | nancy’s pom

I’ve just enjoyed a few days of fun, rest, respite and arty stuff in San Diego. I looked after relative and friend Nancy’s cats (sort of; they stayed upstairs mostly, hiding) and Nancy was kind enough to let me stay in her lovely home while she traveled so I could spend time with grandsons Mason and Heath. Warm but not hot during the day, I had an entire day roaming around the garden and painting while boys were in school (followed by doing laps in that glorious pool!). It was delightful and delicious. She has two pomegranate trees groaning with bounty (one needs stilts to support a heavily laden bough) and how I love this fruit’s shape and color!

I’m sort of rethinking the whole creating-art thing, wondering what new adventures await while working diligently to keep the howling dogs of self-doubt at bay. I am not quite as focused on these daily blogs, though I do sketch and paint most every day. I am falling quite head-over-heels in love with teaching, however, so if you are interested keep an eye on the Frank Bette Center for the Arts class schedule in Alameda. I’m also planning an art retreat next Sept in the north woods of Wisconsin in a gorgeous spot on the water (see “Classes & Retreats” page in menu headings or click here).

Nancy’s beautiful home displays more of my paintings and prints than anyone on the planet, so it was interesting to be surrounded by my art (again, the dogs tried to chew my confidence into bits; truly this is a daily struggle). And one of the best parts, along with warm conversations with Nancy upon her return, was sitting outside at dusk to see the bats come out. I LOVE bats. Well, the best part of course was time with the boys. Why I went to SD. One afternoon Mason and Heath came over and we swam and painted and drew in the back yard. Nirvana for a happy Mimi (grandma).

6″ x 6″ watercolor, pen on paper

 

 

 

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