Thursday, August 28, 2014


Sometimes, I just see a photo that sings, "paint me, paint me!"

And that photo is usually connected to someone I like, so it's heart-warming to then spend time drawing and painting while thinking about that person and hoping they'll enjoy a surprise.  It's the best form of meditation I can imagine.

That was the case when I spotted a photo of Kristi's little dog, Paco, on Facebook recently,  Now Kristi is just full of awesome in many ways, but her sense of humor is one of my favorites. She's especially funny about how she was really a cat person but this dog just wheedled her way into her heart.  And with that cute face, you can see why.

Paco and Kristi live in Austin, Texas - met Kristi when I lived there for a couple of years, but will have to venture back soon to meet Paco his own self.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mount Tam crosses the country!

My long-time friend commissioned me almost a year ago to paint Mount Tamalpais for her.  She now lives back east and wanted a reminder of Marin County and its physical beauty.

It was a daunting assignment, but also one filled with great discovery and joy.  First of all, there are about a million possible perspectives of the mountain and so many ways to think and feel about it too. So I told her, given this particular subject, that I needed some time and that I wanted to paint several paintings, each 8" x 10" and then let her see them and choose one.  And she kindly agreed!  (It helps that she is a writer so understands the weird processes we artists sometimes need to go through.)

For landscapes like this, I typically work "en plein air" - which means that I set up my easel and paint the entire painting in the one session while I am outdoors looking directly at my subject "live!"  It is an excellent way to hone my observation skills and learn to edit complex scenes.

Well, finally her chosen painting of Mount Tam has arrived to Adrienne clear across the country and she says she adores it!  That is the happiest moment for any artist, of course!  This view is from the shoreline of Corte Madera Creek, just behind the Bon Air shopping center in Greenbrae.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

VW Bus on Washington

I'm taking my mind off the discouraging Giants streak by drawing and painting some more.  I also should be cleaning my house, but looking for a good excuse to procrastinate on that too!

I wonder how many adventures this VW bus has seen?  Mountain lakes?  S'mores?  Grateful Dead concerts?

This one lives high up on Washington with a glimpse of the bay and Mount Tamalpais beyond (or it could be Angel Island.)  Still working to understand the watercolors but learning a bunch with each effort.

Ford Station Wagon on Crest

Huge station wagon on Crest reminds me of my friend Birdie's "Olds 88" - in which one could lie down nearly fully stretched out across the back seat.  My sisters teased our dad that his Oldsmobile (also this era) was a "mush-mobile" due to its ride.   Now, this vehicle clearly says "Ford" so I'm just free-associating here, but I think they must be quite similar.  Anyhow, this shot of the Ford with the powerlines in the background as the hill rises up to the right just made me smile.

Almost at the end of the drawing, I noticed a big area where I'd gotten the perspective completely whacked, but decided to mentally file this under "gives it wonky character" and kept going.  As one of my revered teachers, Tommy Kane, taught me!  Same thing applied when my watercolors did some blooming.  Just keep going!  And when I finished, I realized, hey, I actually really dig this just as is!

Yesterday, I did a medium splurge on some new watercolor paints and got some Schmincke tube colors.  They were so expensive that I limited myself to one red, two blues, a yellow, a white and a burnt sienna.  This station wagon was the virgin expedition for those colors and I really enjoyed these paints.  Now just can't wait for my next art store shopping trip!

I've been sharing these drawing/paintings on the "NextDoor Point Richmond" discussion board and got a compliment there that really sings to me.  I'd never heard this expression before, but one of my neighbors wrote (responding to one of the drawings), "As we say in New York, you've got a fresh head."  Isn't that funny?

Monday, July 28, 2014

My new "adoptee" Maya

In today's mail, I got the lovely photo and description of a pig I've "adopted" at the Farm Sanctuary and I think it's a match made in heaven! Look at Maya - a big lunk of love. 

I asked my Farm Sanctuary friends to tell her that I am a fan of apples and rice cakes too!  Can't wait to visit her in Orland soon. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fiat 500 at top of Montana

I have no idea if this house is on Buena Vista or Idaho Street but I do know it's at the top of Montana!  I love the new little Fiats and am always struck by views where you can see houses climbing up our steep hills. Also a sucker for a good bay window!  You can tell this house belongs to an avid (and skilled) gardener.  So beautiful.

Dodge Dart on Crest

Since I was about 16, I've loved the Dodge Dart.  Something about that rear window speaks to me.  So of all the cars here, this is the one I covet the most.  So groovy.  

I usually try to mix a shadow that is more balanced between brown and blue, but since these car's people are clearly Cal fans and the car itself is gold, I decided to make the shadow under the car far more blue so we could say "Go Bears!" with the blue and gold together.

This car also has a view that I seriously covet, but that's a whole other story!  Crest Avenue soars far above the San Francisco Bay and sees at least three bridges, maybe more.  I should check my Lotto ticket from last night and see if I'm able to upgrade to that view or not.

The license plate reads "Paris 91."  I like to imagine that this was where the Dart's people fell in love.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cougar on Scenic

One of my neighbors emailed me about this 1969 Cougar on Scenic and I found it this morning to take a few photos.  Such a great growl-y beast!

This was done with my Sakura brush pen, which creates a nice wash and flows into the watercolor.  I like the effect.

I also took some photos of other cars in the vicinity, so more to come soon.  I'd wanted to draw one last night during the (sad) Giants/Dodgers game but was all out of photos, so now I'm set for a while.  This is turning into a fun way to get to know "the Point."  I was trying to think of synonyms for car that start with the letter P so I could name this series something alliterative, but so far can't think of anything.  Except maybe "Parked in the Point"?  Anyhow, ideas welcome!!  I'd like to include boats too.  Love me some boats.

Here's a drawing I did as a commission for my cousin Joe, who is the captain of US Army Corps of Engineers' vessel, the "Raccoon."

I've been doing quite a few commissions.  Very grateful for these, since I'm saving up for a pretty expensive dental surgery for my dog Grayson.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Landcruiser on West Richmond at Vacca

I'm pretty sure this Trooper was parked on Mono Street.  I should have paid a bit more attention!

It was a hot afternoon in our normally very brisk and cool town.  Definitely some climate change going down.

Update 7/25: I shared this to our local online discussion board and neighbor Andrew kindly gave me the real scoop: 

"Nice! That's not a Trooper though - It's a Toyota Landcruiser (FJ40) with an Isuzu Trooper tire cover. Even better!"

I guess my first clue should have been when I drew the plate on the back that says "Toyota"!  I must have been firmly planted in my left brain at that point.  

I also recreated my route using Google maps street view and figured out this was actually not Mono Street, but West Richmond Avenue at Vacca.  Just for the record. :)

Bug on Piedmont Place

My poor dogs - with all the conference calls I've been on today, they have only had a quick walk around the block this morning.  Luckily, I stumbled on this great old VW bug on Piedmont Place and snapped a photo, which was fun to draw while I was listening to later conference calls.  (Don't worry, work people, I'm fully paying attention even if I'm drawing.  It's kinesthetic learning.)

Anyway, I like how this came out and am thinking I'll do other cool old cars in Point Richmond and have a little series here.  I love their shapes and capturing a bit of the streets around here too.  I especially love the funky perspectives when you have such steep hills - for example, notice the telephone pole coming out of the top of the bug?  That really existed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jim's Rambler on Nicholl

When I first moved to Point Richmond about 7 years ago, I noticed my next-door neighbor, an elderly gentleman, was often happily occupied fixing up his old Rambler.  Not even a year later, I had to move to Texas for my job so sadly left the lovely Victorian flat.   Fast forward 3 years and I somehow, miraculously, was looking for a place back here in the Bay Area when my same old, much-loved flat was open for rent again.  I snagged it gratefully!

I noticed my neighbor was still enjoying working on his car and had to laugh a bit that there was no discernible improvement.  But he looked so happy tinkering, so that's all that mattered anyhow.  This second round of me living here has lasted, so far, about three years.  (Which for this restless gypsy is sort of record-breaking.)

Just a few months ago, this neighbor was found wandering on the freeway and I haven't seen him at his house or working on his car since.  I believe his family has taken him in so they can make sure he's in a safe situation.  The Rambler sits patiently waiting at the curb and I say a prayer for its owner every time I pass by it.  Thought I'd snap a photo of her today and do a little drawing/painting in honor of both car and owner, wherever he is now.

As I was drawing this, I noticed something in the photo that I didn't see when I snapped it - there is a little note placed on his windshield.  I wonder what it says.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Daphne's heading to Texas!

Daphne has headed out the door and across a few states to Austin, Texas to live with Stacie!  I loved the look in this sweet pup's eyes... always so grateful when an owner has such a great photo to work from.

"Daphne" - Ink pen and watercolor pencil on watercolor paper, 9" x 12"