Change Is…

Stege Marsh, ink and colored pencils in pocket Moleskine

Stege Marsh, ink and colored pencils in pocket Moleskine

I started to title this post “Change is Good” and then I thought, yeah, but change can be difficult too. As I thought of all the things change is (hard, exciting, scary, growth) I realized that if nothing else, change is constant, it just IS; thus the title.

So what about change? Well, the most obvious change is my blog’s appearance. I’ve begun the process of converting it to a website that will host both this blog,, and my art portfolio website, now at It’s a work in progress so please, if you notice any bugs, let me know.

The sketch of Stege Marsh above reflects another change in my life; it’s one of the first sketches I did while out walking my pup. I waited until after we’d walked about 3 miles through the huge off-leash dog park at Pt. Isabel (well I walked 3 miles, she was off leash and probably ran 10 miles running off and coming back). By the time we got to this spot she was happy to rest while I sketched this view along the Bay Trail. I carry a little bag of colored pencils and a small Moleskine sketch book in my bag all the time as it’s lighter than my watercolor kit for long walks so that’s what I used to color in the ink drawing.


I’m Not Number One, I’m 2 Million! plus 1 More Crab Apple

Crab Apple Blossoms with colored pencil sketch on tan paper

Crab Apple Blossoms colored pencil on tan paper in 8×11″ Moleskine Journal

Once more with the crab apple blossoms, this time on tan paper using mostly a Prismacolor black grape colored pencil and white pencil (and then pasted in my giant Moleskine).

I sketched these before I did the oil paintings posted previously below. I wanted to try the approach of sketching with only three values: the tan paper as mid-range plus highlights and shadows. But I wasn’t seeing a lot of variation in value in the subject. Everything except for the whitish pink blossoms looked like a medium dark value. So what I was trying to do didn’t really make sense. But it was fun anyway.

The Visitor 2 Million Prize on Making a Mark

Katherine Tyrrell credited me with being or generating the 2,000,000 millionth visitor to Making A Mark, my favorite blog about art on the web. We were both down with a nasty flu bug then so she missed seeing the counter tick over to 2 million. But she could tell it was either me (reading her blog from bed with box of tissues in hand) or someone referred from my blog, so she named me the prize winner. Her blog is such a gift to the artist/blogger community. I learn something new every time I read her weekly “Who’s Made A Mark” column.

Time Is Like Toothpaste (Or Paint); A Tube of Birthday

Tube of Birthday, Ink and colored pencil, 12x9"

Tube of Birthday, Ink and colored pencil, 12x9"

I have a very tenuous grasp on time. I always think I can do more in the allotted time than is possible and then I end up rushing to avoid being late (usually unsuccessfully). This “time grandiosity” I suffer from also means I start the day, a weekend, or in the case of the drawing above, my birthday vacation, with a sense of infinite time. And then suddenly the time is gone and I’m shocked and dismayed.

I always thought of time as passing on its own until I read this article at the beginning of my birthday vacation, How to Actively Take Control of Your Time, which compares time to a tube of toothpaste.

Unlike a stream running or sand falling in an hourglass, toothpaste does not simply come out of a tube on its own – we force it out and use it up…Time does not fly by – rather, we push minutes, hours and days out of our finite toothpaste tube of life.  ~ Sid Savara

So at the beginning of my vacation (back in June) I drew the tube of paint (seemed more appropriate than toothpaste) and marked off what I did each day. I paid attention to the choices I was making about how I squeezed out that day’s “paint.”

What about you? Do you choose how you squeeze out the hours of your life or do you feel like time is squirting by on its own?

Elinore’s Birthday Mimosa

Elinore's Birthday Mimosa; mixed media

Elinore's Birthday Mimosa; mixed media

Last Sunday I went to a lovely birthday brunch at Elinore’s favorite restaurant, Liaison Bistro in North Berkeley. The food was absolutely fabulous, the service was excellent, even with the large group, and the company was delightful.

After we ate and the plates were cleared, the waiter walked around the long table with a big rubber stamp, printing the dessert menu on the papers covering the tablecloth. When he came to me, I said, “Wait!” and pulled out my sketchbook, asking him to stamp the book instead.

The stamp became the frame for my drawing of Elinore’s mimosa. I had my mini-sketching kit with me so used a couple watercolor pencils and a waterbrush for color. Then people wanted to see the book, passing it around and looking through it, but being polite about not reading the personal stuff (I hope).

Later I used a gold gel pen to title the page and pasted in the wrapper for the little chocolates they put at each place.

Gilman Auto & Pyramid Brewery: Berkeley Sketching

Gilman Auto Berkeley, ink & watercolor pencil

Gilman Auto Berkeley, ink & watercolor pencil

After Barbara and I took a walk, she picked up her car at the Smog Zone (behind Gilman Auto in Berkeley) and I sketched the car repair shop. I got tricked by the angle of the overhanging roof on the right but I drew it in ink so there it is, wonky as can be.

While drawing I sat in the middle of a planting bed on something not meant as a seat in front of the fancy new McDonalds across the street. I wanted to hurry since I kept expecting to be asked to get out of there (plus the scent of their burgers frying always reminds me of the smell of the boys’ locker room at the high school gym).

So instead of messing with watercolor I used the watercolor pencils I’ve started carrying for quick getaways when it’s not convenient to use water. I was surprised how much brighter and more saturated the color was after I added the water later at home and so wiped some of it off.

Pyramid Brewery, ink & watercolor

Pyramid Brewery, ink & watercolor

That evening Sonia and I met at Pyramid Brewery for Tuesday night sketching. We were both a little out of sorts so it was great to unwind, chat over dinner and a beer, and of course, draw. These guys (above) were wonderful models. They barely changed position and didn’t leave until I finished them. When Pyramid turned the lights down at 9:00 we headed home feeling much better than when we arrived.

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