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Boring? Not!

Peet's Coffee Corner, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
View north from Peet's Coffee, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 7x5"

At first glance, the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson in El Cerrito is boring, boring, boring: a wide busy avenue with boxy buildings. But when viewed on a lovely summer day from a cafe table outside Peet’s Coffee with pen in hand, it transforms itself into a sketching delight full of fun details and color.

San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"
View South down San Pablo Ave. Wells Fargo, El Cerrito, ink & watercolor, 5x7"

Looking the other way down San Pablo, the Wells Fargo Bank building holds little hope for drawing inspiration. But start sketching and it too transforms itself. There are trees of all kinds and colors. A cerulean sky with only a hint of clouds, a pink apartment building and a gold dentist office. Sun, shadows, banners.

Not boring! I don’t think I’ve ever felt bored when I was sketching. Years ago a friend told me that when I was sketching I looked like I was roller-skating. Whee! Let’s skate!

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Don’t Get Old and Confused — Get a Clue

Get a Clue Necklace (detail); click images to enlarge
Get a Clue Necklace (detail); click to enlarge

Memories! Everyone I know is losing theirs including me. Ater repeatedly walking into a room and then forgetting why I’d gone in there, it occurred to me that if I carried clues with me, I’d save lots of time and extra steps.

So I invented the “Get a Clue Necklace” complete with a key ring, a tiny flashlight, sticky notes to jot down reminders, an attractive small pen to write them with, a magnifying glass for small print, an optional “My name is…” tag with a reverse side note “If found return to…” should I ever get REALLY forgetful, and a little pill box for those vitamins I always forget to take.

Below is the full page which you can click to see bigger to read some of the funny quotes about aging, as well as my list of the pros and cons of aging back when I made this.

Get a Clue Necklace; 12x9", mixed media
Get a Clue Necklace; Mixed Media, 12x9" (click to enlarge)

Here are a few of the choice quotes from the piece:

Gloria Steinem:

I’m at the age when remembering something right away is as good as an orgasm.

Whenever I meet a woman over 55 who’s just fallen in love, I always ask, “Are you taking hormones?” I tell her, “If it turns out you’re in love in a way that’s not good for you, stop taking them.”
[Addendum: Gloria Steinem, the feminist icon who once dismissed marriage as an institution that destroys relationships, became a first-time bride at the age of 66, a few years after that quote was printed.]

Peg Bracken, 81 at the time this quote was printed, said:

“These are your declining years and you can jolly well decline to do what you don’t feel like doing!”

Right on Peg, wherever you are now!

P.S. When I saw Illustration Friday’s prompt this week was “Memories” I had to share this, even though it’s from my journal several years ago.

And one more Pro to add to the Pros and Cons of aging is that when your memory goes, everything old becomes new again. Stories and jokes you’ve heard (or told) before sound vaguely familiar but since you can’t remember the punchlines, they’re good for a whole new round of laughter.

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Leap (year) * Illustration Friday


Four watercolors, framed together 24×32″ (Larger)

This week’s Illustration Friday challenge is “Leap” in honor of leap year, this February 29, 2008. But the paintings and sketches in this post were actually made twenty years ago. They were inspired by two dreams recorded in a 1988 dream sketchbook (below) and a class in color theory I was taking at the time, based on Joseph Albers work. The images include references to the seasons; times of day/night; the elements of water, fire, earth, and air; and tarot symbols.

The dreams that night were showing me a choice I needed to make in my life. Then as now I was fascinated by computers/technology and art (a perfect combination for an art blogger, no?). But my dreams pointed out how the time and energy I was spending on the computer tied me in knots and stole from my creativity.

Here is the image from the first dream that night: A computer tech “boiler room” full of electronics, miles of wires, computers, monitors, and icky nerds frantically, obsessively, working non-stop at their computers with no time to even look up. It was a nightmare really…full of tension.


In the next dream I left that scene and I was running free in a field and it felt really good.


And then, from a quote I’d heard somewhere, this image and words.


When I awoke I knew I had to make the choice for life, freedom, and art, and quit spending so much time at my computer.

I guess like anything else in life, it comes down to a matter of finding balance and making choices about what’s really important. If I remember to ask myself whether I’ll feel happier at the end of the day if I’ve spent my time drawing/painting or working on the computer, I usually know which to choose (Art!).