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Nightfall in my backyard


The light oval thing isn’t a flying saucer or the moon. It’s a domed skylight on the roof of a nearby building. I started drawing with ink but realized there wasn’t time–the light was going fast so I went directly to watercolors and painted as quickly as I could, in a small watercolor Moleskine notebook, racing the disappearing light.

I had trouble picking a subject to paint tonight. I’d recently bought a Fabriano Artists Journal filled with lovely colored paper perfect for colored pencils, inspired by this drawing and this one by Terri C. on her blog Painted Daisies and decided to give it a try. After a couple minutes I realized I’m just not a colored pencil person–I like the juice and flow of watercolor.

I tried finishing a painting of grapes in a glass bowl I’d started in a demonstration for my class but didn’t feel like painting from a photo. Then I looked out the window and saw bushes and trees silouhetted against the fading light I remembered these wonderful night paintings (to see them click here and here and here and here) by Allison on her amazing blog, 5 K Radius. So I tried doing my own night sketch looking through the window, not outside on a walk like Allison does, since my painting group was here and I didn’t want to miss any interesting conversations by going outside.

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Bay Trail Art

Today I rode my old bike (never did buy a new one) down to the Bay Trail and explored the Albany Bulb waterfront park where artists create sculptures from the driftwood and drift-trash that comes in from the Bay or was dumped there before it was a park. Oakland artist and author of a book about the art at the Bulb, Jason De Antonis and his friend Osha Neumann (a civil rights lawyer involved in preserving the park) were just putting the finishing touches on this dog sculpture and arbor (if you click to enlarge and look closely you’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background). He also made this huge sculpture of a woman that greets you as you come over the hill on the path down to the water. It’s enormous–at least 3 times the height of a person.
Dog sculpure woman and dog Woman sculpture
I made several stops along the way to paint a bit of a huge fennel plant,


a view of the bay with San Francisco in the distance,


and a view of the wetlands from a bridge along the trail.


They’re all quick watercolors (less than 10 minutes) done in my small watercolor Moleskine.

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Visit to Mom – Her Paintings from the 50s

I flew down to L.A. for the day to visit my 82 year old mom. This is one of my her paintings from the 50s. It's a picture of her Bubbie (grandmother) that we found in an old free-standing wooden closet in her garage.
Mom's Bubbie

That old wooden closet was from the funky old beach house one block from the ocean in Santa Monica where she was born and grew up. That house was stolen from my grandparents by the city to make room for huge beach-front skyscraper condos back in the early 60s–eminent domain they called it. The city razed several square blocks around my feisty grandmother, who refused to leave. But eventually my grandparents were forced out and lost the family home, which would now be worth millions.

I remember that old wooden closet in Bubbie's house, standing in the back room known as the "service porch" with it's splintery, roughhewn, dark wood walls, a laundry tub, the old icebox, and one lightbulb in the middle of the ceiling with a chain hanging down. The closet sported a decal of a foxy red wolf face that says "She Wolf" under it that my mother had applied as a teenager. That wolf always scared me when I was little.

Now the closet holds the paintings that she'd made in the 1950s which were slowly being damaged by the elements. We hauled them out and I took photos of them. If you'd like to see more of these very interesting paintings, I made a page for them on my website that you can SEE by CLICKING HERE.

I made the oil painting below of MY Bubbie (her mother) when I was the same age as my mom when she made hers, and I guess our Bubbies were about the same age too. (Click to see it larger.)