Drawing Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Dining with Mom

Dining with Mom

Ink drawing in 6×8 Strathmore sketchbook. Drawn at the airport waiting for the plane home.

I made a one-day trip to Santa Monica to visit my mom and sister today. She took us out to lunch (my L.A. sister and her son are across the table from my mom and I–that’s me with my hand on my head trying to get small and hide) at Izzy’s, a nice Jewish deli.

While we were looking at our menus, there was a fly buzzing around our table. Now those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while know that my mom is a bit of a character–the sort who has lots of nerve (or chutzpah as it’s known in Yiddish) to demand extra this, special that, and then takes home most of the stuff on the table (or who, when hospitalized, demands a new mattress and a room with a better view…and gets it).

So we’re all sitting there, trying to decide what to order, when my mom starts waving her menu at the fly, trying to make it go away. It doesn’t. So she takes her hefty menu and swats the fly against the window and SPLAT! She kills the fly, leaving a nasty splotch on the window and the quite large and chunky, dead fly, stuck to the back of her menu.

My mom and I turn to each other and start laughing, realizing what she’s done and what a mistake it was. My sister and her son are totally grossed out, she being a vegan animal rights activist who would never kill a fly–she’d probably make a little nest in a box for it, and keep it with all the other rescued creatures in her apartment.

Just then the nice limited-English proficiency waiter arrives to take our order and reaches for Mom’s menu which she’s propped up against the window, fly side in, trying to hide the mess. I felt bad for the waiter and spoke up–“She killed a fly with the menu…see…it’s right there.” So, embrazened, she says, “Yes, and there’s a mess on the window that needs to get cleaned” and pointed to the splot on the window. He says “No problemo, I’ll clean it.” But I think he meant the menu. After he took our orders and the menus, that was the last we saw of him.

Our food was delivered by a grumpy waitress, only made more grumpy, I’m sure, by mother’s requests for extra slices of bread (to turn one sandwich into two), 3 takeout boxes, 2 bags and her paltry 10% tip.

We actually had a fun day together, walking on the beach, driving around looking at historic mansions in Santa Monica near Malibu, and doing a bit of organizing in her garage and closet. It was great seeing her feeling so much better and being realtively active again at 83.

Drawing People Sketchbook Pages Subway drawings

Subway Drawings


Pen & Ink in small Moleskine notebook (click image & select “All Sizes” to enlarge)

Here’s a little collection of fellow riders on our subway known as BART this week. The bicyclist with his clip-on rearview mirror (bottom right) was sitting just a few feet from me and never noticed me drawing him. Ditto with the woman at the top left who replaced him when he got off–she stared straight ahead and didn’t notice me either, even though I was facing her two seats away.

The lady with the amazing hat at the bottom left was further away and sleeping, although she did wake up and see me staring right at her once. The guy at the top right never woke up. I was sitting in the seat across the aisle and turned to face him, which would have been rude if he were awake but he was clearly out for the long haul.

My BART ride twice a day is exactly 13 minutes so I don’t have a lot of time to capture people. It’s also bumpy, jiggly and jerky which can make it tricky when drawing things like noses.

Feline Resolution: After too many sleep-poor nights, I resolve that I am not going to not sleep with my cats anymore. Night after night they keep me awake. They lay down with me when I go to bed and as soon as I fall asleep they want to play, dropping toys on my head for me to throw (I have the only two cats in the world who play fetch, bringing me plastic squiggle toys (Fiona) or felt mousies (Busby), which I’m to throw and which they promptly fetch and return for another throw). They attack me and each other. Eventually I half sleep through their romping and chasing each other back and forth through the house. I guess they eventually go to sleep, but at 6:00 a.m. they’re attacking me again, ready for more play. Starting tonight, it’s exile for these two naughty kitties. I’m tired of being tired!

Drawing People Sketchbook Pages

Just me


Graphite (6B) in Aquabee 9×12 Sketchbook

Tonight was painting group and we couldn’t decide whether to pose for each other or just work on individual projects. I was tired and felt like sitting in one spot so I decided to try using a soft pencil and just draw myself. Like most self-portraits I’ve drawn, it’s not quite me, but almost.

Just for fun, after I thought I was all done, I decided to try adding watercolor. I printed the scanned drawing onto the same Aquabee sketchbook paper and then applied watercolor. The inkjet ink and paper seemed to resist the watercolor. It’s a little weird, but it was a fun experiment.
Just Me, color
Watercolor over printed, scanned pencil drawing.

I was inspired to try the soft pencil sketching by France Belleville’s pencil drawings of Gunter Grass and her stepfather on her blog, Wagonized and Laura’s sketch of her father on Laurelines when I visited their blogs today. Laura has such a free, loose, but right-on stroke and France makes every little squiggley line shape and form the person’s features and personality.

I love knowing how much more there is to learn, since learning is my favorite thing in the whole world (when it’s something I want to learn–there are many lessons I would happily forego)! And it’s great knowing how much I’ve already learned, and how every bit of practice has helped my drawing and painting improve.

Drawing Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Meeting People


Ink in Moleskine

I spent the entire work day in a meeting today that was all about numbers, numbers and more numbers. I filled a dozen pages in my little Moleskine sketchbook with drawings of people looking bored. They fed us a nice lunch and it was good to meet some of my work colleagues from other offices. The meeting was supposed to end at 3:00 but somehow the guy leading the meeting missed that memo.

At 3:20 he handed out a 50 page Federal RFP (Request for proposal) and said it would be a fun little “activity” for us to read through it and decide whether there was anything in the RFP that would make us think we would or would not want to submit a proposal. This was just an exercise–it wasn’t a current RFP–just practice. This was after we’d studied 16 pages of budget reports looking for errors, with the error finders winning $5 worth of Carl’s Junior gift certificates (woo-hoo!). We could win more trips to Carl Juniors for playing this little game.

None of us in the meeting are really numbers people and we were tired and grouchy and wanted to leave. The other people at my table revolted. One woman whispered, “They don’t pay me enough to do this!” and the other replied, “This isn’t in my job description.” We all just sat there belligerently.

The meeting leader looked over at our table and asked why were weren’t reading and I blurted out “We don’t want to, it’s too much!” (So very professional of me.) That gave another table courage to tell him we were supposed to have ended the meeting 20 minutes ago. He said that explained why half the room had already left and he ended the meeting. Unfortunately my boss and I still had an after-meeting meeting with him and his boss.

Finally we got to leave and since I was in downtown San Francisco for the first time in ages, I decided to go to Nordstrom and buy a little new makeup. Mine was so old that it was probably carrying botulism (actually that might not be so bad–isn’t that what they make Botox from?). Hopefully I’ll be able to convince myself to take the time to actually put on the new makeup. I figure I owe it to the people who have to look at me!

Drawing Life in general Outdoors/Landscape People Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

It’s About Time: What I learned today

Old Teeth

“Old Teeth” (study for a large painting I’m going to make, drawn today from a combination of photos I took on Broadway in Oakland). Ink, watercolor in Moleskine large watercolor notebook. If you wonder why those hip-hop people want to have gold teeth, you might also enjoy a previous post here about a new invention I came up with in a dream for those baggy-pants boys.

 * * *

I spend a lot of time being frustrated because there isn’t enough time to do all of the things I want to do. Every weekend I start off being optimistic, with exciting ideas to explore for painting, drawing, teaching, learning; things that need to be done to care for myself and others; gardening projects, housework, paperwork, etc. But weekends (and most days) always end the same way: feeling disappointed because I didn’t accomplish half of what I thought I could do.

They say (whoever “they” is) that with age comes wisdom. Well I got a huge chunk of wisdom today, and this is what I learned:

There will NEVER be enough time to do everything. Not only that, there will never be enough time to do HALF of what my busy mind comes up with on any given day, week, month, year.

So all I have to do is accept the reality that time is finite and that my little brain, full of ideas, is not. Instead of fooling myself into thinking I can do it all, I need to reassure myself that I probably can’t do half of it, and just pick what I most want to do that day, do it, and rejoice.

When I told Michael about this discovery, he asked if that meant I’d no longer be living in what we call “Jana’s World” where time is this fluffy substance that is mostly ignored until it suddenly surprises me to discover I’m late, yet again. But I like living in Jana’s World and I’m not looking to relocate; it’s (Jana’s) World peace I’m after.