Christmas Goose and a White Pelican

Canadian Goose, Knox Miller Park, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Canadian Goose, Knox Miller Park, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

After an extraordinary autumn and early winter, with many things other than art going on in my life, I’ve gotten way behind on posting. This goose isn’t really a Christmas goose, it’s a summer goose, as are the rest of these sketches from Knox Miller park.

Knox Miller Park Clouds, watercolor, 5x7 in

Knox Miller Park Clouds, watercolor, 5×7 in

Knox Miller Park in Pt. Richmond is so pretty, with a lagoon of sorts, grassy meadows and the bay and mountains of Marin in the distance. The birds were all sketched from photos, the little landscape above was the only sketch I managed to do on site, after arriving late and feeling poorly that day.

Knox Miller Goose, ink and watercolor 5x7 in

Knox Miller Goose, ink and watercolor 5×7 in

Silly goose. My first attempt at drawing him from a photo.

White Pelican, Knox Miller Park, ink, watercolor and gouache, 5x7 in

White Pelican, Knox Miller Park, ink, watercolor and gouache, 5×7 in

I struggled and struggled trying to draw and paint this unusual white pelican from a blurry photo. I ended up adding some gouache to get back some white, which never really works well.

Pt. Richmond Secret Garden View, Watercolor, 9x12"

Secret Pt. Richmond “Wave Garden” With Spectacular Views

Pt. Richmond Secret Garden View, Watercolor, 9x12"

Pt. Richmond Secret Garden View, Watercolor, 9×12″

One of our Urban Sketchers, Susan Ford, is a landscape designer who discovered this amazing secret garden in Pt. Richmond that overlooks the bay. The owners of the property,  whose home is just above the garden, recruited concrete artist/sculptor Victor Amador (photos: concrete work) to create winding paths, walls and little nooks with seating areas, all with views of the Bay. They hired Kellee Adams (photos/video about the plantings) to fill it with  colorful, abundant plants. And then the owners opened the property to the public.

I painted the larger watercolor above by working from my on-site sketch (below) as well as from memory and a funky cell phone photo.

Pt. Richmond Park Sketch, watercolor, 5x8"

Pt. Richmond Park Sketch, watercolor, 5×8″

We sketched until sunset, and the evening felt like a truly spiritual experience. It was so peaceful to be surrounded by sky and sea and the sounds of birds, bees, breezes. Although we were only blocks from the freeway I felt like I was far away on a distant island.

Here is a video from a local TV station about the park and its creators when it was first opened in 2008. It doesn’t do justice to the planting which was new then, but is fully grown now.

The Wave Garden is located at the end of Grandview Court in Point Richmond and parking is limited. If you visit, please be quiet and respectful of the neighbors.

Point Richmond: Sip and Swim

Richmond Plunge (AKA Natatorium), ink & watercolor 5x7"

Richmond Plunge (AKA Municipal Natatorium), ink & watercolor 5x7"

It was so cold, cloudy and windy the morning my plein air group met to paint in Pt. Richmond I decided to start out by sketching from my car. The old Richmond Plunge, now completely and beautifully restored, is the first thing you see when you drive into Pt. Richmond. After I finished the sketch I crossed the street and explored the building and pool. Wow! I’m inspired to start swimming again.

Little Louies, Pt. Richmond, Ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Little Louies, Pt. Richmond, Ink & watercolor, 7x5"

After my tour of the Natatorium, I headed to the main street of this little town, looking for a spot out of the wind to sketch. But I was seduced indoors by seeing my friend Sonia sketching at a table sipping a warm cup of tea. I joined her at the window table with a huge tray of apples on it and ordered a cup of coffee.

I started by drawing the apples on our table and then just kept going, drawing each next thing I saw. I was a little worried about getting the wonderful patterned floor tiles right, but took it slowly and they came out ok.

I liked Little Louie’s so much I returned the next morning with a friend for breakfast. I had a fabulous spinach, mushroom, bacon and cheddar omelet that was so big I had to take half of it home for lunch.

Lifting Fog: Painting at Miller/Knox Park

Lifting Fog, oil on canvas panel, 8x10" (plein air painting finished in studio)

Lifting Fog, oil on canvas panel, 8x10" (plein air painting finished in studio)

When I arrived at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline the sky was gray and cloudy but even in the fog the park had so many great views: a salt water lagoon, Mt. Tamalpais across the bay, a fishing pier, an abandoned ferry landing, beautiful trees, and across the road, a railroad museum and a squat yellow building that houses a motorcycle club.

Miller Knox thumbnail

Miller Knox thumbnail

I finally picked a spot and got started with the above thumbnail sketch. I set my ViewCatcher to 8×10 and looked through its “window” to choose the composition. Then I put the ViewCatcher on my sketchbook and traced around the inside of the window to outline a box in my journal of the same proportion. By the time I was ready to add watercolor to the thumbnail sketch most of the fog had lifted except over the hills, and the sun was shining.

After 2-hour plein air session, oil on panel

After 2-hour plein air session, oil on panel

Above is how the painting looked when I brought it home. The composition needed work: the picture is evenly divided in half with 2 trees on left, 2 trees on right and an empty center. The lagoon and bay should have been different colors. Too bad I’d ignored my thumbnail once I started painting because it had a much better composition.

I tried to continue the painting from a photo but the photo didn’t match my memory of the colors and light, even after Photoshopping it (below). But it did at least offer some clues for fixing the composition, like adding the sailboats (duh!).

Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline photo

Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline photo

Maybe I should add in the little “No Swimming” sign (only putting it on the left side as I did in my thumbnail). What do you think?

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