Categories
Bay Area Parks Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Life in general Plein Air Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Playing Catch Up!

Egret at Miller-Knox Park, Ink & watercolor 5x8"
Egret at Miller-Knox Park, Ink & watercolor 5×8″

Since my end-of-year wrap-up blog post remains unfinished, here are a couple of autumn sketches that were waiting patiently to be posted. I have a good excuse though: my new iMac arrived last week and since then I’ve been immersed in learning the Mac after over a decade on Windows PCs. I’ve been transferring files, talking to both Moron and Genius-level tech support, and installing and learning Mac versions of my applications.

Miller-Knox Park Autumn, ink & watercolor, 5x8"
Miller-Knox Park Autumn, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

I’m finding the Mac to be quite delightful in many ways and a bit confounding in others. But little by little I’m getting the hang of it… And..Oh Crud! right after I typed that I made some kind of wrong move and instantly I was popped out of the blog and into an endless loop of…

Computer: “Are you sure you want to leave this page?” I click: “Stay on page.” Computer: “Are you sure you want to leave this page?” over and over until I finally give up, say OK and click “Leave this page.” And of course nothing happens. Had to force quit and restart.

But Yay WordPress; it saved the draft! I wish I knew what I did so I don’t do it again. It has happened a bunch of times and I have no clue why.

It’s quite humbling going from being expert on the PC to being such a beginner that I couldn’t even figure out how to turn on the Mac (finally found the power button hidden behind the screen).

Categories
Bay Area Parks Berkeley Building Digital art Drawing Landscape Places

Jingle Bells and Other Good Tidings

Jingle Bells, digital sketch done on iPad in ArtStudio app
Jingle Bells, digital sketch done on iPad in ArtStudio app

Happy Holidays to everyone! I made the digital sketch above in a new-to-me iPad app called ArtStudio. I’ve tried all the others and like this one the best. It has all the features of the other programs and more but just works more intuitively for me.

I did the nighttime digital sketch below in SketchbookPro, my previous favorite program. Several of us tried sketching in the dark on iPads on this sketch outing since it lights from within so you can see what you’re drawing.

Tilden Carousel and Christmas Lights, sketched on iPad in Sketchbook Pro
Tilden Carousel and Christmas Lights, sketched on iPad in Sketchbook Pro

The carousel in Tilden Park is beautiful and they have a special Tilden Christmas Fantasy holiday lights and decorations event every year. But every time I try to sketch there I get overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds and have trouble sketching anything I like. My sketch buddies posted some great results: Cathy’s colorful merry-go-round here, Ceiny’s coverage of it all here, Cristina’s bold drawings here, and Micaela’s lifelike digital sketches here.

Photo of Tilden Christmas Fantasy
My photo of Tilden Christmas Fantasy

Not only is the giant tree and field in front of the carousel covered in lights and decorations, but the interior is filled with a hundred or so trees, animals and other items, all decorated with different themes (e.g. there was a Hello Kitty tree and a 49’ers  tree). Plus all the historic carved animals on the Merry-go-Round and the kids riding them whirling around. And Santa and the Elves taking wishes. Plus the merry-go-round music and Christmas soundtrack music being played over loudspeakers, and the smell of popcorn and cocoa from the refreshment stand.

It’s no wonder I get overwhelmed and have trouble settling down when I draw in there! Outdoors I sat on my stool by the restrooms way across the parking lot. It was quiet there.

Best wishes for love, joy and peace (and hopefully a little art)!

Categories
Animals Bay Area Parks Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Life in general Sketchbook Pages

Happy Turkey (Vulture) Day; One More Thing to Be Thankful For

Turkey Vulture drawn from taxidermy specimen, ink & watercolor, 5x8"
Turkey Vulture drawn in ink from taxidermy specimen, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

So here it was the day before Thanksgiving and I wanted to draw a turkey. I called around trying to find a live one to sketch but failed. Then I tried to find a taxidermy turkey. No luck. The ranger at the Tilden Nature Center said they did have a collection of taxidermy birds including owl, songbirds, turkey vulture…but no turkey.

Wait! Turkey Vulture! It’s a bird, it’s named Turkey so why not? I called back to confirm they had it in stock (they rent it out: $10 for two weeks) and then drove up to Tilden Park.

Turkey Vulture: It's Value, ink & watercolor 5x16"
Turkey Vulture: It’s Value, drawn from specimen with notes from display case, ink & watercolor 5×16″

Here are a few interesting things about Turkey Vultures:

  • Turkey vultures (nicknamed “buzzard”) have a 5-6 foot wing span; “there is no more graceful bird in flight” but they have weak legs so walk awkwardly
  • In order to fly they need a run into the wind to lift off and can fly 60 miles per hour
  • Vultures are the “garbage collector of the bird world” and eat everything from dead mouse to moose.
  • If they are in danger and can’t run, they vomit their foul-smelling meal at their enemy.
  • Be thankful for them: “Without vultures, much of the world would be cluttered with the bodies of dead decaying animals.”

I’m Thankful For…

Along with turkey vultures, here are some things I’m grateful for:

  • YOU, my dear blog visitor and reader,
  • my much-loved friends and family, and
  • the freedom, security, comfort, and good health that allow me to live this wonderful creative life.

I know none of the above is guaranteed or permanent so I try to be grateful every day, not just Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for?

Categories
Bay Area Parks Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Painting Places Plein Air Sketchbook Pages

Lost on the Way to China (Camp)

Sea Breeze, Grounded Boat at China Camp Village, ink & watercolor 5x8"
“Sea Breez”, Grounded Boat at China Camp Village, ink & watercolor 5×8″

I think I broke my record of getting lost when I went to a paint out at China Camp. The first three times I apparently confused my GPS when I entered my destination as cross streets and it delivered me to three different neighborhoods in San Rafael instead of the state park. Finally I arrived at the 15 mile long park but missed the turnoff to our painting spot and drove all the way through and out the other side into yet another nice San Rafael neighborhood.

Plein Air Painter and the Old Pier at China Camp Village, ink & watercolor, 5x8"
Plein Air Painter and the Old Pier at China Camp Village, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

At least the road through the 1,514-acre park offers beautiful views of the San Pablo Bay waterfront, a salt marsh, and meadows. At China Camp Village where I made these sketches, there are many remnants of the 1880s Chinese immigrant shrimp-fishing village of 500, including one lone, 85-year old surviving resident who was going to be evicted when the park was to close July 1 due to budget cuts. 

Categories
Bay Area Parks Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Outdoors/Landscape Painting Plein Air Sketchbook Pages

Bull Valley Barn and Cow Studies

View from Bull Valley Trail Staging Area, Crockett, ink & watercolor 5x8"
View from Bull Valley Trail Staging Area, Crockett, ink & watercolor 5×8″

On the road home from the Port Costa adventure in my last post I spotted this barn and pulled off the road (this time actually managing to stay on the pavement!) into the Bull Valley Staging Area parking lot to sketch it.

When I finished I noticed a herd of cows grazing on the hill beside the parking lot and walked over to the fence to sketch them.  As you can see, I know nothing about cows and these gals weren’t holding still for me.

Bull Valley Cow Scribbles, ink 5x8"
Bull Valley Cow Scribbles, ink 5×8″

Then the strangest thing happened. A very old Asian man with very long whiskers and long hair, wearing only loose pants and flip-flops appeared in the cow pasture, walked up the hill through the cows and just kept on going until he disappeared. A guy with a camera was taking pictures of the cows and we looked at each other confused. We tried to figure out his story but could come up with nothing.