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Zen & First Spring Roses

First spring roses

Ink & watercolor, 9×6″ (larger)

When I picked these roses yesterday evening, they were heartbreakingly fresh, new and beautiful. I put them in a vase of water in the kitchen, planning to paint them today. This morning I found them laying on the counter where they’d obviously been without water too long and looked limp.

Either they jumped out of their vase or my cats had a hand (er… paw) in their escape. After a few hours back in water they plumped right back up and were a joy to draw. I only had about an hour and that was just enough time to make a happy ink and watercolor.

But why do I feel so sad seeing the beauty of my seven rose bushes and thick patch of irises all loaded with flowers? It’s as if I’m already mourning their demise, knowing how temporary their burst of color and vibrancy is before winter comes again.

Is it my enhanced awareness of the cycle of life and death as I approach one of those milestone birthdays this June? Or is that time seems to be moving so fast these days that I can picture the blooming season flying by like those time-lapse films where the flowers sprout, bloom, shrivel and die within moments.

Instead of feeling sad about their demise (and my own, for that matter), I need to remember the Buddhist teaching of being in the present moment, accepting that everything changes, everything dies; that desire and clinging cause suffering and that letting go relieves it.

So with that, I will allow my flowers to live and die as nature sees fit (as if I had any other choice!), and will enjoy them while they’re here. I’ll try to make the most of my own moments while I’m here too, with as much acceptance as I can. And maybe I’ll finally return to my Zen meditation practice which always brought me such joy and peace, and made all of life more vibrant.

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Drawing Painting Sketchbook Pages Watercolor

Hotel Mac, Pt. Richmond Plein Air

Hotel Mac, Pt. Richmond, Ink & Watercolor

Ink & watercolor, 8×6″ (larger)

When we had all our paintings lined up to view after our plein air paint-out today, a very cheery homeless man passed by, examined everyone’s work, and announced that my oil painting (below) was the only one he would buy, repeating this several times. It wasn’t as high praise as one of the others in the group got: this is the third week in a row she’s sold her painting right off her easel!

I started the day with the oil painting below, trying to make use of some of the color mixing theory I’ve been studying. I was hungry to do some more detailed drawing too, so after the critique, I put away my painting gear and got out my sketchbook to do the ink and watercolor above.

Hotel Mac, Pt. Richmond, Oil

Oil on panel, 8×10″ (larger)

Brick buildings are rare in California as they do not tend to survive earthquakes. But Hotel Mac, this three-story, red brick building in Pt. Richmond, a quaint, bayside community, was built in 1911, and must have weathered many quakes over the years.

Pt. Richmond is only a 15 minute drive from my house but I’d never been there before. I was pleasantly surprised by this little town on a hill. The street is lined with charming cafes and just over the hill is a huge, beautiful waterfront park (Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline) with gorgeous views of San Francisco across the water, a lagoon, and a railroad museum. I’m definitely going back there to paint again!