2014: The Year of the Dog (and other delightful detours)

Millie: 2014 The Year of the Dog Detour, graphite in jumbo Moleskine WC Notebook, 8x11.5 inches

Studies for Oil Painting: “Millie: 2014 The Year of the Dog,” graphite in jumbo Moleskine WC Notebook, 8×11.5 inches

This has been an amazing year in my corner of the world for many reasons, and only some of them are related to art-making. There have been numerous (happy) detours away from the studio, including my son’s wedding and the birth of my first grand-baby, Sadie. And then there’s Millie, my Formosa Mountain Dog who was rescued from life on the streets of Taiwan when she was four months old, flown here and fostered by a local rescue group until I adopted her a few weeks later.

Over the past year with me she’s overcome some fear and health issues to become a wonderful, funny companion. Most mornings we’re out hiking 3-4 miles on forested trails in the beautiful hills or along the SF bay where she can run off leash and play with other dogs. Afternoons she hangs out on the studio deck, keeps an eye on the neighborhood, dismantles things in the garden, chews sticks and sleeps in the studio while I draw or paint. Now that she’s almost a year and a half she requires less work on my part so I’m expecting 2015 to be a lot more productive!

I spend New Years eve and day reflecting on my art/life during the passing year, and considering/setting my goals/intentions for the year to come. I will share a summary of that here soon. My first painting of the year will be a portrait of Millie that the above sketches were a study for. I’m loving my new jumbo Moleskine Watercolor Journal and happy with this first page in it!

What the Wasp Wants

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in (wasp in the flower)

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

This wasp just wanted nectar from the flower. My friend Barbara just spent big bucks getting rid of hundreds of wasps that built nests in her attic and were invading her house. We don’t know what they wanted. This is the last of the leftover sketches from our endless summer, now being called California’s worst drought in 500 years.

Meanwhile, I’m still spending time previously used for sketching out hiking with my pup (but from now on I’m going to start carrying my sketching gear on our hikes and stop halfway to sketch). Thinking a morning 4-6 mile hike would tire her out, I’ve been painting in the studio in the afternoons while she attempts to re-landscape the yard. She’s a perfect angel in the house, but when we’re in the studio (that opens onto the backyard) she goes wild, digging up and chewing on random junk from under the trees and bushes that circle the yard, despite her comfy bed in the studio, fully stocked with chew toys.

Today I caught her chewing on an old broken hose nozzle, a piece of plastic pipe, various twigs and pieces of plants, and a stinky chew toy she’d previously buried. Then we play chase while I try to swap her for something healthier. That gives me an idea for some sketching tomorrow–all her toys and chewie things, many which are quite weird.

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