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Art

Albany Bulb Tree, Gouache Plein Air

Plein air gouache on watercolor paper after adjusting in studio, 9x12 inches
Plein air gouache on watercolor paper after adjusting in studio, 9×12 inches

I had an awesome first day painting plein air in five years, inspired by a guy I saw painting the same tree the day before when I was on a hike at Albany Bulb (see last photo below).

My too dark painting in the sun and my subject tree
My too dark painting in the sun and my subject tree

Despite typical glitches there was some bonus fun, like the caricature sketch below of me, my tree and my dog, drawn by a funny, toothless guy from London who hung out nearby while I painted for a while. Then a dance troupe showed up to practice, led by a woman who annoyingly ended every sentence with a question mark. They were there to plan their performance for an upcoming festival at Albany Bulb (a former dump and now a rustic park by the SF Bay.)

Caricature of me, my dog and my tree by guy at park.
Caricature of me, my dog and my tree by guy at park.

Some of the glitches:

  • carrying a way too heavy backpack with easel and supplies when I could have just brought a stool and painted on my lap (a wheeled cart wouldn’t have worked to hike in a mile on rutted trails);
  • finding my palette a total mess because all the wet paint I added before leaving leaked into the others;
  • painting in the sun instead of putting up the umbrella I CARRIED with me so the initial painting came out way too dark due to my eyes reacting to the bright light.
he painter I saw in the same spot the day before, with tree from the other side.
The painter I saw in the same spot the day before, with tree from the other side.
Categories
Flower Art Ink and watercolor wash Plein Air Sketchbook Pages

Spring! Iris!

Iris, ink & watercolor, 8x5 in
Purple Iris, ink & watercolor, 8×5 in

I put my sketching stool in my front garden to paint the one iris that decided to bloom this year. The past two years none of them bloomed and I think it’s because you’re maybe supposed to dig up the bulbs and separate them and plant them further apart when they get too crowded? Gardeners, your advice welcomed!

I missed sketching the first blooming of my roses, when each rose is so perfect and beautiful it’s just heart breaking. I was “too busy,” putting it off one day too many and then the big rains came and the fresh perfect roses were no more.

I really enjoyed drawing and painting while practicing close observation of the different shapes and structures of this amazing plant.

Categories
Building Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Places Sketchbook Pages Urban Sketchers

Women’s Work: Rosie the Riveter and Super Wonky Singer Sewing Machine

Craneway Pavillion and Rosie the Riveter Museum, ink  & watercolor, 8x10"
Rosie the Riveter Museum (left) and Craneway Pavillion (right), ink & watercolor & National Park rubber stamp, 8×10″

When my plein air group met at the Rosie the Riveter Museum alongside Craneway Pavilion (a former auto factory where “Rosie’s” riveted during WWII) on the San Francisco Bay in Richmond, everyone else painted the bay view on the other side of these buildings.

But as soon as I drove into the parking lot, this industrial backside grabbed me. From the row of street lights to the giant smokestack and thousands of windows, I was sold. I set up, sketched and painted in the parking lot. Then I toured the museum. My mother, RivaLee was a “Rosie” and worked in an airplane factory in L.A. where she was known as “Riv the Riveter.”

Singer Sewing Machine circa early 1900s, ink & watercolor
Singer Sewing Machine circa early 1900s, ink & watercolor & gold pen

I don’t know what happened to my sense of perspective when I sketched this early 1900s Singer sewing machine in a warehouse full of antique industrial equipment. It was very heavy, almost impossible for me to move, so I guarantee it wasn’t lifting off the table or sliding downhill like it looks in my sketch.

As I drew I was struck by the beautiful decoration and the rounded shapes that seemed to echo the curves of the women who used them. What a lovely tool it is compared to the sterile, boxy, plastic computerized sewing machines of today.