Before heading to Santa Rosa to teach another workshop I spent a day painting at my favorite place in San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences.

Of course I headed straight for the weedy sea dragon. There are now two in the tank, not just one! My goal for the day was to attempt to capture the playful nature of the flittering tropical fish in one of the large aquarium tanks, the one that replicates a Philippine Coral Reef.

Drawn first in ink with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

I’ve returned from California having remembered what fuels me as an artist.

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

In November I visited California Academy of Sciences and saw the Leafy Seadragon.  I scheduled to teach more workshops in Santa Rosa as quickly as I could.  Why?  I wanted to spend an entire day drawing seadragons.

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

Reason number two for returning to California so quickly was to paint the steep rolling hills surrounding San Francisco, spotted with Live Oak, Black Oak and cattle.

Cattle Grazing along Calaveras Road, Milpitas, CA

Cattle Grazing along Calaveras Road, Milpitas, CA

Sugarloaf Ridge Park, Santa Rosa, California

Sugarloaf Ridge Park, Santa Rosa, California

The bonus was sitting along a path at Mussel Rock in Pacifica, watching Mike fly through the sky with other paragliders while painting the hills and the sea.

Paragliding at Mussel Rock, Pacifica, California

Paragliding, Mussel Rock, Pacifica, CA

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, California

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, California

These are the experiences that nourish my soul and heal the wounds inflicted by life’s challenges.  I now return to my studio, well-prepared to begin the new body of work focused on Healing through Art.

Images:  Drawn first with pencil, followed by watercolor.  Seadragon drawn live, beside the tank at California Academy of Sciences.  Mussel Rock images painted en plein air.

Inspired by the Pink Ladies of New Hope (Sissy Stephanie and Carol), the moose paperweight that I drew yesterday and posted on the Creative Color Blog insisted on a chance to step out of the box and off the paper for a night out on the town.

Moose disguised as background

Stephanie and Carol at the opening of “Naked in New Hope” this weekend

The moose thought it best to dress up for the evening and traded its fur coat for the gorgeous turquoise background.  I’m not sure it will have as much fun as the Ladies of New Hope. We’ll see if it ever returns home.

Family Treasures No. 35, Moose Stepping Out

Sketchbook Drawing: Family Treasures No. 34 and No. 35 -drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink followed by watercolor.

This little wire pig sat on my mother’s waist-high metal, file cabinet.  She kept her recently received letters and the unpaid bills neatly organized in the wire ribs of the perky, pink, pig.

Perky Pink Pig

Over the years, the legs became skewed.  I tried to straighten them.  Instead, I caused quite a bit of the pink paint to flake off as well as making them even more out of alignment.  Now the little pig appears to be dancing a jig.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Family Treasure No. 32 – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor.

We tried to stop giving elephants to my mother.  She agreed that she had far too many and didn’t need to collect them anymore.

Family Treasures No. 9, Green China Elephant Vase

My mother passed away eight and a half years ago and I still can’t stop adding unique elephants to her collection.  Nicole and I found this bizarre vase at the Far Hills Rummage Sale this Spring. If I hadn’t bought it, Nicole would have.  My justification is that it’s great for holding my brushes.  When I put brushes into it, I turn it into a sword-swallowing circus elephant and I find it visually disturbing.  Flowers look odd in it, too.  They sit on a slant.  Regardless, I love it.

Painting is 5″ x 7″.  Color Scheme is Analogous with One Complement; Dominant Color is Yellow/Green. Sketched in lightly with pencil, followed by watercolor. I miss drawing first with ink, but I’m determined to be flexible.

I certainly feel as if I’m popping Alice’s pills lately.  In the morning I work small and tight, in the evening I work large and wild.


Elephant Teacups, ‘Afternoon Nap’

Along with working small in the morning, I am playing The Color Scheme Game backwards.  I am looking at reality and deciding what color scheme that reality comes closest to.  I then alter the least amount of reality necessary for it to fit into a color scheme.  I am shocked at how uncomfortable I am with this process.  I will continue to play this way until it become second nature and I can wave the magic wand at will to create the images that are screaming to get out of my head and onto paper and canvas.  I need the facility to create both realism and abstraction along with complete understanding of color interactions.  That’s not too much to demand of myself!

Though fighting my way through my limitations is frustrating, once I break through, the joy of painting and drawing is doubled or tripled each time I reach the other side.  Naturally, there is another barrier in my way.  That only means that I’ll have even more fun when I get through that one.

I am having a blast!

Painting:  drawn first with pencil, followed by watercolor.

The last two morning sketches surprise me with their childlike simplicity.  I’m not sure where it is coming from…. perhaps from the energy of the totem, who, by the way, demanded far more presence than the broken trumpet part.

Lizard Totem and piece of Trumpet

Inspired by another lover of fountain pens, Hillevi (visit her blog), I cleaned out my Parker 51 fountain pen, filled it with ink (Waterman this time around) and used it for my morning sketch.  Instead of the detail I planned for this morning didn’t even get a chance.  The lizard took over, pushed the trumpet part almost out of the drawing completely, and decided that my usual line border needed a bit of texture that might turn into scales tomorrow.

Drawing: Started with ink contours drawn with Parker 51 fountain pen and Waterman Ink, followed by washes using a watercolor palette of raw sienna, manganese blue and alizarin crimson.

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