View from the parking lot of Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa, CA.

Lavender Garden and Vineyard

Lavender Garden and Vineyard

A gorgeous day was spent with Joanie and Wakar, painting at the winery.  The mounds of lavender were not in bloom.  They looked like scoops of blue green ice cream, maybe a mix of pistachio and blueberry.  The steep, rolling hills of the Sonoma Valley take my breath away and renew the pleasure of plein air painting.

This trip has been quite different from the one I planned.  My life is like that, always full of surprises.  If the surprise isn’t a good one, I do my best to transform it into something wonderful.  Just like a painting that has lost its way, the solution often brings the experience to a level beyond what it might have otherwise been.

Painting:  sketched lightly in pencil, followed by watercolor and areas clarified with pencil after the watercolor was completely dry.

The overcast sky and the daily rainfall has revived my gasping Licorice Plant.

Athena Brazil, Helichrysum Petiolare, Licorice Plant

In spite of watering it daily, it remained unhappy.  Perhaps a move to the north side of the house would have been better than forcing it to stay among the collection of potted herbs on the south side of the house.  A rainy, Labor Day weekend appears to be what it has wanted all along.

sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrun ink, followed by watercolor on BFK Rives printmaking paper.

A lone, petunia seed found its way into a package of zinnia seeds.

A petunia thinking it’s a zinnia

When the flowers began to bloom I was startled by the odd petunia in my flower bed of zinnia.  It has grown tall and strong among its peers, perhaps, as the swan thought itself to be a duckling, the petunia thinks it’s a zinnia.  Never have a seen a petunia grow so tall and upright.

I am reminded of the inspiration and standards set for me by my fellow artists and the significant mentors in my life.  I am so much stronger thanks to the example they set for me.

Kathleen and I have been friends for fifty-nine years!

Tea Cozy Hats

Another way to wear a tea cozy

Kathleen is now Captain Kathleen, the proud captain of the boat “AS IS”.  We walked to the shipyard to pick it up after having had it’s engine repaired.

Captain Kathleen

We took a quick spin around the cove before bringing it back through the marsh grass to its mooring.

“As Is”

The trick to arriving safely at the mooring without hitting the rocks hidden by the high tide is to count six trees along the bank, make a sharp left and head straight for the flagpole.

Count six trees and make a left … painted at low tide when the rocks are visible

Next morning, when the tide was high, we took the boat out to explore the waterways and test the engine.

Testing the engine at full throttle

Testing the engine at slow speed

And …. when we didn’t have a chart to indicate where the rocks might be, we took turns rowing the boat.

Rowing in uncharted waters

Spotting a Blue Heron

On the way back from our adventure we noticed a multitude of boats in the harbor.  It was the annual Harbor Fest Day.

Schooner in the Harbor

We arrived just in time to watch the Tugboat Muster.

Tugboat Muster, Portland Maine 2012

Two tugboats go bow to bow.  The winner is the tug that forces the other to move backwards.  Following the muster, four tugboats retreated to the far side of the harbor and raced back to the other side.  A great way to end an adventure in a boat is to witness a tugboat race!

Being the two ladies we are, we stepped out of the boat and into Kathleen’s garden where we took shears in hand and  played the part of Edward Scissorhands.  A lovely Weeping Cherry had disguised itself as an unknown ball of a bush.  After a little trim here, a lopping off there and careful snips everywhere, we unveiled the beauty of the tree.  To celebrate our success, we brought two chairs from the deck to sit beside the tree and toast to our successful day.

The pruned Weeping Cherry Tree

Wine Spritzers

A toast to two ladies in a boat, friends forever.

Sketchbook drawing:  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor using the tiny altoid tin travel kit shown on the previous post.  This little sketchbook is made from old paintings that I tore into pages.  The background of this sketch is the paint from the original, unsuccessful painting.

Heirloom tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from Mike’s garden in South Orange.

Heirloom tomatoes and other veggies

The fragrance of fresh basil and sage, also from his garden, filled my head as I painted these precious veggies. Truly, a Family Treasure to be remembered.

My potted herbs offer a variety of leaf shapes and an opportunity to play with warm greens and cool greens.

Potted Herb Plants

I braved the heat to sit outside and draw a selection of potted kitchen herbs.  I was hoping for at least one good thunderstorm to refresh the fields of corn and the crunchy grass.  No such luck.  Thanks to my watering cans, the herbs are still alive, though not thriving.

Drawn en plein air.  Line drawing using an old Scheaffer fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by watercolor.  Color Palette: Phthalo Blue, French Ultramarine Blue, Carmine, Cadmium Red Scarlet, Cadmium Yellow, Gamboge, Viridian.  I used only a tip’s worth of the Carmine and the Cadmium Red Scarlet to tone down the green in a few areas.

Hollyhocks always make me smile.

Hollyhocks in bloom

In 1995, the first summer in our home in Lebanon Township, we were treated to garden surprises.  A peony plant appeared in the middle of the backyard.  Bleeding Heart bloomed in half a dozen locations, scattered about.  For me, the greatest delight were the red and pink hollyhocks blooming all along the south side of the house.  Over the years, we lost many of the hollyhocks.  Only the pink remain.  They were always my favorite.  This year they are exceptionally beautiful.

Sketchbook painting: Drawn first with fountain pen in ink, followed by pink ink for the blossoms and watercolor for the leaves.

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