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.

I’ve avoided embracing the excitement over Artist Trading Cards ….. until now.

Black Bush Sage

Black Bush Sage

I awoke late.  The sky was the color of cantaloupe.  As I sipped my coffee I created my first ACEO.  When I taught the workshop in Santa Rosa last month, Joanie nudged me to try creating a few trading cards.  After several weeks, my resistance faded.  I resolved the problem of working on such a small piece of paper (2.5″ x 3.5″) by stitching a sketchbook just for the ACEOs.  The sketchbook pages measure 4″ x 5.5″, a slightly more comfortable size to work on.
Now that I have my new website with my own little store, I can offer these little gems without a hassle, either cut to standard ATC size or full-page size for framing.

Full Page - Black Bush Sage

Full Page – Black Bush Sage

The sketchbook was created with a boring cover.  My intention is to cut the pages out as they sell.  If I liked the cover, I wouldn’t cut the pages out.  I always have to trick myself.  The little drawings I do in my sketchbook I like far better than the drawings I do on separate pieces of paper with the intention of selling.  I end up with boxes full of drawings that I eventually throw away.  The problem was that I won’t cut pages out of my personal sketchbooks.  The solution is to make specific sketchbooks that are intended to be cut apart.

Will I be able to trick my brain?  Time will tell.

Image: Black Bush Sage Against a Melon Sky – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

As a child, I loved coloring books.  As an adult, I frowned upon them, feeling that they stunted creativity.  As an older adult, I find myself making my own coloring books.

Peas and Herb Garden in Clay Pots

I find myself staying within the lines ….. how dreadful!  I rationalize my current obsession by saying that the difference between mine and ordinary coloring books is that I draw my own pictures and my lines bleed into the colors.

I also find myself at the coloring table with small children and ordinary coloring books.  I enjoy every minute of it.

Coloring Book Sketch: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor in handmade watercolor paper sketchbook bound in leather.

Staying within the lines

A day with Dad is always an adventure.

Fragrant Herb Garden at Lord Stirling Park, Great Swamp, New Jersey

After four days of rain the sun broke through the clouds and we headed to Lord Stirling Park.  Many years ago I took my students to the Great Swamp to paint en plein air.  Today, I took my dad to smell the leaves of the herbs, listen to the birds and enjoy the light filtering through the leaves illuminating the hummocks reflecting in the still, swampy water.

Rusty Sickle and view from the West Observation Tower

We ventured off the path to explore overgrown steps leading up a hill to an old building that had been used for turning sap into maple syrup.  Beyond the grove of trees and clusters of empty benches we discovered a Harrow and Sickle buried in the overgrown grasses.  Dad talked about his childhood on the farm in Indiana.  He knew those tools well.  A little further on we found the West Observation Tower. Thirteen steps led up to a platform where you could view nothing more than what you saw without climbing the steps.  Dad called it “Make Work”, a project created for the purpose of putting people to work.

The path from the observation tower led into the marshy wood where we were devoured by mosquitoes and covered in invisible webs spun by either inch worms or young tent caterpillars.  Through it all we laughed and talked, the sound of our soaked shoes squishing in harmony as we continued to take in the beauty of the moment.

Sketchbook Drawings –  Fragrant Herbs: Phileas Waterman Fountain Pen and watercolor

View from the West Observation Tower: Phileas Waterman Fountain Pen and Marvy Marker

Lavender in Vase - Pencil Sketch

I attempted to sleep last night without taking a pain killer.  I’m not really in pain.  The minute hand kept moving around the clock and my eyes remained wide open.  Finally, I stopped fighting my sleeplessness and got up to draw.  Barbara and Bill had stopped by earlier in the day bringing with them a beautiful vase of lavender and a small orchid (my first).

I spelled Lavender wrong in my sketchbook…. oh well…. I can correct it.  It’s only pencil.