Friday, July 31, 2009

Tugboat Tyee

It was a quiet bay and we were at anchor. In the late afternoon we heard the sound of a large diesel engine, the sound attached to the tugboat "Tyee". They anchored not too far from us. It looked like a working tugboat that was converted to a live aboard boat. I was charmed by the tires and fenders tied to the rails with thick ropes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Echo Bay

Echo Bay (Sucia Island) plein air

bow set up

The wind was down today (from the 20-30 kts yesterday) and the sun came out so I set up on the bow and painted. As quickly as I could. A breeze came up while I was painting and turned the boat so that I was looking over my shoulder at my subject (you can sort of see from the second photo). Such is the excitement of plein air painting!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reid Harbor

Reid Harbor, Stuart Island

Still trying to make friends with my new pastels.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Saddlebag Island Plein Air

Saddlebag Island final

morning set up on the bow

afternoon set up in the stern cockpit

It was good to set up my easel today and paint! Our boat is hanging on the anchor near Saddlebag Island State Park on a beautiful day! This morning I set up on the bow and in the afternoon in the stern cockpit (a little more crowded back there).

My new pastels are great but they are unfamiliar. It will take some time before I feel comfortable with this new collection of colors. Today I felt like I was wearing someone else's clothes. I'm not sure they fit yet.

Any day spent painting is a good day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Before and After

Here it is, filled and ready for me to paint!

Empty box with new foam (courtesy of Dakota Art Pastels)

Old box before the ocean disaster

No, really, it's not a trick question, but can you tell the differences between my old pastel collection and my new collection?

Tomorrow I will paint! Yay!

New Pastels

Dakota Art Pastels
the best pastel store in the country!

I wanted to buy the whole collection of Great American Pastels!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sketching is nice but I miss painting

I continue to experiment and play with my sketching. Today, a comic strip across the top of the page with panels of various sizes. Quick gestures while I finished my morning coffee. Another gesture of the bridge at Deception Pass. Then of the bridge support. I like these little drawings.

On the dock at Anacortes, I sat comfortably and drew the rigging on the Day Star. Boats are complicated subjects and I have avoided painting and drawing them in any detail. Today I plunged in. Things got a little wonky but some things are just right. More practice will help, I think.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sketching today

Until I get my new pastels, I'm sticking to some watercolor sketching. The sketches don't take long but I still have the experience of studying and composing and considering and putting something down on paper.

My mind is very distracted by the accident. Today I spent a lot of time wondering "what if."

What if Angie hadn't heard me...
What if I had hit my head on my way into the water ...
What if I hadn't held on to the dock ...

You get the idea.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Still on my mind ... life is good!

Out of Reach

Underwater View

Long Vistas of Water

Gig Harbor

My cuts and bruises are healing, but I am still upset by my fall into the water the other day. Seems to be on my mind a lot. No surprise, right? I did the top two sketches this morning.

Thank you for your support and emails! I'm sure I'll perk up again soon and be back to my cheerful self. I feel pretty sober these days.

Angie wrote about the incident on her blog, which you can read here:

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Worst Nightmare

Ever since my husband and I started boating, I have been afraid of falling into the water between the boat and the dock. Stepping off the boat with a line or stepping onto the boat with a line gives me a little rush of anxiety. It's gotten better in the last three years, but it's always lurking.

This morning I lived my nightmare. While my husband and our boating friend, Bruce, were off on a walk, I planned to paint from the seawall in Bremerton. Bruce's wife, Angie, wasn't stirring yet on their boat next door, so I was quiet as I packed my gear.

You can see from the first photo (of Bruce) what kind of a step I had to take from the boat to the dock. I was carrying my art bag and a board and I definitely was not balanced. I tripped on the line and fell into the water, between the boat and the dock.

The water was only 52 degrees and I sucked in a mouthful of it in shock as I fell. All the way under. The sun looked green from the murk beneath. It took me a while to get back to the surface. I was still holding my art bag. Why that was a priority when my life was in danger, I still can't tell you. In it were my camera and pastels. Valuable to me.

My first cry was faint. Angie barely heard me. Then I got a lungful of air (after I stopped sputtering and coughing) and screamed "ANGIE! HELP!" Over and over and over and I looked around to see where there was a ladder to help me get onto the dock, which was between two and three feet over my head.

Angie saved my life.

I worked my way, hand over hand, about 200' to get to the ladder. By then, Angie had a line around me and a flotation device for me to hold onto. I was cold. We could not get the ladder to drop down (it had been rammed by a boat and was jammed in an up position). I felt myself getting colder and colder. My voice was quiet. It was hard to hold on. Others came and tried to release the ladder but none could.

Isn't that exactly the stuff of nightmares? All of these people around but no one could get the ladder down. And there was no way for them to pull me onto the dock.

But, Angie had called everyone she could think of and at the same time the marina workers came in a boat and the fire department EMTs came on the dock. They got me out.

Minor bruises and scrapes but I'm fine. Thanks to Angie. I am so grateful that she heard my cries and got help. The marina has few boats and fewer people in it today. I shudder to think of what could have happened.

I was in the cold (disgusting) water for about 15-20 minutes. It took me four hours to warm up.

Casualties of this event: my cell phone, my favorite camera, a Dakota box full of pastels (you can see the contents of my bag on the dock in the second photo and a close up of the pastel mush in the third), my tennis shoes and probably my white tee shirt (stained green with something I don't want to identify) and tan shorts (ditto).

I have cuts on my legs and a few bruises. My arms and shoulders ache from holding on for so long.

But, you know what? Something happens when you live through your worst nightmare. Something good, I think. I'm sure it will come to me after I take a long nap.

Angie says that when a person saves another person's life, their souls are bonded forever. I don't mind one bit. Thank you, Angie. I will always be grateful for what you did today.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I spoke too soon -- plein air in Gig Harbor!

Gig Harbor Sunset
18 x 24, pastel

Just as I pushed the "post" button earlier, the sun broke through the clouds and I raced to set up on the bow of the boat. I don't think I've ever painted so quickly. Thirty minutes from sunbreak to sprinkling rain.

Any day painting is a good day, indeed.

July 6 and 7

(click to enlarge)

More sketchbook pages. Sigh. I had hoped that today I would paint.

There are 44 pieces of 18 x 24 Wallis Museum sanded paper in my portfolio, waiting for masterpieces to be painted on them during this boat trip. What can I say? I had big plans for myself when I started out. And now I have boxes full of grayed pastels and I haven't used any of them yet!

I like what's happening in my sketchbook, though, and I am happy to share that. Oh, the drawings aren't always well done, but they are my genuine responses to experiences in the moment. With the heavy mist and drizzle, pastel painting has been out of the question for me anyway.

If the weather is dry tomorrow morning I will set up my easel on the bow of the boat and paint my tribute to Gig Harbor. That is, if the wind isn't blowing. I don't mind wind too much, but we are hanging on the anchor and it would make my painting experience be more of a merry-go-round and round and back again.

Come to think of it, that might be fun, too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dakota Art Pastels

Date: July 6, 2009
Destination: Mt Vernon, Washington
Target: Dakota Art Pastels Mother Ship Store

My mission: To acquire grayed pastels to fill out my pastel collection

Report: I am happy to report that I have added gray pastel sets by Pastel Girault, Terry Ludwig, and Great American. Rich in pastels but a little poorer in pocketbook.

Did you know that someone at Great American has a wonderful sense of humor? Their colors include tints of Earl Gray, Dorian Gray, and Churchmouse Blue Gray! Cracks me up!

New mission: to use them all!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sketchbook pages July 4 & 5

(click images to enlarge)

I love experimenting with sketching! The many examples of artists' sketchbooks in "An Illustrated Life" inspire and challenge me to do more and better. I am thinking about my sketchbook in a different way now and really enjoying the experimentation.

"I love the way I see the world differently since I started drawing. I like seeing how everything relates to everything else." Gay Kraeger, quoted in "An Illustrated Life"

Here are the pages from my sketchbook the last couple of days. Life is good!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4 Plein Air at Budd Inlet

Dock ramp is steep when the tide is out!

My set up near the Olympia Area Rowing building

Tide is Out at Budd Inlet
plein air
18x24, pastel

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Lorax

These cypress trees always remind me of Dr. Seuss' book "The Lorax," and I could not resist drawing them this morning. "I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues..."

Today I read in "An Illustrated Life" that sometimes drawing is a way through a rough patch, not just over it or around it. Through is the harder way but how lovely to have something to hold onto while I find my way.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Altered Sketchbook

(click to enlarge)

In my last post I mentioned my desire to get more out of my sketching and use my sketch books differently. Better. More thoughtfully.

Danny Gregory's book "An Illustrated Life" has inspired me! If you haven't seen his book (and you are interested in improving your sketchbook habits) I recommend it. This is my first day of changing things up and I like it! More words, though I won't do that every day, but more snapshot sketches of the day, too. "If you make a drawing, you remember much more than if you take a photo," Peter Arkle is quoted in the book. I agree. I look forward to exploring new ideas about art and life with my sketchbook at the ready.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Like most artists, I bring a sketch book with me wherever I go. I have them in all sizes. When I go on the boat, I bring an Aquabee 11 x 14 so that I can do easy watercolor washes and any kind of pencil or pen. The 90# pages are pretty tough.

In my car is a an 8 x 10 parchment paper sketch book. I use it to record what I see and what I think when I am out on my own at refuges and other birding locales.

But, when I am doing my normal stuff and carrying my purse, I have a 5 x 7 inch Moleskin with me. The pages are thinner than the Aquabee, but nothing beats it for convenience.

You won't be surprised to find out that as I waited (four and a half hours) while my friend was in surgery, I pulled out my Moleskin and sketched. Nothing fancy. The beautiful third floor courtyard, the chapels, the other people waiting, whatever caught my eye.

I just picked up a couple of books on how to keep a good sketchbook. I would like to improve what I do.

P.S. My friend is just fine! Hooray!