Friday, April 29, 2011

Lines of demarcation ... water and land

On a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest, there is nothing better than being on the water.

In my sketch above, I was especially interested in the places where water and land meet. The distance land forms seem to have firmer lines of demarcation than the near land where I watched the tide pull little waves and the seals splash in the shallow surf.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Plein air from the swim step

The best reward for a long day is to set up my easel and paint en plein air from the swim step of the boat. As I painted, the wavelets thumped an irregular rhythm underneath my feet like timpani. Life is good!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oasis palm

Oasis Palm, 18 x 24, pastel and pigment dispersion on recycled Wallis

Sunday, April 24, 2011


22 x 30, watercolor on Arches Cold Press 140#

A quiet meditation on victory, love, promises, and halleluia. How strange to note that all of those words sound old-fashioned and so it must be that I am old-fashioned for thinking them and pondering their meaning. Today. On Easter Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Floating about

Sitting on the transom step, just above the words "Made in the USA," I sketched this marina scene. This was a chores kind of trip and we only left the dock to move the boat to its new slip space, which was fine with me because the wind was up and handling lines and fenders was a challenge.

 Sometimes the boat and I have a stare down. It towers above me like a two-story building. I don't back down. Only my laughter will break the spell of a good staring contest.

Before I get too frustrated with the boat, I take a walk, and listen to the sound of the loon. He is alone, fishing near the boat ramp, and calling out his lonely song. I whisper that I understand. And I do.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Woven, 18 x 24, pastel and pigment on prepared panel
Have you ever been intrigued by a basket? Many strands, each important to the integrity of the whole. Whether done tightly to hold water, or loosely to hold goods, baskets are crucial to native life. Over and under, around and back.

I think there's a metaphor in here someplace.


Crushed, 22 x 30, watercolor and pastel on Arches Cold Press
While in the desert, I tried to understand the artifacts of the people who lived there before it was divided into movie star lanes, fountains, and golf courses (not to mention the strip malls). I wanted to understand the baskets, the jars, the stone tools of the hard life there. Mortar and pestle to crush what is hard to release the sweet fragrance of sustenance within. 
I almost get it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oil frustration for the birds

24 x 24, oil on stretched canvas

Goslings making bubbles in the water

Ruddy Duck has an amazing blue bill
I wanted this oil painting to work. I had a nice strong start and then it seemed to fall apart the more I worked on it. I will scrape it off tomorrow. But, in the meantime, since the sun was shining, I zipped over to the Wildlife Refuge to see what was new over there. 

What a treat to see Canada Geese parents and babies! These babies looked only a day old, with their downy soft fur and barely formed winglets. The parents kept careful watch over them and I kept my distance. 

Ahh. I feel better now. Tomorrow I will scrape off the painting and try again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


8 years old, I had plenty of attitude

WIP, Palm Attitude, 24 x 24, oil on canvas

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

At the zoo

The Living Desert is Palm Desert's zoo and botanical gardens attraction. Sunny and warm, in the high 80s, the sketching was still fun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pasadena Museum of California Art

Joy, Richard Schmid, Pasadena Museum of Californa Art
This small gem of a museum must be the best kept secret in Pasadena, maybe in all of California. My cousin, who lives in Pasadena, had never heard of it. But, let me just shout it from the rooftops: the Pasadena Museum of Californai Art is a great museum and worth a special trip to see it!

This month, the main exhibit is the 100th annual Gold Medal Juried show of the California Art Club. Modern masters, whos artwork wins competitions, ribbons, and graces the pages of the top art magazines, these artists had artwork in this show. I walked around the exhibit like an over excited child "Ooh, pretty" as one painting caught my eye from across the room. Then, a mere turn of my head and another captured my attention. I collected names of masters whose workshops I will look for and take as soon as I can. 

And, I had about 20 minutes to just stare and study Richard Schmid's painting "Joy" as you see in the photograph above. The light, the ease of brushwork, the detail without really being detail, but just a fold of paint, a touch of palette knife, wow!!! 

I'm gushing. But, this show was gush-worthy. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Destination: Norton Simon Museum

Tulips in a Vase, Paul Cezanne, Norton Simon Museum
 Field trip with Mom to Pasadena, where we stopped at the gorgeous Norton Simon Museum. Have you been there? It is like an enormous banquet of delicious paintings. Mom brought her book, just in case she tired of walking and looking at paintings, but she never took it out.

I enjoyed the entire 20th century and 19th century collections, but the "Tulips in a Vase" painting by Cezanne sucker punched me. It is intense, serious, mature, considered, and captivating. Even now, looking at the photo of the painting, I am hungry for more.

 The Museum allows dry media in all of its exhibits and there were many artists drawing and sketching the paintings and extensive sculpture collection. Above you see a young woman with charcoal copying a Van Gogh painting.

Portrait of a Peasant, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh, Norton Simon Museum
For color, vibrancy, texture, brushwork, there is nothing like a Van Gogh painting. This one held me hostage for quite a while. Even Mom stood to the side to figure out the impasto. 

I would love to come back and spend more time at the museum. Anyone want to take a road trip?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happiness is a white pelican

Field trip today with Mom down to the Salton Sea. Along the way, we saw large flocks of migrating American White Pelicans and I was very happy. Even better when we got to the water and saw hundreds of migratory birds! The large white birds you see in the bottom photo, wading in the water, are Great Egrets. What a day!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sketching palm trees

Elegant Writer and water sketch

Ink and watercolor wash

Palms blowing in the wind
Only my sketchbook, pens, and watercolor field kit on this trip. Somehow the limitations of media provide an interesting challenge. I think that my sketches are improving. My thoughts about what to sketch are changing, too. 

Palm trees are everywhere in this desert community. The farmers market sells fresh dates (do you like dates?) and there are giant date farms outside the many bedroom communities. The trees have such a playful look to them, like Dr. Seuss characters with mischief on their minds.

Mom's team won their Bocci ball games today so they will go into the tournament games on Thursday. I have to say, I LOVE this stuff!! And the sunshine and heat are a delight.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Revisitng old work

14 x 11, watercolor on Arches 300# cold press
I painted this little watercolor study in 2004 but it still kind of works for me. It's fun to re-visit my older work hanging on Mom's walls. It's a Katherine van Schoonhoven Retrospective! Except, I haven't been painting that long (7 years), and much of the beginning stuff looks like beginning stuff. Oh well. Mom still likes it all.

And, I still like this tight little piece. It hangs in the bar area of Mom's living room.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Palm Springs Art Museum

"Before Missionary School" by John Nieto

When it's 103 degrees, even the rocks seem to melt!
Mom was a great sport today and we drove in her air conditioned car over to the air conditioned Palm Springs Art Museum. We looked at all of the exhibits, including the special exhibit of John Baldassari

The museum has a great collection of western art, including work by Remington, Russell, Moran, and Clyde Aspevig! Love it!!

John Nieto's painting "Before Missionary School" took my breath away. Do you know Nieto?