I’ve been down with a chest cold for a week, so no studio time. I’ve mostly rested, but when I’ve felt like it I’ve done a few things like clean out my inbox, catch up on some reading and, of course, dorked around on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Twitter has been great because reading in 144 character bites doesn’t require sustained focus and attention. I also poked around on Facebook, joined a bunch of art groups and last night, finally feeling halfway decent again, started one…The Art of Animal Fieldwork…an area of the animal art genre that no one is addressing effectively (there are a couple of groups that purport to be about fieldwork, but the Admins appear to be MIA and the group feeds are cluttered with a lot of bad studio art, personal promos, etc). You can check it out here. Nice to feel that I’ve managed to Do Something Useful, even in my reduced state.
Today is my weekly blog day and the theme is “In The Studio”, which I haven’t been since last Friday. So instead I’m going to give you a list of 10 ideas for things you can do when you’re sick if you don’t have a computer or tablet handy and 10 for if you do.
The most important thing, though is to REST. The better you take care of yourself the sooner you can get back to work. On to the lists:
IF YOU’RE HAVE A COMPUTER OR TABLET:
1. Research art galleries
2. Futz with a drawing or painting app
3. Clean out your email folders/mailboxes
4. Clean out and organize your folders
5. Visit art museum sites
6. Treat yourself to a new art-related book that’s downloadable for instant gratification
7. Check out art-related YouTube videos or movies
8. Find new artists to follow, groups to join on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
9. Find new art blogs to follow
10. Start a collection of art quotes
IF YOU’RE NOT ON A COMPUTER OR TABLET:
1. Read an art-related book that you haven’t gotten around to
2. Browse through some of your art books
3. Make a list of places you want to go (sky’s the limit; be crazy; Mars anyone?)
4. Plan out a painting in your head in as much detail as possible
5. Browse an art supply catalog and make a wish list; include one media you’ve never tried before
6. Get a pad of paper and pencils/pens and doodle painting ideas or draw a pet or whatever is in the room
7. Make a list of the artists you’ve heard of but don’t know anything about
8. Think about how to make your studio a better workplace
I recently received an email from an art student in Northern Ireland (wonders of the internet!), who is doing a paper about an artist whose work she likes for her “A Levels”. That artist would appear to be me. I liked her questions since they got me thinking some more about what I do, why and how. So I thought I would share it with you:
1.Why did you choose animal art?
As I think about it, it might be more appropriate to say that it chose me. I drew animals more than anything else as a child by far. When I was back in art school at age 35, I tended to think of using animals for my assignments. When I moved to “easel painting”, I started doing animals early on and when I learned about the field of wildlife art, that pretty much sealed the deal. I do enjoy other subjects, but it has always been my animals that have drawn the strongest response from people.
2.How would you gather information for your topic (ie do you study the body movements of animals, go to the zoo etc)
I do fieldwork trips every year to see animals in their own habitats and also visit zoos whenever possible. I have a large reference library that includes a number of books on animal anatomy. I sketch from live animals when I can and take a lot of photos. My digital image library has over 10,000 animal pictures alone, taken since 2004. Plus hundreds of prints from before I went digital.
3.Have you ever been influenced by a person or place?
Yes, I seem to be the kind of artist who is inspired more by what I see in the natural world, as opposed to a more purely internal vision. Taking a master class from John Seerey-Lester in 1997 was probably the greatest single reason I’ve become an animal artist because of his encouraging words about my paintings, which made me believe that I could succeed if I was willing to work hard.
The four places that I find most inspiring are Mongolia, Kenya, the Yellowstone/Wyoming/Montana area and my own home ground of northern California.
4.Is there a particular artist whose work has inspired you?
If I had to name one, it would be Bob Kuhn, a legendary illustrator who became one of the two or three top wildlife artists of the 20th century. I’m inspired by the quality of his draftsmanship, design/composition, his painterly technique, his knowledge of his subjects and his uncompromising willingness to do what it took to get reference he needed. He’s my role model for everything a wildlife/nature artist should be. He passed away last year.
5.What media do you prefer working in and why? Is there a medium you are not comfortable with?
I work in oil. The original impetus was having wanted to paint in oil since I was a child, but now it’s because it’s the medium that most lets me express my vision of a subject. I love everything about it except the fumes, so I pay attention to proper ventilation.
I’m probably least comfortable with something like pastels, for the very pedestrian reason that I don’t like having my hands messy while I work and I don’t want to wear gloves.
6.My favourite piece of your work is ‘Double check’, how did you come up with the idea and how did you gather photographs etc to help you?
Ah, I just delivered that painting to the buyer. It’s one of my favorites ,too. I hadn’t done a coyote for a long time and I have some great reference of them that I shot over a couple of trips to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I was looking for an image that would work at a small size and had interesting light. I also look for an aspect that represents something authentic about the animal and what they are like, both as a species and as an individual. The painting used two pieces of reference, one of the coyote and one for the background. So I already had the reference for that one.
7. When did you realise your talent for art and why in your opinion is animal art so effective?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t draw. I don’t know how much talent I have, but I’ve been willing to work hard for a long time. I’ve been told that my animals have “life” in their eyes and I agree, but that seems to happen without conscious volition on my part, so maybe that’s my “talent”.
Human affinity for animal images goes back to the Stone Age, as can be seen by cave paintings and pictographs. We have literally shared our lives with them for over 10,000 years (in the case of dogs). We share our world with them. Every culture has some relationship to animals, mostly positive, sometimes negative, but a connection nonetheless. We see ourselves reflected in them. We project ourselves and our emotions, ideas about good and bad, and our needs onto them. Images of animals and our liking of them are one facet of that long history.
8. Do you have any future plans for your art?
To continue to grow as an artist and get better. To always look for new ways to more accurately express my vision. To use my art to promote conservation and environmental issues, while making a decent living.
9. What do you think is unique about your art?
My vision and point of view and how I express that stylistically. Which really is, or should be, true for any other artist, no matter what their subject matter or medium.
10. Where do you paint and do you find the environment you work in important?
I have a 450 sq. ft. studio at my home. I have worked in a variety of environments, including a garage, and would have to say, that, yes, it’s important. I need an organized, properly lit space. I need the work space to not get in the way of doing the work.
11. When it comes to doing the fur on the animals, what do you find to be the fastest but most effective way for this?
I don’t personally think that speed, per se, is the goal. First comes the decision about what your vision is and then, what is the most technically appropriate way to accomplish that? Having said that, however, I have no interest in detail for it’s own sake. I would find painting every hair boring to do and usually find it boring to look at. What challenges me is seeing how much I can simplify and leave out and still communicate something like “fur”. So, I don’t literally think “fur” when I’m painting. I’m thinking shape, value, color, color temperature, visual texture, etc., which is a more abstract level. If all those come together then that area will say “fur” even though it’s really just blobs or spots or strokes of paint.
12. Is the background as important as the animal itself?
I would answer that somewhat indirectly by saying that the idea of the painting is the most important and every element present must support that idea, whether it’s the animal or the background. It all has to come together as a coherent whole.
13. What scale would your art normally be and how long would it take you to complete?
The smallest paintings I do are 6″x8″ and, so far, the largest is around 36″x48″, plus a variety of sizes in between. I decide on the subject first and then choose the size and proportion that will best suit the idea I have.
I can finish a small painting to be used as a study in a couple of hours. “How long does it take?” is a question artists get all the time and the answer is usually some variation on “It depends.” It depends on how complex the composition is, how much preliminary work was necessary, how many changes were required along the way, whether one got stuck and had to let the thing sit for a week, a month, a year.
14. Were you hoping to strike any emotions from your audience? if so what?
I think that part of what defines something as “art” is whether or not it elicits an emotional response in the viewer. So, yes, I guess I always hope for that. But I’m really more concerned with recording my emotional response to my subject than trying to project or control that of the viewer.
15. Which is you favourite piece of your own work and why?
Whatever the latest one is that came out the way I’d envisioned it. Currently it’s the Cape Buffalo Head Study. It may be the best painting I’ve done so far and I did it as demo over the course of about six hours at an art festival with constant interruptions. Interesting, in view of my earlier comment about my preferred working environment and that I hadn’t envisioned anything in particular about it except to have something going to draw people into my booth.
16. Is there anything that motivates you whilst painting?
The thought that somewhere, sometime, someone viewing my work might be inspired to become actively involved in working to save our planet. It needs all the help it can get.
May all our interviews be so merry and bright.
My most faithful collector and I have had a list of paintings that she would like me to do. Since she grew up on a cattle ranch in Southern California, she wants a painting of an oak tree with polled Hereford cattle, plus a few other elements. So this is where my illustration training kicks in. I find this kind of thing fun if, once the content is decided on, I am left to solve the problem and paint it as I see fit. I have now started the sketches. I haven’t drawn cattle much, so that was the first step. Here’s a few that are promising-
Hereford cow and calf
ART QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You do not have to go very far to find suitable subjects. The cat lounging on your sofa, the horse down the road, yours or your neighbor’s dog; all are proper subjects and all will give knowledge which can later be broadened by trips to the nearest zoo or museum. My old friend and counselor, Paul Bransom, was the man who first urged me to go to the zoo, and to draw, draw, draw, Even the best reference sources don not take the place of real knowledge of animal structure. That can only be gained by putting your time in with the animals.”
Went over to the shelter for my usual Wednesday afternoon gig yesterday. Almost didn’t go because I was feeling kind of tired. But working with the animals and getting out on my feet usually energizes me, so off I went.
And was dragooned by a kennel attendant about 10 seconds after I walked in to “help with an animal”. Dog or cat, I asked. Neither, she said. Hummm, I thought. We entered a small outdoor enclosure and there lying on the floor covered up with towels was a jersey bull calf, who had been brought in two hours earlier. He was a newborn, so new that his umbilical cord was still wet when he arrived. He was also pretty scrapped up. They don’t know yet if he was dumped (being a male of a dairy cow breed means you are of very limited use) or fell off a truck, but they needed to get some food in him immediately. So Kathy held the calf, I held the bottle of colostrum and with some sweet talk and stroking, I got him to start sucking at the nipple. Now, mind you, the only reason I ever wanted to go to the fair as a kid was to see the animals, but I’ve hardly ever even petted a cow and here I was getting to help save this (not-so-little) guy’s life. Deep satisfaction doesn’t begin to describe how I felt.
One of the animal control officers has extensive experience with cattle, both dairy and beef and also lives near the shelter, so he has volunteered to take care of him and make sure he eats. The calf also made the front page of the local newspaper this morning. I’ll post updates as I find out more and a photo if I can get one.
So, back to the *#@*!^ elk. Upon further review, something was seriously not right and I spent most of Tuesday and part of Wednesday fixing it. The drawing of the head was out a mile and the neck was too short, plus a few minor, quickly fixed problems with the hind end. I’ve now repainted the head, oh, I don’t know, six or so times. One of the challenges when faced with something like this is to do what needs to be done and still end up with something that doesn’t look labored.
Over at Julie Chapman’s blog, there is a comment thread discussing a common phenomena in art in which the artists who are competent professionals agonize and tear their hair out and artists who aren’t very good always seem to be pleased with what they’ve done, oblivious to the problems in their work and impervious to any criticism. I’m definitely in the “agonize” column. Just ask my husband.
One theory I have is that, as according to Buddhism, people don’t like to be uncomfortable. They move toward pleasurable things and cling to them and away from unpleasant or uncomfortable things. It’s hard to just be with whatever is going on without getting caught up in it one way or another. Really seriously creating art that is good, whatever the media, means living with frustration, mental exhaustion and doubt, none of which is particularly comfortable. Any dedicated artist reading this knows what it feels like when you’ve busted your butt all day and finally your mind just hits the wall and slides down to the floor. Then you know it’s quittin’ time.
But all that can be avoided if one takes the position that everything is fine, just fine. And, if you don’t get into juried shows or organizations, hey, it’s all subjective and they don’t know what they are talking about anyway. Letting go of that means that you have to take responsibility for your art and its shortcomings and, to improve, you have to be willing to do what it takes. And that’s one big thing that separates the amateurs from the professionals. You do what it takes to get it right. No excuses or rationalizations.
I remember when I made the conscious decision to pursue oil painting (and drop illustration, graphic design, etc.) and see just how good I could get. I realized that I had to face the possibility that I would give it everything I had and that, in the end, through an inability to exercise correct choices or judgement, that I would only ever be a mediocre painter. That thought made me sick inside. But I couldn’t turn away, so I accepted the challenge. None of this has ever come easily to me, so one thing I know how to do is hang in there and struggle through. Which brings us back to that bloody elk, part two-
There’s still LOTS to do. The modeling of the head needs work to describe the structure. I’ll probably do a pencil drawing to work it out better, so I can lay the paint in with confidence.
And, here’s one of my newest finished paintings, called “Mutual Curiosity”. When I was at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, I spent two days out in the reserve walking around alone with a GPS, looking for argali so I could do behavioral observations. The trick was that I had to find them, without them seeing me, in order to do the observations. It wasn’t easy. This big old ram spotted me pretty quickly, but he let me follow him around for about twenty minutes. He was very thin, but had a huge, heavy horns. I filled him out a little. It was spring, so he had made it through the winter of 2005. I wondered as I did the painting if he made to 2007.
I also wanted to show the amazing environment that the argali of Ikh Nart live in. I compressed the scene a little from the photograph, but all those weird formations are within yards of each other.
Ok, here it is, as promised. Sure to bring a million dollars at auction 1oo years after I’m dead and gone (which means it will probably go for about five bucks). Took about 30 minutes.
I thought that I might start to post works in progress which, one, always gives me something to blog on, and two, may provide one answer to “How do you artists do this stuff?” So, here we have a start of a cow elk that I photographed in Yellowstone in June of 2005, along with the reference photo. I was “game driving” between Mammoth and Norris and up on a hillside a group of elk were grazing. As you can see, they were in one of the burned areas. Lots of downed tree trunks and fresh new pines coming up.
The first questions I ask myself when I have an idea for a painting or am inspired by reference I shot are:
1. What makes me want to paint this? In this case, it’s a combination of the light, her graceful pose and I haven’t done an elk painting for awhile. A painting needs one strong idea and everything else is subordinated to it (Thanks, Scott Christensen). Every artist finds their own way to do that.
2. What is the best size and proportion of canvas to communicate the idea of this painting? (Thank you, John Banovich) As you can see, since my idea is the cow elk with the great light, most of the background was extraneous, so I chose a vertical format. This is a simple subject and, for me, didn’t really call for a big canvas, 16″x12″ seemed about right. But someone else might have decided that female animals don’t get the prominence in the art world they deserve and done her six feet high. Both are equally valid choices. I’ve had viewers of my paintings comment that they like seeing something besides bloated trophy males and enjoy my more off-beat subjects, which is encouraging. But ultimately I paint what I want, the way I want and then try to find a market.
3. As I lay in the drawing with a brush, I’m already thinking about the value (light/dark) pattern. I want the area of highest contrast where I intend the viewer’s eye to land. So, from the beginning I’m altering my reference to suit the idea of the painting. This brings us to the use of photographs in painting; the good, the bad and the sometimes seriously ugly. I have strong opinions about it (surprise. not.), but that’s a topic all by itself. Suffice to say for now that if you don’t have a strong idea of what your painting is about, then you may end up as one of those legion of artists who end up copying their photos, rather mindlessly sometimes. The key is “mindless”. Photorealists have made a quite conscious choice to work a certain way. Do what you want how you want, but do it by choice, not default.
So, here we are after two sittings. During the first, I solved the design: where the animal would be, how big and roughly how the surrounding habitat would go. In the second, which took about an hour. I refined the drawing, laid in my darkest tones and figured out roughly where the small pine trees would be, watching out for bad tangents (which is when two objects on different planes touch, which destroys the illusion of three dimensions) and deciding where the areas of highest contrast would be. California landscape painter Kevin Macpherson comments in one of his books (buy both if you want to self-study oil painting) that a painting is a series of corrections, which is so, so, SO true. When everything is corrected, you’re done. So simple, really.
Final notes (for now): I work mostly with round brushes. I like the calligraphic marks I can make with them, having been a calligrapher and sign painter at one time. I go 3-5 shades darker in value all over and then come back in with successively lighter values. I also try to work “lean to fat”, artist talk for going from thin paint to thick paint. Look at some traditional oils next time you’re at a fine art museum and you can see it. It’s one reason only seeing reproduction is of such limited use. Everything is flattened out. Original paintings have a literally third dimension of paint thickness. Fellow artist Julie Chapman’s work is a perfect contemporary example. You can’t really appreciate her lush, juicy brushwork unless you’re looking at the real thing.
So, to pick up the story of my first rescue transport last month-
The plan was to go on Sunday. I got a call at 8:30 am on Saturday from Jean, the transport co-ordinator. Could I go that day since the weather looked like it was going to get really nasty on Sunday? You betcha. I had seen the forecast, too. Over to the shelter a little before ten. Loaded up four (yup, four) dogs into our Volkswagon Eurovan. One border collie, one Rhodesian ridgeback mix, one lab mix and a pit bull, all in crates. Spanky’s (the pit bull) crate was facing between the front seats, so we could look at each other en route. Finished the paperwork, loaded up towels and anti-stink spray and away we went. The route was from Humboldt County down to just north of Ukiah, east on Highway 20 and out to where it joins up I-5 at Williams. About a five hour drive. A little barking but no real fuss. Loaded up the CD player and locked in the cruise control. Ate a lunch while I rolled. The funniest part of the trip was when some harmonica (Bob Dylan?) came on and Spanky started to sing along. On the way on 20 through Lake County, lots of flooding near the road and small slides and “flooded” signs in the towns. Snow on the higher hills and some by the road. Made cell phone contact with the woman I was meeting right as I came down out of the hills. We both pulled into the gas station within a couple of minutes of each other. Whew. Got the dogs out, let them pee, loaded them into crates in her horse trailer, went to pee myself, called home and hit the road. Elapsed time at the rendevous: 20 minutes. Another five hours of driving. Ate dinner (another tuna sandwich) while I rolled. Got home around 8:45pm. Long, hard day, but four dogs have a chance at a great new life, so it was more than worth it!
Second transport was just over two weeks ago on Feb. 9. I was going down to the Bay Area to hook up with my husband anyway, so figured I might as well help move some more dogs out. There was one to go on Wednesday, two on Friday and a third by the time I got to the shelter on Saturday morning. This time it was a blue heeler, a real redbone hound and a shepherd mix and two drop off points. One dog, the heeler, in Petaluma and the other two in San Rafael. With some in-flight adjustments, it all went fine and then it was on to San Francisco. The top priority was to finally go to the new De Young Museum and generally kick back in The City for a couple of days. Mission accomplished. Here’s the sundown view from our 8th floor (out of 9) room at the Hotel Carleton, our favorite, reasonably moderately priced place to stay in San Francisco. Very convenient location on Sutter Street. Close to art galleries, Japanese, Indonesian, Italian and Vietnamese food and just down from Nob Hill.
The De Young was terrific, inside and out. I had been very skeptical of the outside, but when we stood across the street in front of the new, mind-blowing Academy of Sciences building, we decided that it worked. There is a whole “orchard” of trees in the sunken bandshell area and they look great against the flat plane of the museum’s facade. The tower still looks a little odd, but the design needed that. Too bad I forgot to take some pictures. Sorry.
The inside is everything a great place for showing and viewing art should be. They have so much more room now, so there is a lot more to see. Lots of old favorites like the Sargents and some I don’t ever remember seeing like two by William Keith, a killer Thomas Hill and a couple of Diebenkorns. One of the best modern works was a suspended cube made out of charred wood from a southern black church which had been burned by an arsonist. It was an amazing visualization of objects in three dimensions. It’s called “Anti-mass” and if you go to the De Young, don’t miss it!
We then drove on out to Ocean Beach. Winter in California. We are so spoiled. Here’s a view north towards the Cliff House. It was t-shirt weather warm at four in the afternoon.
One the way back to the hotel, we drove through Golden Gate Park and ended up timing it perfectly for “magic light” as you can see from this photo of the Conservatory of Flowers. Got lots of pictures of cypress trees in great light too, but you’ll have to wait for the paintings.
The next day, we went to the Legion of Honor for more art, this time European (the De Young only has American art). I found, in both museums, that my eye and technical ability in painting has reached the point where I can probably seriously bore almost anyone talking about underpainting, in what order the colors were put down, how many strokes of the brush an area had, the variety of edges, etc. Here’s one of my new favorites from the Legion of Honor, “Portrait of a Miniaturist”, artist unknown. Stylistically, it could have been done last week. It was done quickly, with confidence and probably for the artist him or herself, maybe as a break from the much more tightly finished work that one usually sees from the time (late 18th century).
Had lunch at a fantastic Vietnamese place on Lombard St. called Pot of Pho. Pho being the “national soup” of Viet Nam. Then it was across the Golden Gate to the Marin Headlands, which I had never been to. We drove every road and went out to the ocean’s edge. It was another warm, sunny day and there were lots of people on bikes, at the beach and hiking the trails. The piece de resistance was on our way back, where we stopped for what has to be one of the all-time great views of San Francisco.
You can see why millions “leave their heart” in San Francisco.
I love to paint. I love to travel. I love animals. Put it all together with supportive husband who used to stack up the frequent flyer miles, and you get a nature artist who has been lucky enough to go to Kenya twice, Mongolia twice and North American wildlife ground zeros like Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons and Glacier to sketch, observe and photograph a mouthwatering variety of wildlife and their habitats.
The painting above is “Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Argali”, a 15″x30″ oil on canvas. The name translates as “Great Sun Rocks Sheep”. My first trip to Mongolia was in April of 2005 to participate in an Earthwatch Institute project “Mongolian Argali”, which are the world’s largest mountain sheep. A ram can weigh over 400 lbs. and have a horn curl of 65″. In this painting I felt that I was introducing a species that not many people have seen, so I wanted to show them in their environment in the reserve, which is a large area of rocky outcroppings rising up above the steppe, which you can see in the background. “Ikh Nart” is about a five to six hour drive southwest of Ulaanbaatar on a road that largely parallels the railway line to Beijing.
They blend in very well with the rocks and so I designed my composition with the idea that the viewer would see the lead ram first since its head is in high contrast against the background and the second ram, well, second.
For more on my travels, visit my website. For more on the reserve, visit the website listed to the right.
Got these pics just in time. A real winter storm is heading in, so bye-bye sunshine for awhile. The pond is still literally rough around the edges and the plantings are new, but great afternoon light covers a multitude of sins. Photo 1 is looking east, with the house in the background. Photo 2 is looking north and includes the greenhouse.
On the art front, here’s my latest giclee from an original oil painting. It’s called “Don’t Badger Me”. Go to my website at http://www.foxstudio.biz for more information and how to order.
Welcome to the blog of Susan Fox, contemporary nature artist!
I live about six hours north of San Francisco in Humboldt County. Our home, with my studio, is on an acre in a rural area called Dow’s Prairie, which is just north of McKinleyville, which is about ten minutes from Arcata and Humboldt State University. We’re about a mile from the beach (Clam Beach) and less than twenty minutes from Redwood National Park.
I’ll be posting new original oil paintings and limited edition prints. There will also be accounts of my various travels to do fieldwork in places like Mongolia, Kenya and Yellowstone National Park. I plan to also write about what an artist’s life is like. I enter a number of national juried shows each year and participate in 3-4 art festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also teach oil painting.
Besides my vocation as a professional artist, I have an abiding interest in environmental issues and animal welfare, so there will also be entries on those topics. Some gardening stuff will probably show up too. And interesting bits about life behind The Redwood Curtain.
On the environmental front, I’ve just contributed to the blog at http://www.petconnection.com on the topic of birdwatching. One comment that I’d like to repeat here was that everyone with any kind of a yard can help provide badly needed habitat for birds by providing food, water, cover and a place to raise young. Go to http://www.nwf.org, the website of the National Wildlife Foundation, for more and to learn how to have your garden become a certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat. I’ll be posting pictures of our acre as we bring it back from bare dirt to what we hope will be an irresistible hang out. We’ve already had a young raccoon, a skunk and lots of birds. Oh, and the bat that flew into and then back out of the living room this summer.
I guess I’d have to say that my avocation is animal welfare and rescue. I volunteer at our county animal shelter showing animals, doing meet-and-greets, helping socialize shy cats and walking dogs. I’m also doing my first kitten foster. Having been allergic to dogs, cats, horses, etc. as a kid, it’s heaven to be over it and able to work with dogs and cats. Horses I don’t know as well as I’d like to. We have four cats and a tricolor collie boy ourselves. Pictures and bios to come.
Gardening: Besides walking, the best exercise the average person can get. And since I sit at my easel when I work, it’s a great way to get moving. My taste runs to classic English-style. I love heritage old roses and also those from David Austin. Our house is almost at the end of our street in a microclimate that is noticeably warmer and less windy than other parts of our neighborhood. Everyone had a amazing berry harvest this year. Blueberries, raspberries, wild blackberries, it was non-stop. I wonder if this was true in other parts of California.
So, once again, welcome and I hope you find your time here worthwhile.