Sheltering in Place, Part 10

Draw Breath Facebook group drawing from May 4, the anniversary of the debut of the original Star Wars movie (May the 4th be with you!). The model wore a variety of Star Wars-themed outfits. iPad Pro, Autodesk Sketchbook, pen and brush tools

It’s been thirteen days since the last post! That went fast. The good news is that the county went to Stage 2 on Friday the 8th. This meant some “non-essential” businesses are being allowed to reopen if they can offer curbside pickup. Masks are now required in public along with continuing social distancing, but many outdoor activities are now encouraged. Since then our run of almost no cases since early April ended on the 9th. Two cases that day, four the next (including two in an assisted-living facility and three yesterday. All appear to be community transmission.

Peregrin and Hailey on the levee

This past Sunday we had good weather (it’s been raining quite a bit) and drove up to the Redwood Creek levee at Orick. We like it for walks because the collies can be off-leash, we can see all around us, there’s almost never been anyone else there and the gravel walkway ends at the mouth of the creek so we’re right near the ocean. It’s about a three mile round trip.

Peregrin or Mr. P or The P

Our collie boy, Peregrin, turned four on the 6th. Hailey’s father is one of his grandfathers. They’re both from Romany Collies up near Portland.

The pond is looking good, nice and full (pics next time). The yellow flag iris (not invasive in California) I introduced years ago on the west side of the pond has now moved to the east side (more sun?) and is happily blooming away. I’ll do some life studies, maybe a watercolor, on Friday if we do get the predicted break in the rain.

Yellow flag iris

As I mentioned above, it’s been raining for the last few days, which is great for the garden. During one of the breaks, the dogs started whining and circling around a tree behind a cinder block compost bin. I peered and peered up into the tree and then ran for my camera. When I got back I found myself looking into the eyes of a opossum! I took a bunch of photos then I and the collies went back into the house to give the opossum a chance to safely come down and move on. But I hope he/she stays around. We don’t have ticks here near the coast, which they are famous for eating, but help with snail and slug control would be greatly appreciated.

American opossom, our country’s only native marsupial

We’ve since taken the suet feeder down for the year since it attracts a family of crows who are welcome but not right next to the house. But last Thursday “our” black-headed grosbeak family showed up for the summer! And not just the male and female but what look like a male and a female juvenile, possibly babies from last year?

Black-headed grosbeak male

Not very many bees or butterflies yet. And we haven’t had many of the latter for a number of years. The bees are either bumblebees or another native species of honeybee or European honeybees, which means someone not too far away has hives.

But this big butterfly showed up for a short time three days ago. It’s a swallowtail but not sure what species since it’s so much lighter in color than the tiger swallowtail. It also looked a little beat-up around the edges.

Finally, here’s my latest entry (at the bottom) in the Inktober52 pen and ink drawing event. I really had fun with this one although I was not enthusiastic at first because I’d done the same praying mantis a month or so ago for the prompt “Green”. But I’ve just gotten a selection of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay inks and, although I have a couple of greens I decided the heck with it and used teal, red-violet and yellow instead.

Inktober52- Prompt: “Praying Mantis” Esterbrook 62 crowquill nib on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

You can see the rest of the drawings I’ve been doing since the first week in January, including the “gree” mantis on my Instagram page here.

Keeping A Record…

Yesterday, March 16, kind of feels like the first day of the rest of our lives. And, as is true for so many, we’re now sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. Fortunately, we’re in a northern California county that had one confirmed case back in January (a person who had just arrived back from an infected area of China) and none since then. But people here are preparing just the same since it’s almost sure to make another appearance.

Not sure why, but I’ve found that I want to record what it’s going to be like between now and when the “all clear” is sounded. I’ll be posting whenever I have something to say or show you. My husband and I are fortunate in that we are in good health and we work at home. He’s the Executive Director of a tech consortium with members in a variety of countries. Their April meeting has already been pushed back to June, now with the expectation that it will be pushed back again to fall at the earliest.

I’ve been an art professional of one kind or another (sign painter, graphic designer, illustrator, now fine art painter) for over forty years, so my art will be part of this record. I’m also an avid gardener and have an acre to play with. All our travel is cancelled so the garden will get my full attention, including the vegetable part of it. We also have six apple trees, three dozen blueberry bushes and a raspberry “patch”, so I’ll be posting photos through the year of all that. The blueberries are already flowering. We get between five and six gallon bags of berries from them every year.

Right now the clematis armandii and wallflowers are blooming, along with crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils and early tulips.

Clematis armandii in full bloom. The fragrance is wonderful!
English wallflowers I grew from seed
Daffodils in bloom

We share our home with two rough collies Hailey and Peregrin (“Lassie” dogs) and two cats, Michiko and Alexander A Really Great Cat.

Hailey, our seven year old tricolor and Peregrin, our 3.5 year old sable merle
Michiko in front and Alex in the back; dog toy box to the left

In other news, I’m participating in a fun art event this year called Inktober52. The original event, Inktober, calls on artists to create one black and white piece a day in the month of October. Inktober52, in its first year, is about creating one black and white piece a week for the entire year. I’m going to do my best to not miss a week and so far so good. All the finished art is posted first on Instagram here with the #inktober52 hashtag, including mine. I’m also posting to my Facebook public page here and on Pinterest here. Jake Parker, who invented and runs both events, sends out an email on Thursdays with the prompt for the next week, so everyone is doing the same subject, but in their own way. Hundreds of artists from all over the world are participating. So, sheltering in place or not, I’m able to connect with other artists.

Inktober52: Prompt: Tower

This is what I had to say about this week’s drawing: “After thrashing around I decided that I could use “tower” as a verb, but then what was towering over ? I tried a couple of different ideas and then “towering redwoods” came to mind. I grew up, and live in, Redwood Country so I dug out a photo I had of me standing in front of a huge coast redwood right by the road in Prairie Creek State Park. I started out intending to fully render the trunk, but had the thought of doing a “reverse”. Less time (a LOT less), maybe more visually interesting and different. I also create downloadable pdf coloring pages that I sell in my Etsy store and maybe this piece will end up there. I used a Gillott 659 crow quill nib (Joseph Pennell’s favorite), Platinum Carbon ink on Clearprint vellum⁣.”

Ikh Nart Sunset, Mongolia

Finally, for now, the 12×16″ oil painting above has been accepted into the Fusion Art Gallery online exhibition “Sunrises and Sunsets”! The location is one of my favorite places in Mongolia, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. I own my own ger with all the furnishings and have been allowed to set it up in the reserve and live there for a week or so and that’s when I get to see sights like this and take photos that I can turn into art.

The Art Life: When Life Hands You A Lemon…

24. me on location
On location near Erdenesogt, central Mongolia, last year

As the great old Rolling Stones song says “You can’t always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need.” In this case, what I wanted was to leave for seven weeks in Mongolia on Monday. What I got is having to cancel the trip due to having fallen last month and sustained a concussion. The decision came this past Monday when I woke up with a recurrence of mild symptoms, plus still feeling tired and a bit out of sorts. Mongolia, and the travel required to get there, is challenging when I’m at 100% and I am definitely not. Any problems en route or out in the deep countryside or even in UB could have been serious, possibly requiring an emergency air evacuation to a country with western-standard medical care. It is not a place to test “What can possibly go wrong?”. And I was struggling and not quite getting there with mentally gearing up for packing and the attention and focus that requires. So I did the adult, responsible thing *sigh* and cancelled.

on location trinidad
This summer I’ll be doing this

mud road
Instead of this. Summer in Mongolia (eastern part, three years ago), which is the rainy season. But don’t get me wrong. With a great driver like I had on this trip I almost always get a kick out of “local conditions” and this was no problem. We both looked at each other and grinned when he suddenly lost traction on all four wheels at once and did almost a 180 in the Land Cruiser. Good times

The “need” part comes in with the fact that this will my first full summer at home since 2007. And, after three exhibitions in four years and, in retrospect, a little too much travel, I find that a break with a long stretch of unstructured time and no non-discretionary deadlines (there are juried competitions I want to enter) to be very desirable. Lemonade.
So, what will I do now with all this “free” time? Well, I’ll miss having gone on my 12th trip to what has become my second home, that’s for sure. The prospect of not seeing friends, well-loved places, new places, being with the Mongols and painting and sketching on location there is kinda hard.

garden 3
Gardening is my main hobby. Great exercise for great rewards

OTOH, I have time now to let it rip in the studio, trying out new media and ways of working, experimenting with my painting, drawing and painting “on location” in my own garden. Having time to paint with my friends in the Sunday Paintout group. Sketching at our local zoo. Taking day trips to the beach or river with my husband and our two collies. Doing training with one year old Peregrin that he needs and deserves that was going to be delayed until I got back. Spending lots of time in the garden and my propogation projects (probably will do a plant sale this fall). Getting to go to a family reunion in August on the Oregon Coast that I was going to miss. Working on marketing/career stuff that’s been beckoning for quite awhile now. Sitting on the patio in the afternoon sun with a beer in a pleasantly vegetative state. But also, retrospectively, recharging from the past four years. And, of course, planning my 2018 trip to the Land of Blue Skies…

P&H rope
Peregrin and Hailey, our rough collies

But, wait! There’s news! In either December or January (I’ll announce the date when I have it), I have been invited by the Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Advisory Committee to be one of the speakers for their Conservation Lecture Series. The title of my talk will be “Art and Conservation in the Land of Blue Skies”.


Around The Garden….

Hailey, our three year old rough collie girl and thirteen year old Eowyn...buddies
Hailey, our three year old rough collie girl and thirteen year old Eowyn…buddies

Spring is here and the bulbs are blooming. I’ve been posting quite a bit about the upcoming group exhibition “Wildlife Art: Field to Studio”. Well, the paintings are all done and framed. The packing crates are out.

Paintings and crates in my studio
Paintings and crates in my studio

I’m taking a break from the easel and getting some other tasks done. So I thought I’d share some of what’s been going on in the garden…

Steller's Jay
Steller’s Jay


More primroses
More primroses

Evening light and red alders
Evening light and red alders

"Tahiti" daffodils
“Tahiti” daffodils

Red-shouldered hawk
Red-shouldered hawk up on a power line next to our property

"Apricot Impression" tulips, looking a little blowsy
“Apricot Impression” tulips, looking a little blowsy, but still pretty


Species tulip "Turkestanica"
Species tulip “Turkestanica”

"Red Impression" and "Coleur Cardinale" tulips
“Red Impression” and “Coleur Cardinale” tulips

Juried Show Deadlines Coming Up! So Here Are Some Pictures Of Our Cats…

Eowyn (2)Eowyn is the senior of our three cats at age 12. She’s mellowed over the years, but could probably have killed a Nazgul in her time. Her nicknames have included My Mean Widdle Cat and Mistress Mayhem. We found each other at the local humane society when she was about four months old, having been picked up as a stray on the street. (I was facing the full-length mirror behind where I sit in front of my easel, so that’s how I ended up in the shot.)

MichikoMichiko means “precious” in Japanese. She’s a tamed feral about age ten. We got her from the county shelter, where she was part of a feral litter that had been brought in. It’s been a long road for her to become a house cat and learn to trust. Her behavior was strictly patterned for many years. Recently, and we think it’s because of the calming energy our collie, Hailey, has added to the mix, Michiko has finally started to relax and even have little crazy fits, dashing around the house and batting at a catnip mouse. She’s so pretty I didn’t really care if she ever became a lap cat or wanted to be petted. Just having her around and giving her a safe home was enough. As it happens she sits on my lap and likes pets and skritches now.

Alex (1)This is Alexander A Really Great Cat. He was born at the county shelter and fostered in a home with other cats. He’s the first one we’ve had who actually has social cat skillz. He was a scruffy little thing who needed a bath immediately, which he took without a blink. He’s five now and has grown into this quite handsome guy who weighs around 16 pounds. He goes limp when picked up so our vet figured out that he is part ragdoll. He also has the long body. He’s a big lug of a cuddle bunny who has also killed black rats with a single bite to the spine….

And a BONUS! Here’s our two year old tricolor collie girl, Hailey, looking pretty down by the pond. She watches over everything that goes on on the property, including the kittys, who all trust and like her.

Hailey by pond

A New Dog! And Winter Birds At Our Pond/Bathing Pool

Hailey (Romany's Hadley)- our new 10 month old collie girl from Romany Collies
Hailey, our new 10 month old collie girl from Romany Collies

We haven’t had winter yet here on the north coast of California. The storm door has never opened and there’s been, until today, only one round of rain in our rainy season. It was really cold for a few weeks, but recently we’ve had warm, record-setting days when it’s gotten up over 70F.

But our winter birds are around and I got some nice photos of them bathing in our pond a few weeks ago. I’ve posted some of my favorites.

The big news is that we have a new collie! Our dear old collie boy died unexpectedly back in October and it was a hard loss for us. Being without a collie in the house left a big hole in our hearts. After searching around for a responsible breeder we found Romany Collies, located up near Portland, Oregon. I contacted them and it turned out that they had exactly what I was looking for….a older rough collie puppy. We brought her home on Janauary 13. Hailey is 10 months old, which is perfect. She’s a good girl with a fun personality, a solid temperament and is as sweet as can be. We love her lots.

Hailey on her first outing to Redwood Creek. Her recall is already reliable enough that we could let her off-lead.
Hailey on her first outing to Redwood Creek. Her recall is already reliable enough that we could let her off-lead.

She also is pretty entertaining. This is known as "Collie Pose" (although I know other dogs do it too)
She also is pretty entertaining. This is known as “Collie Pose” (although I know other dogs do it too).

We like to sit down by our pond in the afternoons after work and during the day on the weekends. A variety of birds are often around including, in the winter, a black phoebe, flickers, juncos, sparrows, robins and chestnut-backed chickadees. I recently caught the last two at bathtime. The robin was really enthusiastic!

robin 1robin 2robin 3robin 4robin 5robin 6All done!

chickadee 1chickadee 2