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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Foggy Morning at Ocean Beach

Tuesday morning I decided to take a walk on the trail along the Great Highway out at Ocean Beach, despite the fog. It wasn't too windy, so it wasn't too cold out there. I took this photo of our most common gull, Western gull, one second before it took off. The plumage on this gull is nice and fresh. It almost looks pretty.

This is my favorite house out at the beach. I call it the Mondrian House, for obvious reasons. There was a raven soaring over the house as I took the photo. You can see how the houses out at the ocean take a beating from the elements. There are some funky houses out there, as the residents are a collection of surfers, bikers and families, all living on the edge, as it were.

Someone must have collected these shoes on the beach and left them lined up on the cement bench just in case their owners returned to look for them. How thoughtful. It did make me wonder if the owners simply forgot that they had worn shoes that day or what?

I love the color palette here on this row of houses. It's one of my favorite things about San Francisco, how the houses are so colorful. It makes the city really pretty. The houses are attached, like ours is too.

This house stands out from the others, as it looks a lot older. It must have been built before the others on the block. I love all the Victorian details on it. But I wonder what's up with that left-hand window which is covered up?

A solitary Red-tailed hawk rested watchfully on this street light. She was there when I started my walk, and still there when I ended it, standing sentinel.

P.S. I forgot to write about this woman I saw out at the beach. She was reading from a piece of paper in one hand, had a Grande Nonfat Latte in the other hand, and she was listening to something on her ipod while power walking on the trail. Now that's what I call multi-tasking!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Wild" Weekend

We had a sort of "wild" weekend. We went up to Glen Ellen and visited Jack London State Historic Park. Steve took this nice photo of a wall of a former winery on his ranch. It has a lot of lichens and stuff growing on it. We toured the House of Happy Walls, where London's wife lived after his death. It's filled with artifacts they collected in their extensive travels to exotic places like the Solomon Islands, the Yukon and Hawaii. This was pretty adventurous for the early 1900s. He also worked as a reporter for San Francisco newspapers and traveled to Europe, Yokohama, Vera Cruz and Korea. London did a heck of a lot in his 40 years of life.

We also watched Into the Wild on DVD. This film tells the real life story of Christopher McCandless, who ventured out on his own into the Alaskan wilderness in search of ??? This Sean Penn directed film is based on the book by Jon Krakauer. It's an intense, touching and disturbing story. I loved the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder. (Isn't someone's birthday coming up...hint, hint.)

This morning there were a number of cool birds in the birdbaths as I was making my tea. I just love these Townsend's warblers. They are hard to capture in a photograph, as they are very small and flitty birds. They don't hold still for very long.
The Santa Barbara daisies look nice in these photos too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Artist's Rep Loses All in NYC Crane Collapse

Video of Richard Solomon talking about the losses.

I heard about this crane collapse on the news last week, but I just heard that Richard Solomon's office was destroyed. He represents many fine illustrators. He explains in the youtube video that a lot of artwork was destroyed in the accident. Scary. Luckily, he and his staff were not there at the time of the collapse. This emphasizes the need to have off-site backups of your work.

I've been wanting to plug my favorite font site: My Fonts. They have this cool feature called What the Font? You can scan a piece of type and save it as a jpeg and upload it to their site and it will figure out what font it is for you. I love this, since I lack the patience to discern the subtle differences between some fonts. To me, it's like trying to identify the different species of Empidonax flycatchers. Too much work.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hoodies at Stow Lake

Went up to Stow Lake this morning to see if I could photograph the Hooded mergansers that have been hanging out there lately. This gopher was poking out of his hole, sunning himself. Taking a break from destroying the park plants.

Here is one of the male Hooded mergansers swimming along with his crest puffed up.
This one hauled out on a log to sit in the sun for a bit.

Here's a coot coming up to check out the hoodie.

I got one nice shot of the two males at once. They were both diving and swimming around a lot, so it was hard to get both of them in one shot. I saw one female, but she didn't come over to this shallow area where I could get a close shot.

I like the sun on this male with his crest a little down. They were folding their crests down in preparation to dive for food, making themselves more streamlined.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Embarassment of Riches

My friend Diane invited me to go see Bouquets to Art at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park today. I'm overwhelmed. It's a fundraiser held every year to benefit the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. They've been doing it for over 20 years, and this is the first time I have ever attended, but I tell ya, it won't be the last. I was blown away by it.

Diane is a docent at the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. She was leading a walk for schoolchildren this morning, so I met her at the arboretum. Diane had a few things to take care of, so she directed me to go smell the daphne in the Asian section. I only had to follow my nose to find it. It has an amazing scent. A woman pushing a stroller asked me what smelled so good and I pointed to the daphne.

Then I noticed a Red shouldered hawk fly into a nearby tree, so I snapped a few shots of it while it watchfully monitored the gopher holes below. I took some pictures of flowers in the arboretum before we headed over to the museum and took in the gorgeous displays of flower arrangements designed to complement specific pieces of art in the museum's collection. We saw Dede Wilsey with two other wealthy-looking men in one of the galleries. One of them said, "Hello, ladies." to me and Diane. Some of my shots came out blurrier than I would have liked. But I put together a slide show which is here. If you are getting this by email, you might have to go to the blog site to see it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Call it, Friend-o

Here's what I spent the afternoon working on. Steve read in USA Today that "I Drink Your Milkshake!" had lost the #1 spot for movie catchphrase to "Call it, Friendo" from No Country for Old Men.

Here's the artwork:
I watched this clip of this scene on youtube, although I haven't seen the movie. Javier Bardem is mighty creepy in it, forcing this old gas station owner to call heads or tails. It was fun drawing the quarter and trying to get the type right. I put a link in the sidebar to my Cafe Press shop that I set up with these t-shirts. I'm hoping they will do as well as the Milkshake t-shirts have done.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pink Spring Flowers - more from UC Botanical Garden

California redbud, Cercus occidentalis. This shrubby tree has gorgeous red buds that look ready to burst into bloom. Here's a picture of one blooming. Great color. I'm thinking this would be a nice addition to the yard.

This beauty is a malva rose or Lavatera assurgentiflora. It is in the mallow family.

These hanging clusters of flowers are pink flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum glutinosum. The link here is to the Yerba Buena Nursery, which is off Skyline Blvd. just south of where Woodside Road crosses it. It's a very cool place to visit and a great place to see and purchase California native plants. The road driving in is narrow and it drops off very steeply, so drive carefully. They're having a tea party there on March 15.

Lastly, here is prickly-phlox or Leptodactylon californicum. It does look like the leaves are prickly.
No pink flowers here, but I thought this was sort of interesting. It's mistletoe (as in kissing under the...) growing out of the trunk of a cedar. It is a parasitic plant.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Field Trip - UC Botanical Garden

Prickly pear cactus with fruit and ceanothus flowers.

Sunday we took a field trip to the East Bay. We had lunch at Sea Salt on San Pablo in Berkeley. They specialize in seafood and were serving the brunch menu. Steve had the BBQ Eel 'Banh Mi' with cabbage slaw and house-made potato chips. It's a Vietnamese style sandwich made with unagi, which is the eel like you get when you order sushi. (This was a pretty bold choice, I thought.) I ordered the Fried Cod Cheeks with crispy potatoes, black olive, parsley and two poached eggs. Seems like "cheeks"of all sorts are very popular these days on trendy menus. Steve's slaw was great. I couldn't put my finger on what the seasoning was, but it tasted unique. My entree was good, although a bit too oily for my taste. The place was pretty nice. They have an outdoor eating area in the back. It was a little cool, but still nice enough to sit outside. Michael Bauer gave the place a pretty good review.

After lunch we headed over to the UC Botanical Garden. It is located in Strawberry Canyon, in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. What a tranquil spot. We enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere and I practiced using the macro option on our little digital camera to capture some spring blooms. As soon as we stepped into the "California" section, we noticed a garter snake wriggling away under some plants. There were lots of these Coast range fence lizards.

I took pictures of the manzanita, I think it was Arctostaphylos densiflora. There are different varieties there. Here are the pretty delicate white bell-shaped flowers:

Here you see the ripe red berries:

And I was trying to get a shot of the light shining through the peeling red bark of a manzanita bush, and managed to capture a spider's web as well.

It was a good place to go to view some blooming California native plants, since I'm trying to decide what to plant in my backyard. There were quite a few birds: Bushtits, Ruby-crowned kinglets, Chestnut-backed chickadees, Red-shafted flickers, Turkey vultures, and some singing birds whose songs I did not recognize. Also, there were Anna's hummingbirds displaying. I saw this article in the paper recently that two UC Berkeley students recently determined that they make the rather loud sound with their wings, instead of vocally, which I think is really cool.

We had to cut our visit short because they close the gate at 5:00 sharp. It was too bad, because of today being the first day of "springing forward" the clocks, we got an even later than usual start and there was still a lot of daylight left. We hated to leave. Tomorrow I will post the pink wildflower photos.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another One Completed

I painted another kokeshi pair today. These are sorta cute, but I'm not sure they are really a pair because the boy has a different base and the eyes and noses are different. The ones with the round eyes remind me of Charlie Brown. There is a George Schultz Museum here in N. California, which I visited last summer with my cousin Christina. She and her mom are big Snoopy fans, both of them even have Snoopy tattoos. They tried showing their Snoopy tattoos to get in free to the museum, but the ticket sellers were unimpressed.

Illustration Friday, Gardening

This is an illustration I did in scratchboard and watercolor. My rep at the time wanted me to do a "person in a landscape" and this is what I came up with. I have this painting framed and hanging up in my house.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

First One Done

I got one of the kokeshi doll paintings done. I haven't painted in awhile, and at first I had a wave of panic, thinking, "Oh no, I've forgotten how to paint!" But it came back to me. My old hair dryer I have used since about 1988 for drying watercolors started to make a bad burning smell and it bit the dust. It's ok, I had a backup. My aunt Ruth told me that she got the first set of dolls in Sendai and that they are probably not a wedding pair, since the brides traditionally wear black.

Here's my treasure chest of watercolors. There's just something about tubes of paint that gives me almost a visceral thrill. I have these cool wooden boxes that my friend Jack gave me years ago that were from Cocolat. They were originally filled with the best chocolate truffles. Alice Medrich sold the company to some guys who turned out to be Scientologists and they ran it into the ground. Too bad. So this is really like a treasure chest, especially when you consider the cost of art supplies too.

I have this really ancient watercolor palette that I still am using since art school days. The plastic is brittle and cracking, but I just can't give it up. And the paint on the handles of my favorite brushes is cracking off, but I can't find these particular brushes in any of the art supply stores anymore, so I just keep using them. I remember once during a drawing group session, when I looked at this old box of conte crayons that I had kept for decades, and said to the model, "I have art supplies older than you!"

Ok, now onto the 5 more paintings...

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Family's Growing

The mailwoman arrived at my door today with the 4 kokeshi in the center that I ordered last week, not from ebay. The ones on the flanks my friend Gordon gave to me years ago, and I just realized last week that they are nesting dolls. I thought they were just smaller versions of the ones I had before, but they have 2 more dolls inside. So cute. The two smaller ones in the middle are salt and pepper shakers. Now I have a whole party.

This type of folk craft appeals to me. I had a great time at the Museum of Interntional Folk Art in Santa Fe, NM. I especially love the Girard Collection there.

Vintage Kokeshi

My aunt Ruth lived in Japan in the 1950s when her husband was in the Army and was stationed there. She sent us back some cool things from Japan, including this pair of kokeshi dolls. These hand-painted wooden dolls are vintage noddler kokeshi, probably from the northern spa towns of Miyagi prefecture. These dolls were produced for tourists, and I think this pair is considered a wedding pair. They are wearing ornate kimono. I have always loved these dolls, and have used them in my artwork in the past.

Last week I went a little kokeshi-mad and started searching on the internet for more like these. I plan to create a kokeshi pattern line for gift wrap, fabric, etc. I started bidding on all these kokeshi dolls on ebay. I can see how collecting things like this can easily become an obsession. Luckily, for my bank acount, I lost out to higher bidders.

These dolls are considered "vintage" because they are mid-century (20th century.) So am I. I am definitely feeling a little "vintage" today, having had an MRI done on my knee, where I have worn out the cartilege.