San Francisco

The Gardens at Grace Cathedral,
San Francisco

I posted this painting in progress a few posts back. I think it is finished - I will have to live with it a few more days to be sure.

I'm catching up a bit on real life today - painting, grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the fridge, attending 7th grade basketball.

It is snowing here tonight. Seriously snowing. This will get me feeling Christmasy, and that's a good thing.

Thanks for hanging in there with me for 30 days of blogging. Although I missed a couple, I was thinking about you!


Bike Ink Drawing

An ink drawing done on location a few summers ago.

I'm going through old sketchbooks for painting subjects, class lessons, and for the fun of seeing them again. I've gone back and read parts of my blog also. It is interesting, isn't it, how we (ME anyway) keep going along on the same path over and over. Fortunately, I like my path. If I didn't like it, would I make the effort to change old habits?

We did not start our bathroom project today. We decided we needed to know a LOT more about step two before we start step one. There are a few more decisions to be made. We also have to make very sure that we are talking the same language - you know, the Mars and Venus thing.


Art Supplies

Painting the Altoids Tin Palettes

A very quiet day here today. We discussed and planned (argued about) the bathroom re-do.
We wandered the aisles of the Home Depot for awhile.

I think we are going to start tearing up the bathroom tomorrow. I often say how much I love demolition, but this is making me a little nervous. Oh well, no guts, no glory - right?


Back to the Beginning

Cheese and Crackers

For two days we have worked our way through Thanksgiving food, and now we are ending up back where we started - with the appetizers. No one complained when I hauled the same food out for every meal. I guess we all need to get our fill of Turkey and the fixings, because we might not get it again for another year. We picked the carcass clean and everyone has gone home. Maybe that's why they went home - I kept serving them the same food over and over.


Happy Thanksgiving

We had a very busy day - lots of people, LOTS of food, lots of noise, lots of fun. Now we are settling down for the night - and listening to the wind and sleet.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.



Yet Another Salt and Pepper Still Life

Nothing much to paint on the table at Applebee's. However the food was very good, and it sure wasn't crowded. I think everyone else was home tending to their turkeys.

With the help of Eldest Grandson, I just put the last of the pies in the oven. When we stopped at the grocery store for a couple of things, the check-out guy said people are still buying frozen turkeys. This is zero hour for buying anything. What are they going to do with those turkeys?

This little still life is the first in my new sketchbook. What is it about the first and last pages??!!




Ivy on the Coffee Table

I think I have painted this pot of ivy before. This is the last watercolor page in my red sketchbook. So tomorrow I have to decide whether to go back to my summer class sketchbook (the spiral I use because it is the same format as the sketchbooks my students use) OR break out the brand new spiffy handmade book I made a few days ago. Sounds as if I have made up my mind, doesn't it?

This painting is really pretty dull - not too much of a grand finale for the little sketchbook. I drew it quickly in ink, and when I do that I tend to fill in the color in a color-book style. I just woke up from a little evening nap (I had to try out a new queen size fleece blanket which was really too large and twisty for couch napping), I was blurry eyed, the light wasn't good . . . and so on.

Tomorrow in my spiffy new sketchbook I intend to do a masterpiece. Well, maybe not tomorrow, but it's coming.


Watercolor Classes


I have posted the info for these classes on my Class Site.



Afternoon Snack

I love the boxes that tangerines and clementines come in.

I have one page left to paint in the red polka dot sketchbook. I will start next on the book I just finished. It is a little smaller than the 6 X 6 size I have been using, but with a two page spread across the facing pages, it's not bad. It is a little thick for the page dimensions, which makes it a little more difficult to open flat, but I am only going to experiment with one step at a time. This time it was the kind of paper, next time may be the dimensions.

Okay. Moving on. I think for the month of November I have worn out the topics of Glen Ellen, California, Jack London (watching a documentary tonight. Thanks, Karen) and handmade sketchbooks. Thanksgiving is a natural. We'll see where that takes us.



I have absolutely nothing to post today. Since it is "Post Every Day in November" I have to at least say something, but I have nothing to show.

My daughter is a writer, so of course she reads writers' blogs, and I think, "But there are no pictures!". I realize a lot of people blog without visuals - but to be perfectly honest - I don't read them.

So, picture me helping my husband pick up six layers of old shingles from the garage and load them into the truck to take them to the dump. Wouldn't six layers be more than a hundred year's worth!? I am not a roofer, but arent six layers just wrong?! Picture me taking a nap.


Can You Take It?

Can You Take It? One More Journal?
After spending the time and money on the workshop, I wanted to be sure I could make these on my own, and I wanted to make sure I could figure out how to use watercolor paper in them.

My friend Karen (we took the workshop together) came over bright and early this morning, and we started bookmaking. The text block is easy, the covers are easy, but putting it all together is the tricky part.

It is pretty labor intensive - it took all day, and we had so much fun, I can't fix dinner now. I think we're going to have to go out. Pity.



Clementine, Tangerine, or Whatever

As I was eating this tangerine and looking through an "old" sketchbook, I came across this drawing I had done of a clementine. I should spend a little more time doing pencil drawings - I love doing them.

It is just a little after four in the afternoon, and it is nearly pitch dark. The street lights aren't on, but the lights are on in the houses up and down the street. My studio feels nice and cozy, but I would really prefer another hour or so of daylight. There were LARGE black clouds over the Bay all afternoon. Oh, no - could there be snow in those!!!???

I met some old friends for lunch today - some women I met when we first moved here 20 years ago. It's a good idea to catch up with non-painting friends once in awhile. There is a whole world out there that I am not paying any attention to. We just can't participate in all of it, can we?

A couple of days ago I had lunch with a friend that has written a beautiful book on art, color, etc. We talked about painting, writing, and publishing, and it has me thinking about doing another book. Well, I always think about it, some times more seriously than other times. Writing a book is kind of obsessive, and I guess I just like being in that mode.

See my FIRST book here. My one and only - so far.



More Journals
We can't stop making them.

This afternoon I went to my friend, Cathy's, where she was helping some friends make journals. I love to see the variety of colors and patterns every time anyone gets together to make journals. The possibilities are endless. I am not showing the end papers/fly leaves in this picture, but they add even more color and pattern.

I haven't taken the time to make another journal since the Ann Arbor workshop, and I am afraid I will forget if I don't do it soon!

What a great "art day" this was. In class this morning, I had my students working on focal points/center of interest. We were looking through art books and finding the focal points of paintings and discussed how the artist arrived at those focal points - what did they decide to leave out. "Leaving out" seems to be a big part of it. Leaving something out can make a big statement - and be a big decision.

After class, I went to join the girls making journals, and of course we talked art all afternoon. We had a delicious dinner prepared by one of the girls. We sat in Cathy's cozy dining room and talked more art. Relaxing and inspiring.

I'm fired up - so many things going through my head - journals, paintings, drawings, workshops. . . .


Glen Ellen Street Scene

Glen Ellen, California
Three different versions of the same view.
I have already posted the two paintings, and I always think it is fun to compare a photograph of a location with my sketchbook version. The sketchbook version is always the closest to how the place really felt to me. The "serious" paintings are always a little too "dressed up".

In my sketchbooks a few little marks can remind me later of how a place smelled, felt, sounded (tasted, but I'm trying not to blog about food all the time) and how I REALLY thought it looked. A snap shot is just that - a SNAP shot. It just doesn't take long enough for me to engage all the senses.

Carrying a sketchbook around (and PAINTING in it) is such an enjoyable part of my life! It enriches everything. When your life influences your art, your art influences your life - or something like that.

Just paint - you don't even have to show anyone. But you'll probably want to.


Zenith Radio

Z is for Zenith
Back in February and March, I did a series of alphabet illustrations. For some reason I never did Z. So here it is. One of my readers has often reminded me - so this one's for you.

This is one of the many radios my husband has all over the house - not that there is anything wrong with that. This is a late forties Zenith. The sketch is very small - maybe two inches square. After doing these sketches last winter, I was going to go on with another series, but I guess I got a little side-tracked. Maybe this winter would be a good time to do that. Series are always fun to do.

Well, the sketch is pretty boring, but hey, it's a Z, and you've been waiting months for this.


My Desk

Cozying Up For Winter

Spellcheck says there is no such thing as "cozying", but we know there is, don't we? Especially those of us who live in Northern Michigan.

A couple of months ago, I moved a lot of my art supplies into this desk. I wanted it useful and colorful. It makes me happy every time I come in the room, or see it from the back door. I left the file a little larger than I usually do, so if you want to click on the photograph to enlarge it so you can take a closer look, go ahead.

I spent most of the day clearing up a couple of projects so I can move on to whatever is next. I have lots of things that could be next, it's just a matter of deciding where to start. Maybe I should put all my plans and ideas in a jar, pull one out and work on it until it is finished and . . . Okay. It's clear to me now. WORK ON IT UNTIL IT IS FINISHED.


Blue and White Dish

Blue and White Dish With Garlic and a Cut Lemon

This is a small watercolor sketch in my journal of some of my favorite things ~ garlic, lemon, and blue and white china. This is just a quick little painting so I would have something to post.

When we went downstate last weekend for the book-making workshop, we went to a great antique shop. I'm a sucker for blue and white, and the six-sided shape of this makes it a little different to draw.

Last night's maple glazed chicken breasts turned out great. The glaze/marinade is actually for a pork loin ~ recipe here.

Speaking of food. Aren't I always? Right now I am off to the kitchen to fix tacos. Hope everyone is having a good weekend. The weather is pretty nice here ~ so nice in fact that my husband is roofing the garage and I have been shamed (because he is working so hard and the weather is so nice) into getting some things done in the yard that I was going to let slide. Just a few things ~ I don't want anyone to expect this fall clean-up every year.



In Progress

Grace Cathedral Garden Painting in Progress

I'm working on this from a journal sketch I did in California. I have a lot of students asked what the process is from sketchbook to watercolor paper. There are various ways to do it - one is, of course, to just draw it again, but that never works for me. Because I was pretty happy with the composition of the journal watercolor sketch, I simply traced the important shapes onto a piece of tracing paper, scanned it, enlarged it to the size of the wc paper, and printed it out (a copy shop will do this for you too), then traced it onto the watercolor paper.
Before I started to paint, I worked out all the light, dark, and middle values on the enlarged sketch. It is very easy to trace a sketch onto wc paper at a window or on a lightbox. The watercolor paper is much more transparent than you might guess.

Okay, here I go. I'm still working on that to-do list (they aren't supposed to END, are they!?) and we're having guests for dinner tonight. I am trying a maple glaze on chicken breasts - we'll see how that goes.


Figs and Produce

Glen Ellen, CA

This painting was done from the journal sketch I posted a few days ago. It's a watercolor done on Arches 140 cold press, 11" X 15". After I photographed the painting, I grayed down the fence in the background to set it back a little more.

I could almost smell the eucalyptus trees as I painted this. The scent is very strong in this area of California.

I accomplished quite a bit today ~ mailed out the summer schedule for the Bay View publication, delivered my card order ~ even went to the grocery store! ETC. I have been blobbing around for so long, that it feels good to be catching up. Of course the blobbing felt good too.


Food Blogging Again

A Huge Breakfast the Morning After Having Nothing to Eat but Potato Chips and Milk for Nearly 24 Hours.

We really know how to live, don't we?

This is one of those "quantity" not "quality" posts that I squeeze in when I'm doing the "Blog Everyday For the Month of November", or whatever it is. The chips and milk story may be useful toward the end of the month, so I'm not saying any more.

I tried to show some things I'm working on, but nothing seems to be working out just right tonight.

In class today we worked on laying in the shadows in Manganese blue (everything that wasn't going to be left white) and then filling in the colors and details. The class did a great job with it! My brain is too fuzzy to explain right now, and it would make a good post someday with a little step by step demo.

As I was plowing through my to-do list today after class, I found out that I have to have my summer schedule (part of it at least) turned in SOON for publication. OK, I can do that.

I'm heading for bed now. Who's going to remind me to do the step by step demo?


Kids Painting

The Kids Painting at Cherry Park
Very quick sketches of wiggly grandkids painting.

We were actually at Paul Moore Park in San Jose, California, but it is on Cherry Street, so it's Cherry Park.

I'm not that great at figures so if the figure is in constant motion that just gives me another excuse for not doing it well.

Running through my to-do list today, and it is going quite well. I am running on empty now, however, and still have a couple of things to do. I just did a little painting to put on a card and it was the most hideous thing I've ever done, so maybe at this point folding the laundry is the way to go.


Handmade Book

Fresh From the Bookmaking Workshop.
All the struggling I have done trying to make hand bound journals ~ this weekend I went to a workshop and learned how to do it correctly! We all know doing something correctly is so much easier. All the time I was stitching the signatures I kept thinking, "I'm doing this! I'm doing this, and it is so easy now!" The class was from 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. and we were exhausted when we were finished.

So seven and a half hours and $130 later I have a beautiful hand bound book. That $130 doesn't include shoe shopping the day before, and buying extra book materials that I just couldn't live without. It was a perfect girls' weekend.

Well, so much for blogging every day in November, huh? I will really try to stay on track for the rest of the month. And I think I am home for awhile. I have info to get out for my next class session, a card order to fill, some new cards to design for an order, and some things to get ready for the Art Center Christmas show. And of course, I have to stay one step ahead of my Wednesday class ~ they just get better and better every week.



Dinner for Four at Giorgios
San Jose, California

This place has linen napkins, so we were careful how we splashed around with our watercolors. It was a very crowded little table with pizza (best pizza ever) a big salad bowl, bread baskets, drink pitcher, many plates, and three sets of paints and sketchbooks!

So here I am only into the first week of blogging everyday for a month - and I MISSED yesterday. Last night was an "author event" at my husband's library. The author was David Oliver Relin, who wrote Three Cups of Tea. It was a very interesting evening, starting off with a Central Asian menu for dinner, and then David's inspirational presentation, then a book signing. I have been asking myself ever since sitting down to dinner with him, "Cath, what have YOU done lately?" Everyone was asking themselves that by the time they left the auditorium. I'm just hoping the inspiration lasts awhile. I have a very short attention span.


Rainy Day Still Life

"Baby" Fruit from the Backyard.
A Rainy Day Still Life.

I was painting one day after school with the California grandkids. It was too rainy to go out and paint, so we picked some very small citrus fruit in the backyard, along with a trumpet vine-type flower, and set up a little still life on the coffee table. It was very colorful and we had a great time.

For my class this morning I did a demonstration using the Grace Cathedral watercolor sketch in my previous post. I had worked out a value sketch and had it ready to go on watercolor paper. I was just going to show a few things to get them started on their own projects, but they wanted me to keep going. That class! They ask the best questions, and really make me think about what and how I am painting. Sometimes I just paint along without giving it too much thought, but when I have to give them a reason - that's better yet.

I'll post the painting when it is finished.

While I painted, we talked about California and listened to music from China Town in San Francisco. I'm stretching that vacation out as long as I can.


Garden Area at Grace Cathedral

A Small watercolor done in the garden and labyrinth area
of Grace Cathedral
in San Francisco.
I wasn't about to tackle the Cathedral itself in my little sketchbook - and that's just why I use a little sketchbook - so I won't have to tackle the big stuff.

I think I would like to live in that apartment on the right - the one with the fire escape across the window. Just the way the light was going through it. It was calling my name. But no one else was interested in living there with me, so . . .

It was a nice day to do China Town and walk UP THE HILL to the Cathedral.

I am working on a value sketch of this scene now. I may turn it into a "serious" painting.

The sun is shining off and on today, and the Bay is a beautiful dark blue. Very fall-like, moving into winter. That's okay - bring it on!


Glen Ellen Street


A small sketch in my journal, looking down the street in Glen Ellen, California. I am working on a larger painting of this view. It is such fun to paint vacation pictures ~ it takes you back to that place and time.

This afternoon I was supposed to go to District Court Jury Selection for the months of November and December. I figured selecting a lot of jurors for a lot of trials was going to take awhile. About two hours before leaving, the court clerk called and said, "Never Mind." Or words to that effect. So I cranked up my music and continued painting. But in the back of my mind there was this little "Gee. They don't want me?"


Moss Covered Tree

Moss Covered Tree in the Jack London State Park.
Glen Ellen, CA
Mentally I am still in California, and yes, I am still obsessing just a little bit over Jack London.

There was moss EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING in the woods here. It covered the houses, the trees, the rock that marked Jack and Charmian London's grave . . . . the pathways were muddy, rocky and and a little slippery . . . . and it was verrrry verrrry quiet. I even started thinking about Charmian living here in one of the big stone houses alone for forty years after Jack died. Not my problem. Besides she had an affair with Houdini, so I guess she wasn't moping around back here in the spooky woods by herself.

For the third year I have signed up for the "blog Every Day in November Challenge" so you can expect quantity not quality. As you can see already.