Sunshine on the back deck… finally.
Storms, Birdsong, Light returning… all present.
Favourite travel watercolours – lost since 2013!! – Found! Amazing what moving the furniture in the Thinking room will turn up!
Botticelli. Airy and graceful, like Spring.
Day One in Rome must have been a bit of an adjustment for my sweet, patient, globetrotting friends. From the second I clunked out the door my eyes were filled with the spectacle of light and texture and the astonishing age of ancient stones – and I did not want to miss a single inch of it.
Our street, Lisa, Paolo and Max
I probably took 45 minutes just to get to the end of our block – and not only because of the cobbles (have I mentioned the cobbles??) I couldn’t roll five feet without stopping for photos, and I’m pretty sure that is not the usual rate of exploration for my friends. But no one rushed me, and in fact we all found our rhythm – Max ranging ahead to scout, Paolo a bit ahead subtly directing Vespas and cars around us, and Lisa – well she was behind me. I have a feeling she didn’t mind too much (after the shock of slow wore off). I’ve seen the photos she took, and they are amazing.
So we snailed, and discovered, and uncovered details that quick movers might miss. Like the lions on the lintels.
And street art.
So the poor scoot, made for malls – not battlefields, ran out of battery and one of my fears was faced on the first day. I don’t know why I worried, Max was a skilled and careful pusher and we made it back. I was perhaps a bit shaken and stirred, but so incredibly full of wonder, I couldn’t have cared less.
Never will I forget the first day I was somewhere else, somewhere so far from home… somewhere as amazing as Italy.
Even though my mind is moving toward Italy, I haven’t ignored this beautiful coast summer. I have spent pleasant hours on my pretty back deck, enjoying my flower filled pots and O’Keeffe inspired wall art.
I scooted to the Roberts Creek pier and had a fine 2 hours of sketching the copper roofed house across the creek.
But the best day of all was when instead of going up the lane back home, I unexpectedly turned the shoprider down towards the lookout at the end of my road and started a sketch of the view. Suddenly, I heard a huge whooshing blow – a woman on the beach below started yelling “The Whale!! The Whale!!” so I peeled out to a more open point and there it was. Or at least there was the spray and a huge hump of a grey back, moving slowly, following the tide line toward Sechelt.
I could feel it – I’m sure.
A great day indeed.
My ticket is booked and paid for. I say these words to myself, (and to pretty much anyone else I can pin down) with emotions that streak from thrill to fear in seconds. This MS woman is going to Italy. The dogged determination and kindness of friends will drag my wobbly ass across the ocean to the country that has filled my mind and heart with wonder since my days at Cap College under the spell of the Goddess of Art History, my friend Josephine. So missed.
Julie: “Listen. You have to come. This might be the last time…. I mean… ah… erm… This will be an awesome trip and we will all be there to… uh… Well, you are coming. That’s that.”
I think of past large scale paintings I have done, and present intimate journal sketching I am doing. Ambitions at the mercy of body. I remember my New Year’s resolution – Fear out – Faith in. Holy Crap, it is working. Could I really do it?
I laugh….. I suspect she is a little wrong, though. I think this trip will be the first. If I can’t belly up to the big canvasses just yet, I have other dreams to pursue.
I have Carnets des Voyages to fill. 🙂
My Grandmother Ruby used to carry scissors in her purse when she went out for a walk. She loved flowers, she grew them on her balcony and often had a little bouquet on her table. Over the years we spent many a pleasant day wandering in the garden centre and planting up her small riotously colour-filled boxes. But cut flowers were a different story. Oh she wanted them, in the early spring when the sky was grey, and hers were months from being ready – but she would not pay for them. Besides, she had a Law that if any flower extended into any walkway, it was common property.
That included any that could be hooked with a cane and pulled over to the sidewalk. This could sometimes be an embarrassing situation for me, causing me to rapidly walk ahead, which amused her. I myself, purchased my flowers at full price.
However, I have lately found my thinking to be more in line with hers.
I have looked up that Law, and I believe she was correct.
I call it the Law of Unauthorized Pruning for Art’s Sake.
A favourite spoon and a funny little can I have kept for years….
…looking closely at bits and pieces that otherwise slip away unnoticed.
After Wayne Thiebaud: detail from Boston Cremes, 1962
In my naiveity, (perhaps with a smidge of an ego) I thought it would be fun and easy to forego the obvious choice of something seriously Renaissancey for my SBS assignment – ‘Copy an Artist that you Admire’. Well, I have been schooled. Wayne Thiebaud is a Master of thick acrylic paint and unlikely colour placement, and he molds beautiful delicious form with deft skill. Pop Art genius – I won’t make the mistake of underestimating his delightful simplicity again. I did, however, manage to sweat it out, and do a credible job while using the simplest of tools myself, my basic sketch kit. Nothing fancy at all – a Uniball black ink pen, my small Cotman travel watercolours, a couple of fineliners and pencil crayons, and some housepaint from a sample I have had hanging around on my desk for ages. That was to cover the orange blotchy mistake I made early in the sketch, and had no other way to disguise. Luckily the thick pages in my Kim Oka journal could take the abuse. Yep, I learned my lesson. And I’ll happily do this exercise again, because there is scads more to learn from a giant like Thiebaud. I am a baby when it comes to this kind of painting. And honestly, I kind of like that feeling of being in the shit and having to wallow my way out – it certainly keeps things interesting. So copy I will, and if it was good enough for the Renaissance greats… well then.
Ella is a Wild Dog in the Woods, or so it is reported to me – I wish I could see her leaping the logs and trails with grace and strength and exuberance. But this day, I’m glad I wasn’t there to see most of her disappear down a hole in a log – luckily no bear waiting for her at the bottom! There was some debris though, which must have tickled her ear causing an entire night of head shaking, ear flipping and scratching. Mournful brown eyes pleaded for help.
Still greatly bothered in the morning, there was nothing to do but take her to the Vet. Well, she wouldn’t stay still, so the Big Drugs had to come out. And what did they find for $300? A hair. And Poor Ella was a woozy, ill mess for the next day and a half. Perhaps she will re-think her Acting career.
I must say, she held still for a lovely long sketch.
And Sammie – I think he was just keeping her company as she slept it off. He’s good like that.
Days were long, and hot – sometimes too hot – but even with all the hours in a day to play it feels like it went so fast. The studio got cleaned (can you believe it??), a birthday came and went (delightful gifts of moths and wine and food with friends) and a new chair arrived so that more things could be done all in the same area (so many thanks, Marlene).
Still, some sketching got done in between lounging around in lawn chairs.
Now we are officially into Fall. This time, for me, is a time of cool, clear energy. A time to integrate changes and move forward. A time to flourish.
Now that the firewood is in…. 🙂
It has been super muggy here in the PNW this summer. Some days I feel like I am walking through glue… so, what better thing to do than find some objects – a feather, a wood disc, a flower – and spend the humid afternoon sketching. From tight to loose, the last sketch in the welcome cool of the late afternoon, was a sunflower. Soon Fall will approach, bringing shorter days and sweet cool air, and my naughty body will take advantage of perfect temperatures to do bigger, more ambitious work. But for now, the bits and pieces of coastal life must suffice as subject. And the sound of the warm ocean is soft in my ears. Dog Days, sweltery sunsets.