Look! It’s the Moss Sisters at ages 9, 13, and 15. Brown from our years under the Panama sun nearly 50 years ago. I’m wearing a handmade frock that looks like the hem was let out to account for a growth spurt. You better believe I didn’t get to choose my own shoes. I think Dottie is wearing one of those Vietnam POW/MIA metal bracelets. Remember those? I need her pantsuit top. It would go better with my shoes and socks.
Since I last wrote in this here blog, I had a birthday. I’m now a 58 year-old. As I type out this missive to you I am wearing black leggings, pink tennis shoes, orange footlets, a long-sleeved purple t-shirt and a blue zipped up vest. I wonder what my 9 year-old self from 1972 would think of that outfit.
It’s 2021. We’re still quarantining. Who would’ve thunk it? Not me! Time travelers from the future will want to know what the great pandemic of 2020-2021 was like. How did we keep to ourselves for so long? When the visitors from the future knock on my door tonight I will invite them in. And tell them everything. Every single thing I can remember about the last 11 months. I’ve been taking good notes.
They might want to see my sketches. I’ll show them those too. Then I will make us a nice pot coffee from a Northern California roaster: Black Oak Coffee Roasters in Ukiah, that I discovered while in Mendocino, and we’ll slurp and chat while we drink big mugs of nutty brew.
Here’s what I’ve been up to in my sketchbooks, paper, and sketchpads in January.
Birds. My theme for December and January.
After my birds tour concluded I came up with the big idea to only draw or sketch in the toned and black sketchbook. That didn’t work out.
Then after I returned from Mendocino in early January, I found this chair on a walk one night and lugged it up the hill to home. It’s an interesting shape and color and I thought it would be fun to paint and draw.
I did this loose watercolor sketch of the chair and table in my Mendo captain’s cabin by the sea. Quirky and wonky in terms of perspective. Why I love it so much I cannot say. So, I decided to draw more chairs. I’m very keen on drawing from life lately. In particular, scenes out the window or inside Moss Cottage.
Now on the porch drawing another found chair. This one was on the streets of Sierra Madre. I braked and put it in the backseat. Picked up a cracked pottery bowl while I was at it for an outdoor cat water dish.
I was riveted to the tube for a few days in January when there was that awful storming of the capitol. Oh weren’t we all! I wrote down news quotes and sketched whoever happened to be gabbing at the time I was watching.
How good it is that there is a new commander-in-chief at the helm and the ship has been turned in more promising direction. What a relief!
I drew my way through the transition of power and celebrated mightily on inauguration day. Hallelujah! Free at last!
Naturally, if you don’t share my views on this subject you can choose to either tune out or change the channel without comment. I like to think it is a sign of wisdom when we can listen to the opposing views of others and make a choice either not to engage, offer opinions, give advice, grow surly, belligerent, violent, or ugly. I have done so on several occasions recently. What a surprise to learn that people I thought I knew are in favor of authoritarian leaders and believe in conspiracy theories of all stripes. Turn the page. Move on. A peaceful life is my goal.
The Moss sisters tuned in to David Whyte for a few Sundays in January. Since the pandemic we’ve found so many ways to come together over Zoom. If you have any recommendations for live events such as book talks, poetry readings, art openings, music, etc., do share. I’d like to do more of this kind of thing.
One thing led to another and before long my theme for daily art practice had circled back to the idea of HOME.
I’ve been reading about the California artist Richard Diebenkorn. Particularly about he, David Park, and Elmer Bischoff. He may or may not interest you, but if he does I’m linking some of the videos I watched about him.
I love this 1964 ink and graphite on paper and am especially interested in his interiors and still lifes from that period.
The annual art retreat weekend rolled around and we zoomed through it pandemic-style. This is our 9th. It’s good to have a stretch of days spent drawing and painting. We liked it so much we’re doing it again in mid-February.
I bought a BIG sketchpad to replace one that I finished. I’m using it for quick marker/paint/pencil sketches. In some cases I’m sketching from the sketch.
I just got a book of still lifes from the Post-Impressionist painter, Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947 He was known as an “intimist” because of his love for domestic scenes. He rarely painted from life but relied instead on memory or past sketches. He painted the familiar: rooms, objects, everyday rituals. Many of his interior scenes were started on the pages of diaries.
“What I am after is the first impression—I want to show all one sees on first entering the room—what my eye takes in at first glance,”
The Bowl of Milk 1919
preparatory sketch for The Bowl of Milk.
I got the book after I already had my new sketchpad and it confirmed my belief in the importance of drawing more. Drawing from life for the sheer pleasure. Drawing with big brush markers is a joy.
I will make more and more sketches like these!
I painted this into my sketchbook while referencing one of the sketches above.
I’m curious about tabletops and the things they hold. I shall capture mine!
I painted these bottles with acryla gouache while art zooming with sister. Afterwards I cut them out and glued them in my black sketchbook.
I also painted some directly in the sketchbook.
My favorite thing has always been to draw with the paintbrush. It is unpredictable and wildly fun.
Just whatever I see laying around, or what I gather. In this case a folio from the last time I made a book.
The next day I did it again.
And again yesterday after I changed the flowers and moved things around a bit. I’m going to do another today. The taped edges are my favorite part. I taped the one above too, but the tape stuck and I had to cut it off.
I found some better tape!
A scene out the window is complex. This is me trying to figure it out. I will do this many more times. I have no interest in capturing a realistic scene that is overly detailed, but less gloppy would be good. I will continue to share my explorations.
Since I’m a homebody it makes sense to do this. I’m finding things to paint everywhere I look.
The houses and hills as seen from my porch present me with a dizzying array of shape and form. The only way to figure it out is to get out the big sketchpad and dive in.
It’s confounding and exhilarating at the same time.
The rumpled mess of evening time.
The trees outside have since lost their leaves. I stared and stared at them this winter marveling at the pattern, shape, color. Tapestries bloom outside the window. How on earth can they be painted?
And so I leave you gentle reader, here with the very final photo of this post. It’s taken awhile for you to get to the bottom. Believe me, it’s taken me far longer. Good night and so long. Before you know it I’ll be back again with another long-winded tell-all of the coming weeks. Maybe more of us will be vaccinated by then. We’ll see!
Let me know about your continuing life adventure. Send me news from far away. Detail something good and fanciful.
Thank you, Mary Ann, for your post . . . the birds and the kitty paws are my favorites. I saw robins last week (kind of early for them here in upstate NY) and am taking it as a sure sign of an early spring. Each morning I hear more and more birds as I leave for my job and see a much brighter sun from my windows. I have been staying buysy by making sketchbooks and listening to some good books this winter; the best so far has been Educated by Tara Westover. Thank you for your posts, pictures, and artwork. They are a very nice break from winter and the Covid-stay-at-home blues.
Cindy Pestka says
OMG…the pages with cat paws and perfume bottles are delightful!!!
Love how you brought the first sketch to life with a little color…birds so colorful too…are you aware of Mark Herald…he has something on you tube think you would like his birds and flowers…portrait of David Whyte awesome…loving perfume bottles also and enjoy Paris Breakfast that you turned me on to….Bonnard colors are so soft as are Vuillard…Keep up the good work.
Thank you so much for continuing your blog. I follow you on Instagram as well, but it is your prose that I look most forward to. I don’t read your post right a way, but wait until I can relax and take it in (usually with a cup of tea). Your painting endeavors have also inspired me to pick up a brush again, and I started making and sending etegami postcards. I came across a quote from the creator of the Japanese art form “It’s okay to be awkward. Awkwardness has charm.” Another translation is “Clumsiness is no problem. Clumsy makes it better.” A good slogan given my meager drawing talent! The subjects of etegami are typically from daily life – hence the connection to your post, and this long-winded comment. P.S. Happy 58th birthday, I am celebrating my 57th this month. I treated myself with Monteverdi sweet life fountain pen inks – highly recommend, bright happy colors that flow beautifully,
Yours is one of my favorite spots on the internet! You inspired a family trip up to Mendocino from hot, crowded stuffy L.A. a few months ago and it was a much needed renewal. Thank you for sharing your little world with us.
Tina Koyama says
Wow, you’ve been busy and colorful! Zoom art idea: My sketcher friends and I celebrated National Croissant Day (Jan. 31) by sketching our croissants (though some insisted on scones, cake, even quiche…what’s the world coming to; I like to think of myself as tolerant of all religions, but I drew the line at kale salad) as we yacked. There’s some kind of National Day every day, often food-related, so it would be fun to use whatever the day is as an excuse for a Zoom art theme!
Waving from a Snowy Sunday in Norwich, England. It’s been a while since I sent smoke signals over yonder – but I enjoy your splendid posts via Feedly. This one is a Merry Marathon! Thank you for doing as you do. I love to go to the Coast with you, to see your creativities, to feel some different fresh air through your pics. To hear how you are doing, really.
I began a new blog, on a new website, last week. The urge to express outwardly has emerged again, after long quietness. I’ve been unpicking all manner of stitchings, preparing for new stitchings. Painting is resting currently. I made 4 x galleries of all sorts of Doings on the site – TrulySpacious.Zone. The welcome mat awaits – and we can take Tea there when you pop on through. Ahh a food delivery is arriving, “I must away” – Love x x x Jaihn
Winslow Art Center has free art a creativity talks with arts on Thursdays… they offer great online classes. And often have super offering that are free as well.
Thank you so very much for this long inspiring post!
Well, that was a visual feast and a breath of fresh air! I almost feel like I got to go along on that zoom art retreat.
Your work is always so inspiring, even if I am only inspired to look at things a little more deeply.
Thanks for taking the time to post your art! We all appreciate it.
Susie Lafond says
I enjoyed every word and photo, sigh in all that is simple and delightful, slow living on the edge of wonder always. My favorite photo ‘the rumpled mess of evening’ so cozy and true. Thanks for the joy Mary Ann!
Dear Mary Ann, Thank you for the lovely post. I’ve been feeling the COVID blues lately and your sketches and photos and observations are a wonderful pick me up.
Mary Ann Moss says
Michele, those blues will be a forgotten dream by spring which is right around the corner in the northern hemisphere. Hang on. I’m glad I could do my part to help you weather the COVID storm. sending love xo
Ahhh. I well remember that nook in our house in Panama. The encyclopedias, the hole in one trophy, and the guitar. For the record I would like to report that while some aspects of my appearance have changed, my feet still look EXACTLY like that. I don’t remember your dress sister, but The collar and pockets of Dottie’s top were red.
I can decide if I like the Mendocino landscapes, the chair series, the kestrel, or the blue tabletop scenes best… and Dugie popping in to art retreat! So glad you captured that.
Always so good to visit Moss Cottage via your paintings and sketches. During this time I have dabbled in painting from vintage family photos and now am enjoying making more whimsical cut paper collage. It’s so satisfying to use pieces of beautiful paper and bits that I’ve squirreled away over the years.
Oh My Gouache remains a favorite class. You are a great teacher/encourager and I hope that 2021 will perhaps bring us a new class. Stay well, stay safe and yes, the change in leadership has already created a calmer tone in my daily life.
Mary Ann Moss says
I wish I could see your cut paper collages, Sylvia. I will always love collage and also…I have some old family photos I’d like to paint. Possibilities await! xo
Elisabeth Schroeder says
Your posts are always a breath of fresh air and a connection to a life well lived and loved. They inspire me to keep enjoying small moments and large views. Thank you!
Mary Ann Moss says
“small moments and large views” i do love the way you strung those words together.
Also thank you for being brave about your thoughts on this period in our democracy. This is not the time to be quiet. Some things require taking a stand, and I am so glad to see that you have. I stand proudly with you.
Mary Ann Moss says
Always enjoy your posts but the months in review are extra special. Just seeing your work inspires me to paint and sometimes I actually do. Please keep the posts coming! 🖼🎨
AGREED!! Thank you Maryanne!
Mary Ann Moss says
Good to hear it, Judy. GO GO GO! I’m rooting for you. I was in a complete dead zone of creativity for a long time. I’m thankful to be out of it.
Nancy Jane Peirce says
Big happy sigh here MAM as I read your post snuvgled in my warm layers at 5:30a.m. in -20° Wisconsin as I prepare to sit down to draw. I am so pleased and excited to see where your art journey is taking you! It is inspiring to be a long distant fringe witness. I am grateful for the window you share.
I too am amazed at the number of people who, apparently no longer want to live in a democratic country that is based upon common sense and reality. Granted there are thriving realities in our nation that ARE terrifying so I don’t understand the need to create even more crazy or even more awful ones. Let’s just deal with the everyday usual and awful ones we have already created. That is my feeling.
I loved the photo of you and your sisters and would have enjoyed one of you in your current colorful ensemble as a juxtaposition! I have a whole wardrobe now of outside the bed “pajamas” that I wear daily around the house. Comfort clothes in the extreme.
Please tell me about the David Whyte thing you have found? Where, when, what platform? I have not heard him in a decade or so but found him quite good back then and a healing poetic voice.
I am watching all the extraordinary American Masters productions on so many amazing black people that I did not know enough about…specifically black women… OMG so much creativity and fury and power. I find these not only deeply educational (in a filling in huge gaps of missing data in my brain kind of way), but also tremendously energizing and inspiring and nourishing.
Mercu, merci, merci,
Mary Ann Moss says
I will definitely check out those American Masters. Who knew? Thanks for the mention. You can find out about David Whytes Sunday series by going to his website! A very easy, david whyte dot com. I also caught a live Eckhart Tolle that the Omega Institute put on that I liked even more. I can and do listen to Eckhart’s gentle teachings often.
Comfort clothes. YES! A pretty scarf can make anything look nice. Thanks for letting me know how you is.
Janet Ghio says
Your posts always bring me joy and delight! I love looking at all your paintings and reading your thoughts on the everyday. What would we do without pencil, pen, paint and sketchbooks to fill our days at home. I paint almost everyday. We are coming up on almost a year (March) of staying home–my husband has gotten shot one and two–I have gotten shot one-we are in our 70’s-are future plans wouldn’t have even been plans in the past–we can run out to the grocery store for a few items instead of having to do a big curbside pick up–when the day is extremely cold and we can’t walk outside-we can go walk at the mall -which I think will be sensory overload and best of all maybe by spring when others have been vaccinated I will be able to meet my great granddaughter who was born last May!! I have always been mostly a homebody so staying home hasn’t been as difficult for me as for some –I wonder if we will have forgotten how to engage in the art of conversation or how long it will take to not back up if someone gets to close to us–In Missouri it is winter and cold and dreary outside for the most part-so a few more months of staying in are manageable but I am looking forward to spring and thoose warm balmy days and having coffee with a friend or going out to eat. Keep on drawing and sketching. I follow you on instagram-if you want to see lots of paintings come follow me-jghio-
Mary Ann Moss says
I’m sending you some California warmth and sunshine. Have put in my request to follow you on IG. Can’t wait! Both of my sisters have received both sets of vaccinations and I am thrilled about that. I’m supposed to be next in line but I think essential workers like grocery store peeps should be TOP PRIORITY. They have been seeing thousands of people a day since this thing started and need protection urgently. Looks like it will be awhile until teachers get the vaccine here in LA. Not enough to go around as yet, but I think we’re on the right track. I confess to NOT mind working from home.
Take care and stay warm. xo
Hello, I enjoy seeing your drawings. Reminds me to draw more. Your use of color is fun. Exciting news from my geographical dot on the pandemic map is Georgia (the US state!) voted against authoritarian figures and conspiracy theories. Amazin’. I’ve learned to take better care of myself than ever before in my 67 years. Thank you pandemic for some good stuff.
Mary Ann Moss says
Right on Georgia! The pandemic has been for me a taste of what retirement might look like. Minus the daily ZOOM lessons. LOL!!
Jane D’Souza says
Morning! Just in case this might be of interest to you. I worked my way through this in January:
Lots lot enjoy! Glad all’s well in Moss Cottage and as always, thanks for the great posts. xx
It’s so good to see that life at Moss Cottage is as creative and fun and thoughtful as ever. I’ve been looking at photos of my sisters and me too. I’ve written poems about family and about our garden birds. I’ve started another journal, this time using Pages, the one where there’s space for as many photos as you care to add.
I’m writing stories as well. Interesting that you wonder what your 9 year old self would think about your snazzy outfit. I have written a conversation with my 8 year old self. It was so revealing! I was very moved. I sent us to my favourite restaurant in France and smiled at little me not having ever heard of pizza or yogourt.
Also, I like to embroider quotes and lyrics from songs onto very fine white linen. ‘She makes the sign of a teaspoon…’ You know the one. And other more serious Buddist sayings.
This sounds as though I’m busy-busy but at the same time I often feel so low that I don’t want to bother. That is when a visit to your world makes a difference to mine. Thanks, Mary Ann. x
Mary Ann Moss says
Chrissy I’m glad you’re creatively busy even with the low days. But why aren’t you writing Budleigh’s Blog anymore? Where ca xon I find you online? Help! I need you. xo
I seem to have been seduced by Instagram. I’m quite new to it. I was only tacked on to Hugh’s website as I missed my blog in La Borne so much. Then Hugh gave me an iPhone for Christmas which takes better photos than my older android one.
My Insta account is mostly about Budleigh. I began it right in the middle of lockdown so, since we very rarely leave the house, except to walk or get veggies, there are no wonderful holidays or visits to other potters and friends to record.
Every week I have a poetry discussion with one of my writers group friends in France. Oh and I’ve self published a book of poems and photos about my family called Being Born and Afterwards.
It’s lovely to keep up with you on line and on my phone. xoo
Thank you….a wonderful description of the last month. Love all your sketches and paintings. Schools are still closed in CA aren’t they? Here in Germany we are under general lockdown as well. I miss traveling so much. When I saw your pictures from beautiful Mendocino, I felt on the brink of tears. I love this place. The ocean. Without this horrible virus we would have been right there NOW.
Stay safe and away from the nasty bug that threatens us all!
Kind wishes, eva
Mary Ann Moss says
Where are you in Germany, Eva? Tell me again please. I was just looking at my travel journal from Wallgau. What a trip that was. Loved Germany so much.
I return to Mendocino in late summer. I will take you with me.
I am staying v.v. safe. Take good care. xo
Love the sisters photo! The abundant sketches are seriously inspiring too… thanks xox
Thank you for your post!!