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.