August 19, 2009

My Summer Place

My favorite place in the summer is my backyard. It is my retreat to meditate in, my wildlife preserve for bird and animal watching, my creative outlet when I am designing new beds for planting, and my exercise gym when I actually do some work.

After retiring, I (with help) built my long wished for pond. I'm sure it would be bigger and better if money were no object and the pond people had built it, but it is mine. In the spring I watch the fish emerge from their winter rest and bring life to a plain rock pond. Then gradually the plants start to grow and add more interest to the pond. I fuss with their arrangement, tweak the waterfall, and marvel at how much the fish have grown. From my perch on the deck I envision new landscaping and when in the mood I actually start new planters and borders.

When it is cool enough to forgo air conditioning, we sleep to the sound of the waterfall. In the daytime, we enjoy the antics of the fish from the shade of the umbrella on the deck, and sit by the pond during the shady morning and evening times to feed the hungry hoard. My pond is far from perfect and sometimes I plan how to enlarge it or how to add a bigger waterfall, but for now it is the center of my favorite summer place.

July 26, 2009

I know I had written several blogs complaining about our winter weather, but then not much from me on this summer. That is because, contrary to most people in our area, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Seattle-like summer we have been having. It has extended my planting time well into July. The ground is usually rock-hard clay by now. The drawback of course, is the ever growing crop of weeds. I look in areas recently weeded and see those green things growing through the mulch, again! Now, I know you people with pools are not happy with the coolness of our days, but the mornings have been so cool I can sit by the pond or on the deck wearing a light jacket, then by mid-afternoon the sun's warmth takes over for a little baking between rain showers. If I knew a place with the weather like this year round, it would definitely be on my list of places I'd like to live. The weather appears to be changing to a more normal pattern of warmer, humid days and some thunderstorms, but I have definitely enjoyed our extended spring.

May 12, 2009

Watercolor #2 Revised

Every time I pick up my brush I learn something new about how watercolors work. It is usually a positive experience, but sometimes an attempt at revision has an unexpected result and I need to work around the "mess" I made. On the whole I am totally enjoying this new-to-me medium.
Here, I darkened the water, ground color and shadows. I am leery of changing the sky color, as much as I'd like to, after some negative experiences putting washes over washes. I'm going to work on that on a practice sheet. If you are returnee or a beginner to making art, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am.

April 10, 2009

Second Watercolor

In a marathon of creative activity I painted my picture. I was somewhat pleased with the results and set it aside to thoroughly dry. Then I scanned it into the computer to share it with you. I am quite used to editing my photos, tweaking the colors and cropping them to my liking, so looking at the painting on the computer screen was revealing. I thought the lighthouse and building were pretty good. There is a spot where the shadow should be darker on the lighthouse and another where the color of the roof should be darker, but over all it was okay. I don't know if placing the building on a lower level works for the viewer. It worked for me, but then I put it there on the "ground" below the lighthouse. The fence needs something, and I should have put it in further. I forgot about matting the picture. What I don't like most are the colors of the sky, the ground and the ocean. I would appreciate any suggestions that would improve this painting. or that I can apply to future paintings.

P.S.: I kind of like the seagulls.

April 7, 2009

Learning to Watercolor

After two weeks I had borrowed and bought 10 how to watercolor books, read half of four of them and scanned the others, but still I was hesitant to try again. I know deep down that you have to use the paints to learn to watercolor, but that didn't help. Along came my favorite water colorist (and photographer), Carl at Artistic Balance, offering inspiration and challenge to join him in painting a lighthouse. He offered a lighthouse photo presized including partition lines for drawing our own version. However, this is not a simple lighthouse. It is also a large building with shadows, angles and windows, but after taking a deep breath I decided it was offered as a personal inspiration and I needed to do this. He had said a painting should not be a copy of a photo, but more our creative interpretation of it. With that in mind, in my drawing I totally changed the position of the additional building to avoid some windows and lines as I tend to have shaky hands, and the white lighthouse alone looked a little strange. I am learning a lot as I attempt my second watercolor.
1. As a former (35 years ago) painter in oils, I have trouble adjusting to the fact that you don't paint white (usually). White is the paper showing through. In oils you wouldn't leave any canvas unpainted. It is difficult to totally remove mistakes that encroach on white, shaky lines especially, without leaving marks or moving the line in a little, then a little more (the incredibly shrinking window).
2. It is best not to draw in clouds. Should you have to change their position (see #1), it is difficult to remove the pencil lines from light blue sky. Also, if using light colors draw as lightly as possible and erase thoroughly unneeded lines. They will show.
3. You should probably mix a little more of a color than you think you will need. It is difficult to get the exact same color for the other side of the picture if you run out.
4. If you are right-handed and are wearing long puffy sleeves, you should paint the lower half of the picture from left to right, not right to left. I am sure the opposite is true for you lefties.
5. I have difficulty not trying to finish a painting in one sitting (I have the same problem when reading novels). Sometimes you have to let the paint dry before you can go on. It's a good thing I'm not painting in oils, now.
6. Finally, be careful not to spatter after dipping a brush in water. You will find yourself adding seagulls all over the place.
I'll keep you informed of my learning progress and share my second painting, maybe.

March 22, 2009


Okay! Here goes! This is my first watercolor. I found it is not as easy as it looks, but it was fun. I think I should have bought better brushes and paints. I have a lot to learn about how to apply the paint and blend the colors. I'll have to read up on it more.

March 19, 2009

First Crocus

I have hope.
Yesterday, the first crocus suddenly was there in full bloom. I wasn't expecting it yet, and I was distressed over the state of our yard after removing large trees damaged by the ice storm. Such a joyful moment of discovery. You know it is inevitable that spring will come, but when it appears unexpectedly it revives the spirit.

January 27, 2009

San Francisco

It wouldn't be a trip to SF without driving down steep hills like this,
or walking on the beach to check out the tide pools, the seals and the surfers.

This year the weather was beautifully warm, but the water was cold.

I had trouble returning home to the frigid temperatures and the snow.


This trip was for a very special occasion, our granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah.

MK was wonderful. She demonstrated how well she had learned Hebrew and the Torah with poise and confidence. We were all very proud of her.

The service was followed with a luncheon and a more formal party that evening for many adults, as well as, MK's friends.