Plein Air?

snowHow quickly one loses momentum!  We have been back for ten days and I am only just beginning to pick up the pace again.  I am trying to put every wonderful element in each small painting. Stop that.  Economy is needed!    The weather has been treacherous. Bitterly cold, colder than in your deep freeze. Even the hardiest are reluctant to go outside for fear of nipped noses and nasty falls. Pete is wearing flannel lined jeans and it is tempting to spend all day in a dressing gown slumped on the sofa.  Are we paying the price for last years unusually mild temperatures?  It was 4.8 F this morning.  Not so long ago, I’d have layered up and gone for a run, I might even have worn a hat!

IMGP2299 INTO THE LIGHT

Into the Light   $125

 

By mid morning we warmed to a balmy 20 degrees, and though there is a generous snow cover, the morning sun was golden and long shadows lay across the expanse of white, twigs were sparkly, and distant hills a soft mauve. I thought about my x country skis. They are showroom slippery, but so long unused that mice made a furry nest in the boots. It was just a thought.

 

Fog Rolling In, from Hawks Hill

Fog Rolling In   $125

No, I’m certainly not going to paint plein air.  In my enthusiastic determined-to-be-an artist days, I worked out of a hatchback car, then moved to sitting in the front seat with the heater running while struggling with gear.   I have gotten so smart that I work indoors, and if I want to paint a snowscene, which I mostly don’t, I go out in the car and take a photo, THROUGH THE WINDSCREEN, and then I come back and paint in a warm studio with a cup of coffee.  Sharp!

 

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Closing the gap

Closing the Gap  $125

Plein Air sailing scenes… sitting on the front of the boat, bobbing up and down in the swell?  Well, if the brush stroke goes in the right place, accept it, otherwise wipe it off and try after the next wave.  Best ever setting was the cockpit of Dancing Dragon, dressed in a bathing suit, with an easel set up on the console, while the boat was tethered to the mooring in Soper’s Hole, with dolphin and jacks in the clear blue water….…..

  Had cake. Ate it all!

Regatta

Regatta  $125

 

 

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It’s a New Year !

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Anna went back to work for a few days, and we moved down the coast to Capitola. We rode on borrowed bikes along the cliff tops looking for sea otters, and out on the old pier in this small seaside town. We watched wet suited surfers on the waves kicked up off rocky headlands. The bed in our small airbnb has a mattress like dense mud, and pillows of foam rubber but we can stroll to a Starbucks and down to the beach for sunsets. We wandered among the boats in Santa Cruz Harbor, and out to the lighthouse. IMG_4135 We explored narrow dark redwood trails in the depths of Nisene Marks State Park, and out along the cliffs of the Wilder Ranch and Natural Bridges State Park. Like most Californians the locals are lean and healthy, and active. The aging hippies of wild long hair, noserings, dreadlocks, torn blue jeans, skirts, face paints, piercings, multiple earrings, backpacks, and birkenstocks are here but outnumbered by mabils (middle aged bikers in Lycra) in their spandex suits, and young and old surfers in wet suits and booties.
In downtown Santa Cruz even the down and outs have wheels. They sleep in pup tents and lie in doorways bundled in sleep like toppled statues.

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We picked up Anna from Mountain View station, drove to Ano Nuevo state park to see giant somnolent elephant seals on the beach, then eat alfalfa sprouted sandwiches outside at a cafe in Davenport.  Our favorite spot is the cliff top above Capitola, where on a calm day the sea otters are below us in the kelp at high tide,  and the surfers can find a challenging wave when the surf is up, and on a sunny day the kids are picking up small crabs  from the tide pools and the dog are socializing with their owners on the sand.IMG_4185

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We drove down the coast through the campus of UCSC, for photos at Pigeon Point, then on past Half Moon Bay to Anditown for snowy plovers (iced coffee and soda topped with clotted cream) and a last good dinner at Anna’s with  her friends, Lindz and Ally.

We ended the SF experience with a 4.5 earthquake. A jolt to waken light sleepers, rattle the blinds and tip trinkets off shelves, and remind us of the risk we share to spend time in this awesome state near the fault. The next morning the fog lay over the city like cotton batting, and the clouds condensed in cool showers but we are energized by the notion of heading home, to the cold, and snow, and to the studio to paint.

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Let’s go to San Francisco!

IMGP2238The snow has come to Chagrin Falls so let us go to San Francisco, to stay in Anna’s cool big house by Golden Gate Park.  Her house mates have gone home to eagerly await the arrival of Santa. We have left a state which boasts a donut trail to spend two weeks in city of great restaurants in a state full of lean and healthful foodies.  A quick glance in the cupboard reveals jackfruit in brine, organic quinoa, sesame tahini, chocolate drizzle popcorn, mushy peas, and coconut oil.  This is going to be interesting.  We know we’ll need some real food, after all it is Christmas, and Anna will keep us moving! We start with a uber ride to the Alcatraz ferry for a night tour.

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The glorious display of sunset colors in the sky and sea behind the GG bridge was followed by an atmosphere of sinister gloom, the lingering spirits of all the tormented souls whose lives ended up in cold isolation on the rock. Next day we ferried across the bay to Angel Island and wandered along the five mile perimeter in wintry sunshine.

IMG_4044 From her home base we can run around the park pond, watching shovelers, grebes  and crested mergansers, and stroll the paths of the Botanical Gardens, where there are still yellow fall leaves.  San Francisco’s city roads are unusually and delightfully uncongested, with the usual young residents back in family homes across the country, or crowding the malls for last minute gifts.
With no big craving for a turkey, we ate grilled salmon, and kale salad followed by pavlova on Christmas Eve,  toad in the hole for a breakfast, hiked in the park then dined on beef Wellington, and veggies roasted with rosemary.IMG_5868

In the following days,we drove up Hawks Hill for a breathtaking view of the City and the Bay and picked up rental bikes in Sausalito, for trails in Belvedere and Tiburon. IMG_4065 We are benefiting from unusual and unexpected winter warmth and clear skies, and felt inclined to spend only half a day in the outlets for after-Christmas giftsIMG_5901

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The Sunshine State

Little Punderson Lake

Little Punderson Lake…..from a summer sketch

We found some cheap flights, and despite all we have heard, Frontier got us to Florida safely and on time.  It was not luxury travel. It was a popular flight, the crowd included at least six needy travelers with their emotional support dogs. There were hard small seats and we are were stuck in tight pretzel configurations and began to long for the hot pool to ease the numb bod, but generally I’d say no problem and we could have crammed our bathing suits and flip flops in bags and done without a carry-on since that is about all we wore anyway.  The beaches were just as pleasant as can be and a whole lot nicer than in August when exposed skin reddens, peels and blisters, or in January when you can’t find a space for your towel on the white hot sand of Fort Myers Beach. We paid our $7 to admire mighty sand carvings of fantasy figures and learned how to pound sand, shape it with tools, and the best bucket shape to make our own temporary masterpieces.A-Quote-by-Albert-Einstein-John-Gowdy

There was the usual display of seniors dressed in wild colors with subtle fragrances not overtly bait, and fake chunky jewelry, or skimpy bathing suits with overtanned bodies and hair pouffed at the beauty parlor.

We celebrated Pete’s birthday by eating a massive plate of deep fried everything, washed down with beer, followed by key lime pie, and drank wine with our former neighbors in Sarasota. We were relieved that the pitch-filled hole in the condos roof was no longer our concern.

After five days and five beaches, we too were beginning to feel like Wurzel Gummidge, the wizened wrinkled wild hair turnip-headed figure with his faded clothes from a life pegged out in the sun, so we thought we’d better come on home. Here, our globally warmed weather was delightful, and in mild sunshine we explored Beartown Lakes, the Art Museum, Stan Hewitt Hall and a windy Wendy Park with the Masters during their Thanksgiving visit.

Now there is work to do.  The woodpile is stacked high, and it is time to hang the pine. Christmas is around the corner and the village is sparkly. But gone are the days of trailing from shop to shop.  Gifts from Amazon, Target or Google are just a mouse click away.  We can shop from the comfort of our couch, and we do!!

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Our Christmas Village

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Go sweat!

Lavendar Cottage

Lavender Cottage   $125

 

I threw out a painting.  Yup. I don’t want it within sight. It is history!   I am searching for the reason for a failure.   I have been struggling with my materials.    I changed the gesso since I ran out of the original and couldn’t see it on the local art shop shelves, the medium is too thick, my brushes are stiff.  I certainly never want to paint again!

last Rose 2

Last Rose   $125

 

So this spectacular frosty morning I laced up sneakers and went out early.  The chickadees were already busy in the bushes, I broke the ice on their birdbath, the sun was shining through beech leaves of green, gold, yellow and rust, and all the sounds were magnified in the cold, clear air.  Skeins of Canada geese were strung out across the clear sky, and every leaf was edged in silver. I have always loved crisp mornings. I remember those kid days back in England where we were so far north that sometimes, the crisp white rimey coating would linger on fields and trees well into the afternoon.

After an hour, the low sun is shining through every melted ice droplet, and I pretend I am still a runner.  I shuffle through a solid carpet of crisp catalpa leaves and the lawn that I raked and cut yesterday to manicured perfection is again covered with leaves.  Well, they can wait….flushed with the success of a few miles, I might even forego my coffee and a pastry for a healthy vegan smoothie… and heck, I even feel like tackling another painting.

Out of the Fog

Out of the Fog   $125

No creative block for me.  Exercise is the perfect antidote to depression.  Go Sweat!

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind   $125

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Last days of October

Black and White

Black and White   $125

It is getting harder to deny that winter is almost upon us! On a few past evenings the lower sun has cast paint- worthy shadows across Geauga’s meadows and but the last lingering leaves are not bright, and the geraniums’ days are numbered  Last time I looked SNOW was in the forecast!

My paintings were presented at Roundwood Manor.  This is one of the older homes in Daisy Hill, built by the Van Sweringen brothers in the 1920s.   You could live in splendor in this twelve bedroom home, with three dining rooms, 55,000sq ft, several acres, large indoor pool and sauna, two turrets, fine kitchens and a wine cellar. It is on the market.  It made a fine setting for the reception, and the caterers provided wonderful finger foods, if you were confident enough to balance a plate of canapes, a napkin, glass of wine and make small talk without spoiling a fine shirt and the Persian carpet.

Two old Doors

Two Old Doors   $125

These gloomy days make photos of artwork more difficult…usually I can lay the art in the sun or in semi cloudy brightness for good colour in the images. During these gloomy days I am using leds in my studio so artwork takes on a weird warm tone.  I’ll have to redo when our sun returns, but this is Cleveland, dull winter tones of  yellow, grey and brown!

Parsonage doorway

Winchester Doorway   $125

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Company and Cats

Mel and Anna

House guests!  I love them Work is suspended and we become tour guides.  We enjoyed some unusually mild weather and visited some favorite haunts and restaurants in Cleveland, Chautauqua and our hometown Chagrin falls.

 

Annegrete, from Germany, has had a cat phobia since childhood, and despite costly visits with psychiatrists her contact with cats has been limited to a glimpse of a big cat through an open door.  We had no forewarning, neither did she. But she spent 10 days in the Gillespie home, where two cats are into everything and every corner. They chew feet, appear on couches and laps, and dive into unmade beds. There was no alternative for Annagrete.  She was amazing.  There is a lesson here!

Here comes Heidi !

Here comes Heidi   (sold)

 

Our send off party was a lot of fun.  Mel, from Australia, cooked wings and bokchoy, we ate apple pie and drank more New Zealand wine and champagne than was good for us, and now with frosty nights in the forecast it is time to clean up outside and get back to work.

 

Sea Days

Sea Days   $125

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