Walking in the Maine woods

Walking through the woods to the lake, there is a spot where the ground is covered with a thick soft layer of pines needles from a grove of Eastern White Pines. We can not hear our footsteps and these lovely pine cones are scattered everywhere. I gathered as many as would fit in the hood of my parka.

Portrait of a friend.

Every Day in May—EDM #104 Salt & Pepper shakers

Day 4 of the Every Day in May challenge. Hand crafted salt and pepper grinders filled with sea salt and fresh pepper grounds.

"I'm out here having fun in that warm California sun" and visiting my parents in the house I grew up in the foothills behind Stanford University. After a long snowy winter in Maine with lots of work travel up and down the east coast, it is nice to just stop for awhile and enjoy some time with my family, visit with old friends and sketch and draw again. Hopefully I will shed another layer of sadness.

My mom watching Dancing with the Stars after starting her day at the dog park, an hour at the gym, shoe shopping with me, Jeopardy, dinner and a glass or two of Charles Shaw Chardonnay with my father and I. At $1.99 a bottle it is lovingly known as Two Buck Chuck and they have cases of it stacked up like cord wood in the garage.
And speaking of the garage. There are shopping bags filled with tennis balls lined up next to the work bench. Seems as though my father takes his walks past the Swim and Tennis Club we belonged to when we were kids. He starting picking up the tennis balls along the way and took them home and tossed them in a bag. Now there are 5 bags!!! I always ask why, we then discuss as to what to do with them and then we all walk away. Must be part of my inheritence. Jerry always said I get my hoarding tendancies from my father...sounds about right.

Every Day in May—EDM #103 exercise equipment

Day 3 of the Every Day in May challenge. 2011 unfolded far from what I had planed and I could not imagine the rocky path I had suddenly stumbled on to. A friend suggested yoga for a way to cope with all the change happening in my life. So off I went to try hot power yoga at a new studio nearby. It has been a lifesaver both physically and mentally. I am a total addict. I am a yogi. So when I am not traveling for my consulting job, I am taking yoga classes. The combination of breathing which clears your head of clutter, the powerful poses that create long lean muscles and focusing on your core that makes you strong. I can now hold "crow" (shown above) for over 15-20 long as I don't forget to breathe...

"I breathe in what I want and need and breathe out what I don't need anymore"

Every Day in May—EDM #101 a bar of soap

After a long time of working through the sad days that crippled my creativity, I decided to take action to get back into doing what I used to love. Not having done much drawing and painting in almost two months, I am quite out of practice and I knew the longer time drifted the worse it was getting both in my head and what was coming out on paper. So the "Every Day in May/EDM" challenge sounded like just the kick in the butt I needed to jump start my creativity and get me sketching again. Besides, I am going to Lisbon in July for the Urban Sketchers Symposium and I need to get in sketching shape.

I did manage a quick sketch of my friend Mary's mother Julie, on Easter Sunday, and realized how much I love to draw, but it just wasn't enough . So here I go, a drawing every day for the next month...

Wish me luck

Hot summer days in Maine

Sea roses on my walk along the Casco Bay.

New bouquet for the table in my favorite lime green rubber vase.

Sketching potted flowers in front of one of the shops in Portland.
Using the rough watercolor paper that I bought years ago when I had no idea about watercolor paper.
Tried adding pastels to just to mix it up a bit.

This is Jazzy, the other of my two very large 13 year old cats.
She is usually sprawled on the floor like an area rug.

Settling back into Maine life

Now that I am no longer in tropical Bali, I am having to adjust my palette to capture the more grayish greens and blues of Maine.

Small bouquet from the grocery store. In Bali flowers grow all over the yard, Frangipani blossoms fall off the trees and float in the pool, orchids grow on all the trees and Bougainvillea spill over the walls so I never need to buy flowers to have in the house.

This is Bobo one of my two 13 year old cats. Being senior kitties they have slowed down quite a bit, sleep a lot and are on a big diet. Still hungry for more crunchies they meow like this "meow" and then lie down on the kitchen floor staring at the empty bowls. Eventually giving up and finding a chair to fill.

Unlike my big old American cats, my little Bali cat, Howard, couldn't weigh more than 4 lbs. When she wants something she meows like this "yeeeeoooooooow" along with serious ankle biting. She always gets what she wants!

A long journey home

I left hot humid Bali and arrived in hot humid Maine. 95° and no AC here so it has been impossible to blog or post. Today it has cooled down to the high 80's and a bit of a sea breeze off the harbor so it seems quite lovely and finally I am able to post from my travels.

From Bali to Singapore is a short 2 1/2 hour flight and then at midnight they put us on an 11 hour flight to Frankfurt where we get off with all our belongings, walk around a corner, go through security again and then re-board the same plane for a 7 hour flight to JFK. Then I still have to get to Maine. Door to door is 34+ hours...

They served us dinner at 1:30 am. One of my choices was Khor Moo Yang—grilled pork I asked for soup and got the above cup of noodles which I sketched as it cooled down.

I took printouts of some of the folks involved in Julia Kay's Portrait Party to work on if I had the energy to draw. Sometimes I just read and try to sleep, but I had 11 hours to kill . So, somewhere between Singapore and Frankfurt I did some portraits.

By this time I had put the watercolors away and just sketched.

This one was done on the Frankfurt to JFK leg.

Exploring Bali

It took a while for my mysterious Bali virus to work it's way through my system. I was finally feeling better when good friends and family came to visit from the USA. We've had a full house so we have been busy exploring beautiful Bali.

Some of us took a thee day tour with our friend Astika, a Balinese manku (priest) who knows all the ins and outs of Bali.

Sketching the local villagers when we stopped along the way.

We spent a night at a sweet hotel in the tiny seaside town Amed on the east coast of the island. These two Running Ducks, Ollie and Punky are clearly in charge. They run around the open-air dining room quacking for food, then run over to the infinity pool for a drink or a swim. Quack.

View overlooking Lake Buyan at the top of the mountains. As we climbed the steep winding roads newly harvested cloves and coffee were drying on large mats in front of all the houses. The cool dry air was thick with the wonderful smell of cloves.

Sunset ceremony at Pura Tanah Lot

Astika is a manku (priest) for the beautiful scared temple Tanah Lot on the west coast of Bali. The little temple sits a top an outcrop of rock in the surf that can only be accessed at low tide. It is supposedly guarded by sea snakes and thankfully I did not see any when we crossed through the water in our sarongs and flip-flops. Because we were Astika and his family we were allowed to have our ceremony at the top which is not open to the public.

Sketching the temple from the land while waiting for low tide. I had a pretty good audience while I did this little drawing.

Our friends Ben and Sarah after the ceremony which involves meditative prayer, holy water, incense, rice and offerings of flowers. After each prayer a flower is tossed to the alter and one goes in your hair.

Astika, his wife Made, an elder manku, Ben, Sarah and I after the ceremony. That's me second from the left.

Last light before we headed back down to cross through the surf to the mainland.

A very special day in Bali.

Every Day in May—EDM #11 and another portrait

EDM #11—Draw your sunglasses. This is a quick sketch I did to make up for the crazy oil painting I did below for the day #11 challenge.

There was leftover oil paint on the palette and I never want to waste any paint. Painted from a photo of a cow that munches grass in a filed near our villa in Bali.
Sunglasses were my addition—does it seem a little crazy that I painted a cow wearing sunglasses? I think I may need a break!

Portrait of Inmasseranito for Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr.

Every Day in May—EDM #9 and #10

EDM #9—Draw organized chaos. Not much time yesterday, so just a quick sketch at the dog park for the May 9th challenge. Dogs and their owners everywhere—definitely organized chaos.

EDM #10—Draw your hand. I loved Nina Johansson's wonderful post "Think outside the box". Colored cubes she made to find new color combinations for her palette. She added a PDF of her cube template for us to download. I knew someday I would make one. So here it is for this EDM challenge—a 3" square cube of drawings of my left hand.

Kind of looks like a damn box of kleenex...

Everyday in May and some new portraits

EDM # 6 a favorite well-loved object— I thought long and hard about what was my well-loved object and all I could come up with was Sophie. I guess, for me at this stage in my life, things aren't as important a family, friends and animals. Funny, because I used to have a lot of things. Now I am trying to get rid of many of those things. So Sophie it is! Here she is sniffing the flowers I put on the floor to paint.

A few of my latest portraits for Julia Kay's Portrait Party. It continues to be a great challenge. I really enjoy seeing everyone else's interpretations of the rest of the members. It's a kick! Check it out.

I usually use ink and watercolor, but these two are pencil and watercolor. I actually have gotten the oil paints out...well the box is out...

Portraits, portraits and edamame

I am having a great time doing portraits for Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr. I can't stop doing them, but I can be like that about many things. Like when I love a certain food, I will want to eat it for every meal. Right now I am really into edamame. So it's lots of edamame and portraits.

We will be going back to Bali soon, so I am getting into my Bali mind set. This is a portrait of my friend Yanti.

And then I did beautiful Yanti again, mixing it up a bit with more dramatic color and pencils.

A quick watercolor of the Easter tulips before they got tossed. I added some digital lines using Corel Painter. Digital art is a total unknown area for me, but I am curious about it. It is quite awkward for me to make my hand move the cursor to do the work or go the direction I want. It is not like moving a pen around on a piece of paper, but you can hit the "undo" button. I do worry about the work looking too "digital" but I must keep learning.

Back to more portraits.

Exercise and other weekend activities

The temperature shot up to 55° this weekend, so I couldn't face the gym. Sophie and I walked 8 miles on the beach with a good friend on Saturday and on Sunday we ran five miles. It was great to get outside.

Sophie likes to stop a lot. There are things a dog just has to do. Then there are the times she doesn't want to go any further. We have learned to compromise. When she stops I will do lunges and when she won't go any further I pick her up and do walking lunges. You do what you got to do. We must be quite a sight!

Cold again and it was early so I was back at the gym. As I was lifting weights, a man came up to me and asked what I was training for? I looked at him and said "life, I guess". Yes, that's it, for my life. Sometimes I just don't want to do it (and sometimes I don't), but usually I do something everyday, because it is for life.

In between exercising in the gym and walking and running outdoors this weekend, I made these watercolor sketchbooks. Two were made from recycled books that I got a the "Dumptique" and three I made the hard cases. Thanks to Jana Bouc of JanasJournal and Shirley Levine of Paper and Threads for their informative posts and this $15 DVD that Kate had recommended to Jana: Bookbinding: A Traditional Technique, the handmade journal mystery has been solved. All were made with various watercolor papers and decorative papers that I already had, so I just needed a few bookbinding tools. It's actually quite fun and very satisfying. Also, a little addictive as you can see.


This morning, I was admiring the talented Rick Tulka's wonderful images on Flickr. I saw that Giorgio Bordin had done a sketch of him from his posted photograph in front of the White House. Giorgio had added a sketch to his comment. Several other talented artists had done the same and with such a great face, I couldn't resist joining in. It was the first thing I did this morning while catching up on the news, so it was quick and sloppy. He noticed that he was dripping...

What a wonderful way to start a cold, gray, rainy morning in Maine.

Since the paints were wet, I decided to finish this sketch I started weeks ago on my trip to Paris. These wonderfully dressed older Parisian women waited outside the cafe where we were siting late one afternoon. I was able to get the basic outline of their poses only to abandon them for a Kir Royale. Would't you?

The leaves are turning

The brilliant colors of fall foliage have finally come to us in Southern Maine. The mountains are past peak and the leaves are probably off the trees. Around Portland about 50% of the leaves have turned. Fall foliage is one of those things in nature that is so beautiful, but so fleeting. One minute the leaves are just turning and then they are gone—it makes me sad. I sometimes have to remind myself to stop and look, so I will really see.