Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fairyland Rabbit, Fairyland Cards, Fairyland Mushroom

Fairyland Rabbit and Clock

Fairyland Musician on Mushroom

Fairyland Card People
Fun in Fairyland again this year, so meditative when kids aren't there.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Going Back to Fairyland


Thanks to C.J. Hirschfield (Executive Director) and Shannon Taylor (Director of Art & Restoration) for welcoming us back to Fairyland. Some of us are returning after childhood visits. (See previous posts). Some, like myself, are transported back to classic nursery stories come to life. After a few minutes, I am not working to get the picture "right"; I am playing with my sketchbook, pen and watercolors. Fairyland is a sketcher's dream. Fairyland is also a jewel among the treasures of Lake Merritt for everyone to visit (with a kid) and enjoy!

 The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

Fairly Adult in Fairyland

Me three! Another view of The Lucky Dragon and a crooked house and Oswald the Bubble Elf. Second drawing is looking back toward the entrance with a sketcher under a tree. I first came to Fairyland when I was 4 years old and remember being very impressed with the water-fountain lion, who was much taller than I. He doesn't look so big any more (but he's a lot more colorful!). I hope to go back and sketch him next time.

Children's Fairyland, too

When I saw The Lucky Dragon framed by that wacky wall and doorway, I had to sit right down and make a sketch. I always struggle with perspective accuracy and this colorful, off-kilter entrance was so much more fun to draw! Lucky Dragon's eyes rotated left and right, left and right. Only in a quiet Fairyland devoid of children are you aware of how loudly Dragon eyes squeak as they move.

Fairyland revisited!

Who wouldn't want to re-visit Children's Fairyland in Oakland years later as an adult? Our sketching group got that chance August 20 after hours. Everything was, of course, smaller but I can remember how happy a place it is. Especially for someone about three-feet tall. There was Lucky the dragon with his fearless smile, Willie the whale, the little boot that kids still walk through to enter this whimsical place. When I came upon a castle, I had to sketch it!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Children's Fairyland

Children's Fairyland on Lake Merritt in Oakland, the first children's storybook park in the U.S., is celebrating its 65th birthday in mid-September.  I remember going there with friends in 1956!  We got a chance to be in the park after hours this week, amidst the colorful storybook sets, kid-sized rides and 10 acres of gardens.  What a pleasure!  Thanks for the opportunity, C.J. HIrschfield (Executive Director).

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Parker, Colorado's dwindling open space

Parker, Colorado's human population is replacing this wilderness with homes. Every time I visit, there's less and less wilderness. Before me and slated for development is the remaining open space. Behind me lies the ever expanding suburban enclave. Pretty ironic that we humans are drawn to a beautiful environment and then systematically destroy what we love.

Local animal inhabitants -- pronghorn sheep, foxes, deer, coyotes -- are being evicted as open range diminishes. Prolific rabbits and ground squirrels are threats to manicured gardens and are poisoned, which also kills the foxes, coyotes and birds of prey who eat the dying rodents. On this morning I was the only person walking here, and a chorus of ground squirrels popped out of holes and admonished me to go away.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

SomethingTells Me It's All Happening At The Zoo

At least it was at the Oakland Zoo last Sunday. Thanks to the Zoo Education Department and Docents for having the Nature Journal Club in to sketch the zoo. Way to much to see and do in one visit! Will have to return soon. Hey hey hey.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Glasgow Summer Sketches

During my short visit to Glasgow, Scotland I would stroll (sketchbook in hand) everyday from my hotel on the edge of Kelvingrove Park to explore Glasgow. I became acquainted with the stunning historic architecture, the museums brimming with varied collections, the extensive green spaces, and inspiring art. And I appreciated the warm hospitably of the Glaswegians I met; as the local signs say, "People Make Glasgow".   

Yes, it is an Elvis statue at the Kelvingrove.
The statue of the Duke of Wellington often has an orange traffic cone on his head.

The Kibble Palace in the Glasgow Botanic Garden.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Like Botany on Mars: Ruth Bancroft Garden, Walnut Creek

Agave americana v. medio-picta
In the 1950's, Ruth Bancroft began creating a garden of succulents and other drought-tolerant plants that store water in their leaves and stems. Today, her creation is one of the oldest dry gardens in North America and an inspiration for botanists, water conservationists and gardeners.

Every July, the garden becomes an outdoor art gallery where sculptures complement and contrast the plants.

Read about centenarian Ruth Bancroft and the history of her garden here:

'A Moment of Zen', manzanita wood, ceramic and steel

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Ruth Bancroft Garden Menagerie

Swimming fish, metallic spiders and other critters clustered underneath the Blue Oak.
Down the path were the sculptural cacti. Please see previous sketches.

Summertime in Mendocino County

Visiting a favorite nursery
Watching the grapevines grow through the deer-proof netting
Snoozin' in a hammock on a deck under the redwoods

Oils versus Watercolors in Crockett

Attended an enjoyable Randy Sexton oil painting demo in Crockett recently. Compared to watercolor, how different oil painting appears to be . . .  add a dark paint or a light paint whenever and wherever you wish! Don't like it? Scrape it right off! I wandered the streets of Crockett longing to butter a canvas with oils!

Watercolor painting, on the other hand, demands a progression from light to dark. My every daub is visible for all eternity! BUT watercolors are also compact and lightweight and I carry my watercolor satchel everywhere, even on four-mile hikes! I'm sticking with watercolor. (I can still try oil paints at home, right?)

Evening Scenes From Edible Schoolyard

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley

"In the spring of 1995, an abandoned lot adjacent to King Middle School was designated as the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley garden site. Landscape architects, chefs, gardeners, and teachers were invited to share their vision of a garden where students would participate in hands-on learning. Nineteen years later, the acre of land is lush with seasonal vegetables, herbs, vines, berries, flowers, and fruit trees. Teachers and the garden staff work together to link garden experiences with students’ science and humanities lessons for truly integrated experiential learning."  (From the website

Masses of dahlias in the summer evening light

Artichokes in the garden

Drawing of the outdoor kitchen from 2014

Another view in Autumn 2013

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ruth Bancroft Garden

We spent a balmy summer night in suburbia at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek.  In 1972, at the age of 64, Ms. Bancroft started her dry garden, amassing a dramatic collection--agaves,  aloes, yuccas, cacti--over the years.  Her garden was the first preservation project of the organization which would become the Garden Conservancy and was opened to the public in the 1990s.  Last week, they were organizing for their annual Blues, Beer and BBQ Event, part of the 2015 Sculpture in the Garden exhibit.

Two statues amidst the large plants (with a photo of Ms. Bancroft gardening)

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Champions for Humanity Statues

A magnificent sculpture installation in downtown Oakland, near 19th and Telegraph:  "Remember Them:  25 Champions for Humanity."  Sculptor Matio Chiodo conceived his works in response to events on 9/11, wanting to remind viewers of all the good in the world.  The scale of his work is so striking and the sketching possibilities so wonderful that we decided to return for our First Thursday Sketch Night on August 6th.

Micaela sketching next to two of the four large installations.

Judith sketching the sculpted heads in relief against low wall surrounding the plaza.

Sketching like Mr. Turner

I went to the deYoung Museum show J.M.W. Turner-Painting Set Free with the SF Sketchers group. I made pencil sketches in the show of some of the watercolors and one oil.

Outside I added colors that I had noted on the sketches. Then came the challenge, we tried to paint the garden of the museum like Turner would have painted it. Not so easy!

After these attempts I went back through the show with a new appreciation of Turner's work and saw the same paintings quite differently! It was a great way to really "see" the show.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fun and Funky Crockett, CA

Crockett's main drag, view from deli, ink and watercolor 10x8 in
Inspired by a wonderful urban plein air painting workshop and demo by one of my favorite artists, Randy Sexton, I sketched the main street in the funky little town of Crockett that houses his studio, Epperson Gallery and a tattoo parlor. Randy is one of the nicest gentlemen I've ever met, as well as a highly skilled and talented painter, and a gifted teacher. (More on

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summertime at the County Fair

All the right things: corn dogs, cotton candy, giant lemons, carnival rides and games, and the 4H. At The Sdan Mateo County Fair!