Fall Color Underfoot 

  Today I set the easel at the edge of a pickleweed marsh in full sun. I’d no sooner gotten the first color strokes roughed in when suddenly the marsh was swaddled in cool gray tones. Not a shadow in sight. Fog moves fast.

It started to drizzle an hour later so I packed it in. I’d been painting from my initial thumbnail sketch while grabbing  – and pushing- color clues from the landscape. 

The pickle weed marshes along the coast turn brilliant colors in the fall. New England has leaf peeping. Could California’s version be pickle peeping? Send for the tour bus.
(The painting is pastel on sanded paper, and sorry I don’t know the exact size but it’s under 9×12)

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Surf Scoters

At Moss Landing State Beach sketching a fine raft of scoters in the gray-green sea. Lovely Pacific. 


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View from the Slough

At Elkhorn Slough, taking it from rough sketch to pastel painting:


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Pelicans and power plants

On the jetty at Moss Landing, drawing brown pelicans and California gulls, hearing sea lions bark and inhaling aromatic sea salt  mixed with giant kelp. Almost edible.

Harbor seals snore on the beach and sea otters lay on their backs in the swell, their front paws pressed together. The fog is coming in, and the tide is going out. 

Happy Friday.


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Painting California

A homecoming for me. Painting the beautiful central coast. Happy to be here, with pastels and pencil.

Is it Thursday? I’ll be here another week. What could be better than fall at Elkhorn Slough?

If I find something, I’ll let you know. 

Happy Thursday.   

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Ant Man Sends a Selfie

From Barro Colorado Island, Panama, with love.

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Catfish Weather and Voodoo Lilies

Voodoo lily, Dracunculus vulgaris, abloom by the front porch. Its magnificence is only exceeded by is putrid odor. Awesome flower. Watercolor over pencil, 8 1/2" x 11" Stillman & Birn Alpha Series.

Voodoo lily, Dracunculus vulgaris, abloom by the front porch. Its magnificence is only exceeded by its putrid odor. Awesome flower. Watercolor over pencil, 8 1/2″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn Alpha Series.

We’ve had two feet of rain this month. Yesterday, an early morning storm arrived with a tornado warning that sent me and Gizmo splashing down into our flooded basement. Our yard may be squishy, but some of our neighbors could raise catfish on their lawns. That’s a real thing- locals have been reporting catfish and carp around their houses. It’s just a good thing we don’t have alligators in these parts.

Not in my backyard. But a few houses down, it's catfish-ready.

Not in my backyard. But in the backyard a few houses down, all is catfish-ready.

After all the rain, my poor garden is a hot mess. But a few years ago my friend Kiki gave me a mysterious “voodoo lily”, and the other day it finally came into bloom. The huge flower was fantastic- deep red, frilled along the edges, with a long, nearly black spathe. Gorgeous- and it stunk like a dead raccoon. Flies crawled all over, pollinating. I held my nose and peered down into the hollow bulb at the bottom of the spathe where the plant’s sexual parts are hidden. It seethed with black beetles.

The aftermath. Must have been a good party. Dracunculus vulgaris, voodoo lily.

The aftermath. Must have been a good party. Dracunculus vulgaris, voodoo lily, spent.

The next day, Dracunculus looked a little, well, flaccid. The fetid odor was diminished somewhat, too. A one-day garden wonder, but what a performance.

The weather forecast over the next few days looks pretty good, so far. Maybe a thunderstorm or two, but basically okay. A little sunshine would go a long way. And I can’t think of anything better than a day in the garden.

Happy Friday.

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