Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Handmade Basket from Jan

On my recent trip to Portland, I got a chance to spend some time with friendsc, including Jan.  Jan hosted me in her very nice Pearl District condo ,and also gave  me a beautiful basket that she crocheted from t-shirt yarn.  It is very versatile.  It has apples in it now---I'll use it many ways.  Thanks, Jan.  It is beautiful and warm.  Nice!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thank you Nancy

When I was in Portland, I got the treat of a luncheon with a group of friends who I really miss now that I have moved to Portland.   Readers of my blog may have guessed that we have a dragonfly theme.   Nancy is one of that group, and she had the lunch at her house.  We had a lot of fun catching up on news with each other and generally just enjoying ourselves.  One of our "traditions" is that the hostess gives everyone a small gift.  Nancy gave us all these dragonflies that can hang from car mirrors....or just hang out around the house, like mine is doing.  This is my little painting of it.  Thanks, Nancy, for this sweet reminder of my friends, and of you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ted's Bulletin Family Restaurant

Now, THIS is one of my favorite restaurants on Barrack's Row.  It's got a solid menu with good variety, special meals for kids, and a great atmosphere.  It takes its cue from 1930's newsrooms, or at least that's my take.

I could go on and on about the food---home-made Pop Tarts, "adult" milkshakes, grilled cheese sandwiches on home-made bread, and so on.

This  is another one of my little paintings.....getting ready for the Barracks Row Fall Festival Saturday.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Commandant of the US Marines

One of my neighbors is the Commandant of the US Marines.  This is his home.  I made an ink and watercolor drawing of it for the Barrack's Row Fall Festival.  It is quite an impressive building, and dates back to 1806.

If I go by last year, the Marines are very supportive of the Fall Festival.  They did a full color guard and a short band program last year, and I remember it.  My booth will be pretty close to their bandstand, so I hope to hear it again.   As part of the color guard, they have an American flag with banner ribbons from every campaign the US Marines have been involved in.  That is something to see.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cafe 8

Another little painting in preparation for the Barrack's Row Fall Festival.

This is kind of a new place.  I've never been in it and am not sure why I chose it, other than I kind of like the umbrellas.  Actually, the umbrellas are not green, but I like them green...I used my "artistic license."   It is not only a cafe, but also a hookah bar....I'm guessing it attracts a young crowd.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Barrack's Row Clock

This kind of speaks for itself.  A clock on Barrack's Row..  Still working on more paintings.  They are small and matted, not framed, so they will be inexpensive.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Barrack's Row Fall Festival

I'm excited to be a vendor in my neighborhood Fall Festival.  I'll have a booth with small paintings and prints and lots of cards...and it is just a block from my house.

Barrack's Row gets its name from the Marine Barracks that are right on 8th St.  I looked up a little history and learned that in 1999 it was establish as a National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street.  Of course, the neighborhood is much older than that.  The Marine Barracks site was selected in 1801.  According to Wikipedia, it was selected because it was within marching distance of the Capitol and also the Navy Yard.  Marines are still marching today, and they do a "Parade" Friday nights.  From my backyard, I hear them practicing on Friday mornings.  I have never gone, though!

To get ready for the Fall Festival, I am making some small paintings around the neighborhood.  The one above is Senart's Oyster and Chop House, which is one of my favorite places.  It is very long and narrow inside, with 3 fireplaces along the wall.  It has been remodeled but has a real historical feel. This painting was late afternoon.....just before opening for business at 4 p.m.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gifts from the Smiths....Amsterdam and Brugge!!!!

It was all so excited and worldly!   While I was in Japan, Louisa and her family went to Amsterdam.  They stayed in a cousin's house and had a true "local" experience.  What fun...Griffin and Sophia on their first trip "abroad."

Of course, the Van Gogh Museum was high on the list of "Things That Must Be Seen."  I have never been there myself, but now I want to see it.  Even though I haven't been there, I have gifts from Van Gogh.   I am afraid I did not do justice to the cute lunch box, but it is charming.  I will fill it with some art stuff.  I need that inspiration.  When I got it, it was filled with fruit jellies from, what an exquisite lunch that is!   To the right (the unfortunate blue blob) is the premier gift of all---a silk scarf printed with a Van Gogh painting.  It is absolutely beautiful, but it was too much for me to even attempt.  My try to paint it folded does give the impression of fabric, but I fell way short on the colors.    They are, needless to say, very complex.

The other gifts are a very delicate lace handkerchief from Brugges---handmade Belgian lace!   It is so lovely and sophisticated.   It is hard to think of putting it to use....maybe weddings, child dedications, and funerals..or maybe just in a spot where I can admire it.

And---tastiest treat of all.--Belgian chocolates.  This is something you hear about, but I think the ones sold here are not the good stuff.  These were creamy, chocolate-y, hard to stop eating and fun, too.  The guy on the box is (I think) Dominique Persoone, who is a "Shock-O-Latier."   There is a brochure, but I can't read it.  I think he is a made-up person, but his motto is "Chocolate Is rock 'n' roll.  You know I love that.  Best chocolate I have EVER had!

A card with this little painting has been sent to the Smiths.....Thank you...and thanks for thinking of me on your adventure.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gifts from the Ito Family

During my recent trip to Japan, I stayed with a host family in Hiroshima.  They were the Ito's---Yoshikazu and Fumie.  Their daughter Megumi was visiting.  She recently retired from a ballet company that was touring Europe, and is now married and expecting to start a family.  Mr. and Mrs. Ito don't really speak English, though Mr. Ito can read and write it.   Megumi was our translator.  

It was a real treat to stay in their very comfortable home in the Saeki-ku section of Hiroshima.  I had been told that Japanese homes are small, but theirs was very spacious and comfortable.  Mr. Ito's mother also lives with them, but she has Alzheimer's and so I didn't have much interaction with her.  They served me a very nice meal, with special dishes. It was a huge meal, more than could be eaten at one sitting.  They also gave me breakfast the two days that I was there, but the breakfast was pretty conventional for me---cereal and yogurt.  They also had very good coffee.  It was somewhat of a surprise to me how good the coffee is in Japan--a little serendipity.  I found you could order it either hot or cold.

As is customary in Japan, we exchanged gifts.  They gave me a sweet hand-made doll dressed in a traditional kimono.  As I understand it, it was a gift from the group that was hosting us, Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center, as well as from the Itos.  So, as Mrs. Ito explained, she also wanted to give me a special gift.  It was a beautiful leather purse from Inden-ya.  I did a little internet research and learned that it the flowers are lacquer on deerskin and the process of making the leather dates back to 1582.  It is also a beautifully-crafted purse and I find pleasure in just holding it.

The Itos were wonderful hosts, as were all of the people I met in Hiroshima.  Really, they took hospitality to a whole new level.  It was a real treasure to get to know them.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Draw and Discover" at Luce Foundation Center

One of the biggest treats about being in Washington DC is the first-class art, and first-class art experiences.  This post is about the latter, as I am not necessarily enthralled with this painting....though, by the end of this post, you will see I have a greater appreciation of it than I did before.  It is called "Pioneers of the West" and it is by Helen Lunderberg.  She painted it in 1934...I think it definitely shows that era.  She was a WPA artist and later moved to abstractions and hard edges.  This particular painting is about 40" x 50" and shown in the Luce Center in one of their many glass display cases.  It is is not really in the galleries, and is part of the permanent collection that they have elected to keep on display in a special case.  I should make another post about that space because it is amazing.

So...back to me.  I went to the Luce Center at 2:30 today to join the sketching group.  It happens every Tuesday afternoon.  If you are in DC and are an artist, I HIGHLY recommend it.  Today's assignment (about 20 artists participating) was to find a painting and then demonstrate how it meets a one-point perspective of drawing.  I thought this was easy, but there are actually many perspectives in the painting I chose.  It turns out most of us had that same problem.

However I gave it a good shot, and this is my result.

I know, it is not very impressive.  I kind of forced the perspective...more than the artist who made the painting.  I learned something important, though, about thinking about where you are encouraging the viewer to look.  Nearly everyone today had a problem with this particular exercise.

I am not impressed with my sketch, though the class consensus was that I got it "right" in terms of perspective.  I think this is a good thing to think about, especially in landscapes.  BTW, I go kudos from the museum staff on the gestures of the figures.  I was the only student who "took on" this painting.

I would do this again!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Channeling Roy Lichtenstein

Last night in drawing class my assignment was to do a self portrait in the style of Roy Lichtenstein.  It was so much fun!   This is about 15" x 15" in size.  I am thinking about adding some color, but thought I'd post this first.   Last drawing class for awhile.  It has been fun.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Nieghborhood sketch ready to show

My neighborhood drawing framed and "ready to show" at Shaw.  It seems to have a sepia tone in the front left plantings and I am not sure why, or why that area shows as so dark.  Bad photograph.  It is a decent drawing.  I had to deal with the smudges and so I just smudged everything and went back and erased the whites.   Then I had to do some touch-ups.  

I may never do this type of thing again, but it was kind of fun and it does show typical buildings in my neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I actually did this a couple of weeks ago, but have had a lot of trouble getting a good picture.   It's still not great, but I am going with it.  So, this was an hour's work of sketching a few buildings near the art workshop (Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, or CHAW), where I am taking my drawing class. This scene is actually only a half block from my home.   I am so close to CHAW and love that.  Our assignment was to draw some buildings from the grounds of CHAW.  I kind of like what I did, but really want to do more with this drawng. My mission was to tell about the arched doorway and I think at this point it is about the garlands on the buiding that is nearer.  I will work more on this one because I am generally happy with the progress and also because I need to do what I set out to do and focus on that lovely arch.  Architectural drawing is a challenge, but I have already have someone in my house who recognizes the specific buildings I was drawing, and that is a big reward.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


This drawing is from last week.  I couldn't post it then because I was a little disappointed and left it behind.  When I saw it again a week later, I kind of liked it, and so did my teacher Carolina.  Now it is on the bulletin board where we post we like.  It is very "wonky" because it is a charcoal contour drawing.   For those who don't know, contour drawing is supposed to be more looking at the subject than looking at the object (or person...or whatever) being drawn.  That means that sometimes the lines don't actually match what is being drawn.  If you haven't tried it, I think you should.   To me, this drawing captures the "spirit" of the blender, and the push buttons are hilarious, and make me want to push them.  It was preliminary to an exercise that I feel I failed.

We were supposed to do a drawing that would be surreal, and would include a blender and some portions of the drawing studio interior.  I attempted to show two blenders dancing on pillows.  That would, of course, have created havoc when they were "turned on."  I failed so completely that I do not want to show my attempt and I will not try to complete it.  However, I am happy with this blender, though I would make some adjustments if I wanted to turn it into a painting.  /actually, I am happy to just let it be.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Carolina's Boots

Last week we worked on drawing the teacher's boots.  It seems like a simple subject, but it was very challenging!  I feel like I want to complete it, but don't know if I will.  I would have to work from a photograph, and I have come to hate doing that.  My teacher, by the way, is Carolina Mayorga.  She pushes us to be accurate in the drawings.  The darks are from graphite, which I dampened.

It took me almost a week to post this because I have had company, which has been lots of fun.  If I do any more work on this, I will post it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Drawing class Week 2

This was my second week of drawing class at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.  Last week we did a one-hour drawing of a cardboard box, and I didn't post that because I thought it was dull...but the drawing process was good and challenged us on perspective and texture.  I posted my first gesture drawing of some flowers instead, and.I was happy with that.

This week's one-hour drawings were of yarn or cord.  I chose a ball of yarn, but was thinking---another boring project!  Why did I sign on for this?  I mean, I can do it--but why?  I made a little loop on the front to at least add some interest and then set to work because that is what I was there for.

Well, by the end of the class I have a whole new attitude about drawing yarn.  I am not completely satisfied with this drawing, and would have needed a few more hours to finish it.  I may have overworked it.  As it was, I chose to give the loop emphasis and to briefly sketch the rest.  With more time, I may have built more of a diagonal leading to the loop.  I am very happy with the appearance I was able to get of the softness of the yarn, with more time, I may have instead softened the specific threads around the loop.  Lots to think about.  Drawing yarn is not boring, and I am happy to get back into drawing!  By the way, size is 18" x 24," so it is pretty big for a drawing of a ball of yarn.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cherry Blossom Time in DC

I didn't get it until this year.  The cherry blossoms  in Washington DC are amazing---really, they are---but part of the experience is understanding that it will only be a few days that thwy cam be appreciated.  You literally have to make your plans around the blooming cycle.  So this year I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Tidal Basin, site of the amazing cherry trees that were a donation on the city of Tokyo to Washington DC, and experience the beauty.  It was so crowded, and you hear speech in many languages, but it is unbelievably beautiful.  I had tears a lot of the time because of the beauty.  I am so grateful that I was able to walk around the Tidal Basin and appreciate these blooms and what they mean.  I recently had the revelation that the message of the cherry blossoms is that events in our lives are fleeting and we must pay attention or they are gone.  The bloom on these cherry trees are visible for a very few days.  You must pay attention or you will miss them.

Remember that.  It has a lot to do with your whole life.. I  have read haiku almost my whole adult life and wondered why the cherry blooms are such a compelling subject.  Now I know.

I did this sketch on a bench looking out to the Jefferson Memorial from one of many vantage points.  This one happened to have an empty bench, which was rare because there were many fans of the blooms present.  It's not my greatest work...but it will always have meaning to me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Return to the blog!!!!

I began a new drawing class tonight, and I am inspired to return to the blog.  Informally, it will now be known as Plum Gallery East, because I am in Washington DC.  This drawing is certainly not the best of my work (and my photo doesn't help) but I am proud of getting back into drawing from life.  I just haven't been doing it, and this was my first attempt tonight.  Recently, I took a few classes in Alexandria where we painted from photos.  The teacher was very good, and I loved the whole setting, but I need to get back into the sketching/drawing routine....and also to plein air, now that the weather is warming up.  This sketch was fun.  It is a one-minute it is very "sketchy."  I enjoyed that a lot.

The class is about a block from my house!  Some people would say less, but I say it is two half-blocks, meaning one block.  The teacher is great.  We actually did quite a bit of practice on perspective by drawing a cardboard box.  That was fun, too.  Plus, we could enjoy wine while drawing.  It may not get any better than this....though my plan is for my drawing to get better.