Friday, May 04, 2012

View from the Headlands

Actually this is a rest bench in the Botanical Gardens which we visited just north of Mendocino. Quite a wind created a very agitated sea and a very exciting view. Flowers are in bloom everywhere.


Google deals brought us to Hill House, high above bluffs looking out over the Pacific. While the tiny town reminds me of Wellfleet every vista is so new and amazing as to be not believable. They came here to cut the redwoods down to build San Francisco after the gold rush. They have made most of the town into the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

Monday, April 23, 2012

SketchCrawl #35 - A World Event

Washington Square, North Bach, San Francisco
The 35th World Wide SketchCrawl event took place this Saturday, April 21st. I attended with the SF Sketchers MeetUp group which started out at Cafe Trieste in North Beach. The group continued on to Washington Square and ultimately ended up at Fisherman's Wharf. I stayed until about 2:30 and totally enjoyed a record breaking warm and sunny San Francisco day. The sketches from participants in San Francisco can be viewed along with other sketches posted in separate forums from around the world. Through our SF Sketchers group I have discovered true "mindfulness" as the experience of sitting in one place for long enough to capture an in-sight of the location allows for an extremely rich experience. The noises, smells and conversations all around me tickle the edges of my awareness as I focus very carefully on the page. I have a water brush that allows me to paint in bits of color from my tiny water color box. I jump back and forth between favoring the pencil or the pen with colors. I am learning how to pack the essentials in my backpack, which now includes; snack of carrots, gorp, and water, a folding stool, extra jacket, sunscreen, iPhone, wallet, two small pads, pencils, 4 pens and 2 water brushes. Hat and extra layers are worn. Sometimes I take the iPad to draw on, but not this time. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tickled pink

Richmond Flats
Sometime last Fall Bert and I went on a bird walk way out in the Richmond flats near the waste management plant. Walking out along a canal, our guide spotted many new-to-us birds. I was busy with my camera as the space, colors and new landscape was thrilling. I painted the above from one of those photos displayed on my iPad. Since I've been going to the monthly meetings of the El Cerrito Art Association and last night John Finger was going to do a demo of his water color technique which I did not want to miss, I decided to try my luck in their mini art show that takes place at the beginning of each of the meetings. Well, they hung a red ribbon on mine and you gotta know I was tickled pink!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Trip Day

SF Skyline

It was that kind of day - crystal clear, cool and little wind. It was our trip day and walking over the Golden Gate Bridge was next on the list. The traffic was lite over the Bay Bridge from the East Bay side of things and we didn't have too much trouble finding a parking place somewhere in the Presidio among all the construction that is preparing for the 75th Bridge Anniversary celebration in mid-May. I had made a wish as we crossed the Bay Bridge, but never thought it would actually come true. There were many walkers and bikers and at some point I heard a girl calling out and pointing - a seal was swimming down below. It was exciting to watch as several seals dived and surfaced. A little further on as we checked over the side again, there were more seals, No! Dolphins! And several leaping together out of the water. OMG! We were glued now to the rail and didn't make much steady progress. We watched as a catamaran almost cut off a sloop that was about to go under the bridge. And then I saw it - a whale surfaced and flipped its tail and then resurfaced with blow hole bubbles and more tail flipping. That was the wish! And then there was the kite surfer with a red kite going back and forth and also crossing back and forth across the wake of a tourist boat near the bridge. And then the huge freighters leaving, and coming with a pilot boat alongside. And the red helicopter that shot under the bridge, then over it for what had to be a tourist thriller. And just before we returned to the SF side we saw surfers grabbing waves to ride them along the rocky shore edge and turn away as the waves broke into these shoreline rocks. It took us about 5 hours to cross over and back the total 4 miles. But what a show we witnessed! No tolls, No admission tickets.

Approaching the Marin side - Dead ahead is home in the East Bay

View from observation platform to Marin Headlands

Rocky shore near Fort where surfers spotted

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

High on sketching

iPad sketch from Bernal Heights

I recently joined It's a site that lists groups you may join that are doing things you like to do. They are basically free, and you join, and then show up at the designated place. I've found a book group, a hiking group for over 50's, and last weekend I found a sketching group.
So I drove to Bernal Heights (look up on google maps) and started sketching with my iPad. It was sunny and beautiful! and the veiws were to-die-for. We met @ 4:00 for coffee and shared our sketches with the 7 people + group leader who showed up. The leader said 62 people had clicked to join the group. That's a lot in 3 days. The group was very diverse and so friendly and willing to share their work and their tools. I learned there is a water brush that keeps its own water inside the brush for painting without having to bring buckets of water with you.
We posted our finished sketches to our MeetUp site and this morning the leader emailed me that she had sent my iPad sketch along with another watercolor sketch by a group member to the Bernal Heights blog.
What fun!

Monday, December 05, 2011

We're not in "Kansas" anymore

As I booted the computer this morning to start work on the class I'm writing for EDCO, I noticed the weather.... on the iGoogle dashboard - also out the window. Amazing. Yup. It's clear, sunny and jacket weather. The wind has kept the fog "at bay" and our view seems to have had a window wash. We went to a Meetup Sunday for a new iPhone App - Mobile Adventure Walks - and learned how to create a guided walk using an iPhone with GPS. I can't wait to get our new phones to write a walk for my neighborhood in Kensington. There are no walks yet for the East Bay and I already know some amazing ones with views to rival those in SF. A shout-out to Aaron who lead his Meetup and taught us how to use the App. We sampled the walk Aaron had created for us. Within one mile in North Beach, we saw the Vesuvio Pub, a hanging book sculpture near the City Lights Bookstore, a 3/4 sized model of a chapel from Assisi, Italy, hilltop views of SF Bay, steps down Montgomery St. on Telegraph Hill, a back alley in Chinatown to a fortune cookie factory with yummy, fresh, samples, then back to our starting point for a group photo. The weather may be somewhat unchanging, but the city has all the diversity anyone could ever seek.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Noted events in SF

 The music is everywhere and wonderful. I can't finish the unpacking at home because there's always something else to go listen to. Yesterday we heard John Prine - one of my favorites at the 11th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate park. There were clearly lots of people who called in sick - all ages, with their dogs, bikes, kids and picnics. The multiple stages had packed audiences but we heard pretty well from an overlooking hill.

On Thursday night we got tickets at the San Francisco Opera House for Lucretia Borgia starring Renee Fleming. We sat somewhere near the roof in the upper balcony in separate locations as there were hardly any tickets left. Fortunately there were large screen TV monitors hanging for the balcony. But we could hear and see the action and she is the diva her reputation claims she is. She was beautiful and passionate and her voice is sweeter than melting chocolate.

 Last Sunday there was a free performance of a simulcast of Puccini's Turandot by the San Francisco Opera at the Giant's AT&T Park. No baseball was played, but the stadium was packed and the opera was displayed on their large monitor. What an amazing setting! The fog and light misty rain cleared and the view over the bay only added to the experience. San Franciscans take their opera very seriously and the turnout really showed this. O.B.T.W., the story is good, too. Turandot, a Chinese princess is angry that she has to marry an unknown prince just because he answers her riddles. After some drama and an amazing aria by the winning prince they work it out and she calms down to her fate. Maybe the Red Sox could use a few arias to add to their operatic drama. But that's another sad story.