Spring! Iris!

Iris, ink & watercolor, 8x5 in

Purple Iris, ink & watercolor, 8×5 in

I put my sketching stool in my front garden to paint the one iris that decided to bloom this year. The past two years none of them bloomed and I think it’s because you’re maybe supposed to dig up the bulbs and separate them and plant them further apart when they get too crowded? Gardeners, your advice welcomed!

I missed sketching the first blooming of my roses, when each rose is so perfect and beautiful it’s just heart breaking. I was “too busy,” putting it off one day too many and then the big rains came and the fresh perfect roses were no more.

I really enjoyed drawing and painting while practicing close observation of the different shapes and structures of this amazing plant.

Posted in Flower Art, Ink and watercolor wash, Plein Air, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Dog Chews #6: Saved the Worst for Last: Puffed Pig Snout and a Tooble

Puffed Pig Snout and a Toozle, ink & watercolor 5x7 in

Puffed Pig Snout and a Toozle, ink & watercolor 5×7 in

I am so glad to move on from this series finally! Lately I’ve been sketching lovely spring scenery, trees and flowers but before I post them, here are the last and the grossest of the dog treats. These two items were neither a treat to draw nor did my dog’s digestion appreciate them (to put it mildly!)

The Puffed Pig Snout is exactly that, a kind of weird half-face; really quite disturbing. Millie was quite happy to munch it right up, though she will also happily eat cat poo and grass, so that’s not saying much.

I labeled the Tooble incorrectly in the sketch as I’d lost the label and remembered wrong. It’s not a sheep esophagus, it’s a smoked beef trachea, cleverly renamed a “Tooble” for marketing purposes. I’m glad that they are finding ways of using all of the animal, but still…

I’ve completed my investigation of the weird new world of dog treats and we settled on Millie’s two favorite chew treats: Pizzle sticks and raw organic marrow bones.

Phew! Done! Now on to something completely different!

Posted in Animals, Ink and watercolor wash, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Dog Chews #5: Pig From Head (Ear) to Toe (Hoof)

Dog Chews # 5, ink and watercolor sketch, 5x7 in

Dog Chews # 5, ink and watercolor sketch, 5×7 in

Second to last of the gross dog chew sketches: pig ears and pig hooves. While these are pretty nasty, they aren’t the worst. That comes next. Pig ears are pretty popular but they are definitely dog junk food, more like big, thick, greasy potato chips than rawhide. Millie ate half an ear in just a few minutes and it didn’t do her digestion any favors. I will not be buying them again.

The hooves are not really digestible, they’re more for just the fun of gnawing on something and shredding bits off. They’re pretty hard so last a very long time. If they start to splinter or break they have to be thrown away, but they’re very cheap so I don’t mind.

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My Art in a Book, a Field Guide and a New Commission

I am happy to say that the excellent new book Urban Sketching: The Complete Guide to Techniques by Thomas Thorspecken, includes this “Urban Animals” page (above) featuring my sketches of cats. When the publisher contacted me to request the use of the images, I was delighted. I was even happier when they sent my complimentary copies of the book and I saw all the really useful information and wonderful sketches it contains.

Field Guide to San Francisco

Field Guide Cover

Field Guide Cover

Then I got an email from an art director from the San Francisco office of the national advertising agency, Ogilvy. They were moving and she was designing a “Field Guide” to the new SF neighborhood for their employees. When searching for sketches of the area she found mine, and as she looked through my blog she found sketches to illustrate most of the pages in the guide.

(This would be a good time to point out to fellow art bloggers how important it is to tag or attach categories to your images and your posts. WordPress makes it easy; the feature is a little hidden in Blogger but it really helps to find posts or images with specific content.)

In the end, they licensed 18 of my sketches for use in the printed field guide. Above are a few of the pages, brilliantly composed by the art director.

What I’m working on now

I am honored to be working on a commissioned large watercolor painting for a couple who live in Europe now, but were married in a lovely building in a Bay Area park. The wife wants to give her husband the painting for their anniversary. I visited the venue and took photos and we agreed on a composition. The painting is underway and so far is going well, but because it is large and has many details, it is keeping me very busy (and happy) in the studio.

(I’m leaving out any identifying details about the locations to make sure there’s no way her husband will find out. I know that seems unlikely, but when working on a previous commissioned painting of a house for a surprise anniversary present for the husband, their daughter found the work-in-progress painting I’d posted of her parents’ house when she Googled “Oakland Federal Building,” landed on my sketch of the building, scrolled down and the next post was her home. She was so surprised to see it she called her parents!)

Posted in Animals, Art business, Oil Painting, Published work, Sketchbook Pages, Urban Sketchers, Watercolor | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Stuff Millie Picked Up and Carried Home on Dog Walks

Stuff Millie Carried Home From Walks, ink and watercolor 5x7.5 in

Stuff Millie Carried Home From Dog Walks, ink and watercolor 5×7.5 in

When Millie and I go out for walks she takes in the world around us with all her senses and when she finds something interesting, carries it home with her. In the sketch above are some of her more attractive treasures. Not pictured above are the various pieces of plastic, the advertising flyers for gardeners or maids stuffed in a baggie with a rock, and the many sticks and branches she’s carried home (the latter to chew and shred to mulch).

She walks with her nose to the ground for scents; ears perked for the sounds of gophers underground or dogs nearby or birds in the trees; eyes scanning for squirrels; and always looking for things to pick up and carry (or eat…ick!) during our walks.

One of the first things I had to teach her was “Leave it!” and “Drop It!” since so much of what’s on the ground in the city is nasty. She’s pretty good about dropping things, especially when she knows I’m carrying treats to swap with her for the yucky thing.

Posted in Animals, Ink and watercolor wash, Life in general, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dog Chews #4: From Stinky to Scratchy

Dog Chews 4, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 4, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Sorry if you’re tired of dog chew posts…only two more to go after this and then back to more savory subjects. The only one of the above chews that met with any success was the hideously smelly “low odor” braided bully stick at the top. After chewing for a while the braided sections separated and I saved the other two pieces for later. But even with the door open and the air cleaner blowing freshly filtered air on me, the smell was disgusting.

My son recommended antlers for a long-lasting chew but his dog, a Pit mix is a heartier chewer and gives the antlers a good workout. (They also gave her teeth a good workout–she just had to have a cracked tooth removed for several hundred dollars.) Millie couldn’t make a dent in the very hard deer antler. She quickly scraped the marrow (?) out of the split-lengthwise (very expensive) elk antler and then had no interest in it after that first hour of chewing. 

The last bit at the bottom is a white rawhide chew called “Digest-Eeze,”  to be more digestible than plain rawhide, though still no more nutritious than eating your shoes or wallet would be (and these dogs chews are definitely eating my wallet!!!)

Millie was mildly interested in the rawhide; she chewed it for a few minutes and then buried it in the yard. When I gave her one in the house she buried it between the sofa cushions. She dug the one in the yard up a couple weeks later and chewed it enthusiastically. Maybe she thinks they need to ripen before eating? 

Posted in Animals, Ink and watercolor wash, Life in general, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dog Chews #3: Old School

Dog Chews 3, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in

Dog Chews 3, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

These two dog chew toys, the NylaBone and Kong, have been around for a long time. The NylaBone is made of plastic and shaped like a cartoon version of a dog bone. It has no flavor or scent, but must be attractive to some dogs since the company still makes them.

Millie gave it a half-hearted chew, leaving a few teeth marks, and then abandoned it. They’re not recommended by most experts since bits of indigestible plastic break off and get swallowed. (Nylabone’s website says that they are non-edible and should only be given to puppies with baby teeth, never to dogs with adult teeth, which I didn’t know when I bought it).

It’s not that Millie is opposed to chewing up plastic stuff though.Yesterday she completely shredded one plastic planter pot and buried another in the yard. At least she doesn’t chew up remote controls, hats and shoes like my son’s dog did in her early years.

The Kong is made of rubber and is meant to provide doggie entertainment and mental stimulation. You stuff the hole in the middle with kibble mixed with Kong cheese whiz spray or peanut butter. The pet store actually sells jars of peanut butter for dogs. Since I don’t eat peanut butter myself, I bought a jar of the dog butter (I’m a sucker, I know!). Millie made a lackluster effort to dig out a little of the kibble-peanut butter mix but didn’t show any interest in chewing on the Kong itself.

A couple days ago she gently and lovingly chewed all the plastic buttons off of my favorite fleece pajama top that I left on my bed. Since she always chews the eyes and ears off of stuffed animals I give her I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Posted in Animals, Ink and watercolor wash, Sketchbook Pages | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments