The Christmas Cactus Is Getting Ready

Our longtime Christmas cactus surprised us by bursting into its holiday colors a few weeks ago. I moved it outside in June and it seems that it relishes its new location on the patio table. I can see it from the kitchen window and notice it first thing in the morning as I make coffee. It is so bright and cheery. I have the feeling that I will be painting it a few more times this fall.

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The Carver

Our model for our Tuesday Zoom sketching session was a wood block artist and he posed as though he were carving. It was a beautiful pose with strong light and shadow.

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Bayside Artist

My friend and I were painting at Kanaka Landing in Liberty Station, here in San Diego. We were standing at our easels and my friend said, “All we need is someone to come and sit on this bench.”

An hour or so later, another artist appeared and asked, “Would it bother you if I sat here?”

“Not at all,” we said. I was delighted when he pulled out his sketching material because I knew that meant he would stay put a long while.

I abandoned my other painting and quickly made a drawing with a red pastel pencil on my black Bristol board. After working on the hills and the bay, I decided not to paint in the body or the bench. I thought the solidness of the black balanced the palm trees and their reflections in the bay.

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The Man with the Blue Head

It rarely works out well to skip over basic steps like making a preliminary sketch, but I am mostly too eager to paint to be disciplined. Yesterday, though, I did start Tuesday’s Zoom figure session with a 20- minute warmup. Right away I knew I wanted to focus on the model’s posture and his facial expression. He seemed confident, proud, and a little hurt. I did not capture these nuances in this first attempt, but I was able to learn from this sketch and make the following 60-minute gouache painting.

I caught his posture, his slimness, and his lovely round head better for having done the first sketch, although his facial expression was still not right. But, there was one more 20- minute pose for the evening, so I still had a chance. I decided to paint directly without drawing and to use a large one and a half-inch flat brush. After the paint dried I added marks with a pen and pastel pencils.

I finally got his eyes and expression right in this sketch. This is my favorite from the evening because it shows what I noticed first off about him. Also, I like the marks the flat brush makes.

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Rocks and Boulders

We went to Elfin Forest and enjoyed the fall colors, such as they are in San Diego in November. I had been meaning to improve my understanding of rocks and boulders, and the location was perfect.

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Archer or Arches?

Balboa Park has a 30- acre archery range that winds its way under Cabrillo Bridge and along a canyon full of eucalyptus and palm trees. We painted at the target practice area at the start of the trail.

It was such a beautiful fall morning and there was so much to see. I got entangled in trying to show the arches behind the target area, and it is confusing if you try to make sense of the background. I probably should have chosen either the arches or the archer.

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Birds of Dog Beach

I went to Dog Beach expecting to paint dogs as they ran and chased. But there were only a few dogs, surfers, and onlookers. The birds, however, were abundant and I eventually gave in and sketched them into this gouache painting.

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