The Art of Courage: Use Your Words

March 23, 2014

A "Courage Stone" given to my sons by a resource teacher in 2nd Grade.

"Courage is not the absence of despair;
it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead
in spite of despair."

-Rollo May, Psychologist

Life is not easy.  There are going to be times when you can't do anything to improve your job, your situation, or your mood.  Always remember that you can get back up, and try, try again.  Don't ever give up.  You will find the place you fit in, and you will move mountains.  Strive for the best in all that you do.  It's okay to leave a job or a relationship if it is not the best for you.  Walk away with pride in knowing that you are better.  You can do better.  You will do better.  Be courageous in knowing this, and remember that your mother never wants you to be in a job, relationship or situation in which you couldn't be anything but yourself, and your BEST self.  Use your best abilities, find your super power, and please don't use bad words.  You are better than that, and in choosing to use your best language, you give grace, empower and inspire others to do the same.

The Art of Rain: Salmon Spawning, Umbrellas, Puddles and more...

The rains have come to Marin and California!
I told you they would... (see my last post about the drought).
Dog Walk in the Rain | Fairfax, CA | 2/8/14 (Aidan + Mesa)
I have been enjoying the rain so much, my Instagram stream of photos is full of rainy day images of raindrops, buckets, wet flowers and streets. I even was one of the 4 finalists in "Colors of the Week" on Instagram last Sunday for my B&W photo of a puddle in the rain.  Today, I took my middle schoolers to view the Leo T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area in West Marin. After 18 years in Marin County, and driving past Shafter Bridge hundreds of times, I realized I had never seen the salmon spawning and decided to take my sons. There were many others out to view these native fish, returning to their birthplace to spawn.  Click the thumbnails below to view our Salmon Spawing images from today:
Salmon Spawning 2014Salmon Viewing 2014Rain in Marin 2014Waterfall dropping into Lagunitas CreekSalmon Spawning 2014Bridge along waterfall into Lagunitas Creek
Male & Female Salmon Spawning 2014Pilgrimage to see the Salmon Spawning 2014Shafter Bridge, West MarinSalmon Pilgrimage II_ 2014Salmon Pilgrimage I 2014

Salmon Spawning 2014, a set on Flickr.
We bumped into the local Founder of Stapleton Ballet out for a walk with her husband. We also were lucky to be there when Candice, a volunteer with SPAWN, was alongside the creek, pointing out the unique fish and telling us what she knew about each one. One female's tail was completely white and she was very spotted. This apparently means she is an older fish, having been around the creek for a couple weeks now.  After the females release their eggs, they protect "the Redd"(the spot where their eggs are) from other females using it for up to 18 days before they die.  The newer females are darker with no torn up fins. The Males with white on their backs get this way when other males bite them to compete for females.  There is also a fungus that grows on the fish after they are bitten that appears white. It was absolutely incredible to see 2 foot long fish in the creek.  I wished I'd had my good camera with 300m lens!
Many years ago, I worked for a very brief stint with MMWD and the Fisheries Biologist, assisting with drawings of woody debris structures and computer work for a report on the fingerlings in the creek. This was a summer job and I enjoyed wearing waders, working alongside a Humboldt University Fisheries Student and learning how to find fish in the creek. ( Click here to see Gregory Andrew's report that many of us Seasonal helpers participated in via MMWD.)  What a thrill it was to share this with my sons today. If you'd like to go out and see the fish, you may find the directions to several viewing areas in Marin County, here. Stay dry and have fun!

The Drought: This Too Shall Pass

January 18, 2014

As we all know by now, California is facing a drought of historic proportions.  This has affected all of us here in California, and even my art has stalled like the rain that holds back from the skies.  One of my commissions is for a local ranch that has grass-fed beef.  I was stalling my painting of this property because I wanted it to rain and knew this land of rolling hills in West Marin would look best with green grasses.  I've now been stalling more than a month, and I may be forced to paint from the images provided by the family from years past.  It is not a bad thing, but I love making a real connection with the colors of the landscape before I paint it, even if I begin plein air and take work back to my studio, I really aim for true colors.  What is a landscape artist to do when the land is not cooperating?

Patience.  This too shall pass.  Another client contacted me today wanting a dyptch with blues and water.  Possibly a scene from Inverness or the SF Bay... Water times two... large canvases for a ten foot ceiling.  Once again, landscapes depend on water, and landscape paintings are frequently a reflection of the beauty and quality of our land and it's natural resources.

At least we have the Bay... The surfers are doing well.  I was out in Bolinas last weekend with my son who is learning to surf.  He created the best art project we have seen so far this year from my family.  I have yet to put brush to canvas, but I have been gathering images, and plotting my next attack to the big, white field of "what's next".

I had a great trail run at Big Rock Ridge off Lucas Valley Road this month.  I will definitely be painting from my series of photos taken that day.  It was a miraculous hour with the best lighting.  I have some images that called out to for paint.  Even a cyclist on a red bike that is destined for a big canvas.  Stay tuned...

The painting drought will be over soon, as will the water drought.  It can't last forever.  Nothing lasts forever.  My son was falling asleep by my side tonight and he mentioned my ex-husband as "a relationship forgotten by God"... From my most frequently professing, atheist 11 year old, this was probably the most profound message he had said to me in a lifetime.  I answered, "Perhaps by God, but not by me".  This brought him sleep, and me a few quiet tears.  The rains will come, as they always do... Even when we are in a period of drought, there will always be tears from God when he is ready to remember.  Tonight, he is still trying to forget, surfing away the days of summer, and not ready to let the the winter into his heart.


In the Studio Today: 2014 + The Green Pitcher Blog

January 1, 2014

 Happy 2014!  This is a fun Land Art project I made today on my dog walk-- the 2014 was made from eucalyptus bark that was very orange in color in the inside.  It glowed in the sunset, and I snapped a few photos to commemorate the first day of the new year.

I am starting a new blog this year to sort my environmental art, organic food posts and sustainability interests into one special location, all while learning to use  I have wanted to learn the tool for some time, but have been a user for 7 years over here now, so I am going to keep both blogs going.
The new blog, called "The Green Pitcher" will focus on methods of sustainability across all practices in life.  To the future and the art of preservation.  (Click the link above or the image of the pitcher to visit the new blog in it's humble beginnings.  I will be experimenting with new templates on this blog soon to incorporate advertising and plugins, but it's up and has a Twitter account @TheGreenPitcher  )  Enjoy!

Social Media Tools for Artists II:
Using "Twenty20" to Sell your Art

November 26, 2013 

In my previous post, I talked about the social media tools, "Instagram" and the daily photo/art contest there called "Colors of the Week".  It was a long post because I wanted to explain how you could start using Instagram as an artist if you never have been exposed to it before, and I explained how I like to use Colors of the Week to sharpen my eye with the colors I see in life each day.  If you want to read that post, click here.

In today's post, I will explain one way to SELL your photos from Instagram.  Many users of Instagram post a link in their profile that goes directly to their "Twenty20" gallery, where the Santa Monica-based company Twenty20 (formerly "InstaCanvas") creates and distributes items made with your images that you select for your personal Twenty20 gallery.  Mine is located here.
or at the url

If you click on any of the images in my gallery, you will have a choice of purchasing prints, t-shirts, iPhone cases, notecards, etc...  Artists receive 20% of the profit, which is not a lot... but for not having to do anything except maintain this gallery, it's a bit like "licensing".  The more you sell, the better you will do.  Below is an example of an iPhone case which has an image I took in a photography class at Fort Point in San Francisco.  There is an iconic "most photographed" hallway... and if you are a photographer in San Francisco, you probably have snapped this too!  I think it looks pretty cool as an iPhone case.

Have fun selling your photos and art!  It can be really addictive, if not lucrative.  I think the best thing about it is that you can print your own images easily as gifts for those in your family, and enter additional contest "Challenges" on Twenty20 for a chance to get published.  Visit to learn more.
This is a pillow available on Twenty20
 that uses one of my photographs taken in
Tomales California near Stemple Creek Ranch