Last flowers of summer

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Wizard Island, Crater Lake, Oregon

What a facinating place,

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Sketching lesson in Tokyo, teachers are there when you look

If we are alert, in tune, and seeking then all of life is our classroom filled with lessons at the most unexpected times.

The gardens of the Nezu Museum of art in Tokyo are wild, natural, and un-manicured, in contrast to most of the gardens we saw. Pathways wind among ponds and bridges, small hutches and statues. In that garden I learned a transforming lesson about painting.

My teacher will never know she taught. She was sitting on a bridge painting a small tree that sat on a rock island in the middle of a pond. I only walked by twice, once in each direction, never stopping, only slowing to glance at her work, a simple picture of only the tree and the rock. When you are alert, in tune and seeking, that is all it takes, I got it.

First, it hit me that too often I try to paint everything, any good piece of art must have an object that everything else revolves around, she was ignoring all of the distracting background and focusing on the object of her interest. Second, with the tip of her brush she hinted at the details she saw, I too often try to paint in broad strokes, she painted just enough to trick the mind into filling in the blanks. Lastly, to do what she did, she must have observed more closely than I do, life and art are both enhanced by observation, I hurry and it shows, she took the time to look, a lesson I needed to learn.

Writing the last paragraph I realize there must be metaphors for life there, but that is not the point. The point is, I was wrestling with some art issues, and a brief encounter with a woman I will never know taught me what I needed to take me to the next step. Here is the first sketch I did the next day, inspired by her. Thank you for teaching me.img_2404-2

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Flowers in a yellow vase

A nice early morning sipping green tea while sketching the kitchen flowers at our Airbnb.

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MacRostie tasting room, raising the bar in customer experience

We had the best winery experience ever this morning at MacRostie winery in Sonoma. As we walked from the parking lot for our 10.00am tour appointment we were greeted and handed a taste of Sauvignon Blanc. They seated us at a corner table on the deck, we learned that it was voted the most romantic tasting room table in Sonoma, for good reason.

Kim and Olivia were our guides. They brought some amazing wines, each with an amazing story – much more than just the names of the grapes and where they were grown. We learned the history of the ranches and farms, the people, it was so delightful. We toured the faculty and the vines, then came back to a plate of cheese, apricots, almonds and crackers. If wine gets its terroir from the soil and weather, then a tasting room gets its terroir from the people, Kim and Olivia made it bright like Sauvignon Blanc with depths found only in a library Pinot.

It is rare that you like every wine in a tasting, but all were wonderful. They specialize in just Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and they do it well. And they are environmentally sustainable, even encouraging the local raptors to help with pest control, I did a sketch of one of the houses they build for the Hawks.

We have been to many wineries, but without a doubt the experience from start to finish was superb, we will be back and can recommend this to anyone visiting the Sonoma area. Set an appointment and do the tour, it is worth it.

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Morning tea in Windsor

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Plein air painting in Mukilteo

Great day, beautiful place

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