Fall colors and bare branches

Looking out the window on a blustery fall morning. An abstract collage of color with bare branches crisscrossing the scene.

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Inktober 1-3

Every October pen and ink folks do a sketch a day from a list of prompts. This is my first year, hear are the first three days sketches.

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Testing a new tripod

Most of the time my lap has supported my sketchpad and paints. I like to travel light so that works well. Yet after seeing so many urban and travel sketchers use a tripod for sketching I had to give it a go. So I built one from an old easel – thiswas the trial run. the fall colors and the beautiful Mukilteo Library get’s the honor.

It worked well for the preliminary sketch. I don’t always use pencil first, but with buildings that have a lot of angles it helps. My normal is to go straight to ink from a fountain pen or a Micron. I liked the ability to step back and get a better view of the sketch and the scene.

When you are in a busy location your view may get blocked, doing the pencil first helps. The ink is in now, and I am set to paint. My Expeditionary Art Art-tool-kit is clamped on, with a paper towel slipped underneath to keep the wind from blowing it away. Water is in a urine sample container (unused) – check with medical folks you know as they work great for water.

The completed sketch. Love the autumn colors. A small fan brush is wonderful for leaves and trees.

I think the new set up will work when I have the car, I have a similar portable set up for when it’s just my shoulder bag.

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San Antonio, its hot!

If anybody asks you can assure them that it is hot in San Antonio in August. My seminar schedule took me to Randolph Air Force base, which is 22 miles northeast from downtown San Antonio’s famous river walk. I spent three days teaching a wonderful group  about writing and communication. Thanks to a couple of people in the seminar I discovered 1908 House of Wine & Ale, on Main St. in old town Cibolo, Texas. I sat on the porch of this old house that they converted into a restaurant, it was a toasty 98F, but the IPA was cold, there was shade from aged trees, and there was an old house to sketch.

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Tricia flew in on Thursday afternoon so we could spend my birthday weekend at the River Walk. Our hotel was on the river just a few blocks south of the heart of the city. The temperature went up to over 100F, so walking in the afternoon was limited. Mornings found me sitting on a stone wall next to the city sketching as runners, walkers, and even  a couple of paddle-boarders went past.


We visited The Alamo on Friday. Since my childhood days of Fess Parker and Disney’s depiction of Davy Crockett I have wanted to see it. The real history is even better than the sanitized Disney version, though they still have the “coonskin caps” for sale like the one I had as a boy, I resisted the urge to get a new one. It was pretty warm so did not take time to sketch, yet I did take a few photos that will let me revisit the day in a cooler setting.

A friend of Tricia’s urged her to visit other missions in the area, they are less touristy and even more beautiful. Saturday we went to Mission San Jose, part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

2018-08-18 16-36Early Sunday morning I walked about a half-mile up the river into the city looking for Main Plaza, where I knew there was a church; we heard the bells. Mornings are often the best as the temperature is still cool, people are out walking and running, and on a Sunday they are heading for an early church service at the San Fernando Cathedral.


Nice birthday, one of best meals ever at Nonna Osteria – wild boar pappardelle was so good. A trip I will remember, and I will also remember to visit San Antonio at a cooler time of the year.


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Leach Botanical Gardens, Portland, Oregon

Two weeks ago we spent the weekend in Portland with friends. They took us to the Leach Botanical Gardens in Southeast Portland. I was surprised to learn of its existence, since I grew up not all that far away from it and lived in the area for 37 years. What a wonder in the city.

John, a pharmacist, and Lillia, a botanist, Leach bought the 4.5 acres along Johnson Creek  in 1931; the property was devoted to Lillia’s love of plants. Thankfully they donated the property to the Portland Parks so we get the pleasure of enjoying their legacy.

This is the stone cabin they lived in while they built their wonderful house, which is open to visitors.

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TheTravelsketcher in the Mukilteo Beacon

Thrilled, and honored, are the two words that keep going through my mind as the reality that I now have a column in the Mukilteo Beacon, the local weekly of my town, sinks in. On the first and third weeks of each month a sketch with some brief notes will be featured. For those who do not get the paper, it is online at the Mukilteo Beacon site, in the “Columns” section. Here is the first one, with more to come tomorrow.

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Hunting in Puget Sound

The tide was lower than normal yesterday, exposing green rocks and providing a rich hunting ground in the shallow water for the local herons. A clear cerulean blue sky changed the often gray green water to a deep blue.

Watching a heron hunt is a lesson in patience, standing completly still for minutes at a time, taking an occasional step so delcatly that the water is barely disturbed. The unsuspecting fish unfortuanate to wander too close is snatched with lightening speed.

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