A view of Langley waterfront

In the village of Langley, there’s a small waterfront park with tables and benches to sit on while enjoying the activity occurring in the small harbor.  The view is relaxing and overflowed with beauty of the Saratoga Passage, mainland and Cascades in the far distance..  On the day I was there sketching the scenery and filling my camera with photos, the water was calm and there was no activity at the boat launch or within the small port and harbor.  This was good.  I had the entire beach to myself for sketching the island ambience on that calm day.

There is not a beach on Whidbey without an assortment of large gray weathered logs that used to be majestic tall trees felled by harvesters, or swept into rivers and water from land slides atop bluffs, or breaking away from log booms.  These bare logs (called deadheads)  will drift for years from one shore to another plus occasionally collide with marine activity to cause damage to small and large boats. These logs are swept up on the shoreline during the extremely high tides during winter storms.  Most of the higher logs will stay lodged on the beach for several years until they eventually decay from bugs, weather, encroaching beach grass and people chipping away at them for beach fire fuel.  The following winter’s high tides will again reach the lower logs sweeping them into the current to bring them off to other far away beaches throughout Puget Sound and possibly north into Canada.

Watercolor sketching in Dunn Gardens in Seattle

I finally met up with my cousin for a day of sketching in the Dunn Gardens designed by the famous landscape architect, Olmstead.  The garden is like walking through an imaginary wonderland with woodland trails loaded with old growth Douglas firs; old rhododendron bushes some 20 feet tall; trees blooming with a variety of exotic flowers new to me; unusual colorful miniature irises, columbines, and other small blooming flowers .  There are several ponds and open meadows with a small plant bearing tiny blue flowers covering the floor.   The wonderland goes on and on and we walked through only a small portion since we selected a perfect spot in the Grand Lawn to sketch a large patch of miniature irises under a grand Douglas fir.   Looking west toward Puget sound through all the trees and tall shrubs we could see the Olympics in the far distance.  There are no words to describe what our eyes witnessed through the landscape on that sunny day this week.

Both my cousin and I lived a stone’s throw away from this reclusive garden in the city and had never heard about it in the past. Of course, as kids, I probably never paid too much attention to adult conversation.   Now, I need to go back to sketch more and reminisce my old child neighborhood.


The lifting fog on Whidbey Island

An early morning walk in the fog along the beach on the island is beautiful and mysterious as the sun rays warm the earth lifting the moisture from the water’s surface.   Visibility is constantly changing by the unpredictable movements of the fog creating unidentifiable images in the distance.  One moment it can be thick and then suddenly change to a thin layer with brilliant sun rays beaming on the surface of the water.

The morning summer day I walked this particular beach, the low fog covered the water and beach with an eerie silence and stillness.  It was difficult to distinguish the line of the distance water’s edge where it met the fading sky.  The brilliant white sun just hung in the fog above the marked image of land still visible not far away.  Then, suddenly the sun won out and lifted the fog turning the earth into a warm glow.  I love it; one of the scenes I’ll always remember.

Sketch was done with water soluble graphite pencil and a water wash.

A Whidbey Wild, Windy, Wet, Winter


My two paintings represent no relationship to  a wintery scene on Whidbey Island; but, in a way they do, since this is what I enjoy doing when the weather gets really wet, windy and cold in winter:  Painting the plants from nature that I had collected during the long autumn months after the plants start to dry and turn rich with color.

Now, the weather indicates spring is heading our way, noting the native plants, shrubs and trees are sprouting; new colors are appearing and the grasses are rich in shades of green; the newly arrived birds are exercising their vocal cords through several octaves in their songs, and the newly arrived frog in my small pond can be heard at night.  I am hoping it finds a mate.  Finally, the daylight hours are getting longer along with warmer temperatures.  I will soon be outdoors sketching more scenes on Whidbey.

Zingin’ and Trinkin’ at Useless Bay Coffee Co

Java is brewing

Old melodies sung with friends

with spirit and joy

Friday morning Bill and I joined the group of friends at the local coffee house in Langley.  Dave, the accordion musician was there, as usual, playing his repertoire of favorite songs while the large group of friends sang along giving the entire coffee house a break from normal loud chatter.  The walls were vibrating from the happy “zingers.”

I don’t harmonize so well, so while others were singing I sketched the scenario.  Dave, the musician is in watercolor and at the table on the left is Bill, me and our friend.  Her husband is joining in song at the table on the right with six other Friday morning java “thrinkin” friends.

For years and years I have enjoyed  expressing my thoughts, observations and experiences visually by using artists’ paints and drawing tools onto paper, canvas and journals.   Some  months ago an artist friend of mine encouraged me to join her memoir writing group…so I did.  After writing and sharing with friends a few short stories, I felt comfortable and excited that I was able to construct and arrange words to create a few paragraphs about my past experiences.  I was hooked.  Each month we select a topic and the topic for February was talking with an unanimated object.  It was a fun learning experience to discover the thoughts that could flow out of my imagination!  I  felt really pleased with the result of my story so I am sharing it with you.  Maybe some of you late night readers will wonder what stories are shared throughout the shelves during the dark quiet night.

*  *  *  *  *

Ouch! Be careful, my cover will tear! Move over! I’m getting squashed. How does she expect to squeeze you into that narrow space! Where did you come from anyhow? Where in the world have you been!…..your odor is stifling strong! You smell like a dark, damp, dusty old closet and I have to be this close to you?

Okay, okay…..I’ll pull myself together a bit tighter to get a place, but that’s it. My cover is hard, you know; not soft with dog ears as you have. it’s not my fault, she keeps pushing me further into the shelf and it’s becoming more and more uncomfortable. There’s little air in here, you know, to circulate around us. I’m new here you know, so what are the norms? Are we destined to be unnoticed, packed into these shelves to become brittle and aromatic ancient tales?

Thanks, that helps? What’s your story that you can share with us all?

I originally lived in a large warm space with lots of room that allowed me to stretch out and display my attractive cover in horizontal or vertical positions. The former owner treated me with loving hands, slowly reading and turning my pages with visual images plus descriptive, detailed and wonderful use of words, while all the time smiling. Then, that interaction between us suddenly stopped. The owner no longer approached the bookshelf. So, I just quietly sat on the shelf becoming dusty and grimy plus picking up unwanted odors. It was a long wait before hands again started to reach toward the book shelves. But, suddenly someone started pulling all of us story tellers with knowledgable and colorful information off the shelves and placed into boxes. Next, we were being removed from the boxes and pushed into another shelf in an unfamiliar room full of other objects and people. Then I saw an arm reach toward my direction, pick me up, open the cover and began carefully turning my pages, smiled then put me into a bag. And, now, here I am.

Let me tell you, so you’ll know what to expect from your new owner while living among us. It’s a good resting spot and she gently removes us to enjoy our stories, while we get to stretch out and be refreshed. Sometimes, I watch her expression as she selects one of us to read. First, her eyes scan horizontally across each of her precious books, making a decision as to which book might interest her. My words shout out several times to attract her, but at times, I go unnoticed. She looks at me! I think she’s going to pull me out, but her hand selects another book, very near, full of rich colorful and expressive paintings by an artist who impresses her.

I know she loves each of us on these shelves just by watching her as she settles a book on her lap then opens it to begin slowly moving her eyes across each of the pages, stopping frequently to observe the lovely paintings and words. She’ll sit for hours in that comfy chair next to us and the window so she can easily reach us. Sometimes while reading, she’ll fall asleep in her chair. Don’t try to shout out to awaken her; she’ll not hear you. She’s unpredictable in her behavior. Sometimes during the dark morning hours, I’ll hear faint shuffling noises as her bare feet head toward the kitchen. She’ll attempt to warm a cup of milk in the microwave without turning on the light so she doesn’t wake up the man of the house. Finally, she grabs her hot milk with honey in it, and with careful stepping in the dark, heads for that favorite chair to get settled before turning on the overhead lamp. Then, she’ll spend about one and half hours enjoying one of her books before placing it back in between us and turning out the light.

The cool night is dark, and, again, the beginnings of silent whisperings of expressive words can be heard throughout the shelves.



Ebey’s Landing my favorite hiking trail

For over thirty years my husband and I have hiked the Ebey’s Landing trail overlooking the Straits of Juan de fuca with views of Mountains Rainier and Baker in the far distance.  It’s a three mile round trip hike starting with a steep climb to the top of the ridge where the trail meanders through delicate wild flowers, the weathered stunted pine trees and tall grasses.  The view is spectacular, but heed, you’ll need a walking stick to prevent tripping and rolling down the steep bank as your eyes are surveying  the stretch of salt water to the ocean, Olympic mountains, peninsula and Canada in the distance.

The trail is on the edge of the high bluff so we often spot a variety of raptors with wide out stretched wings gliding below us as they slowly scan the hillside full of prey.  We watch fisher people in their moving boats with fishing lines baited to lure fish, underwater divers bobbing up and down in search of fish and Dungeness crab, people walking the beach, tour and commercial freight boats headed out to the Pacific ocean, and Canadian boats with visitors on board for a day or two in Victoria, B.C.

One day last summer, I sat on the edge of the cliff and sketched this scene, then at a later time completed it at home.  These are the old warn out steps, crafted from the beach logs, starting from the beach to the trail as it heads up to higher elevation along the bluff.  Consequently, what goes up always has to come down, so one half mile into the trail it makes a steep grade down the slippery sandy bank to the beach.  Then the return back to your vehicle is an enjoyable long walk as your eyes scan the natural marine life, rocks, shells and driftwood and scenery with the constant sound of breakers hitting the shoreline.

Now the walk is a bit more challenging for me due to the steep climb, but I enjoy it even more at a slower pace giving me an opportunity to take in the full scenery and wild flowers as they show their colors in the spring.

Remembering the first snowfall

C-r-u-n-c-h, c-r-u-n-c-h, c-r-u-n-c-h is the only sound I can hear as I put each foot down on top of the newly fresh snow that covers the ground like a blanket.  The air is biting cold and still, not even a sound from the neighborhood birds, wild life and neighbors pets.  People’s voices are not carried over the fields to my ears.  It’s like being enclosed in a small padded room. The snow seems to absorb all the usual noises in the winter whiteness.

It snowed during the night and we awakened to a beautiful picturesque white wonderland sparkling with crystal ice flecks on the surface of the snow.  I love to take walks soon after the first snow when it lays fresh and pristine over the open fields, trees and roads, even before the animals start trekking over it to leave their tracks for me to identify.  I continue to walk to the end of the road in the cold where I stop to view nature’s offering of a serene quiet scene before heading back to my house to be warmed by the gas stove and view winters setting through the windows.

I remember as a very young child the feeling and excitement I felt waking up in the morning to see fresh thick snow covering the entire ground and the branches on the tall evergreens.  My eyes were filled with the beauty of natures most wonderful play ground.  My day was planned at that very moment.  Nothing was going to stop me from getting my sled out to join my friends for several glorious hours sliding down the long slope on our neighbors front lawn.  All the young neighborhood gang would be on that slope starting right after breakfast, with time for lunch by midday, until our parents would come and get us at sunset.  As I grew a few years older and wiser, I became aware that hill on the neighbor’s lawn wasn’t so long and steep after all, so I would venture out with my older siblings as we pulled our sleds and skis to the nearby golf course.  It was an eighteen hole course filled with rolling hills, valleys and a large pond that froze over one winter with thick ice.  My siblings, friends and I would  spend hours sliding down the long runs on our sleds and skis speeding fast over the refrozen bumpy ice chunks stuck to the pond surface causing our sleds to slow down while we laughed and shouted to each other the distance we had slid across the pond.

My snow pants, coat, hat and mittens were 100 percent wool since high tech clothing was not in existence during the mid forties, so by mid day, after crashing into snow covered bushes, trees and rolling in the snow, each piece of clothing was covered with white snow balls that clung like velcro.  Trying to wipe anything away from my eyes and face was useless since the mittens were already covered with snow plus the hat and hair.  Being one big snow bunny, I tried to hold out from going into the house which created another source of discomfort but nature’s calling eventually is impossible to ignore.  A few minutes in the warm house would start a flow of cold wet streams sliding down my face, neck and water absorbing through the wool clothing.  Puddles started to  appear on the floor leaving a trail for my mom to wipe up.  The solution would be to quickly change into another set of warm clothing and adventure out into the snow playground.

I have always enjoyed the sight and magic of the first snow fall, especially during the night as I watch each flake drift softly and silently down disappearing into the dark.  It always brings back memories of the unexplainable joy and fun I experienced as a youngster in the snow.

The Spirit of the Season

I was reminded this week how the true meaning of Christmas has impacted our lives throughout many generations by two events expressing generosity and love shared between two people who may not be close friends.  What I witnessed is seldom noticed by me any other time of the year but, during Christmas and the Holiday season, I am aware of people unconsciously and spontaneously expressing kindness with only a small gesture to share something of value with another person whether it is a hug or a valued object; the simple act verifies the joy of Christmas spirit within each of us.

Today while talking with our checker at the market, I noticed the eye catching bracelet around her wrist that was loaded with jingle jangle holiday charms and symbols.  I commented on how appropriate and attractive it was.  She told me she was also attracted to the same bracelet on one of her customer’s wrist while waiting for her groceries to be checked.  The checker complimented on it.  Then suddenly the customer removed the piece of costume jewelry and handed it to the clerk to keep!  Wow!  How generous to give away an item to never see or wear it again!  This person has the spirit of giving and sharing her generosity and love to others without something in return.  Could I do that?

This last Sunday while talking with a friend in church, I noticed she had a small gold object in a precarious position on her shoulder which caught my eye.  I asked her what was on her shoulder?  She reached up to the piece of gold jewelry, removed it, then handed it to me saying “it’s an angel and it’s yours to wear.”  I do have it and wore it on my shoulder to remind me that my precious angel in heaven, with God, is on my shoulder everyday guiding me how to give love and hope to those I meet.

Each of you, Christian or a follower of other religions, may have consciously or unconsciously experienced unique events of your own during the Holiday Season that has left an impact on your lives.  Take time to reflect on them.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to all of you.


Charcoal drawing of the old farm house, along with a postscript

Lately the marine air has been too cold and damp with days of heavy rain which makes it difficult to get up the courage for a morning walk; the dry, warm and cozy feeling house encourages me to stay in to attack some projects that have been beaconing me daily.  So, this morning, I did venture out for a two mile walk with warm wraps to keep me warm.  It was cold, damp and dark along my usual walking trail with the same old sights but this time no birds singing, the colors more muted with less contrast in the fields and deciduous trees against the strong darkness of the tall evergreens.

At the end of the road, the old farm house tucked into the distant landscape had a long tail of stark white smoke drifting from its chimney and hanging low in the atmosphere as it leaned toward the south.  Possibly it’s a north wind this morning, an indication that a few clear days might bring some sun.   I can imagine the dweller inside the house keeping warm from the flame in the wood burning stove, reading, baking, or enjoying the warmth during their routine morning activities.  Only one more month till solstice when the long dark days of winter will gradually disappear bringing the awaited lengthier daylight and warmth to the earth.

A short post script:  Thanksgiving is the holiday to reflect and give gratitude  for the small daily blessings we possess, I feel it important to express my appreciation for all the viewers and followers who might happen to spend time browsing through my short essays and sketches about nature seen on Whidbey Island.  I would like to give thanks to a few of my continued following talented blog friends with whom I have over years enjoyed sharing supportive comments: Paula Kuitenbrouwer, MINDFUL DRAWING; Jeff Zablow, WINGED BEAUTY BUTTERFLIES; and Jet Eliot, TRAVEL AND WILDLIFE ADVENTURES.  Take some time and fun to enjoy learning about their adventures in nature as you browse through their blogs.


A Watercolor Journal of Chetzemoka 1

Early this September my husband and I camped in our trailer at Fort Worden State Park campground located in Pt. Townsend.   Ending the last few days of our camping adventure at Fort Worden is always relaxing and full of adventures, with long walks along the sandy beaches covered with interesting shells, rocks, pearly beach glass and marine life; plus the views along the way of Whidbey Island, B.C. Canada, Cascade Mtns, beautiful sunrises and sunsets; and, a visit to the very nearby historic town of Pt Townsend.

My camera gets very busy as I carry it with me where ever my feet will take me, while on walks through the large state park.  Very near our trailer in the campground which is located on the waterfront, we can see the lighthouse situated at Point Wilson where there is also a standing war II bunker for protection from the Japanese submarines; there are several additional bunkers on a higher level of the park with a view of the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the ocean.  As I remember, that bunker was built for protection against the Spaniards years past.  It is very old but still strongly intact.

During our time in the park, I painted and sketched several watercolor scenes from the collection of photos I took plus one photo I obtained from the internet.  I created my own watercolor memoir journal from these scenes which I finally completed this week and happily share with you.  The watercolor scenes are arranged in the Japanese fold to enable them to stand alone for an open display.


No fir cones

Every autumn I anticipate the sound of falling cones hitting the ground, fir boughs, roofs and road, plus the chitter chatter of the squirrels as they run up and down the tall fir tree trunks.  It’s a happy time for them as they gather the seeds out of the fir pods to store them in secret hiding places where they are bound to forget their cache placement several months later.  For the seeds they forget to retrieve, it’s our benefit when a new fir tree sprouts from the earth.   I love to hear the songs of the chattering but this year in our neighborhood, it has been unusually quiet.  Their sounds are not heard; there are no bright green fir cones dropping from the trees; the road and lawn are barren of cones.   I don’t hear the squirrels or see them during my early morning walks!  What has happened?

I gaze up to the top of the fir trees and I am able to see a few brown cones dangling from the fir branches; they are not green.  Are these cones left from last years crop the squirrels did not remove?  I ask my friends and neighbors if they have noticed fewer cones on the ground and less squirrels running through their property.  Some friends who live on another part of island say they have cones on the ground but not as many squirrels.  They blame the unusual weather this last summer.

I don’t know the answer.  Some of the trees in our neighborhood are starting to die from root rot.  Maybe this is a year the cones did not pollinate, and the constant heat and long arid summer could have interfered with pollination?  Whatever the answer (I’ll research further in the future), I sure miss our Douglas and little brown squirrels running swiftly, chasing and chattering at each other through our property.

An uninvited guest

It’s late afternoon, Bill and I are sitting in our comfy outdoor chairs on the shaded front porch relaxing after a day of rearranging the garden art and plants, putting away the lawn equipment, and cleaning up yard debris before the rains return in full force; that’s when we prefer to not work in the yard but find other projects to enjoy.  We each have our daily GOW, (glass of wine), to sip as we watch and listen to the wildlife activity surrounding us.  The birds are the most popular loud noise we hear; small birds in our neighbors property gather on branches in the sun finding a food item to sing about; their songs are like a joyful choir singing from the depth of their lungs.  We love it!

Bill has been sipping on his GOW; he’s tired from today’s work and has fallen off to a soft snooze; the air is still, warm and quiet between us and I am watching several honey bees fly through the air heading toward their nests or plants to collect as much pollen before evening sets.  There are flowering plants, and trees where they gather their pollen and water.  There are also several species of yellow jackets, hornets and wasps that nest on our property.  They will aggressively let you know if you’re a threat in their territory; we give those creatures wide respect.

Observing the honey bees slowly buzz through the air, I notice their flight pattern is completely different than the other winged creatures.  The honey bee flies slowly like a heavy laden Boeing bomber with its legs dangling down and making a slow audible hum through the warm humid air.  It appears to not be bothered by movement around it but keeps focused on its daily goal and mission to reach its destination before night fall.  While the yellow jacket will suddenly strike out of nowhere making an uninvited visit looking for protein or sweets plus disrupting humans to scatter in all directions.

My relaxing afternoon was rudely disturbed for a short period when an  yellow jacket appeared to be doing a reconnaissance activity not far from my face.  Rather than wave my arms around to inform it was not welcomed, I watched it move back and forth across my vision while its wings made loud harsh buzzing sounds.  Then suddenly when I wasn’t watching, it was in my glass swirling around on the surface of the wine.  I reached into the glass and flicked it out giving it an involuntary flight experience of its life.

The relaxing afternoon continued on….




Trailer travels to end summer holidays

Bill and I ended the warm summer days the first of September “off island” spending time in several of Oregon’s lovely State parks in the Cascade mountain range and ocean beaches.   Then we headed north into Washington state where we camped at Klalock Campground in Olympic National Park, a beautiful and interesting beach for walking and watching grey whales gathering bottom shrimp near the shoreline.  We finalized our holiday with the last two nights camping out at Pt. Wilson where the Fort Warden campground is located.  It’s a beautiful open spot with lovely territorial views of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and across to British Columbia.   Whidbey Island is directly across from the campground.  We can look across and see where the ferry will take us on our return home.  We love this spot with it’s gusty winds that rock our trailer when the weather gets rough; the beaches are sandy and the pristine salt waters sparkle colors of teal, blue and silver, clear like a glass of 7-Up.  All types of shipping vessels, pleasure boats and sometimes navy ships pass by on their way to Puget Sound.   There is an old lighthouse built sometime near 1913 at the tip of Pt. Wilson that we can walk around when the tide is low, to head toward north beach and collect perfectly shaped tear drop beach glass.  On the bluff area of the very large park is a military bunker built by the Spaniards in the early 1900’s and then used again during WW II as one point of the triangle protective defense against Japan if they tried to invade the U.S. via Strait of Juan de Fuca.

There is much rich history to the small old town of Pt Townsend, a five minute drive from Pt Wilson.   On the two main streets remain the old brick buildings of early 1900’s that are occupied with busy retail stores that draw crowds of visitors each summer.  The local residents are real individuals and an eclectic assortment of wonderful people with a great interest in the arts!  At the end of the main street is the Wooden Boat museum, a well known center for wood boat craftsmen; to our disappointment, the annual Wooden Boat festival ended just prior to our arriving in P.T.

I brought only my graphic pencils and handcrafted sketchbook and then spent several wonderful relaxing hours sketching the scenes around me.  Enjoy.


Rugged old fir trees near the old bunkers near the light house



The decaying life boat from the discontinued small ferry boat Chetcemoka


A view of the Straits and beach from our campsite at Ft.Worden campground.


I sketched the neighboring trailer and the one in the distance while trying to capture the contrast between shadows and highlights.  People are sitting around the trailer in the distance.



At Newhalem campground in Manzanita, Bill and I picked wild blue huckleberries for our winter jams



Painting watercolor farm scenes

I painted three venues of my favorite old farm property that is located at the end of a road in our neighborhood.  The buildings once held domestic animals; the small chicken house on the right still holds live chickens.   The caption I wrote about the three scenes reads:  The warm summer days shine with the bright sun rays bleaching the tall grasses; the raptors play in the warm upward drafts while keeping an eye for prey; the chickens are loose searching for grubs and seeds; the deer have a day to graze in the open field.  The old farm buildings rest comfortably on the land, remind me of past leisurely days on Whidbey.

It’s definitely forest fire season

Early this morning, Islanders awoke to the smokey haze in the air, yesterday included.  Bill and I like to sit outside on our porch to drink our first cup of coffee and discuss our plans for the day, plus enjoy the beauty of the early sun rays filtering through our tall evergreens.  But this morning, the air had an eerie feeling to it; it was warm to our skin, no cool marine breezes to freshen away the stagnate air, there was a constant heavy haze in the air hiding the clear blue sky.   The landscape was encased in a warm yellow glow, the rising sun did not have the normal blinding glow to it, but a light yellow bleeding into warmer shades of yellow to almost orange around its rim.

This strange appearance is caused by forest fires burning in eastern Washington and British Columbia several 100 kilometers north of Vancouver.  We had experienced a very wet spring but this summer has ended up hot, dry, and almost windless.  That’s not good for the healthy evergreen forest in the mountains and low lands in the Pacific Northwest encompassing Oregon, Washington, B.C. and Alaska.    At this time, there are several fires burning acres of beautiful pristine forest and harming the wildlife in the area.  I realize that natural forest fires are necessary to revitalize the earth but it is a sad feeling when they do occur even naturally.  Each year there seems to be an increase in forest fires due to climate and careless people.

I sketched the forest scene this morning with an attempt to express the eerie glow in the air.

The Friday Market in small village of Langley

Yesterday drained every bit of my energy pulling several invasive long, strong, stringy ivy vines with those short, hairy, tendrils clinging to the old rhododendron plants on our property.  To rid those vines, I break the vines with my garden clippers to kill further growth on the bushes, then I get a good grip on the end and give it a hefty tug.  I love the ripping sound as the vine separates from the trunk delaying their aggressive growth for a few more years.

So I gave my arm and leg muscles a break today and drove to the small village of Langley three miles from home to join the Whidbey Island sketchers for an afternoon at the Farmers Market to sketch the activity.  Kim’s Marimba group was providing the music for the day giving the shoppers and browsers a bounce and swing to their steps.

Several of we sketchers enjoyed the music, the crowd and spirit spreading through the street.  The stalls were full of bright colorful flowers and rich healthy vegetables that made my vegetable garden look very anemic.  From where I sat, it was interesting to listen and observe browser and friends warmly greet each other along the streets and stalls, friendly conversations between serious gardeners or curious browsers about the process and details of producing successful beautiful edible plants.


I sat in the shade between one of the retail shops and a street stall set up with a friendly young  couple’s home grown vegetables for buyers.  Their blond son, who must have been near five or six, was behind the table eating snacks from a plastic baggy. He was a picturesque quintessential farm boy; I imagined a piece of straw grass sticking out from his mouth.  He wore a large straw hat, heavy sandals, long blue sweat shirt and probably his most comfortable trousers.  He was an active up and down, difficult to sit still, quiet shy boy along with good behavior.  His dad would turn and give him some conversation time and a hug.

I was fortunate to get a quick observation of him sitting on a crate enjoying his snacks before he moved from that position to stand upright for a few seconds and then he started to do his own dance steps with the beat of the marimba group; they were small steps but it was obvious he was happy and enjoying the music not at all conscious of himself or anyone watching him.  He looked over at me several times with questioning eyes wondering what that grandma lady was doing watching him and doing something with her hands on a piece of paper.  He was adorable and so unassuming.  I asked him if he wanted to see a drawing of himself but he quietly turned his head toward the other direction with no word from him; his parents must have told him not to speak to strangers.

I treasure this small sketch to remind me of those long summer days as a kid and the feeling of freedom and time for lots of day dreaming and imagination.

Historic Landscapes on Whidbey Island

Friday, my plan was to sketch with a group of Whidbey Island Sketchers at a designated location on the island where the sketchers would gather.  I am not often able to join the group for sketching time outdoors so yesterday was going to be an enjoyable event.  I drove to the scheduled spot, waited 45 minutes for others to arrive; by 1:15 the other sketchers had not shown up; I messed up on the time, again; I’ll meet up another day.  So I decided time was valuable then drove to two historical locations in Langley to sketch.

First location where I settled down with my painting tools and sun hat was at an old cemetery on a hill above Langley.  I selected one of the few benches placed throughout the grounds for visitors to sit and relax while spending meditation and reflection time of  loved ones.  The bench was directly in the sun and I was getting more and more uncomfortable from the heat and the sun’s glaring rays on the white paper but I was able to get in one sketch before becoming blind.   Then I drove just down the road to the Anderson family farm  another historical site in Langley.  It’s a lovely old farm with open fields of pasture land with cattle, horses, goats and chickens; an old double story house, unique old barn and a lovely arty decorated chicken coop with tons of wire to keep chickens in and predators out.  The person maintaining the grounds has planted a field of dahlias, some garlic and other veggies plus several varieties of fruit trees labeled with hand printed signs.  I love the character and charm of this place. There is  a small crafted lean-to shed filled with flowers and vegetables that can be purchased on the honor system.

Outside the make shift fencing is a commissioned hand crafted bronze type metal table with benches on each side of the table and an umbrella on a pole in the center.  I sat at this table in the shade of the umbrella and started to sketch the flower shed and the old house with the one of its green houses in the foreground.  This land mark is so special to the owners and other local residents in the area I assume the relatives had the table crafted in memory of the former owner with the printed raised words formed on the table top: “THE ANDERSON FARM – 1907   PEACE AND LOVE IS ALWAYS FOUND HERE   THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT”


Preliminary sketches of Whidbey ambience.

The ambience in the past that had been so fresh, natural with wildlife, beautiful scenery and only a few man made obstacles to obstruct a pleasant view is slowly disappearing with the influx of people’s desire to settle on this rocky, sandy, wet and wind blown island.  I don’t blame folks for wanting to live here away from the horrific traffic and fast life on the mainland; my spouse and I did many years ago.  I guess changes happen everywhere now days.  Time doesn’t move slow anymore as it seemed to when I was young.

To capture some of the ambience that still remains before  more changes occur to the land and beaches or historical buildings,  I photograph or do quick sketches of the scenes to work on in my tiny studio.  Some scenes I have drawn many times and can almost sketch them by memory.

The following three preliminary graphite sketches I have drawn will be painted several times until the right medium expresses my feelings and thoughts for these places that remain on Whidbey.  I plan to put together a collection of these paintings into a journal.   I seldom paint large scenery;  but I so enjoy  creating watercolor journal books of my life on this island!

Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray (holodiscus discolor) grows wild on the island, everywhere in large dome shaped bushes!  This is the time of the year the blossoms are at their peak with frothy sprays of tiny creamy white blossoms in a large clump hanging at the end of long strong arched branches.  The tiny blossoms attract butterflies, insects and birds like the cover under the branches for their nests plus the refuge it offers from predators.

Holodiscus discolor grows wild on the western slopes of west coast mountain ranges from Alaska to northern California and on toward the pacific ocean beaches.  The west coast Native Americans used the long branches for arrows and sewing tools because of the strength in the wood.

The above sketch is a branch I picked from one of the many frothy white bushes growing wild on our property