Archive for the ‘Paintings’ Category

Part 9 – ON THE ROAD WITH DAVID AND SANDY – BASE CAMP SAN FRANCISCO

We left Grandma Green’s townhouse early in the morning after a light breakfast and after reading the daily “earthquake report” (!!) in the morning paper.  We drove east towards Sacramento and spent several hours in its Old Town section.  Lots of neat old buildings, a fun restaurant for lunch and lots of new age-y shops.  David bought me a beautiful fluorite stone and for the car he bought a cassette tape of Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  It became our theme song for the rest of our journey.  The music seemed to fit every mood and every bit of scenery and weather that we encountered.

We arrived at Placerville and stayed with some friends we had done theater with in Cocoa Beach and they invited us to stay with them.  They were doing a production of “Once Upon a Mattress”, so we attended and it was a good time.  They had been dating when we all had worked together in Florida, we attended their lovely wedding a few months before, and now they were living out here.

On the way to Yosemite

The next two days were spent touring Yosemite National Park and the Lake Tahoe area with our friends.  Such beautiful scenery and so diverse.  Mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls and casinos!  What more could you ask for?!

David at Lake Tahoe

After returning to San Francisco, we did a thorough tour of the Bay Area and surrounds.  One day we drove up Mount Tamalpais and looked back to the view of the city.

Entering Sausalito

We drove into Sausalito and walked around its unique shops, art galleries, and an interesting little place called “Wet Dreams” (don’t ask) with bubbles floating out through its open door.

We spent some time in downtown San Francisco, climbing up Coit Tower, browsing on Pier 39, laughing at the sea lions near the docks, driving down Lombard Street, “the crookedest street in America”, walking around the Japanese Gardens and other areas of Golden Gate Park. I stuck my hand in the freezing Pacific Ocean, and capped off the day admiring the Palace of Fine Arts left over from a world’s fair of 1915.

Some stranger in front of Palace of Fine Arts

A visit to John Muir Woods was especially significant to David.  He told me that when he had been diagnosed with his illness, he had been out here visiting and came to Muir Woods. He sat on a bench for hours and said that after that time he felt at peace with the surroundings and his eventuality.  I can understand why the huge trees and ferns and beautiful pathways would make anyone realize how everything in our universe has a reason for being and there is a time to live and a time to die.  We don’t decide; a Higher Power has the ultimate decision.  He said his time in these woods gave him the courage to keep living every day and appreciate all that he has.  Profound.

Gorgeous Muir Woods

Back at Grandma’s for our last night in San Francisco, we had brought a cake and some champagne and celebrated her 88th birthday.  What a sweet lady and how much she loves her grandson.  We showed her videos of our trip so far and talked and laughed a lot.

My impression of a sunny Golden Gate

It was a bittersweet parting the next morning, as David and I both knew it was probably his last visit out here, although his grandmother didn’t.  As we crossed over the Golden Gate Bridge for the final time, we once again climbed to the top of the hill over looking the Bay.  Unlike the previous day, the whole bridge and city were covered in a thick fog…gray and misty, sort of like our moods.

At least we were on our way to Napa Valley and some wine-tasting adventures to cheer ourselves up!

To be continued…

PART 8 – DAVID AND SANDY ON THE ROAD – SAN FRANCISCO AND BEYOND

(To recap:  my dear friend David had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and wanted to travel the United States, seeing places he hadn’t seen, returning to places he loved, and visiting friends and relatives along the way.  He invited me along, and since neither of us was flush with money, we drove in his tiny car,  stayed in inexpensive or free places, and he gifted me with memories to last a life time.  Nothing special, just good times and a new perspective on life.)

To continue –

We finally found David’s grandmother’s San Francisco townhouse through the fog and even though it was fairly late,  she was up and waiting for us to arrive.  Her home was very comfy,  in a row of similar places, garage underneath and two levels of living space above.  She was telling me how David always referred to her as his feisty grandma and she had looked the word up in the dictionary and found out that it meant “full of feist”  – feist meant gassy, so she chastised him for calling her an old gas bag!  (Actually, I looked it up and it more or less refers to “breaking wind”, so guess she was kind of right!) How cute.  Eight-eight years old this week and “full of feist”!

She had made up the guest room for us and David told her he would be fine on his sleeping bag in the den.  She said she understood that young people today shared rooms without benefit of marriage and that she wouldn’t be offended if we slept together.  We told her that we appreciated that, but that we were old fashioned and wouldn’t dream of being disrespectful.  Guess she didn’t know David was gay and of course knew nothing of his illness.  Thank goodness.

The next morning, David was up bright and early and ready to hit the road again.  Determined to see what we had missed yesterday because of the fog and impending darkness, we hopped in “Tracy” and headed south via the interstate highway and within a few hours we were back near Carmel and Monterrey.

Back on the Pacific Coast highway and once again encountering breath-taking views of the coast.  Today was sunny and bright and we were back on our adventure!  Found the Carmel Mission in the little town and toured the beautiful gardens, went in to the chapel where Father Junipero Serra had established another of his string of missions up and down the California coast.  Beautiful and inspiring.

Mission Carmel

Mission Carmel - Oil

Drove around the town and out to “7-mile drive” where we saw Pebble Beach, sea lions barking from the rock formations on the coast, purportedly Clint Eastwood’s house (one-time mayor of Carmel) and the famous Lone Cypress tree growing out of one of the rocks jutting out of the coast line.

In front of the famous "lone cypress tree" near Carmel

Watched a little sea otter floating on his back and performing for onlookers.  Had someone take our picture and we were on our way back up the coast, through beautiful farm country, past lighthouses, canneries and more.

Back to Grandma Green’s house in time for a lovely dinner which she had prepared for us and lots of fun conversation about the most recent earthquake (eeks) and how her furniture had fallen over and broken a lot of her china and crystal.  She didn’t seem perturbed at all, just happy and “feisty”.

To be continued…

PART SEVEN – DAVID AND SANDY ON THE ROAD – LEAVING LA AND THE PCH

The next morning, David drove me over Mulholland Drive to the Pacific Coast Highway.  Saw huge houses and more of Beverly Hills – a bit sad to be leaving LA and Hollywood.  Didn’t really have enough time here to see everything but I’ll be back.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is David’s trip and we are pretty much going where he wants to go.  Actually he has been wonderful about taking me to places I want to see, so I can’t complain at all.

Got out at the Santa Monica Pier and walked along the beach.  Saw rollerbladers, bikers, body builders, etc.  Everything I have seen out here makes me feel I’ve been here before – it is so familiar because of all the films and TV shows they film out here.

Too bad it was kind of foggy misty, but interesting anyway.  Breeze off the Pacific Ocean kind of nippy.  Had a burger, took some pictures and bought some cards.

Drove up the coast through more familiar-looking areas along Malibu, etc.  Still very hazy and hard to take pictures.  Over Malibu Canyon road back to the freeway towards Bakersfield.  Gorgeous mountains between LA and the desert, past Magic Mountain amusement park.

Since David had lived in Bakersfield at one time, he had some good friends that he called and they asked us to come stay with them.  (Another notch in the old “mooching belt”)  They were so thrilled to see him and took us out to dinner, around town, to a car wash to get some of the grime off our little car, and back to their house to catch  up on old times.  David has not told many of his friends his health issues because he wanted to be treated without any sympathy, etc.

Then it was back to the California coast line at San Luis Obispo and the awesome scenery began.  We must have stopped at every rest area along the Pacific Coast Highway to take pictures and just gaze at the craggy shorelines and the beautiful ocean.  I have so many photos that will make gorgeous oil paintings and I will be remembering this for a life time.

When we came to the area where Hearst Castle loomed over the hills, we stopped into the gift shop to see just how much a tour of the castle at San Simeon would cost.  WAY over our budgets, so we took lots of pictures and bought some books!  We were later to learn that David’s grandmother grew up in one of the mini-mansions which surround the castle as her father was a teacher to the Hearst children.  Interesting.

California Coast Painting - 36"x24" - Oil - $900

Passed the Big Sur area – GORGEOUS – and had wanted to stop in the Monterey/Carmel area, but the fog was rolling in and we decided to head straight to San Francisco before it got too dark and hard to see to drive.

By the time we got there, the fog was so thick that David had a difficult time finding the street where his grand mother lived.  As we crept up to each intersection in the little car, we felt as if we were the only ones on the road.  David would carefully drive while I called out the street names.

I finally said,  “David, do you see anything you recognize?”  and he responded,

“Well, YOU look kind of familiar…”

And then we found Grandma’s house!

To Be Continued

PART 5 – ON THE ROAD WITH DAVID AND SANDY – CALIFORNIA, HERE WE COME

I remember thinking that this must be the ultimate goal of David’s trip, the Grand Canyon, but it turns out that we had only just begun!

My Impression of the Grand Canyon - 36"x24" - Acrylic - $900

When it finally got too dark and cold to safely wander around the edge of the canyon, we drove down to the IMAX theatre and watched a fabulous movie about the discovery of the Canyon. We stopped just outside the populated area, got out of the car and looked up at the stars.  There were no other cars on the road and no lights from anywhere but the sky.  The brightness and abundance of stars was incredible.  We just stood there in total silence and awe and looked at the heavens.

Then it was back on the road.  We had thought about going to Las Vegas (we could see a glow in the distance from all the lights on the Strip), but decided to just keep on to California.  I wasn’t much help driving, kept falling asleep.  Poor David was exhausted when we finally found a room in Barstow at 4 am. This time we each had our own double bed, so we slept soundly and comfortably (and with no more embarrassment!).

I woke up around 8 and David finally got up and was ready for us to leave the Motel 6 by 11!  I like to let him go at his own speed since he is the one who knows how much strength he has on any particular day.  The way the past few days have gone, though, I think he has a lot more energy than I do!

Kind of interesting for me to visit this desert town, since years before I had almost moved here.

We drove into what we assumed was downtown Barstow and had breakfast in a little cafe that seemed like a favorite hangout.  The locals were right: it was nice and not too expensive.  We drove through lots of desert and mountains and it was neat.  Kind of pretty in its own way but very dry.

On our way to Los Angeles and I grew more excited. Hard to believe I finally made it to California and LA after all these years of hoping to come here.

I guess I am having a few of my own miracles on this trip.  Excited to be in California for the first time, not knowing that in years to come I would return many times to visit my precious kids who both live here!

Thanks to David, I am experiencing all kinds of new places and people.

To be continued…

A Kid’s View of America from the Back Seat of Daddy’s Car

When I was just out of the first grade at Miami Shores Elementary School, my father took a job as an electronics field engineer with a company based in Baltimore.  Upon the sale of our house, my mom and I headed north to meet him after he completed his orientation with the new job.  His first assignment was at a radar station – in Naselle, Washington!  Talk about hitting the road!

We had a small, early 1950’s era Nash that took us on our first exciting odyssey across the United States.  (No Interstate highways then, just open roads!) I think my love of travel – and the ability to amuse myself for hours – was born from that first excursion.

My dad made sure we visited as many historical and interesting sites along the road as we were able to and I still remember visiting Lincoln’s home in Illinois, Mark Twain’s home in Missouri, seeing snow for the first time in the Rocky Mountains, and many more adventures. I was encouraged to keep a scrapbook of the trip and I still have it to this day!

The window next to the back seat of that car became the portal to a new world and I would stare for hours at the new and exciting scenery I saw.  From palm trees in Florida to rolling plains, from wheat fields in the Midwest to snow-capped mountains and awesome waterfalls, we saw it all. Naturally, I spent a lot of time daydreaming about the different towns we would go through and made up stories to go with what I thought I was seeing.  My dad, whose mother was an artist, made sure I always had crayons, color pencils and lots of paper to put my thoughts and impressions on.

Thus my love of travel and making art was born.

How Much Do You Want for the Sailboat Painting?

When you do live painting in a restaurant or any other public venue, you encounter folks who like to ask questions or make comments which they view as totally original.

For instance:  “Oh, you missed painting over one of the numbers.” (Gee, you’re the first one tonight to say that!)  Or, as they see me with brush in hand: “Did you paint that?”  (No, the artist is in the rest room and I am just sitting here playing with her paints).  As if I am hard of hearing:  “Heck, I could do that” (Then why don’t you?)

My favorite, though, has to be the night we had a pretty big crowd of partiers.  I was diligently working on a new piece when a guy came up to me and asked how much I wanted for a small painting I had displayed.  I told him I was asking $220.  He scoffed and ambled away.

About an hour later, the same man appeared at my side, leaned close to me and with an alcohol-scented chuckle,  said “Do you really think that painting is worth $220?”

I thought for a moment and then replied, “Well, let’s see: considering the cost of the paints, canvases and brushes, the amount of time it takes me to do the work, the travel to and from the restaurant, years of training, and the more than 35 years of experience…You know, you are right!  Thanks for pointing out my error.  This painting is definitely UNDER priced.  I’m going to change that right now!”

Have Brush, Will Travel

Have brush, will travel – my new motto, slogan, logo what have you – came about a few years ago when a high school friend suggested we take a trip to Paris to celebrate our up-coming birthdays.  Now, as a freelance artist who loves and paints a form of French Impressionism, the thought of basking in the glory of the architecture and history of France’s capital was extremely exciting.  But, as a freelance artist striving to make a living with my paintings, the cost seemed too prohibitive.

This was when my friend came up with a wonderful plan – “If you will do 5 or 6 paintings of Paris for me, I will cover the hotel and airfare.  That way, when I look at my walls at home, I can pretend I am waking up in Paris every morning.”  We agreed that I would cover all my other expenses and we were off for the adventure.  I have since painted many more oils from that one trip and am happy to have sold most of them!

Then a few years later, another friend and her family were renting a house in Sedona, Arizona, and asked me to join them. Same deal, different subject matter.  In exchange for airfare from Florida, enjoyment of the gorgeous desert vistas and the company of lovely people, I produced several oil paintings – this time of red rocks!  In addition to giving my friend the pick of the artwork, several of the other folks on the trip also bought pieces to remind them of Arizona’s spiritual beauty.

Last year, a “snow bird” from Indiana who has a winter home here in Florida invited me to come up to her home near Indianapolis to see her house up there and see the bedroom where she wanted her next painting (a villa in Tuscany she had rented a few years back) to hang.  This would become the eighth commission from her.  On top of a lovely week of visiting lots of artsy stores and galleries, she introduced me to a gift shop owner who ordered – and paid for – 8 of my prints!  Oh, and did I mention that she sent me the free plane ticket?

Now, I just need to keep this travel-for-paintings idea continuing.  Let’s see?  Greece? England?  Spain?  Have brush, will travel!

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