Friday, March 27, 2015


I went searching for Spring Green last weekend at Pt. Reyes Seashore.

Spring Green is one of my favorite colors. To me, it represents renewal and hope.  But it is a fleeting color. You have to capture it at the right moment as new buds come out in early Spring. I was too late. At the seashore, all I found was a small sprig struggling out from a rocky path. Spring green was already gone from Pt. Reyes. Looking around the path to the sea, I saw an abundance of yellow and purple instead. Isn't that the way of life? You look for one thing and find another!

Yellow waved its head on flowers along the path, but purple appeared in the leaves and under the bushes. Purple, is the color of shadows, the mixing of two strong primary colors, blue and red. Working with my watercolors, I mixed various shades of blues and reds together to find a purple that I liked. Ultramarine Blue and  Quinacridone Red turned out to be my favorite combination. With those two colors, I painted the cloudy sky over the ocean at Pt. Reyes.

Pt. Reyes is on the western side of Marin County. As I drove there on a winding road, I discovered that each point we wanted to reach was just 21 miles away: twenty-one miles from San Rafael to Pt. Reyes Station, the small town near the coast, twenty-one miles to the lighthouse, 21 miles back to Mill Valley.


I had booked a cottage at an inn that looked great on their website, but which turned out to be ready for renovation. The musty smell was just bearable for one night. We groaned, "Not another Viking Motel!" (Our family joke about the worst place we have ever stayed.) We asked to be moved, but the inn was full. Instead they transferred us to another place, Tomales Bay Resort.

We arrived at the resort later in the day to find a quiet, light-filled room close to the bay. A pelican skimmed across the water. It was so peaceful that when my husband Bill set up his camera to take a time lapse of the sunrise, he wondered if the noise of the camera clicking would bother the neighbors. We had found a perfect weekend retreat. We had planned for one thing and found another.

We wandered around Pt. Reyes, walked paths to the beach, snapped photos, and sat in the sun for awhile before we headed home refreshed. I didn't see the Spring Green that I was looking for. The early warm weather this year accelerated Spring so that flowers were already blooming all along the shore. That beautiful, fleeting new green had already changed to a more hardy shade of deep green ready for Summer.


Check out Pt. Reyes Seashore:

Check in to Tomales Bay Resort:

Friday, March 20, 2015


A good friend, Jan, challenged me to take five Black & White photos in five days to post on Facebook. She inspired me with the five that she captured.

by Jan Hersh

When I finished my five, I challenged one of my sisters to take five.

by Linda Day

She, in turn, challenged her daughter.

by Aimee Abitia

What I love about each set: the diverse images and the atmosphere that can develop using black and white instead of color. These last five are the five that I took. I tried to find the smallest image that I could and still have a photograph.

by Martha Slavin

Take the challenge with us. Take five black and white photos in five days. You can post them to my blog or to your Facebook page. Let us see what you create!

Friday, March 13, 2015


A map of some special place in my life? 

 Recently, the editors of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine challenged readers with this prompt.  I thought: what a great idea. My next thought: what better place to map than my studio. While working on this project, I was reminded that creating artwork gives you the chance to do things over. I also could see where my mind wandered as I worked. My map turned into an exploration of the many layers of life that we all experience.

A mosaic of the parts of my studio

I took photos of all parts of my studio, reduced them to contact sheet images, cut them out and arranged them on a page. I attached cording leading from the whole studio shot at the bottom to my various interests that you could find there, including calligraphy, book arts, writing, watercolors, mixed media, and needlework. Okay, that turned into a confusing splatter of photos.

I whitewashed the entire page with gesso, let that dry, took a graphite pencil and drew over the images. Not quite there yet.

I added one of my favorite colors in acrylic -- a mix of Titan Buff, yellow, and Burnt Sienna --over parts of the page. Not quite there yet either.

I attached a photo of me near the bottom, but I wasn't satisfied.

So I started over with another attempt using paint rag strips, small photos and an acrylic paint marker.

 I glued more pieces of paint rags over that and added words on the page. I felt frustration that my ideas were not clear and my image of my studio was getting lost. What happened to the 'map'? Was I adding too many layers, not knowing when to stop? What was I really trying to say?

So I tried again. This time I imagined my studio room and what has been in this place before, all the layers that built up to create what is there today. We have transformed this room several times since we moved to this house. It has been my office, our son's nursery, and back to my studio. But even before that, the land was a cattle ranch, a home to the Miwok and Ohlone, and a resting place for dinosaurs and ocean shells. 

I like the layers that can be found in just one small place. I am still working on this project. Sketches are a great way to think through an idea, whether or not they become finished work. I don't plan to submit these pieces to the readers' challenge, but I know I have pushed myself into new directions.

What lies beneath the surface of a favorite place of yours?

Check out these links to two magazine publishers who offer reader challenges:

Mosaics such as my studio mosaic can be made at

Friday, March 6, 2015

Doodle your Way

Last December I wrote about doodling and how I've covered one paper after another with my doodles. Five of my doodles were published in a new book, Zen Doodles: Oodles of Doodles from North Light Books.

I mention doodling again because I gave copies of the books to some of my relatives at Christmas. To my surprise and delight, they have become doodlers!

My niece, Lindsey Szymaszek, a busy doctor and new mom, now creates doodles. She says, "I love it! I have doodled so much and they are all over my house."

She doodled around the letters of her son's name. What fun!  

I come from an artistic family. I grew up thinking that I was an artist. If you look at my early drawings though, they are no different from any other child's drawings.

The difference: I was encouraged to explore artistic outlets. I'm a firm believer that everyone has an inner artist in them. Doodling is a great way for anyone to touch that artistic spot in themselves. 

The Oodles of Doodles book gives you instructions to recreate the pieces that appear in the book. All you need are small pieces of Bristol board, which you can buy in packets at art stores or online, and a Micron pen or two. I take a small plastic envelope of doodling supplies with me. I use them all the time to create little art pieces which I often give away.


The Zen Doodles book gives credit to Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, who founded Zen Tangles, their more formal approach to making doodles. They have encouraged others to use their method, and they also have no restrictions on adaptations such as Zen Doodles. Just as we have all become photographers through our smart phones, we can all become artists with doodles.

Doodle on!  And send me your doodle pieces to share with others!