Big Fish


Many thanks to Gyroscope Review for publishing the following poem in their Winter 2017 issue: 

Big Fish

                                         —restaurant & bungalows

Last year, a beach-view balcony

  a midnight breeze brought salt

    thirsty lime juice on our lips


At lunch, cotton-stuffed cushions

  tables tall as crisscrossed knees

    curries spiced with dragon weed


This year, a cold-water room out back

  garden dogs, mosquito verandah

    laptop lines and letters glow


Tonight, back for another sea breeze

  pineapple curry on chicken and rice

    I breathe the freedom absence brings


Your absence, a ghost seated beside me

  stirs her own papaya pleasure

   same same, yes yes, but different


Color Me Whoops!

I’ve seen lots of online watercolorists post paintings of their paint trays, so I thought I’d give it a try as a fun way of testing all my new paints.  Also wanted to experiment with shadowing with color.


One thing I like about watercolor painting is that mistakes highlight the human interaction with the subject of the sketch.  My shadows aren’t all that smooth, and there’s that blotch of a bad dark line on the right.

But errors show the process of learning and, as a teacher by trade, I love the learning process and seeing mistakes that appear along the way.  After all, it’s in the making of mistakes where we learn.

Heck–I learned a lot with this effort.

Moleskine Sketches I

Started sketching in a small Moleskine originally intended for jotting random thoughts.  Never jotted any, so started sketching in it, exclusively in pen, hoping to encourage more risks by making more mistakes.

Started sketching in the doctor’s waiting room…


Went to get a flu shot…


Sketched at the Smart Car center while waiting for my car to get its own flu shot…


Sketched once I got to school…


Sketched whatever was in the room…


Stopped to sketch while out on a walk…


Sketched from photos taken while walking…


Used graphite on this next one to add some tonal variety…


Sketched again back at the Smart center…


Turned out my car had more than the flu.  After eight wonderful years, wound up trading it in for a new all-electric Smart car…


I gave the new car a good-luck kick before signing on the dotted line….

More September Sketches

Successfully sketched every day this month.  Early in the month, sketched two or three pages a night, making shapes and shading them.  Over the past week, sketched one page each day.


A friend emailed a group selfie from his family trip in Sicily.  Loved the classic background and their happy faces.  Just had to sketch it.



Sat in the bath and looked long and hard at the faucet and the shower nozzle, at the bed frame and bandanna-covered lamp.  Started to imagine the scene on the page, how it divides into thirds.   That’s me in the tub on the far right, in the bedroom closet’s mirror reflection.



My office desk was a mess, as usual.  Had a choice:  Could either clean it up or sketch it.  It’s still a mess.



Was late, hadn’t drawn all day.  Just about ready to crash, forced myself to draw something — anything.  Then these pens caught my eye, sprouting from the mug like the chopped stalks of a strange garden plant.



Parked outside this barber shop before picking up my son from school.  Did a quick sketch, then followed up with a photograph.  Early the next morning, before dropping off my son at school, left an anonymous copy at the barber shop.



Saw this crow in the supermarket parking lot.  Loved its defiance, its standing boldly on the wires meant to keep the birds off the lamp.  Snapped a quick photo with my phone, then sketched from that at home.



When I first thought of sketching stuff, I thought of sketching old Victorian buildings here in San Francisco.  I just love looking at them.  Had a few minutes before an appointment, so scratched this out in pencil, then finished up at home with a photo.


This has been too much fun!  Can’t wait to start sketching October.


September Sketches

Got really committed to drawing this month.  Started watching Alphonso Dunn’s excellent art tutorials on You Tube.  Then just started sketching stuff — stuff around the house, mostly stuff in view from the couch:

Looking up…


to the right…


to the left…


Then started sketching stuff at work:

Looking up…


to the right…


to the left…


Then started sketching outside stuff:

Mission & Cortland in Bernal Heights…


Dahlia Garden in Golden Gate Park…


The yellow tinge comes from my scanner…


Sometimes it happens, sometimes not…


At first, everything was sketched with a plain mechanical pencil.  Then I got some archival-ink pens…


I love how the ink makes things pop.  Some shading stays in pencil…


I can also print things out and add color:

My son’s middle school in crayon…


Dolores Park, too…


I like drawing.  It clears my head of words.  It centers me in whatever I’m sketching.  I move my hand in rhythm to my breath, follow my heart, and ignore that little voice in my head that says I can’t draw.  When I can’t ignore it, I just agree, then go on drawing one breath after another.

Inside / Outside

Decided to draw the other night while watching the Giants game on TV.  (Click on images for a larger view.)

Initial Sketch

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Partial Outline

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Complete Outline

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Had the gardeners come and clear out the wheat field that’s been growing in our backyard all year.  Looked so nice, parked myself on a chair and did a little doodling.

Initial Sketch

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Final Draft

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Tapping Unknown Talent

So I’ve been drawing now for a week.  Each time I start, I’m afraid I won’t be able to actually draw the subject.  I arranged a banana, apple, and garlic clove on a curved platter, then looked at the arrangement for a couple days, certain I could never capture its image.  I was absolutely certain I couldn’t do it.  Finally, I just got to work and started sketching.  After an hour, I had this (click on image for a larger view):


Today, with the SF Giant’s enjoying the best record in baseball at the All-Star break, I decided to draw a baseball glove. Again, I was certain I couldn’t do it.  Convinced!  But then I went to work.  Here are the stages of development.

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Initial Sketch

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Final Shading

So often in life, we listen to that little voice of doom telling us we can’t achieve our dreams, can’t  satisfy our desires.  This week, I’ve discovered that my own little voice never goes away, never shuts up, not even when faced with these surprising results.  Makes me wonder:  How many times in life have I let that little voice hold me back from fully expressing myself?  Too many, I’m afraid.