an island along a horizonline with water in the foreground painted in watercolor

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Secret Anchorage 12 x 18 watercolor (available here)

Painting Your Neighborhood

There is a chain of small islands off the coast of southern California protected as a National Park. Several of the islands are just off the coast of the town I live in, and two are visible, like curvy women, reclining on the horizon. This watercolor was inspired during an approach to an anchorage on one of the islands for an afternoon hike.

Painting at the kitchen counter after dinner

Island Wonders

The video above is a 24 minute introduction to the Channel Islands National park narrated by Kevin Costner. Brew a cuppa, and watch the video, or, if you’re in California, plan a day trip out there for a hike, a whale watching expedition, or an island circumnavigation (take lots of photos) on Island Packers.

Some of us live close to places other people travel to see. Many of my friends here have seen the islands on the horizon, but they’ve never gone out there to circle around their beautiful cliffs, or disembarked to go hiking, or camping, or kayaking through the sea caves. Maybe when we live close to something beautiful, we tell ourselves “I’ll check it out one of these days.” If that’s you, perhaps you could lasso that plan a little closer, and put something on the calendar. Bring a friend, or a posse of friends, with cameras, sketch pads and bag lunches. It might enchant you enough to inspire a creative surge to make something afterwards. Like the saying goes; Spend money on experiences instead of things. The joy is richer, and lasts longer.

Painting a little more about a week later
Hiking on Santa Cruz Island on a sunny day

Forgotten Benefits of Drawing

Did you see this great article from the Scientific American blog about the forgotten benefits of drawing?

Over a century ago, the ability to draw was a necessity. No cameras, printers, copiers, or online images – if you wanted to convey information visually, you had to do it yourself.

Drawing lessons were standard in school curricula. Teachers had to pass tests in essential subjects like arithmetic, history, and… drawing. College students studying biology were required to take a daily drawing class their freshman year. Why? To “learn to observe”. (read the rest of this thought-provoking article here.)

Scientific American
Adding shadows to the water a few weeks later

Painting as a Way to Remember

My favorite thing about painting from photos of amazing experiences like the hike I had on this island is that I dive deep into the memory of it while I’m painting. Recalling the sense of wonder and the fascination I felt while discovering the wildlife, and flora and fauna I’d never seen before imbues the pigments with joy. I think it also crystallizes the memory in a more permanent way, which speaks to the article referenced above about learning to observe. What trips or experiences have you used in your art-making?

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post –


P.S. If you’re looking for tips and tricks to jumpstart your game on Instagram, check out this free mini-course.

P.P.S. You can buy assortments of watercolor paper sample packs at Cheap Joe’s for prices ranging from $9-40. This is a great way to do some painting tests to see what you prefer. Check it out here.

P.P.P.S. If you’re in San Diego, come to the Artwalk this weekend, and visit me in booth 168 on Beech Street.

Exploring Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island

Art Quote

Before breakfast, he [Bonnard] would drink a very large glass of cold water. Then he would go for a walk. He would take the path up behind the house to the little canal, the Canal de la Sciagne, and walk along it. Il faisait provision de la vie – he was stocking up on life. I had the privilege of walking with him sometimes… He would walk slowly, with a certain kind of lazy attention, because he didn’t want to miss anything that might present itself to him. One morning, we were walking along the canal, with this wonderful view of Le Cannet, with Cannes below and far away, in the blue distance, the mountains of L’Estorel. We came to an olive grove and he stopped and said to me, ‘Look, Michel, look at those trees. I must have seen them a thousand times and they never said a thing to me. But last night it rained and they are shining with a brilliance I have never seen before.’ He took a little piece of paper out of his pocket and he made a sketch, and later he painted a picture from it. That was how he worked. He painted nature always from memory, after his walks.

Michel Terrasse, great nephew of Pierre BONNARD
Click the flowers to get some ideas to lure you back to making art

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9 thoughts on “Watercolor – Secret Island Anchorage”

    1. Hi Kristy, I loved it too. The notion that everyone must study in order to “learn to observe” struck me as so true. Perhaps its like any other skill set, and we can get very good at it if we approach the practice with enough conviction. 🙂

  1. What a phenomenal video! Thanks for sharing. Your painting really captured the feeling of those scenic islands – gives one the sensation of being in the deepest of oceans, yet close to a land mass! BTW, I’m on my third John Banville audio book “The Infinities”. Can’t thank you enough for introducing him to my reading (listening) world.

    1. Hello GD! Thanks for the note, and your compliment. I’m so glad you’re enjoying Banville! I’m still planning to listen to his books, and I’ll let you know when I get to them so we can compare notes! I’m glad you enjoyed the video. I’m very lucky to live within sight of those fabulous islands. ?

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