Saturday Morning Zen: CANCELLED.

The place in Mill Valley that was hosting our Saturday morning drawing/painting workshop is no longer willing, canceling our sessions, much to the disappointment of the regulars who attended. I am sad, yet I am confident something else will open up.

Ironically, two years ago I bought a large amount of charcoal paper to be used specifically for this workshop. The drawing below is rendered on my very last sheet.

Thanks so much to Lenny Lee for putting the workshops together at Mill Valley Art and Paper. It was a great run!

my car was stolen while I was in Chicago during the holidays. the entire set of drawings I did during the two years of my "saturday morning zen" life drawing workshop were in the trunk. All those drawings gone, like tears in the rain. :)


Elvgren sketches

Someone sent me these beautiful, rare, Elvgren sketches. These were most likely done in the late 5o's, and probably studies for his paintings. Simple line work, minimal shadows, gorgeous drawings.


I spent my Thankgiving weekend at the ranch. I brought my sketchbook, of course. Between all the feasting and visiting, I drew this interesting little birds' nest that was sitting in a box on the porch and this little cat nearby.


Oakland Bay to Golden Gate

Judith, model today at my Saturday morning zen workshop:

What a gorgeous day it was all over the bay area. How do I know it was nice all over? Because my drive to this workshop spans two bridges, the Oakland Bay Bridge (still being retrofit...) and the Golden Gate Bridge, the most beautiful bridge ever. The weather was nice on both spans.

and a better photo from a few Saturdays ago:

the model in the drawing above reminded me of Waterhouse's nymphs:


The turpentine haze in my studio

i listen to music while i paint. it helps to create an incredibly zen-like state; paint and the brushes and the color of my still life travel through my eyes, into my mind and back out onto claessen's lead primed canvas while listening to elliott smith, thinking about my mistakes, facing my future, and hoping that this
alternate-verse I just stepped into is the right one. I am hopeful because I know that the ether that permeates this universe is made of the turpentine haze in my studio, and the kindness and patience of friends.

after a hiatus, i am painting again when i can. my living situation is such that i don't have a good place to paint, but that is all working out.


"Azevedo Ranch Chickens", oil 9"x12"

I have never heard A more moving rendition of Bob Dylan's song, "Forever Young", than the one sang by Randy at his brother David's memorial service.


You are missed, David Threlfall

David Philip Solari Threlfall
October 3, 1948 - March 6, 2007

*photo was taken by Kathleen, somewhere in Sequoia National Park

Sometimes there are people that flow through our lives that make a really big impression. An avid hiker, mountain climber, photographer, husband, father, baseball fanatic, geologist and all around interesting person, David Threlfall was and continues to be one of those people for me.

The first time my sister Jenny and I met Kathleen and David was at my Dad's wedding to my step mom, Susan, many years ago. Other than Susan, we'd never met people from California before. They were so cool and casual, so laid back and friendly.

Over the years, as my step mother's family became more a part of my life, I had a chance to get to know Kathleen and David. I was always excited to take trips out to their house at Azevedo ranch. David always had his cameras out as well as prints, slides, his new scanner or a new book, and talked enthusiastically about what he was working on or an interesting photographer he'd come across. As a young adult, it was his passion for photography and the outdoors that made a powerful impact on me as I was forming my own artistic pursuits. The idea of combining a love for hiking and the natural world with a love for photography made sense to me as a young painter hoping to someday be able to do the same as a landscape painter. David represented to me the idea of pursuing your interests for no other reason than just because you love it and it makes you feel alive, which is far more courageous than I'd realized.

Now at 38, I have come to understand that there is no place for guilt in wanting to pursue your interests. What are we if, at the end of our lives, we have lived nothing but 'responsibly' and have failed to listen to our hearts? As I look at the walls of Kathleen and David's ranch house, I see the beautiful prints he made of his work, as well as the ones he acquired, all of it a record of his existence, of what he saw and thought worthy to photograph, and of what he saw in other's work that made him need to own a print, and am left thinking, this is a man who really lived...

How fortunate I have been to have known David Threlfall.

My thoughts and love are with Kathleen, Rosie and Willie.

"And yet, there is only
One great thing,
The only thing:

To live to see in huts and on journeys
The great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world."

-song from the Kitlinguiharmiut, Copper Eskimo


Rainer Maria Rilke and Mr. Kappa

A good friend recently sent me the following passage via e mail:

In 1903, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke responded by letter to a young man seeking his advice. Rilke eventually wrote ten letters now collectively known and published as "Letters to a Young Poet." They are heartfelt advice from a successful but still struggling artist to another who was deeply mired in self doubt. Rilke's idealism is applicable today to all who might pursue any sort of creative activity:

Your work needs to be independent of others' work
You must not compare yourself to others
No one can help you but yourself
Criticism leads to misunderstandings
Work from necessity and your compulsion to it
Work on what you know and what you love
Don't observe yourself too closely, just let it happen
Don't let yourself be controlled
Live in love and the activity of your work
Be free of thoughts of sin and guilt
Be touched by the anxiety of life
Be patient with the unresolved in your heart
Try to be in love with the questions themselves
Be gentle to those who stay behind
Your inner self is worth your entire concentration
Allow your art to make extraordinary demands on you
Bear your sadness with greater trust than your joy
Do not persecute yourself
Its good to love, because love is difficult
You are not a prisoner of anything or anyone

Rainer Maria Rilke counseled the young poet, known only as Mr. Kappus, over a five year period. No evidence exists that they ever met.




Go oft to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


More JC Leyendecker Gems...

From the Haggis Museum in Stockton, California...

This watercolor sketch of his mother is so beautiful i could just scream. Look at the way the edges on the far side of the face blend into the shadow. The edges are completely undefined. God i just love that! Click on it and look at the close up...


JC Leyendecker Show

Happy New Year! A little bird tells me 2007 will be a very good year. :)

I recently saw a very rare showing of JC Leyendecker originals at the Haggis Museum in Stockton, California. JC Leyendecker was a protege of John H. Vanderpoel,who taught at the famed Chicago Art Institute in the late 1800's. I was interested in this drawing in particular because the influence is quite clear. The way the shadows meld together in one or two values and yet the eye sees all the forms of the subjects. This kind of drawing gets me every time, no matter what the subject.

Sorry for the glare and bad photography.

sorry for the blur on the photo below...

Just beautiful. The drawing is all in the shadow patterns. How can an artist not appreciate the beauty of this kind of drawing?