Happy New Year, Roosters!

2017 is the Chinese Year of the  Rooster.

When I lived in San Francisco-a very Asian city, Chinese  New Year was a festive and LOUD time of year: think firecrackers, bell ringing, lion dances and exotic parades.

This is a Fire Rooster year. Fire Roosters are traditionally trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work. The other types are Wood Roosters, Earth Roosters, Gold Roosters and Water Roosters.

On the whole, Roosters are active, amusing, popular, healthy, outspoken, honest, loyal, talkative and charming. Many of my dearest friends are Fire Roosters.

Happy New Year, Roosters-

Cockadoodle~Doo!

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a Fire Rooster, painted with gouache on paper

Since Roosters are also chickens, this post will celebrate these fascinating and delicious animals-among my very favorite to observe and draw.

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A hen and rooster painted with gouache on brown paper

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rooster painted with gouache on paper

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a variety of poultry breeds drawn in colored pencil on brown paper

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Buff Laced Bantam Rooster painted in gouache on paper

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“Bless each wren, each rooster and hen” painted in gouache on black gesso. From the book: Home Sweet Home by Jean Marzollo and Ashley Wolff

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Sleep

It’s late November here in Vermont ~ the time of year for hibernation.

Who hibernates? Bats, Bears,skunks, bees, snakes, and groundhogs to name a few.

Since moving from a mild California climate to the stricter seasonal progression of northern New England, I’ve become much more sympathetic to the concept of hibernation!

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On the last day of Baby Bear Counts One, Mama and Baby Bear are ready to curl up and sleep the winter away.

Showing the process of sleeping is relatively easy, but showing dreaming was a challenge in Only The Cat Saw.  When I was a child I often dreamed of being near the ocean or swimming when I really needed to get up to urinate!

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Enter a caption

Holly Taylor modeled as the sleeping Amy, way back in 1984

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Amy, dreaming in Only The Cat Saw. Acrylic on paper

Of course, we sleep all year long, and humans enjoy it as much as animals. Mostly sleep happens when it is too dark to draw, but sometimes a nap overtakes us, and when it does I seize that moment of daylight stillness to draw.

Since the late 70s I’ve drawn people and creatures I love while they were sleeping.

Here is a selection.

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine, asleep on the couch after wisdom tooth removal..

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watercolor sketch of my sister Peregrine.

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this drawing of Rowan reminds me of Amy’s pose. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Brennan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper

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Rowan, asleep. Colored pencil on brown paper.

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Sabin, asleep. Marker on brown paper.

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Tula napping. Watercolor on brown paper

Cat sleeping page

Nutkin, sleeping. Acrylic on paper.

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Wildridge kitten, sleeping. Gouache on brown paper.

The Joy of Beaches in Winter

Christmas at the beach-a California tradition.

Big storms sweep in from the west and huge tides bring in piles of tangled kelp and other beach debris.

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The impossibly tangled piles buzz with Kelp Flies.

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The Kelp’s gas bladders keep the long stem or stipes, floating upright in the water.

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Northern California beaches are not known for shells but there are dense mussel beds and those shells are easy to find.  This sketch includes a scrap of Abalone shell, fish spine bones and crab claws.

I love collecting this sort of beach debris for my Beach Portraits.

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And then there are the Harbor Seals, who haul themselves up to nap on the sunny rocks.

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And sometimes there are the husbands, who nap anywhere they like.

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Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2013

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free music festival started in 2000, and entirely funded by Warren Hellman, is a joyous annual event in San Francisco.

I’ve been attending, more or less, for many years, and this year’s highlight was the Kate Mcgarrigle Tribute with many of her family and friends singing her songs and clowning around.HSB2013-2:WEB

The set was kicked off by Martha Wainwright, Kate’s daughter, singing Matapedia and Sloan Wainwright, her sister-in-law, singing NaCl.  The guest stars that crossed the stage were some of my favorites, and all friends of the McGarrigle Sisters:

Maria Muldaur, Emmy Lou Harris, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, Kate’s ex Loudon Wainwright, and Richard Thompson. Her songs were as extraordinary, funny, poignant and beautiful as ever, and the one non-Kate song was sung by Loudon Wainwright, about her!

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Here is Emmylou and her Red Dirt Band from 2008

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and Ricky Skaggs

And now for a gallery of those who have passed to the giant Banjo Jam in the sky! earlscruggsHSB'08

Earl Scruggs

hazeldickens'08Hazel Dickens

RalphStanley'08Ralph Stanley

HSBGThank you, Warren!

Remembering a War Spring

10 years ago yesterday I just had to get away from the radio news, breathlessly covering the “shock and awe” of Bush’s army entering Iraq.

There was only one thing to do. Draw a breath and draw a flower, or 10.

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My hill was covered in spring wildflowers. warflowers

Studying the forms and colors helped take my mind off what I thought then, and know now, was a pointless, wasteful war–based on lies.pawprintflowers

Identifying the flowers, looking them up by color and shape and rolling their Latin names in my mouth was oddly calming. mapleleaves

Bad things were unfolding overseas, but the velvet nap of pink Maple leaves unfolding was very good.Lucyw:flowers

Lucy was still alive and lay near me, eyes and ears tuned for signs of danger.

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Pinks and oranges starred the grasses.

That war is now supposed to be over. Other wars loom. March is here.

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Time to go draw flowers again.

Happy Birthday, Brennan!

 

26 years ago today, my life changed joyfully, and forever.

Brennan Wolff Russell was born, after a long labor, at 4:16 in the morning.

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Like many new mothers, I was basically clueless, but the learning curve has been continually fascinating and will never end.

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When I love something, I draw it. hobbyhorse

Some drawings were done from photos like this one, but sometimes I caught him live. This was almost always while he was reading, drawing…

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or eating!

I love you, B, and look forward to the rest of our journey together.

XOXOXO, Matb