July 8, 2017

Glendale Window9
Palm trees I can see from my window in Glendale, 2017 (watercolor and ink on watercolor paper)

One of my sketching groups challenged each of us to draw the same thing over and over for a week. So, since I can see palm trees through my kitchen window, and I am obsessed with palm trees and want to get good at drawing them, I did just that. I drew a couple “window views” of palm trees on grey toned paper with black ink and I did one at night with only the moon light behind a palm tree as my light source. I looked out the window at the same palm trees over and over, and did one with just ink, and another with ink and blue and red inktense pencils. And I did this one, where I first drew in all the detail in black ink and then added watercolor color. I have done way more than a week’s worth of palm trees I could see out of that window. In fact, I now have so many pictures from my window that I created a file of art called “my window.”

So, it got me thinking, not about obsessively drawing the same thing over and over again, but rather what I have enjoyed looking at through a window. And the question then became “What have I seen through a window I’ve really enjoyed looking at?” Or maybe the question should be “What would I like to see through a window?” Of course there could be a number of creepy, or voyeuristic (Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”), reasons to look out a window. But if you just don’t go there, “What would you like to see out a window?” My mom was a great one for this. She was continuously talking about having a view from a window. When she lived in Morro Bay she loved going out to lunch or dinner if we went to a restaurant with a window view of the ocean or Morro Rock. She loved it when we took her to the bay right next to the Rock and she could watch through the car window as the sea otters paddled around, diving for things to eat. And she absolutely adored going for trips in a motor home where she could sit right up front and look out the window at “her view” as it passed by.

Here are a few more great “window view” stories:

When my mom was a girl, her family lived on the floor of the valley of Yosemite (her dad was the plumber for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company during WWII) and she could see Half Dome from her bedroom window. Yikes, right? Of course when she spoke of that view she also reminded us that she had to share the room with her sister, and that it was really cold there in winter.

However, my son loved the view of snow falling from his bedroom window when we lived in Grass Valley. You see, if snow was falling heavily and steadily on a school night there was a chance that school would be cancelled the next day. He loved the 5 am calls that came from the principal calling for a “snow day.” I think my son loved to then confirm this information and look out the window again, in the light of day, to see a foot or two of snow on the road, sidewalk and trees outside his room. I seem to remember a Christmas time that he put a chair at that window and watched for the cousins to come up the walk just as snow was falling and sticking to the ground. And when my son was an infant I also remember looking from that same window (in the very early morning hours), watching the school buses go by and hoping he would somehow be mesmerized by the motion and go back to sleep for at least one more hour. That was a great window—with many childhood memories for my son and I.

Before I kept our chickens (Peepo, Leepo, Eepo and Tweedy) exclusively in the side yard in our Grass Valley home, I let them run around the backyard during the day. I even set up a small roosting bar for them to sit on in front of the dining room window so they could look in at us and we could look out at them. (It seems I was the only one who really liked this view.) So, I put them back in their side yard, closed the gate and scraped up the sizable amount of poop that seemed to be everywhere. Ultimately, I think I was actually done with them running around the yard. About this same time they got into my garden and ate every single asparagus sprig that had popped up that spring—all 7 sprigs.

If you ride on the train from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara (or from Santa Barbara to San Luis) you go right by the ocean. I have sat in the dining car of that train a number of times and looked out the window at the amazing Pacific Ocean. A couple times I have seen surfers in the water out there. If you have never seen the Pacific Ocean, you have to imagine the surfer’s are wearing black wet suits because the water right there is pretty cold.

Sometimes “advertised views” are interesting. When my then husband and I went to a bed and breakfast in Sausalito, our room was advertised as having a view of the bay. I remember even paying extra for this view. However, we soon discovered that to see the bay you had to stand on the end of the bed and lean out towards the center of the room to see the bay through a very tiny window. Hmmmm…

So, then the question becomes, what would you like to look at through a window? Would it be the ocean or Half Dome? Would you like to look through a beautiful stained glass window, watch for someone to come up your walk, or maybe to count the number of hummingbirds at your hummingbird feeder? Maybe there isn’t just one perfect window view. Maybe it’s just important to stop for a minute and look out a window and notice what’s out there. Maybe we should be thankful we have somewhere to live where it’s safe and warm in winter and cool in summer. I kind of like that I have been looking out the same window in my kitchen for almost two years now, and I never tire of looking at palm trees. Sometimes I see a guy washing one car or another. The other day I noticed he was polishing a weird-colored two-seat convertible with a cracked front windshield. And there was a FOR RENT sign in that window. What’s that all about? Oops! I guess it’s time to stop looking out that window for a while.

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