May 2, 2020

Castilleja (CA native wildflower) botanical, 1991 (watercolor and Prismacolor colored pencil on Strathmore cold press illustration board)

For whatever reason, I seem to be on a botanical roll at the moment. I recently shared an old  “botanical-like” rendering of a Melastome from the Cloud Forest of the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. Last week’s offering was a recent monk’s hood compilation from the internet and this week’s botanical is an old rendering of a California wildflower from an Atascadero hillside I explored long ago. 

It all started when my son asked me to do a series of poisonous plant botanicals. His positive enthusiasm for such a series of works was matched with my positive enthusiasm for not wanting to engage in such a project. He wanted me to start with monk’s hood and then proceed to other delightfully deadly, but beautiful, flowers. He had also measured a part of his forearm for a monk’s hood tattoo and given me those dimensions for my sketch. So, yeah, not that enthused. Find your own art, right? Anyway, as time went on he told me he wasn’t really going to get that tattoo and my interest in what he might be considering perked up considerably. (Not the tattoo, but the flower.) Then I made a sketch the size he wanted for his finished botanical and a week or so later I began grudgingly looking for a usable sheet of illustration board in those dimensions. I didn’t think I had any larger pieces anymore and it’s not something I can just run down to an art store and buy anymore. It’s just not that common or easy to find. Years ago local hometown art stores were common and would likely carry all Strathmore papers as a 30 by 40 inch sheet. All you had to do was look through stacks and stacks of paper to find whatever you wanted. I was always looking through such stacks in such stores. You used to be able to find everything from rabbit skin glue, that was used by Renaissance painters as sizing for their canvases, all the way to synthetic brushes of every size, shape, price and/or proposed function. There just aren’t many independently owned brick and mortar art stores you can dig through anymore. (It feels like it’s the same for independently owned bookstores too. Right?) The larger art store players that are around today seem to have changed a bit too. I used to order all kinds of materials from Daniel Smith by mail, including the Strathmore illustration board I now seek. Just a few weeks ago I looked to see if I could order paper online from them, but found they only carry paint now. Daniel Smith used to have a large catalog that was filled with every imaginable art material. They even had rabbit skin glue listed in the catalog. Oh well! Thank goodness I can order what I want from Blick’s online.

So, once I knew I had what I needed to create a fresh batch of botanicals I asked my son what he wanted, hoping that none of the plant material he was thinking of had any connection to a poison, the word “poison,” or “implied poison.” He said he liked a whole host of flowers that I love, like roses, orchids and hydrangea. Yes! All I was missing for this new, and now exciting, botanical adventure was a trip to the rose garden at the Descanso Gardens. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, but it’s spring and you might imagine that everything is in bloom in SoCal! And I’m also sure I don’t need to remind you that the Descanso is closed right now. Such a disappointment.

Roses aren’t really as common as you might think. They do take a little care and are susceptible to a couple common pests that can just decimate them. Gophers love roses, and not in a good way. A friend from Paso Robles told me of a rose garden that had been planted by her husband for their anniversary. How romantic, right? I guess they lasted only a couple years. It seems that one night her 8 mature rose bushes were nibbled completely off at the base, all gone in a single night. Roses are also susceptible to aphids, mildew and something called black spot (no pirates here…). If you live where there are deer, they can be a huge problem for your roses as well, even if you have them in pots right up against the house. Another Paso friend told me deer would come that close to eat her roses. She said it sounded like someone was walking around in high heals in the dark on the deck.

But I can’t go to my beloved Descanso Gardens to look at roses. What should I do? Thank goodness I remembered various gardens in Glendale where I have seen spring roses in the past. There are a couple houses in nearby neighborhoods that immediately sprang to mind. One corner house has a most amazing display of about 20 identical orange blossomed roses (variety unknown), with just as many clumps of identical ornamental grasses (this variety also unknown). This time of year it’s quite a sight of texture and color with masses of spiky golden puffs of soft grasses beside a sea of velvety orange rose blossoms. Crazy, but the house is quite unforgettable really. So, the other day I went on a rose adventure, but went past this garden and headed straight to a nearby friend’s Glendale garden. He had told me that his roses were looking quite spectacular. It was kind of a funny moment when I got into his backyard as he stayed in the house, at an appropriate social distance. We just smiled and waved to each other through the back windows. I took pictures of some absolutely stunning roses that day, and they included the following: Marmalade Skies, McCartney Rose (named for Paul McCartney), Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sterling Silver. Each flower also had such an amazing scent. I don’t know which one my son would like me to turn into a botanical, but I would be happy to render any of the roses I saw and smelled the other day. Stay tuned. 

Descanso Gardens update

You can still visit their website

For a real spring treat, go to the “Now Blooming” section and click on the “bloom calendar.” There you will find what blooms in the garden by the month. And if you do look there you will see that roses are first on the list of May flowers. Scroll down below the list and there are some lovely shots of roses and other spring lovelies. Not sure who took the photos, but imagine there must be gardeners about the place, even now. But among the photos are a couple videos of goslings wandering carefree where ever they please as there is no humans to bother them. Whoever took the short videos of the goslings also added some music—pretty cute. Somehow it’s nice to know that the birds are enjoying the Descanso Gardens right now and they could probably care less about the roses in bloom. 

And Happy Birthday Megan!

April 25, 2020

monk's hood botanical
Monk’s hood, April 2020 (watercolor and Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore cold press illustration board)

I have been threatening to complete and post this particular botanical for a few weeks now. Here it is. I guess I want to say something right up front about the subject matter I chose to render, aside from the fact that it is a poisonous plant. Normally, all the images you see at One California Girl have come from my actual sitting and looking at a particular view or art that I created from a photo I took of said view. As I do not have any poisonous plants in my garden, that I know of anyway, I painted this from a compilation of several photos and an actual old botanical that I found online. I wanted to state for the record that I did not directly copy anyone’s work. Directly copying someone’s photo, art or written work is not OK. If you are an artist, photographer or writer, you know how important it is that someone not copy your work, and then put his or her name on it as their own, right? It’s called plagiarism. And it is doubly bad, unethical and probably worthy of some kind of lawsuit if someone copies your work and then sells it, right again? I have no intention of selling this.

As I said, I don’t have any poisonous plants in my yard. I once got some Lily of Valley plants as a “pass along plant” when we lived in Grass Valley. I didn’t know it was poisonous when I tucked it into the ground back then. And it does kind of make me cringe when I think that we also had a dog at the time. But she didn’t seem very interested in any of my plants. She was more excited about digging holes, chasing water as it spurted from a sprinkler or hose and eyeing the chickens through cracks in the wooden gate. Foxglove, or digitalis, is quite pretty, but quite poisonous to dogs, cats and humans. Over the years I have thought of putting some in a shady spot in my garden, but knew enough not to really consider it when we had dogs. At least I knew better with that one! My son had asked me to do a botanical of poison hemlock (Conium maculatum), but I have declined. It’s actually kind a sweet looking plant and part of the carrot family. (That makes it seem almost palatable, right?) If you look for botanicals of poison hemlock online, you will see some really lovely renderings of the plant as it looks in its natural habit, with close up views of seeds, roots, flowers and stems. Looking at these very detailed paintings made me realize how much poison hemlock looks like a favorite medicinal wildflower that I have propagated and let reseed in numerous gardens over the years. It’s called Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carrot). To see if there was any connection between the two, other than the fact that the word “carrot” can be used to describe each plant, I went looking for specific information on Queen Anne’s Lace. And sure enough I found a great source of all things you would ever want to know about medicinal plants at the Ohio Northern University Herb Garden ( web page. It appears that they have Queen Anne’s lace in their Medicinal Sundial Garden. I also did a little digging to see if anyone besides me saw the need to be able to tell the two apart. This is because Queen Anne’s Lace can be used as a diuretic, a cure for indigestion, and form of birth control, and Poison Hemlock would be considered deadly if ingested. (I did kind of wonder about someone making Queen Anne’s Lace tea from the roots as birth control, right? But I digress.) Anyway, I guess the greatest difference between the two is to be observed when looking at the stem of each plant. Queen Anne’s Lace has hairy looking green stems and Poison Hemlock has no hairs, but instead small purple blotches. You know, if you look at botanicals of Queen Anne’s Lace you sure don’t see the promised hairs on the stems, but you do see the purple blotches on the Poison Hemlock. I bet you can guess the moral of this story…

Making your own tracing paper

When considering making your own botanical it is important to first do a detailed sketch. And once you have gotten the lines and flourishes just where you want them on plain old drawing paper, you don’t want to have to redraw it again on good paper. That’s when I dig out my drafting tape and homemade tracing paper. Place the tracing paper between the good paper (inked side down) and the sketch. Use a little drafting tape to hold everything in place. Take a sharp hard lead pencil (H or BH) and redraw your lines directly on the sketch. (I sometimes use a red pencil so I can make sure I don’t miss any lines.) Once you’ve retraced every line remove the sketch and tracing paper and an exact copy of your plant will appear on the good paper as if by magic. But when I do a botanical I do a couple more things before I’m ready to start adding color. I take the same hard pencil I just used and lightly trace over those lines directly on the good paper. Finally, I take a kneadable eraser and gently dap at every line—leaving a pretty crisp looking sketch made of light fine lines. Ahh…

I guess you can buy tracing paper at an art store, but you can also make it very easily. I wouldn’t have even thought about making tracing paper if I hadn’t needed to make some for this botanical. I have a sheet that I made over 30 years ago, and I have made countless transfers with it. I even tried to use it for this botanical, but the transferred lines were just too light. It was time to make another. Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a sheet of 9 by 12 or 11 by 14 sheet of plain tracing paper.
  2. Hold a soft leaded pencil (I used a 6B) at an angle so you can use the side of the graphite, not the point.
  3. Scribble in long strokes across the paper leaving about a 1/2 to 3/4 inch frame around the edge uncovered. But the paper should be pretty dark with graphite.
  4. Now, you can stop right here and use it to transfer your sketches to good paper. The graphite is pretty loose and can come off easily and for me, it’s just too easy to add random smudges everywhere at this point. I do one more thing to help with that.
  5. I coat the graphite with a light layer of a solvent with a cotton ball. Be sure to find a well ventilated spot to do this.
  6. Let it dry and it should be good for 30 years of transferring bliss. 
  7. Oh, there really is one more thing that you need to do. You need to find a good place to store it, so it will be at the ready anytime you need it. My first tracing paper has been in the same sketch pad, between the same two pages, since I made it. Now that I have a new sheet, I have put it in a new sketchpad and have put that in a special drawer. I have plans to do more non-poisonous plant botanicals now. I hope I remember where I put the tracing paper…

I did remember that today is your birthday, Dad. Happy Birthday! I miss you every day.

April 18, 2020

Melastome in the Cloud Forest of the Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, 1993 (Prismacolor colored pencil and watercolor on Strathmore cold press illustration board)

It took me until Wednesday to figure out the art I wanted to share this week. That’s pretty unusual for me. I usually have an art idea in mind the Sunday before, and once I have that visual in mind a story of something “California” somehow takes shape. Or I am reminded of the technique that went into the piece and plan to write about that over the week. But that’s not what happened this time and my muddle headedness started last Saturday when I thought I would do a daily sketch of the same thing just like last week—but no more mugs holding the desk detritus of my somewhat boring life. So, I went outside to look for a muse that would amuse me. Oh, yeah, I can’t leave my yard. There is a lovely little spot on my front porch that is covered and from there I can see a view of some lovely mature trees across the street, with rolling green mountains behind that. I can also see a very suspicious looking citrus tree from here. How can a tree be suspicious? I could swear that every orange on that tree has been hanging there since I moved into my house over three years ago.  The tree has looked the same every season of those years. Is that possible? That seemed to amuse me and I thought this would be good. That was until it started to rain again and the colors across the street took on a kind of wet and blurry look. I lost interest. 

By now it’s Monday and I still haven’t come up with anything. My son had asked me to do a botanical of monk’s hood and I thought of working on that everyday this week—writing each day about a very specific technique I use for such botanicals. (I used this exact technique for the above Melastome.) I had already done a pen and ink of the poisonous plant and got busy transferring it to a piece of my beautiful Strathmore cold press illustration board. Creating such a botanical, for me, is quite a process, taking lots of time. This is because it’s a kind of layering of color, first Prismacolor colored pencils to set the tone by adding the deepest shadows, then the mixing of a beautiful color that will go on top of that. And the watercolor colors are quite diluted as there will many layers added to make lovely saturated patches of color. First colored pencil, then watercolor, colored pencil, then watercolor…until I get the overall effect I want. This can take a long time as you need to wait for each pass of watercolor to dry before adding the next layer of paint and/or pencil. And if you have ever worked with watercolors and don’t let an under color dry, that under color can be lifted off when you add the next color. Anyway, I was going to document what the piece looked like each day, showing how the color changed and intensified with each layer. But even this seemed diluted and it wouldn’t make an interesting story because photos of all the stages might be dull and uninteresting until I got to the final piece. (Botanical renderings are not everyone’s cup of tea. And you may be one who briefly enjoys a realistic rendering of a plant in the last stage, but find all the steps to making it very dull.) I continued with the poisonous botanical, but realized there wasn’t much more to say about it. By Wednesday I was still up in the air with an art idea when I remembered this botanical. When I looked at it again that day I was transported to the Cloud Forest of Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. This is where the particular melastome you see here was growing in the early 90’s. This plant, and all the other plants in the Melastomataceae family, became my muse for the rest of the week. (I’m sorry this image is not very clear as it is a scan of a photo copy. I donated the original many years ago to a silent auction to raise funds for art and science programs that benefited my son’s school district, Grass Valley School District.)

There is one specific melastome that seems to do well in CA even though none of the plants in the family are native, and that is the “Princess Plant.” I’ve seen them mostly in gardens in the cooler climates of north CA, especially Berkeley, but I have also seen them in coastal SoCal neighborhoods like Belmont Shore. If you Google “Princess Plant” and look for a close up of the flower you will see my Melastome except in the most luscious shade of violet with soft and fuzzy leaves. Botanists would call this a very sexy plant.

pen and ink monk's hood

I promise I will share the monk’s hood botanical when it is complete. But, OMG, my son is liking the idea of such a botanical that he wants a whole collection of poisonous flower botanicals. He thinks the blossoms of poison hemlock (conium maculatum) quite lovely and he asked if maybe I could do a painting of foxglove (digitalis). I told him I would see how I felt when I finished the monk’s hood (aconitum). Stay tuned.

April 11, 2020

mug, day 1 and 2
April 4, day 1 of two-week challenge. Mug of desk materials (graphite on drawing paper) April 5, day 2 of two-week challenge. Back of mug filled with desk materials plus battery powered pencil sharpener. (graphite, Fude fountain pen on drawing paper)

Last Friday one of my sketching groups had a virtual meeting. That was great! We decided to sketch the same object(s) or scene in or around our house everyday for two weeks, posting the art daily. If you think it might be boring to see the same items day after day, you might want to skip this week’s art and story and I’ll see you next week. Even though I am supposed to be doing the same items the week after that I can’t imagine I will actually post more renderings of the same mug with office items. 

Anyway, I actually did some journaling right on the page of art, not really sure why. I think it’s because I noticed that other artists I met with on the first Friday of the month had done that. I think I will add words to he page if I feel like it, we’ll see as the week goes on.

mug, day 3 and 4
April 6, day 3 of two-week challenge. Mug of desk materials with houseplant in a basket (Inktense pencil–with water added, Fude fountain pen on Canson Mix Media paper) April 7, day 4 of two-week challenge. Mug filled with desk materials. (watercolor on watercolor paper)

On April 6 I set up my tunes and listened to Love Scenes (Diana Krall—1997). Lots of great old-time ballads like, “All or Nothing at All,” “Peel Me a Grape,” “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You” and “Garden in the Rain.” I’m not sure my listening to the music or lyrics had any influence to this marathon of work, but it was a joy to listen to nonetheless. (My dad once told me that his mom—my grandmother—liked the song Garden in the Rain.) 

On the 7th I listened to Kinda Blue (Miles Davis—1959) and Unplugged (Eric Clapton—1992). There was the tiniest bit of sunshine today, but otherwise it’s been a rainy week.

mug, day 5
April 8, day 5 of two-week challenge. Mug of desk materials (wax crayon on toned paper)

OK, I think I have almost had enough of this mug. How about you? I mean, I guess it’s interesting to lay them end to end and see how each one is the same and how each one is different, but that takes about 20 seconds and then “ho hum.” Right? I have ideas for two more and then I will need to do a week of something else, like maybe something outside for a change. At the first blush of the challenge I was excited to use things in the mug and then maybe put them back in a slightly different place. For example, I used the purple scissors in the first couple sketches and realized they weren’t very sharp and replaced them with a taller purple pair of scissors (they were not really much better…) I also use my pencils a fair amount throughout the day and have sharpened them. Maybe they look a bit shorter? In one of the drawings I noted that the cover was coming off the book, and journaled about it. This morning I used the blue pen to write a check, placing it in a different place all together. OMG? How bored am I? Continuously looking at the same mug over and over for the better part of a week reminds me, once again, that I am staying home and inside because of COVID-19. And it’s been a particularly rainy week, so I am doubly reminded of a reason to stay inside. (You also many be wondering about the green dotted background for each photo. That is the surface of my ironing board. I used it as a surface to lay fabric I used to make cloth masks this week as well.)

What are YOU doing to keep from going mad? Today my son made churros. Why did he do that, you might ask? It seems that Disneyland posted the recipe they use for the churros they serve at the park. And because no one can go there, maybe we’re all supposed to make them, nibble them with our eyes closed, imagining we are walking around somewhere filled with people and noise. Hmm…

mug, day 6
April 9, day 6 of two-week challenge. Mug of desk materials (deep indigo Inktense pencil and water on watercolor paper.)
mug, day 7
April 10, day 7 of two-week challenge. Mug of desk materials (Tuscan red Prismacolor pencil and cadmium red, light watercolor on other side of day 6 watercolor paper)
day 6 and 7, part 2
Day 7 and Day 6 combo for two-week challenge.
day 6 and 7, part 1
Day 6 and Day 7 combo for two-week challenge.

These last two may or may not very clever, but it’s what I came up with for my last two images of the same tired mug filled with my desk stuff. I don’t know, I guess I was thinking of a Dutch door—you know, a door that has a bottom and top part. I’ve never lived in a house with such a Dutch door. I have never really wanted one because there is no way to keep out the flies and/or mosquitoes. Maybe it’s interesting that I was listening to Andre Previn’s CD After Hours was playing when I sketched and painted day 7. (My dad loved that CD.) Oh, and one final bit of interest for these two tiny vignettes? The day 7 version is the back of the mug. Ooooo. OK, I’m done.

Note about churros:

You have to eat them warm and just from the fryer. Day old and cold is not so great, even if you try dipping it in chocolate. Until next time…

April 4, 2020

Vetch on HIway 46
Vetch on fields and hillsides of Highway 46, early 2000s (oil on birch panel)

I went for a quick drive on Wednesday afternoon through nearby neighborhoods that I love to visit. While driving along I realized I had made one other trip in the car only one other time in the past 14 plus days. And that trip had been to get groceries. So, this venture took on special meaning as I looked upon gardens I have not seen since spring had arrived. And of course spring’s “springiness” was out on display whether or not I had been out there recently to see it. It was lovely. I was taken by surprise, as I am every spring in CA, with the bright patches of poppies and lupines on display in all kinds of random untamed spots right now. Over the 3 plus years I have been posting art and words on One California Girl, I have sketched and written about both of these native wildflowers. So, the art you are looking at now is another favorite native wildflower that will be coming on soon in the golden state. It generally blooms just as the lupines are fading and it has a rather unfortunate name I think—it’s called vetch. And if that wasn’t bad enough, this is a painting of fields and hillsides of vetch—common name “hairy vetch.” Close up it doesn’t look like much. The flowers are a kind of cascade of tiny lavender colored blossom dots, and if you squint your eyes I guess the leaves and stems look a little hairy. But in this early 2000 Paso landscape I saw that day, the fields and hills looked the pink color you see here. No foolin’ Looking back on that lovely spring day I remember the sky was really this bright blue. It’s as though the amazing spring light actually changed the color of the flowers to pink. Or maybe it just played a trick on my eyes and mind, creating this a spectacular sight. 

I don’t know if there is such a sight along Highway 46 this year, as opulent  wildflower displays are often the result of the perfect amount of rainfall at the perfect time of the spring season. But there may not be much in the way of open fields at that spot anymore as there were vineyards to the right at that time. Maybe they have filled in with grapes since then. I’m not one to really lament such a change as it’s really true that one person’s flowers are another person’s weed patch. But as I have said, with regards to such changes in the Paso Robles wine country, I am so glad I was there to see this sight. And of course I am so glad I painted it.

This one I did from a photo I took as in the early 2000s. I was the single mom of a young child back then and didn’t have time to sit for any extended period of time and paint plein air. Besides, the fence surrounding that field was pretty close to the asphalt and cars have always whizzed up and down that road and I’m not really sure that would have been a safe place to sit then or now. I remember I was glad to get the couple dozen photos I took of the area at the time.

I did several oil paintings on birch panels during this time. If you are interested I have written about underpainting and general painting techniques on such a surface in a couple previous posts. (see January 19, 2019 and August 12, 2017) I will say that it’s kind of cool to try different pigment applications on such a hard surface. I remember really scrubbing the blue pigment over a raucous pink/red under color to get a smooth surface for the sky. But then I applied blobs of paint that sit proud on the wood and I think that really worked for the blossoms in the foreground. I have to add that the colors in the actual piece were much brighter than you see here as this is a scan of a photo copy of the original. And a scan of a photocopy is never good, yes? But I really never thought I would be sharing this image again and just made a photocopy for me. This would have been easy to scan…but no matter. (The original sold almost immediately when I put it up on the wall of a nearby tasting room, so there was no chance of remembering to do that.) At the time I was also doing larger landscape canvases and actually had hired a professional photographer to take pictures of those pieces. No use worrying about all that past painting stuff…spring is here. And I can only hope that some farmer/rancher somewhere in California will have a glorious spring field or two of “hairy vetch.” (Why does saying that make me laugh?) 

Wasn’t yesterday the first Friday of the month? Did I go to the Norton Simon?

For the first time since I moved to SoCal there would be no sketching time at the Norton Simon Museum the first Friday of the month. And you probably have guessed that the Norton Simon is closed because I don’t think social distancing can be achieved in an art gallery. At the beginning of the week our fearless leader suggested we have a virtual meeting, discussing how we might continue our group sketching in a “non-contact” way. Actually, I thought it would be fun to just get together virtually, with a favorite glass of wine in hand, and discuss that. Maybe even do quick sketches of each other and see how that all looked as we each finished our first or second glass of wine. Hmmm…

But this is what happened. There were at least a dozen of my sketching buddies who appeared virtually on my screen last night, and several had a glass of wine in hand. (One woman texted her husband, who was in the next room, to bring her a glass of wine. Pretty funny…) Our leader was a perfect host inviting each of us to share how we were doing with our collective confinement in our homes, and maybe share some art we had done in the past weeks. She was so gracious, letting each of us ramble on if we needed to. I shared that I had been doing lots of art and had even challenged myself to sketch everyday for two weeks. There were others who had been sketching as well—drawing things just outside the window, or whatever was laying around in the kitchen. A number of sketchers had been participating in online sketching classes. One member is an art teacher at a local art school and she had just finished teaching online when we gathered together. In fact, one sketcher did quick sketches of each of us in our “Brady Bunch” style face and upper body arrangement. (She posted that a little later in the evening.) But there were several people who said that they were too overwhelmed with what was going with the pandemic and couldn’t paint or sketch anything at all. You could tell that they were energized to see us and I think we all felt good about making this contact. In fact, we agreed to do this again in two weeks. And we now have a StayAtHome sketch challenge that we are to draw the same thing we can see inside our house or outside through a window for the next two weeks. I have a mug of pencils that sits on my desk. I think I might try to do that. And if a series of pencils in a cup look like anything interesting I will post what I have drawn next time. So, until next time…

Oh, and is there anyone out there making masks? I found a pattern from a NY Times story online. OMG, it took me all morning to make one. Well, I guess I have time to figure that out…

March 28, 2020

DG, day 7
Garden Vista at the Descanso Garden, day 7, 3/21 (Derwent colored pencil on Canson Mix Media paper)

Day 7, Saturday, 3/21

Last Saturday I went to the Descanso Gardens and walked among the tulips. I took pictures of tulips and lilacs, as well as a picture of a glen for gathering that might be a place for a leprechaun, and vistas from benches that might give me a respite from worry and wondering if I could imagine myself sitting there, staring off into the distance. The piece of art you are looking at here is exactly one of those spots. It’s where I would rather be sitting today instead of sitting inside at home. (It is also day 7 of my two week self-inflicted art at home challenge.) Of course I am not the only one at home today, it just feels like it. I imagine a caption for this one that could be very literal and has something of a cliche about it. That might go something like, “Looking off into the future and wondering what is ahead.” Or it might be, “How will my SoCal world change?” And finally, my favorite right now is, “It’s always darkest before the bottom falls out.”

Then I got to thinking about my literal interpretations and wishes for our lives and cliches seem like a kind of survival mechanism—the only way to try to make sense of things. I’m no philosopher, but I’ve always been interested in philosophy. (My dad was a big fan of Plato.) So, for all you geeks like me out there, here is a suggestion that might help. I recently watched a great Netflix movie called “Genius of the Ancient World.” It’s all about the lives and teachings of Buddha, Socrates and Confucius, and presented by the historian, Bettany Hughes. It was amazing! Check it out.

hummingbird, day 9
Front porch hummingbird, day 9 (ink and watercolor on watercolor paper)

Day 8, Sunday, 3/22 (art of pen and ink of hummingbird at the nectar feeder outside my kitchen window) 

Day 9, Monday, 3/23

So, this is part 2 of my Sunday sketch. The sky Sunday morning was really that amazing blue, and the puffy clouds really looked that white. In previous posts I have described the lovely birds outside my kitchen window. Doing this watercolor got me away from my imaginings of the Descanso Gardens and the world outside and brought me just outside my own window. I love the idea that the birds just come and go all around, unaware of COVID-19 and/or their own mortality. In fact, yesterday I very wisely texted something about birds to a dear friend. I said, “They don’t seem to notice, or care about, what’s going on. Of course they are the descendants of dinosaurs, so they are in way better shape than the rest of us.” Amen to livin’ like a bird.

Geranium, day 11
Front porch geranium, part 2, March 25, day 11 (Inktense pencil, sprayed with water, on Canson Mix Media paper)

Day 10, Tuesday, 3/24, Geranium on my front porch (Inktense pencil only)

Day 11, Wed, 3/25

Today was a mixed bag of being one California girl on a rainy day during self-quarantine. 

1. I called my nearby nursery yesterday and ordered some summer garden plants. This afternoon I received my order— three specific tomatoes (brandywine, early girl, and better boy) and two 6 packs of cucumbers (pickling and lemon). The plants were delivered to my door by a lovely lady from a company called Roadie. What a wonderful vision—something to put in the ground that will grow and provide vegetables later in the summer. (It’s nice to imagine a “later” that I want to live in…) The plants were also nice to see as they were my dad’s favorite tomatoes, and I remember planting those very varieties in many of our yearly vegetable gardens. 

2. I made beans for dinner.

3. As the sun was heading way to the west it was shining bright and all around there were dark clouds, but no rain. Then it began to rain and then hail—all the while the sun backlit the whole scene. I went outside and ran around with my umbrella. When I Iooked over my house towards the San Gabriel Mountains I saw a complete double rainbow. Wow!! What a wonderful water blessing for my new seedlings. And Happy Birthday mom!

Rusty in the garden, day 14
Rusty in the back garden, with garlic and dill in the background, part 2, March 28, day 14 (Ink and Inktense pencil, sprayed with water, on Canson Mix Media paper)

Day 12, Thursday, 3/26, (art sketch/pen and ink of monk’s hood)

Yup! You read that one correctly…Hoping to do a “full on botanical,” as requested by my son…

Day 13, Friday, 3/27 (pen and ink of Rusty, our neighborhood cat, in the back garden.)

Day 14, Sat, 3/28 (Inktense pencil and water of Rusty the cat)

And this ends my 14 day self-inflicted art quarantine. I don’t know what kind of art will inspire me for my first April 2020 post. But I think this image is perfect for me right now—life somehow going on with the hope of a CA summer garden of vegetables. Take care and be safe!

March 21, 2020

DG, day 1
Sycamore tree and tulips, Day 1, 3/15/2020 (watercolor, Inktense pencil, watercolor crayons on watercolor paper)

This has certainly been an odd week for One SoCal Girl, as I am sure it’s been an unusual mid-March week for you as well. Lately it feels like I’ve been on a kind of roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. So, since I am to be home for the foreseeable future I decided to sketch and write a little something for the next couple weeks, starting last Sunday. 

Day 1, Sunday, 3/15/2020 

Ok, I am as ready as I will ever be with regards to staying inside/home indefinitely. But before I could actually say that without shivering uncontrollably or screaming out loud I decided I would need to fortify my soul with something beautiful. So, I went to the Descanso Gardens yesterday to walk among the tulips I have been so desperate to see. Not complaining, but it’s been a sort of wet March in SoCal and I wasn’t sure that would work. But when I woke up Saturday morning it wasn’t raining and I headed over there. (One of my sketching groups had actually planned an official visit that day to welcome spring at the Descanso. I think because of all the bad news it didn’t happen.) I noticed that Urban Sketchers challenged all of us to engage in an indoor virtual meeting with USk Milano—sketching what we could see just outside our windows at 11 in the morning. I was wandering the hills and dales of Descanso Gardens at that time, but I did see that an artist friend had done a sweet sketch of her cat looking in at her through her garden window.

Later Saturday evening I looked at all the pictures I took that morning, wondering which tulip landscape I would paint and write about for this first week. It was then I got the idea I should try to sketch or paint something every day I was inside. Creating art and/or writing on a daily basis is not such a novel thing for Urban Sketchers. There was a recent challenge to sketch at least 100 people from midnight, March 9 to midnight, March 13. But of course, being inside for days on end is pretty novel for sketchers and non-sketchers alike. 

DG, day 2
Tulips next to the train station, Day 2, 3/16/2020 (watercolor and Inktense pencil on watercolor paper)

Day 2, Monday, 3/16/2020

Today I did another watercolor of tulips, as I needed to see something bright and colorful on this dark winter SoCal day. 

My son was visiting family in Santa Clara County and realized if he didn’t leave before midnight, he would be stuck there until who knows when. So, he whipped into action and bought 10 pounds of frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts. On his way home that afternoon/evening he got stuck in the snow and had to stay in a motel overnight. He had a fridge in his room, but of course all the chicken defrosted. He brought it to me the next day and I began a plan of how to cook/save the chicken. 

Never one for wasting food I cooked all of it, making stock for soup. I added chicken, carrots, celery and rotini pasta for a pot of chicken soup. Some I chopped into pieces, making chicken salad with fresh apples, and a tiny bit of red onion. I pounded the rest into paillards. (If you don’t know about a paillards, check out the recipe below.) 

Chicken Paillards with Lemon-Butter Sauce (from

2 breast halves (pounded into 4 pallairds)

salt and pepper

1 to 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

3 to 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

1/4 cup minced shallots

3/4 cup of chicken stock

juice of one lemon

washed/clean spinach

Making the pallairds

For this recipe you will be making 4 pallairds. This means you will need two breast halves. 

  1. Cut the meat off the bone, if you have bone in chicken. Or just get two boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Oh, I had a few of those…)
  2. Press your hand on the top of the first piece, and slice the meat horizontally, cutting it almost all the way through. Open it like a book.
  3. Place this piece of meat between a sheet of plastic wrap. Working from the center out, pound with the smooth side of a mallet until the meat is 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick. (I use a rolling pin.) Cut this flattened chicken into 2 pieces.
  4. Do the same for the other piece of breast meat.

The rest

Season the 4 pallairds on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter int a large skillet over medium heat until the butter melts, but is not burned. Add 2 paillards to the pan and cook the first side until it’s golden brown (about 2 minutes). Flip them and cook the other side the same way. Transfer the meat to an oven safe dish and place them in the oven at a low temperature. Do the same with the remaining paillards—putting all 4 in the oven to stay warm.

Add the shallots to the frying pan, with butter and/or oil as needed. Stir the shallots often until they are golden brown (about 1 minute). Add the lemon juice and chicken stock (a little white wine instead of the lemon juice is nice to add as well) to the pan. Deglaze the pan by scraping brown bits of chicken from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until the sauce reduces by half (about 3 minutes). Gradually stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter until it has just melted. Season to taste.

Martha doesn’t say to put the cooked paillards back into the sauce. I do because it keeps the meat warm. Put the meat and a generous amount of sauce on a small helping of cleaned raw spinach. The sauce is tangy and hot, and when poured over the spinach, it wilts just a bit. Maybe make some biscuits for dunking?

Day 3, Tuesday, 3/17/2020 (Sketch of a glen at the Descanso)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Day 4, Wednesday, 3/18/2020 (Art of woven cherry trees at the Descanso)

I didn’t add the art for today either. But if you want an idea of what it looks like, look at my February 1, 2020 post where you will see the same woven trees. But for this one the cherry trees, just coming into bloom, are the star of the piece.

Kind of a sad Descanso day really as the Descanso Gardens will be closing tomorrow, 3/19 and will remain closed until further notice. Glad I have so many images I can conjure up to take me there in my imagination when I wish. I am all the more thankful that I wandered around there last Saturday. See you again soon, my treasured place.

Day 5, Thursday, 3/19/2020 (Art of close up of lilac blossoms on gray toned paper)

Today’s art looked rather uninspired as I did it in a hurry—trying to adhere to my self exiled challenge of doing one piece of art a day. I had grand plans to spend more time on this one, imaging the amazing smell of the lilacs last Saturday. But I wound up spending most of the morning and afternoon participating in a live video webcast about Breathing, Digestion and Swallowing. Bet you wish you’d done the same…no, huh? Better luck tomorrow…

DG, day 6
Pot of tulips at Descanso Gardens entrance, Day 6, 3/20/2020 (watercolors, Inktense pencils and watercolor crayons)

Happy first day of spring! Here are some more tulips that were at the front entrance last week. 

I plan to do a Day 7 sketch later today. I think I have just the perfect garden vista in mind. Hope you are staying safe and away. Stay tuned…

March 14, 2020

geese, color at NS
Pair of Canadian geese at the Norton Simon Museum, March 6, 2020 (graphite, ink and Inktense pencil on Mix Media paper)

It is my usual to go the Norton Simon the first Friday evening of the month. I go there to hang out with other sketchers, and of course because it’s free from 5 to 8. But I actually go there for more than just artistic companionship and free admission, I absolutely love sketching in the back garden every imaginable time of the year. Imagine it’s after 5pm in the evening and the sun has turned the almost dusk sky a beautiful shade of crystal blue. I quickly wander about for a few moments, as I know the sunlight is waning. I watch the changing colors on the sculptures, pond and plants. I check to see what has come into bloom, what is coming along and what has faded with the season. And since this is SoCal, there really aren’t many evenings you can’t stroll out there. Then I quickly find a spot to sketch, roll out out my bubble wrap, sit down and go to work before it gets too dark to see. For me it’s fun to mark monthly time in this intimate garden as the CA light changes, year in and year out. The sound of tire whine at that time of day pulses around me. If you look at a map of the museum you will see that the entire facility is almost a complete triangle set adrift with Colorado Blvd at the base, the 134 at an angle up from the base and the 210 almost completes the next side of the triangle. I imagine the pulsing sounds of going home from work traffic on these busy roads to be the sound of ocean waves. You may laugh all you like, but settling into this LA evening freeway commute frame of mind always works for me. Just another day for one SoCal girl. And based on today’s art you have probably noticed that when I was there last Friday (March 6) I spotted a couple Canadian geese on the grass beside the pond. This is pretty amazing as I think that I have now seen this same pair in this same spot almost every spring since 2017. Now, I cannot be absolutely sure they are the very same ones, but after I have told you my goose story, you may be inclined to follow my logical conclusion that they are one and the same. 

In my July 22, 2017 I wrote of a pair of Canadian geese that I had seen earlier in the back garden of the NS. My first encounter with them occurred the evening of Friday, March 3, 2017. Looking back, I wonder why I didn’t at least try to sketch them, but they were sitting on the roof of the building and pretty elusive to prying eyes. I remember that you could only occasionally see a neck reaching up or a fluffy goose bottom move around up there. But if you stayed out there long enough you could hear them. Fast forward to the next first Friday and we are now at April 7, 2017. They had made a nest at the edge of the pond and someone at the Norton Simon had put up a temporary fence to physically keep people away from the nest and the birds. I remember thinking that I should have sketched this scene, but didn’t think much of the temporary orange plastic fence surrounding the birds. My “goose nesting” timeline has a spring (2018) that I forgot to look for them. But I assume they were there because the following spring I saw them again. This time I did try to sketch them. (See April 20, 2019 post) The art wasn’t much to see as they were pretty hidden up there on the roof, but you could hear them all over the garden.

Last first Friday I spotted them again and this time they were in full view just next to the water. But this time they weren’t sequestered behind a tacky orange plastic fence. Instead, they were surrounded by a tacky “keep off the grass” fence around the whole pond. And of course the always officious NS guards were patrolling the pathways back there, verbally reminding people to keep off the grass. I noticed the fence a couple months ago and I asked one of the guards why it was there. He said that he had been told that someone had gotten too close to the water and fallen in. So, now the lawn area is off limits to humans, but these geese can waddle freely all around, and they’re pretty oblivious to all of us staring at them. There must be something great about this spot as this is at least their 4 year anniversary together at the Norton Simon pond. And just to add to my story I asked SIRI if Canadian geese mated for life and she said: “According to, Often remaining paired for life, Canada geese are monogamous.” Are you convinced yet that these two are the same ones I have seen a number of times back there? I’m convinced. 

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching birds. I like to see flotillas of mallards in the NS pond, in any of the ponds at the Descanso Gardens and even in the various ponds at Golden Gate Park—I have even seen swans swimming there. I like watching small groups of Morro Rock pelicans fly in formation so close to the surface of the ocean that they look like they might just fall in. Of course they are doing that because they are looking for fish to eat and will later come back to a given spot and dive head first into the water with a great splash. I also like watching pairs of eagles circle high in the sky about this time of year all over CA. And of course who wouldn’t enjoy bands of loudly squawking wild parrots as they awkwardly fly from tree to tree most SoCal summer evenings? I try to attract birds to my yard with seed and nectar feeders just outside my kitchen window. I enjoy watching them come and go, feeding their babies as they feed. (Thursday, March 12: It’s 5:30pm and I am looking out my window at the rain and finches eating at the seed feeder. I just saw an adult finch feeding his or her baby finch.)

I just finished reading a pretty remarkable novel (“Bird Summons,” by Leila Aboulela) where a hoopoe features prominently. What is a hoopoe you say? Look it up online. It almost looks like an imaginary bird, with its long curved beak, fantastically patterned plumage and bright colors, but it’s real and can be found in Africa (including Madagascar) and Eurasia. In “Bird Summons,” the hoopoe visits 3 women hiking in the hills of Scotland. You may already be getting the idea that this book is a bit of fantasy, right? And you’d be right. I just looked up online again and it seems that the hoopoe features prominently in the mythologies of Greek, Arabic, Persian and Egyptian cultures. So, it does make sense for this story. Check it out.

I don’t have any grand and nonsensical connections to be made with my interest in birds and the fact that I just finished reading “Bird Summons.” But my mind took me to a place where I wondered if the COVID-19 had maybe come from birds. So, I looked that up online as well. As it turns out scientists believe that it originated with bats. Ok, that ends my “so called” bird connections. 

My final thoughts this week are kind of consumed with COVID-19. Maybe that’s true for you as well. No matter how I try to pretend it’s California business as usual, it’s not. LAUSD has closed all schools, so I will be home for the next two weeks. My final thoughts are with all of us. And for now I’m not feeling like just One CA Girl, but maybe just One Girl of the World. Stay safe. 

March 7, 2020

reflection of tree2
Reflection of a tree on a pond at the Descanso Gardens, March 1, 2020 (Fude fountain pen, watercolor and Inktense pencil on watercolor paper)

Last Sunday I was certain there would be huge drifts of tulips in bloom at the Descanso Gardens. I had planned to get there soon after they opened at 9 because I was certain that would be too early for most other lovers of tulips to arrive. I wanted to sit and paint where ever I liked and have the flowers all to myself. When I woke up that morning, it was all but raining. I decided I would still go early, but I would just take pictures of the flowers and then do the art in my dry and cozy kitchen. When I got there I saw mostly green leaves and stems in the tulip beds, which meant they weren’t ready for me or the rest of the soon to be arriving tulip lovers. I was probably a week early. I decided to wander about and enjoy the bit of misty rain. I came to this pond and there I saw an amazing reflection of a tree in the relatively calm surface of the water. As it turns out this is the same tree that I have sat under numerous times to get out of the sun in the summer. It is also the same tree and pond that I sat near when I painted the stained glass house they had for the Enchanted Lights (December 7, 2019). For that one I was under the tree on the opposite side of the pond. 

Even though I didn’t see what I was hoping when I got there I found myself reflecting on whether or not I should try to render such a stark and wintery tree. I often find myself at the Descanso with some kind of idea of where I want to go and what I want to do, and then I wind up in the rose garden—painting something there. Oh, don’t think I didn’t wander through that garden before this moment to take a look. But it was kind of sprinkling as a walked around the flowerless roses and I just kept going, right out of there. Once I got to this spot I was overcome with the idea of a literal reflection of something in water as well as other kinds of reflections we sometimes consider that are much more abstract, subjective and/or personal. I had recently finished watching the Netflix version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” authored by Lemony Snicket. And the penultimate story, “The Penultimate Peril,” popped into my head. There are those of you who might not have considered these stories, but my son and I had read together all 13 books when he was young. And we had so enjoyed all of the stories that I not only viewed “The Bad Beginning,” but I watched every book turned movie all the way through to the end, or “The End.” There is a wonderful, yet perilously reflective element in the 12th, or penultimate, book. It’s a giant pond that perfectly reflects the entire facade of the Hotel Denouement—the setting for this unfortunate event. And the hotel is organized according to the Dewey Decimal System. (If you want to find out how and why the Hotel Denouement is set up like a library you should read the book, I think.) But the importance of this exterior pond to all the characters inside the hotel cannot be overstated. But you will immediately get the ultimate importance of it because all the signs and numbers on the actual building are written backwards and from right to left so you have to look into the pond to correctly read all the letters, words and numbers written on the hotel. (Have I peeked your curiosity yet?)

So, I decided that a fitting acknowledgement of all the noble and not so noble characters inside the Hotel Denouement might be presented here. And this is based on MY personal reflections that can sometimes make me smile and/or keep me up at night. Some of what I have listed here may seem to be on the serious side and some things are just funny and fanciful. Hopefully, when you have seen what I have recently reflected on you will come up with your own list. Here goes…

Upon reflection I have decided the following:

  • Seeing the movie is rarely as good as reading the book.
  • It’s OK to change your mind about doing something unless you’ve made a promise to a child.
  • One shouldn’t expect promised “life-like” hair.
  • I can no longer fit either foot in a size 6 and half shoe, or a 7 for that matter.
  • Having a second helping of Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream is never a good idea.
  • Also, consuming too much of a good thing is rarely a good idea, especially when consuming Trader Joe’s dried Turkish apricots.
  • A triple shot latte is no substitute for getting enough sleep.
  • No one wants advice.
  • And no one wants criticism either, even when it’s “constructive criticism.”
  • How many different passwords and/or PIN numbers can I be expected to remember? And which user name and password goes with which account?
  • Sometimes saying you’re sorry isn’t enough, unless you are under 5 or over 80.
  • If you come across something that’s wet and it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
  • Nude isn’t a color. 
  • Not all weeds are bad.
  • There are an infinite number of things better left unsaid.
  • It’s important to have a library card and support your local library.
  • And don’t complain if you didn’t vote.

February 29, 2020

Camellia watercolor
Camellia forest at the Descanso Gardens, 2/23/2020 (watercolor, Inktense pencils on watercolor paper)

Last Sunday I met a friend and her “just turned” 5 year-old son for a bit of garden wandering and of course some sketching. Once inside the front gate of the Descanso Gardens my friend’s son said he wanted to draw some animals. We immediately went in search of some. I told him that sometimes I had seen deer, rabbits and squirrels wandering, or scurrying in the wooded areas. We soon came to a small creek and there before us was a pair of mallards. We decided to sit for a moment to see if we could sketch them. I had packed three pieces of rolled up bubble wrap just in case we three might need it. I passed it out and we sat down and began sketching. The ducks were bobbing up and down, looking for something to eat. As you might have guessed the birds didn’t linger very long and soon floated away out of our view. We also decided not to linger and moved along too. Without any plan, other than trying to catch a deer grazing on plants near the rose garden, we walked on. I showed him a “less traveled” path for humans at the back of the garden. As he was “newly 5” he asked if we might see a mountain lion and/or a poisonous snake on this path. I told him that such sightings would probably not come to pass, but that we might instead need to be on the look out for poison oak. Of course that was the wrong thing to say as he then seemed wary of joining his mom and I on the trail because I had mentioned the word “poison.”  What was I thinking?!! And of course he carefully noticed every gopher hole in the ground, telling us for sure there was a snake and/or large spider, ready to pounce, living in each one. We finally reached the top of the hill without any poisonous mishaps. I wanted to show him my favorite secret place. (I had forgotten I had taken them to this very spot in January 2019, and of course he remembered and reminded me that he had already been there.) We rested for a couple minutes there anyway and headed down the hill on the other side.

Finally, we got to a kind of open space where we could see this camellia-filled landscape. In the late 1930s, Mr. Boddy (the owner of the Descanso at the time) planted camellias under these magnificent oaks. And in the 90 years since the original plantings it’s easy to see that his camellia forest has become quite a spectacular pink sight when the flowers come into bloom. We’d had a bit of rain the day before and it looked as though a blanket of blossoms had been knocked to the ground because of it. The air between the blossoms on the ground and the blossoms in the branches seemed to take on a kind of pink hue. This actually brings me to what used to be a pet peeve I have with regards to camellias. (You probably can’t imagine who could have ever had any problem with these gorgeous flowers.) It all starts with the fact that the blossoms on any given plant all open at the same time. And once the mature flower gets any amount of rain on it, many of those soggy flowers seem to get too heavy to hang on and they drop to the ground all at once. (I imagine that you are still wondering how anyone would have a problem with this. I mean, look how beautiful the ground looks—like pink confetti, right? Stay with me.) In my past Grass Valley garden the massive flower drop meant that in a day or two it would be time to rake up the blossoms as they would have turned brown and gotten very slimy and slippery on the wet ground. (Ok, I’m done.) But this SoCal camellia dropping event didn’t bother me at all. This is because the fluffy soft pink blossoms hadn’t gotten brown yet and the site of pink all around was spectacular and I would not be called upon to rake up anything. Let’s hear it for camellias on the ground!

Descanso tree, Feb 23
Descanso Gardens tree, 2/23/2020 (watercolor, Inktense pencil and Fude fountain pen)

We were ready to sketch and I had found us a nice nearby bench for three. It seemed my young friend did not want to sit on the bench, and suggested we should sit again on our bubble wrap on the ground. And as he was “just 5” this request did not really seem unreasonable as we had just sat in the dirt and gravel to sketch a pair of mallards. I’m sure he thought this was how it should be done. I passed out the bubble wrap and we settled on the ground just in front of the bench. I did a quick sketch of a tree nearby, showing my young artist friend favorite colors, brushes, and ink pens. I was very impressed by his interest. He listened very carefully to what I had to say and tried all the materials I presented to him. I think he really enjoyed the Inktense pencils as it was easier to control compared to applying big wet blobs of watery paint on paper. By the time we were ready to go, he had done 3 watercolor sketches and we had been there for about 40 minutes. I must admit that I didn’t do the camellia landscape watercolor on the spot, but instead took a bunch of pictures and did it on Monday when I got home from work. (It was just too much fun to sit and visit with his mom and do the quick watercolor sketch of a tree you see here.)

My young artist friend will be starting kindergarten next year and I told him that I remember drawing when I was in kindergarten. I think I have already written about this first “artistic” memory when I was “just 5,” but it’s always pleasant for me to retell that Santa Clara story again. Here is what I said: I remember sitting at a table inside my kindergarten classroom one CA afternoon. I was using all the crayon colors in the crayon box to make a picture on a piece of light-colored construction paper. It was a bright afternoon and I could look through an open door that connected the kindergarten yard with the classroom. My classmates were racing back and forth out there. But I so remember my kindergarten teacher visiting with me as I sat at a table inside. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I can picture a pleasant smiling woman nearby.

That’s a pretty great memory for one CA girl, right? I hope my young artist friend will have many such memories as he grows up.

Camelia heart
Photo of heart made from downed camellia blossoms, 2/23/2020
Camellia love
We love camellia blossoms at the Descanso Gardens, 2/23/2020
Camelia mom
Mom loves camellia blossoms, Descanso Gardens 2/23/2020

Not much to say here, except you can maybe see why I no longer hate to see camellia blossoms on the ground. I hope you too can enjoy the garden artistry of carefully arranged pink blossoms.