Watercolor of The Old School House from the Movie “The Birds”

When I first moved to the Bay Area in 1990, my mom recommended a restaurant in the town of Bodega where Alfred Hitchcock filmed the 1963 movie “The Birds.” She said it was the best meal she’d ever eaten and it had great atmosphere because the restaurant its self was located in the old school house used in the film. Unfortunately not long after she made the recommendation, the restaurant closed, making way for a bed and breakfast.

In 1993, my girlfriend and I decided to get out of town for the weekend and chose to stay in the old school house B&B. We drove an hour north of San Francisco to the town of Bodega, ready for a weekend of adventure. When we arrived at the house, I instantly saw why Hitchcock used the place—it looked mysterious and creepy. A large silhouette of Hitchcock was humorously placed in the upstairs window. Walking inside, the old building’s floor boards creaked as we walked from room to room. Upstairs, a large room (where breakfast would be served) was nearly vacant except for a table with chairs, and a TV with the movie “The Birds” in the cassette player.

Our room was on the ground floor, located in the school classroom and converted into a bedroom. A blackboard still decorated one wall and an old school desk sat next to the bed as a night stand. I couldn’t help looking out the window periodically, scanning the trees for birds. No one else stayed in the B&B that night but us. Not even the proprietor who left that evening doing errands and didn’t return until breakfast.

The next morning I painted while sitting on the bed, looking out the window. I added a few extra birds on the wire just for fun. After breakfast, I parked myself across the street and under a shade tree to paint the the old school house. Still remembering scenes from the movie, I imagined kids running out of the school and down the street, fighting off those fierce birds!

Bodega Bay, California

A trip to the coast is always a welcome escape from my busy life at home. The hustle and bustle of dogs, emails, and work, recedes from my thoughts and allows a gentle peacefulness to set in. While walking along the beach, I often feel that my life is about to change in some profound way, however small. That’s why I take two journals with me, one for drawing and the other to record my thoughts. After finding a comfortable place to sit, I watch the waves gently roll on the sand for hours at a time. My mind drifts in and out with the tide, leaving me with a sense of peace that lasts the rest of the day.

Bear Republic Brewery

Recently, my sketch pal Phil and I drove down to Healdsburg’s plaza to find something to sketch. We didn’t feel like driving out of town and that’s OK because Healdsburg has some of the best sketching opportunities in the area. This time we chose to draw the Bear Republic Brewery and set up shop in the walk way between the brewery and Hotel Healdsburg. I’ve always liked the industrial look of the fermenting tank siting out on the patio and its a great place to hang out and have a burger and a beer. The Bear’s brewmaster Richard G. Norgrove has won numerous awards including gold medals at the Great American Beer festival. My personal favorite is Red Rocket Ale and coincidentally, it goes great with pizza too. Recently, the owner Richard R. Norgrove expanded their beer operation to a facility in Cloverdale, fifteen minutes up the road where they handle additional beer production, shipping, and have a brand new tasting room.

I’m getting thirsty just thinking about it. Good thing today is pizza Friday. Beer Bad? No, beer good! Buffy anyone?

Jenine’s Tiny House

My friend Jenine just finished building a beautiful tiny house. Not a model of a house but a real, livable house. It has contemporary styling and nice big windows to help bring the outdoors in. I’ve had a fascination with tiny houses for several years. It all begain when I stepped into a Tumbleweed tiny house at the Apple Blossom Festival in Sebastopol, CA a couple of springs ago. Jay Shafer is the architect who started Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and was on hand to show how livable these houses really are. I bought his book to drool over the pictures of little houses positioned on majestic lots over looking valleys or nestled in trees along the banks of a creek. Tiny houses resonate with me because I’m learning to cut back on what I own so I can spend more time with family and friends, traveling, and of course, drawing.

While painting this picture of Jenine’s tiny house, I wondered where this house will someday call home. Will it sit on a majestic hill overlooking a valley, or will it be nestled in a forest along a creek somewhere outside of town? Where ever it ends up, the idea of undersizing instead of supersizing sure sound enticing.

Congratulations Jenine on finishing your beautiful tiny house!

Saint Francis and the Frog Prince

Ok, so I’ve been neglecting my backyard this summer. I admit it. But the good news is that I’ve spent much of my free time drawing, so not all is lost. This drawing of my backyard is misleading because it doesn’t show the tall weeds that I keep promising myself to pull and the lawn I wish would stop growing. Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and known for his charitable deeds, looks after my garden these days and hopes that I will soon return to my earthly duties.

“Blaaaaaah,” I say out loud with my arms crossed, still refusing to accept my responsibilities. But the frog prince, sitting on the opposite side of the flower pot, concurs with the Saint and glares at me hoping to change my mind.

Jenner by the Sea

I went out early yesterday to meet with my drawing group, the Sonoma Sketchers, this time in Jenner. Jenner is a small town along California’s famous coastal Highway One. The town itself is so small that if I blinked, I would have missed it. But I certainly didn’t miss this view along the rocky coast line. Many other people pulled off the road to check out the view and as an extra bonus were treated to a pair of seals frolicking in the bay below. After drawing for an hour or so, I noticed that none of the other members of the group showed up. Ah well, I had a great time drawing and hanging out with the seals.

Dharma Sleeping in the “Whammy” Position

My wife and I have two dogs. Both are Australian shepherds, one named Bodhi and the other Dharma. Each have their own distinctive personality. Bodhi is a gorgeous blue merle color and is much more serious than Dharma. When Dharma is doing something she shouldn’t be doing, its easy to see the worry on Bodhi’s face. Dharma on the other hand is care free and appears to have no idea when she is breaking rules. She is cute as can be and is especially adorable when sleeping on her back. I call it the “whammy” pose. The sagging lip exposing her vampires tooth is an extra bonus.

Art Supplies Used While Traveling in Greece

I have experimented with many different art supplies over the years, and my supply list is always evolving. Here is a list of the items I used in Greece, each of which I tested extensively before my trip to ensure its necessity and functionality. Most of these supplies can be found at any art supply store.

• Sakura Pigma Micron pens size 01-08

• Windsor & Newton professional-grade tube watercolors

• Children’s watercolor set (with the paint soaked out and replaced with W&N watercolors)

• 12” x 12” masonite hardboard

• Water cups clip

• Windsor & Newton, Series 7 sable watercolor brush

• Technical pencil (never needs sharpening)

• Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks

• Moleskine regular sketchbooks

• Arches hot press watercolor blocks 7” x 10”

• Plastic knife (for removing pages from the watercolor block)

• iPhone for pictures, video, blog posts (so much contained in one gadget makes it a winner)

• Timbuk2 messenger bag

• Three-legged fold-up chair

• Notebook for writing thoughts

• Kneaded eraser