Joshua Tree Painting

We have been lounging around the resort, taking morning walks, reading, playing ukulele and painting. I’ve also been working on developing some jazz chord progressions for Home Cookin’, the duo I’m in with Julie Jacobs.

Today I’m posting a brief description of the development of my latest painting. It began with trips to Joshua Tree National Park. These magnificent plants would be unique in any environment, but in the stark high desert they shine. Another astounding feature in the park are the rock formations. I decided to capture both in one painting.

First came some sketches to try to decide on composition and values. Here are two I did in preparing for this painting.

The next steps are drawing on the canvas with minimal paint and lines to indicate shapes and placement. I used an 11×14 canvas board and burnt umber paint. These are water soluble oil paints. After that sketch I then scrubbed in some minimal colors to indicate values and create a tone on the canvas. These are scumbled so thin as to be semitransparent. I used a little heavier paint on my point of interest – the Joshua Tree!

The final phases are coloring and finishing. Here is the final product.

Posted in Art, CA, Indio, Joshua Tree National Park, Music, Retirement, Travel, Ukulele, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Indio Days

We begin each day with a walk around our condo complex. We are surrounded by a golf course with badland hills in the background. The condos surround a central area with several ponds with waterfalls and ducks, two swimming pools, a lazy river for floating, four hot tubs, two kiddy pools, a recreation center, a cafe, a small store, and lots of flowers.

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This afternoon we took a nice walk at the Coachella Valley Preserve. This wonderful area includes a unique desert oasis and many acres of surrounding scrub desert. The walk descends into the heart of the palm grove surrounding the spring and then climbs out into the open scrub desert.

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Because the palms are so dense there are marvelous contrasts of light and dark as the sun peaks through the palm fronds.

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Jean stopped to do some sketching. You can just see her head above the sagebrush.

We saw little wildlife. The birds are not as abundant as last year when the rains filled the oasis. Bees are not active due to the lack of flowers. However, the lizards skittered around our feet.



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A Cold and Windy Day

Despite the weather forecast we headed out to Joshua Tree National Park. Last year at this time the flowers were beautiful. However, there has been less rain this winter and the flowers are later. The ocotillo are not blooming, so I asked my own flower of a wife to stand by the ocotillo.

Alas, the cholla didn’t provide blossoms, but the back lighting of their sharp spines was quite nice. Tip for those visiting the area: do not touch or inadvertently back into a cholla!

The vistas are always dramatic in Joshua Tree National Park.

And, of course, the park’s namesakes are always on display, at least for a few more decades. They are endangered by global warming.

For those who are interested  the temps were around 50F in the park, but the high winds brought the wind chill down to about freezing. Back at our condo it was 65, but the wind chill made it feel like the 40’s.



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Winter in California Desert

Super Bowl Sunday and it’s sunny and 80 F outside! A short walk brought the colors of the landscape today into focus Today is a day for yellow and blue!

After the walk we retired to our condo where it is cooler. Time for reading and playing ukulele. We Washingtonians find 80 to be a bit uncomfortable for hiking in the desert. The forecast for tomorrow is 65…much better!


Posted in CA, Indio, Travel, Ukulele | 2 Comments

31 Years, Well Actually 32

We are traveling with Picasso to celebrate 32 years together, 31 of them married.

We are camping near Anacortes. The temp is 70 and the sky is clear…summer in the Pacific Northwest.

This was the view from the top of Cap Sante. That white object just to the left of the island is Mt. Baker.

Jean stopped to do some sketching while I watched the boat traffic.

A nice afternoon followed by a good dinner at the Brown Lantern Ale House.



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Three New Paintings

Yes, I have been painting in between our hikes and day trips. There are many things here to inspire paintings. Here are three I’ve finished in the last couple of weeks.

I love the grasses along the seashore. These I framed with one of the many logs found along the beach and in the forest.

When the sunlight breaks through in the forest magic happens.

We took a hike at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park and sat for a while in a favorite spot by the river. There happens to be a very convenient bench. So we sat and sketched. One of my sketches became this painting a couple of days later.

That’s all for now!




Posted in Art, B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island | Tagged | 4 Comments

Border Wall Blues

On this most controversial of July 4th holidays we view the Presidential farce through the lens of Canadian media. It inspired me to write some new verses to my Border Wall Blues.

Friends, send this song far and wide. To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, if just one person shared this song they may think it’s really sick. If two people shared it they won’t like it, and if three people do it they may think it’s an organization. Can you imagine if 50 people a day shared this song? They may think it’s a movement! And that’s what it should be!

Organize now! It may not be too late.

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Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Another day, another scenic hike. This took us to Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, just a few miles south of the Little Qualicum River we visited the other day. In addition to the falls, the trail meanders through an old forest roughly following the route of the river. After a brief lunch we began at the upper falls.

This rather unusual water fall plunges from a wide, flat rocky spread into a narrow crack and beyond our vision. This is a deep gorge.

On the other side of the bridge the water flows out into a deep, relatively calm pool.

After crossing the bridge we entered the forest trail down the river to the lower falls. However, due to the cliffs the trail stays back in the forest and one doesn’t get to look down into this narrow slot. We just enjoyed walking among the trees.

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We particularly love the arbutus with their papery red bark and wood. Sometimes trees fall and when they do they leave a giant dent in the fence that protects us from the cliffs.

As usually, I enjoyed photographing the little things along the way.

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The lower falls are also dramatic due to the fact that they are hidden from view by a large boulder wedged in the narrow canyon. We could hear the roar behind this rock. Note the level of the water behind the rock, then see the difference in front. There’s a big drop there!

The pool below the lower falls reflects beautiful emerald green and provides refreshment to adventurous swimmers.

Of course the primary goal of our adventures is to be together, and so we are!


Posted in B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Little Qualicum River

One day we took a trip over to Little Qualicum River Falls Provincial Park. Each time we come to this place we discover new things to see. The trees change, the light comes from different angles, new plants surprise us, and different flowers bloom. This trip was no different.

The river and the falls are the main attraction.This trip we ventured to a vantage point to which we had never been. It turned out to be prime viewing for this triple cascade.

However, as many of you know my eye is drawn to the small beauties around the larger landscape. The cliffs and forest around the river provided many subjects for my camera.

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Jean is always nearby.

And I sometimes get a selfie!

Just down the road from the falls is Cathedral Grove, a magnificent stand of old growth cedar and fir trees. The oldest trees here are 800 years and going strong despite surviving a massive forest fire 350 years ago. The grove was ravaged by a wind storm a couple of years ago and some of the trails have just been reopened. Walk among these elders and listen to their murmurs. Perhaps you will learn something.

Jean stopped to listen.

So ended our day among the forests of Vancouver Island.



Posted in B.C., BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

An Overnight to Victoria

We took an overnight trip to Victoria. Originally the plan was to meet some friends there and then they would drive back to Courtenay with us. However, when illness intervened and they could not come the plans changed. We decided to go to Victoria anyway since there are so many wonderful things to see and do there.

Upon arrival we stopped for lunch and to pick up some of our favorite Murchie’s tea…Paris Afternoon! Once stocked up on tea we drove directly to Beacon Hill Park. This park, long a favorite of artist Emily Carr, has become our destination of choice in Victoria. We can lose hours walking the paths and enjoying the flora and fauna of this magical park.

Flowers are in abundance:

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Animals provide endless entertainment:

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The peacocks are a show unto themselves:

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Jean concentrates on her photography and sometimes I get her to look up at my camera.

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After checking into our condo we took a water taxi downtown. First I visited Opus Art Store to buy a sketchbook. Opus is a great art store that we usually visit in Vancouver. The Victoria store turned out to be just a well stocked and friendly. Then it was on to dinner at Fishhook, a waterside eatery that specializes in local seafood with an Indian flair. A water taxi back to our condo and we were finished for the evening.

This morning we walked out to Ogden Point Breakwater and Lighthouse. We love this walk, particularly on a sunny warm day with no wind! We are never disappointed with the sea life out on the pier.

Jelly Fish, not to be mistaken for a plastic bag.

Baby Sea Otter

Mama Sea Otter

A couple of fishing boats were working just off the kelp beds next to the pier. We watched as a fellow hooked a very large fish that gave fight.

He landed what turned out to be a giant ling cod. Here’s the angler being photographed with his catch.

We returned to the condo, checked out, and programmed the GPS to take us back to Courtenay. However, we did make a stop at the Chemainus Bakery in the lovely seaside town of Chemainus for a quick lunch of their amazing savory pastries.

A stop at Fanny Bay Oyster seafood store to get some ling cod for dinner and we were safely home. Dinner was great and now we sit here watching the tide ebb and the sun set.

It’s all good!


Posted in B.C., BC, Beacon Hill Park, Victoria, BC, Comox BC, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Courtenay BC, Photography, Retirement, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Victoria BC | 2 Comments