Sketching Bay View

July 21, 2014

The sketchbook of one of the Let's Sketch Bay View participants, Michele Cooper

The sketchbook of one of the Let’s Sketch Bay View participants, Michele Cooper

Yesterday I participated in an outdoor sketching event in the Skagit Valley, “Let’s Sketch Bay View,” hosted by Edna [Breazeale]’s Neighbors.  Bay View is a village on the shores of Padilla Bay, an estuary near Anacortes, WA.  Artists were invited to draw, paint and sketch from a choice of sites including the Breazeale Interpretive Center and its trails and grounds, Bay View State Park, and the Bay View community.  Several residents opened their private gardens to sketchers as well.

Morning rainbow over Padilla Bay

Morning rainbow over Padilla Bay

Hollyhocks by the blue house in Bay View

Hollyhocks by the blue house in Bay View

Ed and Mary's garden, Bay View

Ed and Mary’s garden, Bay View

Any day is a good day if it finds me with a paintbrush in my hands, especially after a too long break from sketching.  I found a comfortable spot in Ed and Mary Epps’ garden where there was a wealth of natural subjects.  It was a time for meeting a special group of friends and kindred spirits with whom I originally crossed paths because of this blog.  What a talented and fun group they are!  Sometimes I am floored by the miracle of friendship.

“Let’s Sketch Bay View” was well organized and the planning resulted in an atmosphere that was welcoming to artists of all skill levels.  Informal, yet productive.  At the end of the afternoon the participants met up at the Breazeale Interpretive Center to share their work, mingle, and enjoy cookies and lemonade.  Community and art-making — a convivial combination.

Another painter in Ed and Mary's garden

Another painter in Ed and Mary’s garden

Bonnie in the garden

Bonnie in the garden

Bonnie's sketch of cabbage (those jewel-like colors!)

Bonnie’s sketch of cabbage (those jewel-like colors!)

Jude's painting in progress

Jude’s painting in progress



You can see more of Michele's work at

You can see more of Michele’s work at

My watercolor sketch of geranium foliage from Ed and Mary's garden

My watercolor sketch of geranium foliage from Ed and Mary’s garden

For another look at the day of sketching, follow this link to the Anacortes Sketcher’s blog.







Pink hollyhocks

Pink hollyhocks

by Valerie Worth, from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More

Hollyhocks stand in clumps
By the doors of old cottages.

Even when one springs alone,
Lost, in an uncut field,

It builds beside it the cottage,
The garden, the old woman, the beehive.






I like the message of today’s poem, that hollyhocks — and objects in general — carry with them associations from past experiences.  How much more vivid would our conjured images be if we regarded our present moments with heightened attention.  Something for me to keep in mind as the days rush by.

Laburnum arbor, Bayview Nursery

Laburnum arbor, Bayview Nursery

Spring is proceeding at breathless pace, and one of my favorite places to savor the fresh colors and blooms is Bayview Farm and Garden on Whidbey Island.  I mark my calendar each year so that I remember to make the trip there when the laburnum arbor is in full glory.  The cascading flowers of Golden Chain give the impression that you are sitting under a floral waterfall.  The double arbor alone makes Bayview Farm and Garden a worthy destination, but of course, the rest of the nursery is also full of visual treats.



A garden Buddha

A garden Buddha










“Fuchsias are among my ninety-nine most favourite flowers. . . . I could go on for hours, and probably shall, one day, about their white petticoats and their crimson ruffs and the incredible grace with which they dispose themselves.”
— Beverley Nichols, Sunlight on the Lawn

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men and animals.  Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest, and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.”
— Henry Ward Beecher

Pink hollyhocks

Detail of furled blossom

This bee is rolling drunk with pollen.

Hollyhocks, upright and honest

Jon B Dove garden cottage, Georgetown Garden Walk

Yesterday was the 2012 Georgetown Garden Walk.  My friend Carol and I strolled around, map in hand, enjoying the garden ramble.  We re-visited old favorites from last year’s Walk, and eyed a few new surprises.  This year the Garden Walk was made extra special by art in the gardens, a co-event called “Cross Pollinate.”

My absolute favorite part of the Georgetown Garden Walk was Jon B. Dove’s garden cottage.  I would love to have a garden retreat like this to write, paint, and work on my blog. Here are some photos:

The Jon B. Dove garden cottage interior

A relaxing spot to read a book

Dove garden cottage, another view

A profusion of clematis, Dove garden

Honeysuckle blossom, Dove garden

Another garden shed being made over into an extra living space

Red poppy

A small backyard space converted into a magical oasis, lined by votive candles


Garden gate, Georgetown Garden Walk

Garden arch, a cool, green spot

Many gardens sported interesting art objects, like this vintage toy airplane

Foliage from Solomon seal

Purple and green grape leaves

We saw borders lined with hubcaps, bowling balls, and this one with bottles

A gardener and her passion flower

Pink hollyhocks

Old-fashioned flowers — hollyhocks

Tea in the garden

Carol resting on a bench in Oxbow Park

Parasol and long braid

This woman with her parasol was perfectly attired for the garden walk.

Plein air painter in a garden

Budding artist, Piper, painting in her garden

Poster for 2012 Georgetown Garden Walk

This past weekend's Georgetown Garden Walk

Summer gardens are flourishing, and communities often host Garden Walks to showcase their gardens.  I’ve never attended a Garden Walk event, so I made it a point to check out this year’s walk in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.  Georgetown is perhaps better known as an industrial and warehouse district, but there are a few residential streets and pockets of houses nestled among the businesses in the area.  Armed with a map of the participating gardens, my friend Carol and I set off to explore the neighborhood.  Here are some photos:

A private cafe table and chairs

Lovely arched arbor between a front and back yard

I loved the color of this ground cover plant

Hubcaps edge these borders. These gardeners also used old bowling balls to line the edges of some garden patches.

Floating four-leaf clover at Oasis Water Gardens

Old-fashioned hollyhocks

The most unusual flower I saw on the Georgetown Garden Walk -- passiflora, or passion flower

Giant Cowboy Hat 'n' Boots, Oxbow Park, Georgetown

My favorite garden: Jon B Dove's garden has a garden house, a perfect retreat!

Dove garden house, Georgetown Garden Walk

Interior of Dove's garden house

The Slow Road to Tacoma

September 2, 2010

The usual route from Seattle to Tacoma down I-5 is not very picturesque — heavy multi-lane traffic is the norm, and it’s an urban and suburban landscape all the way.  I decided to put on my explorer’s hat and meander down to Tacoma the slow way, following the Puget Sound coastline as much as I could.  I was distinctly underwhelmed by the experience!

For one thing, it was just one of those days when things didn’t go quite right.  I packed a pair of sandals in case I was inspired to walk along a beach to two — turns out I grabbed two different sandals from two different pairs!  They were a set of right and left shoes, but it turns out that I did not use them anyway. 

The beach at Saltwater State Park, my first stop, was nothing spectacular — some picnic tables and benches with water views.  I think that Golden Gardens Park in Seattle is nicer (and much closer to home).  I ate my breakfast picnic — cornbread with butter and honey, a sliced peach, and coffee — while gazing at the water.  Then I headed to my next stop, Dashpoint State Park.

This is another state park right on the waters of Puget Sound.  There is camping at Dashpoint, which might be something to consider if you ever head to Seattle with an RV.  But again, I did not think the beach was anything special. 

So I headed south to Brown’s Point lighthouse.  This is a small lighthouse with a rather boring shape, but it functions.  I did learn that the Lighthouse Keeper’s house is available for rent by the week, and if you stay there, you become an honorary lighthouse keeper.  (You can find out more about this at

It was at Brown’s Point that I discovered my wallet was missing.  I suspected that I had left it at home, but I wasn’t sure.  That made me feel uneasy, so I just decided to head back to the freeway and come home.  I’ll leave Point Defiance Park in Tacoma for another visit.

I got home without incident, found my wallet, and ate the picnic lunch I had packed.  So much for exploring!

The beach at Saltwater State Park

Gentle waves on a pebbly beach, Saltwater State Park

Brown's Point Lighthouse and Keeper's house, near Tacoma

Curtains in the Lighthouse Keeper's House, Brown's Point

Lovely hollyhocks in the garden at the Lighthouse Keeper's residence

What Nature Reveals

August 1, 2010

"Benedictine prayer is designed to enable people to realize that God is in the world around them." Joan Chittister

“Morning and evening, season by season, year after year we watch the sun rise and set, death and resurrection daily come and go, beginnings and endings follow one another without terror and without woe.  We come to realize that we are simply small parts of a continuing creation, and we take hope and comfort and perspective from that.”
     — from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister, OSB

Nature can be another catalyst for contemplation.  Here are some photos taken during my contemplative walks around the grounds of St. John’s University:

Grace upon grace . . .

Tiger lily

"The world laughs in flowers." e e cummings

"Consciousness of God is perpetual prayer." Joan Chittister, OSB

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." William Arthur Ward

Dragonfly poses for backside view


Natural necklace of lavender blossoms

Chipmunk in a tree

Thistle down

Reflections in the lake on my walk to Morning Prayer

Dandelion wishes

“We have to learn to be mindful that creation belongs to God and we have only been put here as its keepers.”
     — from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister, OSB


July 22, 2009

Bee on clover

Bee on clover

Bees on flower

Bees on flower

Bee on crocosmia

Bee on crocosmia

Bee on red hollyhock

Bee on red hollyhock

Bee on pink hollyhock

Bee on pink hollyhock

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy!
     — Emily Dickinson

Sunrise in the Garden

July 12, 2009

Reddish-orange and yellow crocosmia

Reddish-orange and yellow crocosmia



Yellow and pale-orange hollyhock

Yellow and pale-orange hollyhock



Orange-colored flower

Orange-colored flower

“It is always sunrise somewhere.”
     — John Muir

I really should take the time to witness more sunrises and sunsets. I love the yellows, oranges, and reds of the sky during these transitions to day and night.  And I love seeing these colors in the garden, too.