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Oaxaca Watercolors

While I was in Oaxaca I tried to do a watercolor every day. I didn’t quite manage that, but I was quite prolific by my standards. Kind of fun, I’m hoping to continue maybe once a week throughout the year. This isn’t every single watercolor I did — I did a few others that I’ll mix into my upcoming posts — but it gives a decent overview of my trip while I work on my more targeted posts. The first one is from the Oaxaca Ethnobotanical Garden in the center of town inside the walls of the historic cathedral complex. It’s a fantastic garden; I’ll do a post about it soon. The others show the main cathedral and a booth selling clothing near a side entrance. I painted a lot of agaves and palms while I was down there. Gotta like agaves and palms if you’re going to watercolor in Oaxaca.

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The Sea Ranch Bluff Trail

I was up in Sea Ranch with my family for Thanksgiving. I’d stopped there before and explored a little, and I once posted about the chapel, but this was my first time staying there. I loved it, of course; there’s a reason why it’s beloved and iconic. The landscape is dramatic, the houses are sited wonderfully in the landscape, and the hiking trail along the bluff has some great moments as it moves through the tunnel-like cypress windbreaks and the open bluffs.

While I was there I experimented with using an ipad for drawings. I didn’t save the ones that were entirely digital, but I liked the results when I hand drew a little thumbnail, photographed it with the ipad, then colored it digitally. The result is not all that different from coloring a drawing with markers, but it was quick and it let me erase or adjust the color and there’s something nice about the flatness of the digital color under the quick line work. I’ll probably experiment some more with entirely digital drawings in the future, but this method seemed like a good addition to my bag of tricks, allowing me to make two dozen sketches during a single hike.

I also did some watercolors, my first since our trip to Baja in February. I played with a few different kinds of paper and styles, getting a little more ambitious as I went. My focus was on the hiking trail. As far as I know, Halprin didn’t lay out the trail, but it highlights many of the ideas from his master plan: cluster the houses, keep them back behind or against the trees, and keep the meadows and coast open as commons. Some of the newer houses, including the one where I was staying, have pushed out into the meadows, but overall the plan has held up with remarkable integrity. It’s a tribute to the quality of the planning and architecture that the hiking is as pleasant as the hiking down the road in Salt Point State Park.

This last one isn’t really part of the hiking trail, but it’s one of Sea Ranch’s most iconic elements and I love design moves based on grading. Halprin used the soil excavated for the swimming pool to create these exaggerated berms to keep out the wind and make a sheltered space around the pool. After hiking on the open bluff trail, the enclosed space feels like a grotto or cenote.

Thanksgiving weekend marked eight years of this blog. Posting has slowed for me and just about every other garden blog I follow, and commenting has faded away, but I still prefer the blog over all of the other online formats. It remains a great tool for organizing thoughts, images, and links, and I often find myself going back into my archives or sidebar. I intend to keep posting, my thanks to everyone who keeps reading.

Bahia Asuncion Watercolors

We spent the bulk of our Baja trip in a fishing town called Bahia Asuncion about halfway down the peninsula on the Pacific Coast. The town itself is somewhat drab and utilitarian rather than charming, but the landscape around it is fascinating. It’s incredibly austere — none of the plants are over waist high, they’re widely spaced, and none of them had foliage while we were there — and I was at first a little unsure about the place as a vacation destination. But it grew on me, as desert landscapes tend to do, and the beaches are fantastic, endless and empty of other people. I made about a dozen watercolors while I was there, doing the sketch on site during the day and then adding color during the evening.

BajaCentralDesert1

I also made two watercolors of the central desert we drove through to get there, Ocotillos, Cardons, and Boojums in the boulder gardens.

BajaCentralDesert2

MissionMulege2

And I did three watercolors of the missions. One of an Elephant Tree at Mission Mulege.

MissionSanIgnacio2

And two at Mission San Ignacio.

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Rock Creek Watercolors

RockCreek1

Last week we went out to Bishop for a wedding and then afterwards spent the rest of the week camping in the area. We went a few different places, including three days at Rock Creek, where I made several watercolors along the creek heading up from our campground to the lake, my first watercolors of the year.

RockCreek2

Though it’s called Rock Creek, the prominent feature in that section is a beautiful riparian grass. I’m not sure the species.

RockCreekLake

Up top, Rock Creek Lake is a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by pines and aspens. It seemed like peak time for the coloring of the aspens, a great time to be there.

Cycling Tahoe

I recently rode my bicycle around Lake Tahoe. I’ve been wanting to do that ride for years and figured I should do it now, while my legs are fit from my Portland-to-SF ride. It was great. You don’t see the lake quite as much as I thought, a fair bit goes through what I would characterize as alpine suburbia, and the best views are from the same vista points that I’ve known for years, but it’s a beautiful ride and a beautiful lake, one of California’s best. I made some quick sketches similar to my Portland-SF sketches.

Coast Cycling Thumbnails

These are my sketches from the coast. They were all done very quickly at the end of the day, sitting at a picnic table at camp or sometimes in my tent with a headlamp, recording some of the images that stayed in my head. A few show specific places such as the view of the bridge across Coos Bay or the sand dunes at Honeyman Memorial State Park, but most of them represent the kind of half-remembered amalgam views that make up the bike-touring experience.

— Update — I turned a few thumbnails into watercolors. Views of the road, rather than from the road, below.
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