Monthly Archives: May 2012

Views in Seattle

We made the drive up I-5 last week and spent a few days working and visiting in the Seattle area.  The hospitality was delightfully warm, but the weather was a mixed bag, mostly dry but cool, so my sketches were made mostly inside looking out at the gorgeous views.  There are more cedars up there than in the Willamette Valley, and truly an alarming number of brilliant yellow and oh-so-invasive scotch brooms all along the freeway.  I guess the Washington transportation folks didn’t get the memo about invasive plants until quite recently, because we heard that they were planted on purpose… tsk.

Samara – Word of the Day


Chinese Elm Seeds, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Swirling up with tiny tornadoes, poofing underfoot, filling the gutters and drain grates, Chinese Elms are prolifically sowing their winged seed – “samara” –  this year.  I’ve never seen this volume of papery seeds before.  The same seems true with maples and other trees.   Odd… Perhaps a premonition on a supernatural level of coming hard times, make your seeds while you can…

But on another note, here is the Seal Court fountain sketch from last weekend, digitally altered and generally fussed over:

Seal Court Lily, mixed media digitally altered, by Kerry McFall


Claremont, California

In the festive whirl of Scripps graduation, I found a few minutes to sketch the fountain I’ve been admiring the last few visits in the courtyard at “The Coop” on Pomona campus.  I’ve heard people say that the Claremont Colleges have more fountains per capita than any other campus – and they’re all gorgeous.  Water is more about the movement of light than anything else, so fountains are challenging.  I started another sketch of a fountain in Seal Court  on Scripps campus, still working on that one.

And on the plane and in the hotel, I played with a vintage portrait from Artist’s magazine – another example of how many colors go into red hair! –  and a slightly absurd moose photo from the airline magazine that provided another water challenge.

All in alll, a good trip, and I hardly cried at all during the ceremonies!

Tomato Chairs

chairs serve as tomato cages

"Tomato Chairs", mixed media by Kerry McFall

Done!  Not only did I get the basil and tomatoes planted, I spray-painted the old metal chairs I’ve been using for tomato cages… I now pronounce the garden ready for a visit from the Queen.  The chairs were part of a patio set left on the curb by a neighbor years back, with metal crossbars in the place where the seats used to be.  They are perfect to use as substitutes for tomato cages, but far more elegant – a nice bit of re-purposing.  Here is a birds’ eye view photo if the sketch doesn’t quite make sense:
chair as tomato cage

Tomato Cage Chair - Bird's Eye View



"Basil", mixed media by Kerry McFall

It’s now or never in Willamette Valley gardens – either plant it, or resign yourself to eating the neighbor’s zucchini all summer without benefit of spicy/sweet basil.  It’s still down to 37 or 39 at night, and the sun shines only on Sundays whether it needs to or not… but the weather guessers keep promising us that someday, we’ll get some summer.  So with the surging optimism brought on by two clear dawns in a row, the basil and tomatoes are going in the ground today!  Plus a whole box full of “assorted shade perrennials” which I had forgotten I ordered from the cub scouts several weeks ago… and the fuchsia I couldn’t resist at Schmidt’s on Saturday…

May Day Tradition

"May Day Tradition", mixed media by Kerry McFall

For almost 20 years, my friend Tracy and I have upheld the Flowers on Your Porch tradition each May 1st.  Some years the bouquets have been lavish with peonies, tulips, lilacs.  Others, there are just a few tiny forget-me-nots or lilies of the valley, depending on the whims of Mother Nature and what we planted the previous year.  This year, she remembered, I did not, so Tracy, here are virtual May flowers on your front porch, a day late but better late than never… yes, they look suspiciously like the bouquet I found on MY front porch!  And thanks to her reminder, I realized what day it was, and took flowers in the afternoon to a sweet old lady who used to be our neighbor and has recently moved to assisted living.  We always “surprised” her with May flowers also, with little Corey sneaking up to her front step, ringing the bell, and sprinting off with the giggles.  Traditions are such fun!

One Among Many

"Horsetail Fern", mixed media by Kerry McFall

Funny how a meadow filled with horsetail fern looks like a mountain covered with Douglas Fir, especially through the camera lense.  I found these Saturday at Snag Boat Bend, in the area near the parking lot – which was as far as I ventured because it was a spur of the moment stop and I didn’t have my mud boots with me.  The negative space between plants is exactly a vertically flipped mirror image of the plant itself.  I find that I am always looking for patterns now, ways to abstract the plants and animals I’m focused on and turn them into patterns… this one may take me to some 1960’s sci-fi “Jetsons” kind of shapes.

"Nearly Normal's Outdoor Dining", mixed media by Kerry McFall

And in a completely unrelated sketch, here’s one for Alice, who misses Nearly Normals in Corvallis, but apparently not enough to come back here after she graduates!  The patio this summer features one plastic owl statue lurking among the pink flamingos near the water feature… to frighten away the sparrows and other crumb-seekers I assume, with limited success.   Let us know the next time you’re home, dearie, and we’ll treat you to something “normal”!