Monthly Archives: July 2014

San Francisco On Foot

We parked at the Presidio near the Golden Gate and took off walking without a plan, which is unusual given that I married a man with a degree in planning!  We lucked into a sunny day, not much wind, and nowhere we had to be.  It was midweek so our companions were mostly professional dog walkers with their packs of pampered pooches, and honeymooning couples.  It’s impossible to watch dogs running without feeling your spirits lift, and it was sweet taking photos at the couples’ requests.

visual journal page

c “Introspection”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Wandering along the waterfront led us to the Palace of Fine Arts, its gold dome gleaming above a construction site.  I was amused by signs at the entrance warning against “agressive raccoons on the grounds” (I was picturing that toothy raccoon with the submachine gun slung over his shoulder from the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”).  No raccoons in sight, so we pushed on.  Looking up, I was fascinated by the classical sculptures of women at the top corners of every building.  They slumped over the edges, as if staring  into empty wells…

I suppressed the urge to shout, “Don’t jump!”  I found a bench and began sketching as Griff wandered in search of racoons.  The closer I looked, the more I thought they might be talking on their cell phones… all of their faces were hidden, but all of their heads rested on one hand.  I did some research once we got back to our AirBnB lodgings, and learned that these are known as the Weeping Women, created in 1915 to express “the Melancholy of Life Without Art”… so not cell phones after all!  The sculptor certainly nailed the melancholy, but apparently he was also really good at sculpting buns.  Turns out the same sculptor created the Golden Pioneer on Oregon’s capitol dome – I’ll have to remember to check out those pioneer buns the next time I’m in Salem!

"View from Neptune's Restaurant", mixed media by Kerry McFall

“View from Neptune’s Restaurant”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

We continued along the marina, up a hill, and down into Fisherman’s Wharf.  Suddenly it was like we had fallen into a giant flea circus – so many people!  So few restrooms!  We spent the rest of the day in various cafes sketching and enjoying some intensive people watching.  Also sea lion watching, which I didn’t sketch because a) the page was already full, and b) from my vantage point they just looked like monstrous floating cowpatties, sprawled motionless on their special little “reserved for sea lions” docks below the restaurant.  I was pretty sure we had walked at least 5 miles, but it was probably only three-ish.  Still, taking a taxi back to the car seemed like a good plan, and we could watch the city lights in comfort.  Now I have dozens of photos, just begging to be turned into sketches and paintings… here are a couple more winery sketches from the week:


Wine Country 2014 – Mary’s Peak Doppleganger

vineyard sketch

“PerryMasonVineyard”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

This small vineyard tasting room made us feel like we’d been invited to join Perry and Della for a glass of wine on their patio.  The tasting at the Raymond Burr winery is complimentary (kind of a rare thing as near as we can tell), and the gentleman who served us says that Della (Barbara Hale) still comes up for special occasions because “she’s family”.  We sat in the shade at one of the handful of picnic tables, me painting, Griff working, as we listened to an odd mix of hummingbird buzzes, roosters crowing, a mockingbird, and 1980’s pop music from inside the tasting room.


We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect temperature (mid-70’s) or a more relaxing setting.  As you can see from the photo, I took the liberty of eliminating the big conifer and the brussels sprouts plants from my painting!   As I began to paint the big mountain (almost visible in the left of the photo, possibly Alexander Mountain but no one seemed really sure,) I gasped – the silhouette is almost identical to Mary’s Peak in Oregon!  A closer look revealed that the second hump is actually another mountain behind the first one.  Still, for a minute there I thought I had so imprinted that outline on my brain that I was no longer capable of doing an accurate mountain!

Lots more vine and vineyards paintings in the works, but here is a sketch of an unexpected view at the Castella di Amoroso vineyards in Calistoga:

"Unexpected Vista", mixed media by Kerry McFall

“Unexpected Vista”, mixed media by Kerry McFall


Summer Gallery

OSU Tree-Lined Promenade, Mixed Media by Kerry McFall

OSU Tree-Lined Promenade, Mixed Media by Kerry McFall

The summer is flying by, and I realize I haven’t posted very often here.  It’s not because I’ve been slacking, I’ve just been very focused on the Sketchbook Skool courses I’ve been taking, which in turn has led to being immersed in the new community of artists I’m meeting there.  I’ve also been working away diligently at my eight Call & Responses pieces, which of course have to stay secret until October.  I just finished the above piece as part of a “16 Trees” challenge that evolved from the course, and there are two more from that series below.