Monthly Archives: February 2017


I sketched with the Corvallis Sketchers last weekend at Beekman Place Antiques, and choosing what to sketch was a real challenge!

sketch of shelf items in antique store

“Beekman Place Antiques”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

I hadn’t been in an antique store for quite a while, and it was kind of a shocker to realize that most of this stuff was what I grew up with!  Antiques used to be really old… but this was all so familiar.  So I looked up the definition of antique, which seems pretty clearly agreed upon that the object must be 100 years old at least.  Whew… I decided that a whole bunch of this was vintage, not antique, and that made me feel better.  One definition of vintage I found is “properly defined as something of high quality that demonstrates styles of the past.”  Okay, I can live with feeling familiar with so many vintage items!

And there was so much of everything!  Small, large, rusty, shiny, every nook and cranny was filled with fascinating things.  It took me a long time to decide where to sketch in the rambling building, and even then I had to work really hard to focus on just a few central pieces.  These weren’t the most beautiful, or the most valuable, but the doll looking at the price tag caught my eye, so here it is!  True confessions: I did work on it a little more at home, filling in the background and doing some highlights, and you’ll see from the photo below that I took a few liberties with what to put in and what to leave out.  As I so often do!  But then, that’s what makes it art, right?

“Photo Beekman Place”

Will definitely be going back, as the crew there at Beekman were so welcoming and pleasant.


Slowing Down


Posted February 12, 2017 by Kerry McFall

There is a fabulous old sailing ship moored on Harbor Drive in San Diego.  I spent a long time sketching the rigging and sails and tackle and I don’t-know-what-all, trying to unravel where this or that rope connected, until I came up with a reasonable facsimile and decided enough was enough.  Such complexity!  I tried to imagine what travel would have been like on that ship, sliding into the bay after tossing at sea for days.  But making the drawing served the purpose of calming my jangled nerves as we wrapped up our visit and prepared to come home.  That was January.

Tall Ship sketch/painting

“Tall Ship”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

Traveling by train week before last gave me another opportunity to calm down.  There were no television screens reminding me of how tenuous the world has become, no wifi (except the occasional 1-minute blip) so no emails, no text messages, no calls.  I could see rabbit tracks in the snow for a few hours as the Coast Starlight climbed up and around Shasta and past Odell Lake.  So many invisible rabbits!  Or maybe just a few very busy rabbits leaving all those tracks… I thought about drawing, but even at  train speeds, the scenery went by too fast.  So began February.

I was glad to be home, even though I missed the sunny mornings of southern Cal.  But duty called, and I had to get my mother to a medical appointment, so I drove to Eugene.   I got her there, I got her back home, and I headed back to Corvallis.  Highway 99W seemed far less threatening than the tangle of San Diego freeways … until that one moment when I sensed that the car to my left was turning the hell right.  And I was between that car leaning into me at 40+ mph and a traffic island with a huge cement base of a monster metal pole.  Reality does odd things at those moments.  BAM.  She hit my door and front fender.  I bounced off the curb of the island, then goosed the gas pedal to speed up and cranked the wheel just enough to avoid the pole, held tight to keep from veering into the flooded ditch, braked, and eventually stopped.  Ppssshhhhh.  Flat tire?  Hydraulic something-or-other?  Ugh.  Deep breath.

So that’s over with, and I’m okay.  She’s okay, too, but I’m betting her insurance rates are going to go way up !   Life can change in a matter of seconds.  Just when you think things are complex, you blink, and it’s even more complex.  I’m trying to remember to savor those sweet moments when it seems, however briefly, simple.  Pet the cat.  Count the rabbit tracks.  Hold hands.


This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Posted February 5, 2017 by Kerry McFall

This is what democracy looked like yesterday.  Just your basic Saturday filled with errands and housework, shopping and baking a chicken pot pie for supper… and a Town Hall Meeting at the community college.  Senator Ron Wyden was welcomed by an overflow crowd, and my neighbor and I were among them.  I’m a bit too arthritic to be sitting on a gym floor for very long, so we didn’t stay for the entire Q & A event, but I’m glad we went.  The speaker in the sketch was meant to be Senator Wyden, but it doesn’t look a bit like him I’m afraid.  He was wearing blue jeans and a sports coat, though – I did get that part right!

“Democracy Saturday”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

I’ve been doing what I can where I can.  Holding doors open for folks with big parcels, smiling at strangers when we pass on the sidewalk, sending congressional emails nearly daily, but somehow that doesn’t feel as important or as effective as Showing Up.  Being a part of an energized crowd of people who ask intelligent questions and clearly express themselves feels like I’m doing something.  It’s like voting with my time, my energy, and my body.  Being there is good.  Making noise is a good stress reliever.

For now, without violence, I am making a statement about what I believe democracy is and can continue to be.  Being old enough to have been around this block too many times, I fear that the violence will come, and I don’t know what my response will be then… But for now, this is what Democracy looks like in Oregon.  I’m proud to call Oregon my home.

As Mr. Wyden said yesterday, “Speak up, push back, have intelligent alternatives.”