Trees in the Mist

Trees in the Mist

Santa Cruz exhibit

Have you longed to see a painting of a larger-than-life kitten among veggies? Of course you have!

Then come down to the Santa Cruz Art League's current exhibit, "The Best of the Central Coast," presented by the Santa Cruz Watercolor Society. My painting ("Still Life with Cat") is one among a wide variety of watercolor paintings (including some others whose subjects are cats, but in very different watercolor styles).

The exhibit runs from March 28 to April 19, and it's free.
An artists reception with beverages and goodies is Sunday, April 6, 2 to 4 p.m.

Location of the Santa Cruz Art League, driving directions, and its open hours, are here:

Close to Home

Lately I have been paying more attention to common, small, or maligned bits of nature that I don't usually bother with. I started doing this accidentally, to pass the time while waiting for somebody (when I didn't have a note pad or electronic device handy!). I soon discovered there is entertainment, drama, charm, and mystery in the apparently mundane.
Knotweed growing in the sidewalk, with the tiniest flowers I have ever seen!

Tucked in the cracks of the pavement were some tough, flattened, battered plants. When I looked more closely, I could see they had teeny white flowers all over! People walked on them all day, yet they managed to blossom.
Birds often are doing something interesting or endearing. I quickly sketched in watercolor this blackbird sunning itself just a few feet away from where I was sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe.
Brewer's Blackbird sunning in Sausalito
The pigeons along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz have a few key spots where they gather in small groups, sunning and relaxing on the clifftops above the lapping ocean--just as people do!
Rock Pigeons by the ocean.

Imagine my excitement when I saw one "ordinary" creature interacting with another: a pigeon voraciously tearing at knotweed to devour the seeds!

A Rock Pigeon enjoying Knotweed seeds
There are pre-made, little artworks everywhere in nature. Along a path covered with drab-colored, dried leaves, this delightful arrangement appeared:

A small "still life" alongside a hiking trail in Wilder Ranch State Park, California
I'm not sure why I found it so charming to see a downy feather among dried leaves, but I did, and sat down on the path to paint.
Along a dirt roadway in a very busy park in Santa Cruz, where gopher holes are plentiful and apparently vacant, one day I glimpsed a movement. Out from a hole popped the nose, and then head, of a pocket gopher.
Pocket Gopher emerging from hole at Lighthouse Field State Park in Santa Cruz

Motionless for a moment, the gopher then dashed out and bit off an entire cut-leaf plantain--one of the few plants able to survive on that hard, dry ground. The gopher retreated backwards into its hole, dragging the plant in its mouth. The whole dash-and-retreat only took about 7 seconds.
People generally malign gophers because they dine on the roots of many plants, including those in the garden, and cut-leaf plantain is an abundant non-native thing that isn't particularly captivating. But I was honored to have witnessed this little nature moment.
What "ordinary" things can you notice that aren't really ordinary after all?