Week 33: California Trip Part IV

Up a long winding mountain road above Santa Cruz, and into the forest of redwoods and manzanita, there is a special gathering place for our family: Grandma’s House. Set into a hillside that slopes down to the ancient forest, the house feels inseparable from the land, welcoming the filtered sunlight, fresh air, and quiet presence of the towering trees. Multi-level decks and garden terraces look out into the woods, where some mornings you can watch the fog soften the peaks of the evergreens and roll its billowy blanket across the landscape. There is a blueberry bush loaded with fruit, and beds overflowing with rosemary, thyme, and roses. I delighted in the cool and peaceful mornings here, when we would take our hot coffee mugs outside to the terraces, pick some blueberries for breakfast (with a pinch of rosemary!) and enjoy the view and conversation with a house full of loved ones.

Our time at Grandma’s house was bittersweet on this visit, as we were not sure when we would return to this special place. Grandma is renting the house and moving to Virginia to be with us! We are so excited about this wonderful change for her and our family. We will miss our California retreat, but we hope to one day spend time together there again. In the meantime, we await Grandma’s move in a couple of weeks!

In creating the collage, it was most important for me to capture the atmosphere and sense of place that I feel here.  I chose to leave figures out of the composition, instead suggesting a human presence with the coffee mugs, chairs, and bowl of just-picked blueberries. In this way, the viewer is freer to project oneself into the picture and imagine the special places that they too may share with their families. The foreground plants are cut paper drawings made with pencil, charcoal, India Inks and acrylic paint. The roses are paper cut-outs from one of my digital pattern designs. The trees in the background are painted with acrylics, then collaged over with a wispy transparent paper to create the effect of drifting fog.

Grandma’s House, acrylic collage, 12 x 12

Detail, Blueberry Bush

Detail, Blueberries for Breakfast

Detail, Garden Path

Detail, Forest and Fog

Week 30: California Trip Part I

We’re back from California and I have been working on a series of new collages about our trip. I’ll be catching up on posts this week and sharing some of our adventures along with my work.¬†California is a special place for my family. My husband grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and while I am an East Coaster by origin, I have grown to love the West Coast. Ever since my husband proposed to me on a beach near Santa Cruz, we have had many memorable experiences together on our trips back to California. On this vacation we returned to some of our favorite places, discovered new ones, and enjoyed wonderful visits with dear family members and friends.

On the first weekend of our trip, our boy Max turned 9. I wanted to make a montage of all the fun things we did on his birthday, as well as his favorite activities of the trip. But beyond creating a record of places or events, I wanted to capture the essence of this moment in time with our son. What does it feel like to turn nine and have the run of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, go fishing off a pier, wade in the surf, ride a rollercoaster, or see your first Major League baseball game? What does it feel like to be a parent or grandparent whose love for this child swells bigger than a baseball stadium, bigger than the San Francisco Bay, bigger than the Pacific Ocean? This is what I want to remember.

When a Boy Turns Nine, 12 x 12, acrylic collage

Detail, Max turns 9

Detail, Santa Cruz Fishing Pier

Detail, The Big Dipper, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Detail, Cake and Icecream

Detail, SF Giants Stadium