Friday, May 8, 2015

Nature calling!

Thanks both to my nature-geek parents and my recent interactions with John Muir Laws excellent Nature Journal Group, I've been drawn (literally) to subjects like native birds, trees, critters.  Some work I've done from life but with animals especially, it's been great to work from photographs.

Lately, I've been talking to some folks here in Point Richmond about an educational native plants garden they are creating and it looks like I'll be creating illustrations to display there.  Very exciting!

Here are a few examples of some of the "critters" I've been doing of late.

I was inspired to update my "About Me" page with the education I've been lucky to gain about natural science - and realized that I've dug in more than I remembered!

River otter in ink and coffee

California Quail in inks and watercolor pencil


Black-crowned Night Heron in ink

Quick sketch raccoon in watercolor pencil

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Puppy Dave

You've just got to love a couple who name their dog, Dave, don't you?  I was very fortunate that this new-to-San Francisco pair found out about my animal art via Bay Woof and contacted me to do a watercolor / pen & ink for them.

This is 9" x 12", Uniball pen, Derwent watercolor pencil and Schminke watercolor paint on watercolor paper.  Taken from a photo they received when they rescued Dave, I just loved that puppy tummy maybe most of all.  This guy has personality plus.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Baywoof "Beast of the Bay" awards

I was thrilled to discover that people entered me into the "Beast of the Bay" awards for Best Pet Artist and I was a finalist!  Thank you to whoever you are!!

The full list of winners is here - the artist award is number 41: http://baywoof.com/beast-of-the-bay/beast-of-the-bay-awards-2015/

I found out about this because someone emailed me out of the blue to ask for a dog portrait and it turns out this is how they learned about me.

How cool is that?  Here is a little sketch of his dog - soon I'll do a full portrait of him and share that here also.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Strong hair


Jill Scott
Uzo Adoba
Recently, my sister, her daughter, a friend and I were out dining at a sunny, bay view restaurant when my niece semi-whispered to her mom,

"That lady over there has STRONG HAIR."  After a quick lesson in "not pointing at strangers", my sister snuck a glance at the lady and gladly proclaimed,

"Why, yes, she certainly does have strong hair!"

I had just discovered the term they privately use for African-American hair when it's styled naturally; something I would have called (back in my hippie days) an "afro."

When the adorable niece gets her hair taken out of braids to prep for the next hairdo, she and her mom love making it big and bold and taking amazing photos.  The niece completely ROCKS the Esperanza Spalding look, I must say.

Anyhow, that conversation got me doing some Google searching on "natural hair" and doing a few drawings inspired by this experience.  There may also be (ahem) just a tiny bit of hair envy going on here too.  I feel sort of sheepishly unqualified to draw these women, but as an artist, I just gravitate to certain things and right now, it's this hair.



Pam Grier


Traci Ellis Ross







Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Melbourne is for coffee lovers

Oh man, did I love Melbourne!  Spent two weeks there largely on business but of course wedged quite a bit of sketching in whenever possible.

Here is my full album of photos on Flicker.

And a few examples posted here.  It was summer there and quite toasty.  The CBD (or Central Business District) was so beautifully designed and vibrant with a mix of business people, tourists, students, artists, shoppers and other locals.  I loved the lanes between the major avenues where you'd find people all day conducting business at cafes and bistros - as if the city planning gods somehow selected the best aspects of British, California and Italian street culture and plunked them all on this distant island.


And the coffee!  I am spoiled for anything else now.  But don't try ordering an Americano (as I did) and then worsen your blunder by asking for room so you can add cream.  Oh no.  The barista will do whatever needs to be done to that coffee, not you.  They explained this in the most warm, friendly Australian manner but it was not negotiable.  And, I learned, what I'd call an Americano is, down under, a "long black."  Cappuccinos, affogatos, lattes - I savored them all.

And I found it quite easy to find delicious vegan food everywhere.  The key to restaurant life as a vegan is to just make a great meal out of what the restaurant is going to call "sides."  And to ask a friendly server, "What's the best veggie thing you have here?"
Julio, (?), Angela, Kate, Janice, Kym - Urban Sketchers Melbourne

Another trip highlight was meeting up with the Urban Sketchers Melbourne group, which also included one of my Sketchbook Skool klassmates, Angela.  It's so heart-warming to finally meet people you've grown to like and admire online and find out they are even more fabulous in person.  We sketched the famous Flinders Street train station and then walked up Swanston to grab some Chinese food for dinner.  I'm so grateful for this group's hospitality!

You can find more of their work at the Urban Sketchers Australia blog.





Sunday, January 25, 2015

Commissioned drawings that have now been gifted

Normally, I have the ability to delay gratification about THIS long (imagine my thumb and finger about one centimeter apart)... but when I do a commissioned drawing or painting that will be a gift, I need to put on my "big girl pants" and NOT SHARE for a while.  Oh the maturity.

Well, here are some drawings that made their way to their recipients from my generous patrons.  I hear they may have made people shed a tear.  Which is the best.



This first one was for a teen-aged daughter of the patron.  If you look carefully, you might find her name snuck onto a store sign.  This drawing now lives in Ohio.  I parked along Solano Avenue in Albany to do this with the live energy of the place, albeit from the comfort of my car - it was chilly!  My favorite person in this drawing is the kid who was having an awesome time just playing with a giant stick.  Who needs an iPhone?





 The two gatos here and their little canine friend went to a lovely couple here in California.  They are very cherished furry family members.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Come see my shelter pet drawings at Bica Coffeehouse in Oakland!

"my" foster baby
Somehow, through Facebook, I found this dynamic little group called "No Kill Oakland" which was started up by some dynamic, funny, kind people.  I've been so impressed by their passion, practicality, and smarts in approaching the issues of shelter dogs, especially in the wake of ongoing dramas at Oakland Animal Services.

When they posted about "the Hippo" and how he needed out of the shelter immediately or was at risk of euthanasia (mostly due to having some mange), I volunteered to foster.  Since I'm an obsessive sketching maniac, I had to sketch this dog while he was here.  (It's the rule - if you stay here, you're my model.  My niece is getting used to it.)  It turned out this dog was really named Raider and we found his original family and that's a whole other long (great) story.  It was a such a gratifying experience - at least for me.  My dog Grayson thought it was bogus.

So next thing I learn is that the dynamo outfit behind "No Kill Oakland" is launching an organization called "People, Animals, Love and Support East Bay." (PALS East Bay)

One of them said, hey, I have a friend with an awesome coffeehouse in Oakland, how about we do a show of your drawings of shelter dogs there?  I said, 'yes please' and the coffeehouse owners said 'yes please' and before I knew it, the drawings were done and up!  It was truly one of those flow-y moments in life when everything just clicks together without me forcing it.  So great.

My drawings up at Bica Coffeehouse, Oakland
The coffeehouse in question is the lovely Bica Coffeehouse right nextdoor to Trader Joe's and across from the Rockridge BART Station.  When you go, try the chai - it's the best I've ever had.  They grind their own spices for it, so it's not the syrup-based disaster you may have experienced other places. Oh, how I am drooling just writing this - gotta get over there for my soy chai latte pronto!

See a little preview abut the show here:
http://www.palseastbay.org/shelter-pet-artwork-by-kate-merriman.html

Liberty, still waiting for a forever home at Oakland Animal Services



All the proceeds of the sale of these original drawings will go to support PALS.  I also have prints available via my Zazzle store and 1/2 the proceeds of those will go to PALS too.    Mostly I hope to raise awareness of what high-quality, lovable animals there are at the shelter and encourage people to "adopt, not shop!"


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Being a friend to animals was never easier!

"Esther" original oil on canvas (2009 for Dreamtime Sanctuary)
If you're like me, you love animals - and maybe you are attempting a plant-based diet for 2015 as a way to further manifest that.  If so, I am your BIGGEST fan, and I'd like to share a few tips and resources so that you have success.

Because there are some things I've learned about making herbivore life easier and more fun, so why keep those to myself?

1. Don't preach or criticize or get in other people's business, just celebrate the beautiful, exciting changes you are making.  I'm saner when I stay acting in my circle of influence.  Be inspired by the highly successful ethos of "attraction rather than promotion", which has been quietly working wonders for alcoholics and addicts the world over for many decades now.

2. Grab a couple of books, but don't try to read them all.  Here are the ones I think are great introductions, have a welcoming, cheerful tone and lots of practical ideas:

My Beef with Meat by Rip Esselstyn.  So many easy, delish recipes.  This is my "go to" for just simple daily food.

Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon.  Another cheerful, practical plant-based resource for ya.

3. Online resources:

Vegansaurus - based in California, they are silly and funny and full of good ideas.  They also have a lively Facebook page.

The Post Punk Kitchen - Oh, how I love Isa Chandra - and there are a bazillion delicious recipes on here.  If you buy her "Isa Does It" book, you will be in love too.  The photography's gorgeous, the text is funny and warm and the food, oh, yum.  Her blog is good fun also.

PCRM's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart - The focus here is on health and giving you all the information you need to make smart choices.  For free!

4. On the road

When I'm traveling, I often check out what's veggie nearby with Happy Cow.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Kiki brings the Christmas (and painting) joy!

Here's an image that completely made my day, if not my week.  It's a sweet person receiving a surprise painting I created of her dog, Kiki, on commission by her very thoughtful and loving hubbie.

There is really nothing better for this artist than knowing an artwork is going to have people loving it!

Below is an image of the painting.

It's the first oil painting I tried after a long spell where I felt like I couldn't do oil painting any more.  Instead, I had turned my focus to daily drawing in my sketchbook.  I just didn't want to struggle with paint when it wasn't fun any more.

But what really amazed me was how the daily drawing practice made doing the oil painting about a million times more fun and masterful. Some kind of neural pathway had been forged where my hand, heart and brain just never encountered "struggle" at all once I got started!

If this lovely friend had not commissioned me to do this painting, I may not have figured that out, since I really had to force myself to break out the oil paints again.  But, wow, what a discovery. (Good news for any of you who want oil paintings - turns out I'm back into it again with gusto!!)  I am so thrilled with how this came out and how fluid and happy the process was.  Gone was the struggle, returned was the joy.  Hoorah!

Kiki, original oil painting on canvas, 16" x 20".

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Skulls with John Muir Laws and the Nature Journal Club

My Great Dane and Dachshund skull drawings.

After enjoying the Facebook group of the Nature Journal Club for quite a few months now, I finally was able to join them in person for a "field trip" - and today the "field" was the California Academy of Sciences to catch one of the last days of the awesome "Skulls" exhibit.

It was a gorgeous day and a good-sized group (about 30) of all ages.  John Muir Laws gave us a quick introduction and some time to sketch, and then gave an in-depth class about skulls and what to look for on them and how to draw them.  Quick lunch outside with our friend, the gull, and back again to draw some more.  I had to leave a bit early so missed the later journal share, but the dogs, I knew, were eager to have me return and let them out for a run.

I highly recommend that any sketchbook folks in the Bay Area check out this group.

I drew in a 5" x 8" Handbook, mostly with my new love, the Pelikan fountain pen.  But also messed around with some Tombow pen and waterbrush and gave the non-photo blue pencil a try in the afternoon after seeing JML demo it in the morning.

Of course, even though there were so many cool, exotic skulls there, I kept gravitating to the dogs.  What is it with me and dogs?


JML sketching the Gray Wolf skull.
My Wandering Albatross sketch from the afternoon.  It got so crowded and wild after lunch!


David Lukas joined us - I'll have to check out his books!

David Lukas, JML, gull friend on fountain, other Club members.

Club members enjoying lunch in the lovely sun.

JML sketching demo of the gull on the fountain.
My sketch of the gull on the fountain at lunch.

Great Dane skull (and other smaller dogs)

Mug says "Eye Opener" and my Gray Wolf sketch



Notes and sketches from the lecture.

Another morning sketch - California Sea Lion "C9".

Monday, November 10, 2014

More San Francisco Giants





 I guess my way of coping with the end of baseball season is to spend some time drawing "my" Giants.  After being a student of Sketchbook Skool's "Storytelling" klass with the amazing Veronica Lawlor, I tried a bamboo pen and ink for these and had a great time!

I also found a "chop" that translates to "gradually, step-by-step" and feel like that fits me beautifully in a number of ways.







Saturday, October 25, 2014

Beautiful rain!

We are SO happy to be getting some rain here in the Bay Area.  Here are the glorious clouds over our local dog park, Point Isabel, this morning.


I used Tombow ink pen and coffee (dipped my finger in my hot coffee and used as a brush - probably not recommended for one's toxic load.)

In just about an hour, I'm going to collect a foster dog to take care of for a week or so.  It's not at all practical, but if you can't sometimes be a fool for love, what's the point?