At home in the islands…

My previous post was from the first couple days of our six week sojourn in Hawaii. Here are more photos and sketches. Our first stop: the Big Island.

Hawai’i

We stayed on the Hilo side of the Island. One night, thunder boomed and the rain came down in buckets. Otherwise, we were blessed with fine weather.

I was determined to body board at Honoli’i but terrified at the same time. After a couple of days, I became more comfortable there and caught some sweet rides.

Sublime Honoli’i

The walk around Honoli’i
included waterfalls, bridges and some beautiful flowers.

We drove up to Volcanoes to see the latest lava flow. This included a short hike with chairs and a picnic at sunset. There was a bit of a crowd but it wasn’t hard to see the fountaining lava.

Lava fountain viewed from crater rim

I don’t know exactly how I managed it, but I lost a slipper/flip flop, fin sock and water shoe all within one 24 hour period.

It’s a talent, I know.

Suzanne hosted a holiday party and invited her hui of kids and parents from their school in Hilo.

Bananagrams were a big hit!

Our last Big Island day, we lolled around in the tide pools near South Point, waves pounding the rocky shore. We had such a nice time there, we stayed a bit too long and had to board our plane without the luxury of showering beforehand.

Plein air sketch of Mitch and Suzanne lounging in the tide pools of Kawa,

Oahu

View of Lanikai, the Mokuluas and Waimanalo from pillbox hike

We spent the next month in Kailua and Waikiki. I had thought that December and January would be cool and rainy. To my surprise and delight, this year it was neither (with the exception of a few days around New Year’s). We were more social than we’d been for the last two years; catching up with old friends, hiking, mostly enjoying meals together outdoors.

Lanikai pillbox hike with Pager and Grodens
Here we are on the Pillbox hike. Kailua and Koolaus in the background

I discovered a SWEET, flat walkway about a block from our Home Exchange. The Kawainui Marsh trail goes along the wetlands and provides an unobstructed view of the Koolaus, Olomana and the hills between Kailua and Kaneohe.

Kawainui Marsh and the mountains, from the marsh walkway

On a previous trip to Oahu, parked at a trailhead, our rental car was broken into, the window smashed and our gear in the trunk stolen. I didn’t want to risk that again so we parked in easier access/less obvious spots. I had no argument paying $10 to park at a golf course to get access to the Old Pali Road trail.

Between the raindrops near the Pali lookout

We spent New Year’s Eve in Wahiawa with our friends the Osorios. The pouring rain didn’t put a damper on the fireworks, which we watched from their covered lanai.

For the first time in years, we stayed up until midnight!

The Pu’uma’eli’eli hike isn’t difficult, it’s just a steep, gunky, muddy trail which made it hard after all.

The view at the top is worth it, though. We hit the peak on a glassy day.

Kaneohe Bay and Mokoli’i (Chinaman’s Hat)

Waikiki has changed radically in the last 20 years from an Asian flavored honky tonk city to a mini Rodeo Drive, with stores like Louis Vuitton and Harry Winston.

I prefer the Kapiolani Park side for its proximity to restaurants and markets on Kapahulu, the less crowded beaches, little waves at the wall and even some snorkeling. Mitch saw an octopus right there where everyone was walking all over the reef.

On one of the cloudier days
Diamond Head: majestic and golden in the late afternoon light from Kapiolani Park
View from the lanai of our condo

What to do after a day at the beach? sketch the scene from our condo. I loved our (obstructed) view of Diamond Head and Kaimuki, especially in the late afternoon sunlight.

But we kept going back to Waimanalo

The northwest end of Oahu is Ka’ena Point. You can get there by hiking from the West/Makaha side of the Island or from the North Shore.

As we drove up toward the coast, I could clearly see waves breaking from miles away–they were humongous that day. We met our friends Azeema and Kuhio at the northern trailhead. It was clear and we started out at 7:30 am to beat the heat. By the time we reached the tip, the sun had risen above the mountains and it was HOT. We had our lunches in the shade of some rocks. The hike out was kind of brutal but worth it!

That’s the pointed tip where north and west meet.

Kaua’i

Our last week was what we’d dubbed the “wild card” because we hadn’t made any reservations for that time. I had been hesitant to commit to Kaua’i because it’s always so wet in the winter.

But not this time.

We stayed with our friend Tracey in Wailua and enjoyed a week of sweet visits with good friends and spectacular weather!

At Waimea Canyon lookout. Mitch, Susan, Tracey and Louise

One day, we tripped up to Koke’e. I can’t remember the last time that I was there in the bright sunshine. Wow!

View of Kalalau from the Pihea Trail

When I lived on Kaua’i, I would hike to Kalalau whenever I had a three day weekend. I came to know the place and the trail well and I still love and dream of it (though I haven’t been down there for ~15 years). It was such a pleasure to hike the rim and get fantastic views of the valley.

The other side of Kalalau Valley

A quick stop at Anahola Granola headquarters in Hanapepe. This photo sent as an Aloha to the founder, our friend Becky who is healing from a badly broken leg.

Louise said that her halau’s weekly get-togethers kept her sane over the last two years of Covid. We were honored to join them for some songs. Mitch played along with his guitar. I sketched.

Our last day was also glorious. We snorkeled at Anini Beach with my old friend Robin, who runs Reef Guardians.

And we ended up at Hanalei Bay, which never ceases to astound me with its expansive glory.

This photo is just a shadow of the beauty of Hanalei. It was dark and the light wasn’t right. But you get the idea.

Aloha, Hawai’i. A hui hou!

Trip to Gualala on the Mendocino Coast

Through the fires of this year, we’ve occasionally considered moving from the Golden State. However, our trip to the coast reminded me how incredibly beautiful it is here in California.

Fish Rock Watch Tower at the Mendocino Stone Zone, Gualala, CA.

The weather was glorious and clear. We saw whale spouts out in the water, shooting stars in the clear night sky and ate fabulous food.

Pencil drawing of the Fish Rock Watch Tower

We were treated to a tour of the Mendocino Stone Zone, a place where host Peter Mullins brings in stonemasons from Scotland, Ireland, France and New England to create art within his property in the hills. Peter is a font of knowledge about stone and informed us of a seam of basalt in Windsor, not far from where we live.

Who knew that there were basalt columns in Windsor?

We stayed at Roseman Creek Ranch, which provided a fantastic, huge kitchen. We paid a little extra for the big wood oven to be fired up so we could make pizza and other yummies. What a treat it all was!

We stayed at the beautiful Roseman Creek Ranch.
Lee and Judy made a delicious dinner in the wood fired oven
So many implements in the kitchen. Fresh flowers from the greenhouse as well.

King Protea in the ‘hood

I’ve been captivated by a neighbor’s garden where king protea are blooming. Whenever I pass by, I am drawn to the flowers like a bee to honey and I just gape at them. This has brought me to paint them, of course. Here’s the series I completed.

KingProtea

Most of these were created with potato and carrots to stamp shapes in watercolor, with brush embellishments. I got really into the stamping technique.

KingProtea2

Protea
I was trying to get to the basic elements of the flower here. Thin line details were completed with watercolors in a dip pen.

KingProtea3

SketchbookProtea
This was the first one I did. Pent up desire to draw/paint these flowers just came out in one go.

 

Playing with colors and shapes

When I can’t go out, I go in. And usually, that means making art.

I discovered the fabulous Esté MacLeod on Instagram and she quickly became my favorite artist on the platform. She starts with letters or numbers and turns them into beautiful paintings. When I saw that she was offering a free course on playing with shape and color, I was all over it.

The first part was to draw numbers 1 – 9 and turn those digits into leaves, real or imagined.

When I tried to think of ways to do this, I got stuck. But when I just let my pen move and got my head out of it, I ended up with some interesting patterns and shapes.

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The next step was to put them into more plant-like formations and paint them with watercolor. She encouraged the class to use a dip pen with the watercolor applied by using a brush as well as brush painting. I’d never used this method before and was delighted by the effect.

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The next step was to employ potato, carrot, toilet paper roll and other items found in the house, to create flower shapes and then embellish them. Once again, I had trouble because at first they all turned out looking the same and I kept thinking about how I could do it. But when I tried not to think and just moved my hand to draw and paint lines, curves and shapes, the results surprised and delighted me.

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HappyMothersDay
I made this one for my mom since she LOVES flowers and today is Mother’s Day.

Composite
These were all my favorites. I will use them elsewhere, I’m sure.

Studio

IMG_20200509_154416178
My workspace

Shopping during Covid times

The day after we returned from the Big Island, we were directed to start sheltering in place. We’d already planned to do this (after all, we’d been traveling), so it wasn’t a surprise.

It’s just that shopping was (and still is, at time of this post) a scary experience. My therapy is to make comics.

Covid-1

I’m not wearing gloves to the store anymore but I was when I did this comic, and it was a major juggle.

Just wanting to get out asap makes for lousy choices and lower quality produce (grab that bag of mangoes and find out that the ones at the bottom are all wrinkled and kinda brown).

Covid-3

I had seen a video of this doctor who disinfected everything and then I read that I didn’t have to. SO CONFUSING.

Covid-2Stay safe everyone!

 

Big Island 2020

The incredibly beautiful, serene Waipio Valley
Waipio Valley coastline. Looks like good surf. Heck, yeah!
Plenty of these big ass tree ferns in Volcano
Chillin’ in Kea’au. It was dark and I could barely see the paper while drawing/painting.
All these guys sunning on the South Side.
Love this flower
Pau hana at the Seafood Tiki Bar. These guys just off from work. Celebrating aloha Friday. Had no supplies on me. Used the back of my Long’s receipt and the busboy’s pen.

 

The Eyes Have It

Mitch said to me, “My left eye is cloudy—as if my glasses are dirty but I’m not wearing glasses.”

We were boarding a flight to San Juan, P.R., our destination alternative to a Hurricane soaked Big Island. Thus began a four-month ophthalmic odyssey involving around a dozen eye and retina appointments, two nasty procedures, two surgeries and the terror of temporary blindness. It’s been a tough year for my sweetie.

CoverWe got to know most of the doctors at the UCSF Ophthalmology department. With nothing to do but worry, I kept myself busy during the appointments by sketching.

Recovering from retina surgery is an ordeal. The patient has to keep his face down/parallel to the floor 90% of the time for four days. We rented a massage chair thing and apparatus for sleeping as well. 

The planets were aligned against us, as two weeks following the left eye surgery, the right eye retina tore as well. What are the odds? This took us…

1Opthalmology

4TheEyesHaveit21

2Opthalmology-3

DrAfshar

The ordeal—two torn retinas at the same time: blind man’s bluff for 4 months. The sketches are all from eye #2. And it doesn’t include the appointments in Puerto Rico. 

Thanks to the incredible Ophthalmology staff at UCSF for restoring Mitch’s sight! Now for a new prescription…

India: on to Manali and the Pavarti Valley

Manali is a starting point to the Indian Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh. We had heard that the best way to get there was to take an overnight bus from Delhi. We investigatedt other options but none of them much reduced the number of hours of travel. So, we flew from Jodhpur to Delhi and situated ourselves on the overnight bus.

DelhiManaliJourneyMap

The seats on the bus reclined and elevated our legs but there was no bathroom aboard. I dubbed the ride “the Kishkaville Express” because the last half of the trip, on rocky, unpaved mountain roads, bumped and jumped in the early morning. After 13+ hours, we arrived in Manali.

On the bus, we met Alaka and Dev, a friendly couple from Delhi, who told us about a local festival that was happening that day, the Manu Festival.

ManuTempleBandManuTempleDance

ManuTemple

You can tell that Manali was probably a sleepy hamlet twenty years ago. Its beauty and location an all to familiar blessing and curse as it’s become a tourist haven of the north and jumping off point for mountaineering. Most of the visitors are Indian, coming for adventures and ganga, which is smoked pretty freely in the old section, despite being illegal. There are a myriad of outdoor outfitters lining the main road and over a hundred guest houses and hotels. During high season (late May and June) the traffic can be complete gridlock.

We stayed a few days in Manali and then took a car to Tosh in the Pavarti Valley.

TOSH

I was awestruck by the views from Tosh. The stunning snow capped mountains in the distance and homes tucked into the steep hillsides reminded me of the picturesque villages of Nepal.

ToshMultiColor

ToshBeauty

Although we had been told that it was “the best place to stay in Tosh” our guest house was a dirty dump. The transformer had gone out and we had no electricity while we stayed there (not the fault of the guest house).

SquatToiletThe latch on our door needed oil. It squeaked loudly whenever we struggled to pulled it over to lock or unlock it, the bedding was soiled and the combination squat/sit toilet seat was loose. I don’t want to talk about the rest of the bathroom.

That said, our balcony had a wonderful view of the mountains and gave us a great vantage point for watching the comings and goings of the village.

From Tosh, we walked along the valley to the Waterfall Café, where the tables sit in the gushing flow.

WaterfallCafe

Further on was Kulka, a tiny mountain “village” consisting of two guest houses, a small store, a babbling brook, grazing horses and a lovely high meadow with an awesome view. We would have loved to stay in Kulka.

Pulga
The next day, we took a car, which dropped us off near Pulga, another village nearby. The road is still being built there so we backpacked in. On the way, we met some travelers who recommended we stay at the #capitalcafe, a new guest house with bamboo cottages (and electricity)! The place was SWEET as was the young owner, Chetan, who spent time with us and told us his story.  It was a highlight for me to share my greeting cards with Chetan and his crew, who are all Nepalese. His cook recognized one of the places I’d drawn.

We took a hike in the dense forest there, passing a waterfall and a herd of cattle (right there on the path). To our surprise, we happened upon this shrine in the woods. ShrineInTheWoods

We wanted to stay another night there but had already made reservations at an Airbnb which was in Gargi

 

ShelterSmart workshop with FIT

BBVA and Spring Studio have been working with FIT (the Field Innovation Team) to to design a new toolkit for community shelters after a disaster strikes. Last Monday and Tuesday, we met with the FIT team, representatives from the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the city of San Francisco emergency team and numerous designers to come up with solutions that will work better for global responders, displaced people and communities as a whole.

BigGroup

Research was conducted in Florida and Houston after the hurricanes, Northern California after the wildfires and in Mexico following the earthquake.

I was asked to record the workshop through my illustration. Here are the results.

PerrisDESI+LORENZOKellieLeadsSmallGroupDesignPrinciplesTrevMaryAliciaPortraitsFirstSmallGroup

JohnSignoRamonaKat

Donna