March 31, 2011. "From the earth's loosened mould,The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives; Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold, The drooping tree revives." (from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "An April Day") Although the month of March ended today with darkness and rain, the hope of April tomorrow brings joy. And nature reflects the hope of us all, for new life and strength, both now and forever.
March 30, 2011. I was raised in Long Beach, California, and mornings were often bluish-gray from the marine layer that came off the sea. So I feel fortunate when I can experience a clear sunrise. My favorite has to be after a night of rain, when you can tell it's going to be a nice day, and everything is fresh.
March 29, 2011. A huge thanks to our friends, Peter and Monika, who once again gave us their house in Meiringen for the weekend to enjoy. Like so many others, there just isn't money this year for vacations or anything extra, so offering their house to us is just a wonderful gift. Carrie and I had two days to just talk and be together without interruptions. This sketch was done on Saturday, while we sat on the dock in Brienz and marveled at the amazing color of the glacier-fed lake, then later walked quite a ways along the shore before stopping for a coffee.
March 28, 2011. We were back in Meiringen this past weekend, and I took some time to sit across from a couple old structures on the main street in town and sketch this. A lady who lives in the building there on the left came out to see my sketch and told me that she also works in watercolor. The old hotel there on the right is completely empty and will soon be renovated. With all the dark windows, I found it a mysterious place, especially being in the town famous for Sherlock Holmes' death.
March 24, 2011. I was thinking about putting a new flag on this blog yesterday, and as I was walking home from work I got to this point on the trail and decided this image best represents my life at the moment. So I came home and drew the image as I remember it. Not only does this image symbolize where I'm at, but it represents my life here in southern Germany so well. I have walked this trail hundreds of times, on good days, bad days, misty and cold days, bright and warm days. When I think about life here in this part of the world, this is what comes to mind.
March 20, 2011. A truly beautiful day in southern Germany today. My daughter was in France, playing with her orchestra group in a church there, while my son was with a friend. So that left my wife and the dog and I to tromp through the countryside a little and enjoy God's great wonders. I finally pulled out a gouache set that I bought a couple years ago and decided to try it out. I sketched (painted) this just outside of the little village of Feuerbach, not far from where we used to live.
March 20, 2011. Give me the freedom to express my thoughts and my opinions, but do not give me the freedom to use my words to bring slander on another person, to tear apart a person's reputation with lies. Give me freedom to express myself through art or music, but do not give me freedom to debase what is sacred, to degrade what is pure. Give me freedom to worship, but do not give me freedom to force others to wear my cross or whatever symbol represents my belief. Give me the freedom to enjoy all that was made for me to enjoy, but do not give me the freedom to take it from others.
March 15, 2011. We were running very low on gas today, so after work I drove down to Basel to take advantage of the low gas prices- about $6.00 to the gallon compared to much higher prices in Germany. I pulled the car over after filling up to sketch the gas station. Even though I was sitting in my car to draw this, it was nice to know I didn't have to, as the weather has been warming up considerably.
March 14, 2011. The sun was out today and it felt good. All I want to do is put on my boots and start pounding into the woods. There's nothing like it in the world. If I get far enough back, I can't hear the cars; just the wind in the branches overhead, a few birds, and the rhythmic sound of my feet landing on the earth. I can't take a walk without getting philosophical about it. There's so much wisdom in the process. One step at a time, over the steep parts, the level parts, following the trail, breathing.
March 13, 2011. When I read about the Japan earthquake, how the island was literally moved a few feet over, and how the earth's axis was slightly changed- or when I see footage of the ocean overflowing its boundaries, I am reminded again of my smallness. And, the earth itself is but a grain of sand amongst the galaxies around us. Who am I to think I have any leverage even upon my own existence? I quietly watch and wonder, and the earth continues on its voyage, before my life and after it, lead by an unseen hand.
March 12, 2011. I had to draw something today, because my attempt to fix a toilet was such a failure. I made 4 long trips to the hardware store, and now the thing is worse than when I started. In fact, it looks like we'll be without a toilet on our main floor for a month now. It's ok. We were without one on our upstairs floor most of the fall, and we managed. Anyway, I determined not to get frustrated, took a long walk to blow off steam, then came home and made up this picture. I just can't figure why I decided to park the car right in the middle of the drawing!
March 11, 2011. Here's a new drawing with a recycled theme from 2008, when I drew the shopping cart lady crossing the street in Lyon. This time it's an artist on his way to show his work. I prefer the top image, as that's the way I envisioned it from the start. Like everyone, I am stunned by the images of the earthquakes and tsunami waves in Japan today, and feel terrible for those who are suffering. Our prayers and thoughts go out to those who are impacted by this disaster.
March 10, 2011. Would you put your face on a website for millions of people to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10? You may have heard about the website like this that sold back in 2008 for $20 million. It's amazing how much we value what other people think of us, even if it's just our looks or our clothes or the hunk of metal we drive around. Thank God our true worth has nothing to do with any of those things.
March 9, 2011. When I was a kid, I remember going on a river rafting trip down the river that passes John Sutter's property. We parked the raft and walked around the location where gold was first discovered, sparking the infamous gold rush of 1848. My grandpa even took me panning for gold around there once or twice. Now I live in Kandern, where he was born, and I drive by the house where he grew up almost every day. His life story is a sad one, though, as he never attained the significance and security he thought would bring satisfaction to his life.
And, here's a sketch I forgot to post from a few days ago of Josh Fox.
March 8, 2011. A page in my sketchbook for two of my nephews back in California. Can you guys name this former Los Angeles Dodger? If you think you can, send me an email with his name and you'll win a prize!
March 7, 2011. I went down to Lenk, Switzerland this past weekend with my daughter and 200 other teenagers for a high school retreat. Although I didn't get much sleep, I enjoyed time with the kids and the amazing scenery. On Saturday afternoon, while everyone was skiing, I walked into town and did a little sketching, enjoying God's creation and a bit of Swiss architecture.
March 3, 2011. Camille Pissarro had a son named Félix, and painted a portrait of him sitting in a red chair. The young boy looks a bit like he doesn't want to be there. For one thing, he's a boy, and most boys that age do not like sitting still in a chair for any length of time. I should know, as I'm a teacher. I'm sure his father asked him to sit very still while he painted him. For another thing, the poor boy desperately needs a haircut, as many people would mistake him for a young girl. I took my son to get a haircut this past week. In fact, I took my dog to get a haircut on the same day. They both were looking shaggy, and it was hard to tell who was who. Now they both look sharp. My question for today is, "What if Pissarro's son rode the Metro?"
March 1, 2011. I consider myself very fortunate, in that love has surrounded me my entire life. It's true, there were times when I took it for granted, or even doubted its existence, but looking back I see that it was there all along. Someone was always looking out for me. How I ever met my dear wife is a mystery and a miracle. God knows I have never earned or even deserved such love. And, by the way, love is clearly more than romance and roses, although no one would throw them out. It seems to have more to do with sickness than health, and poverty than riches. Love is closely related to diapers and bills, headaches and fender benders. Love is faithfulness. It is forgiveness. Love endures.