Plein Air Field Trip


Bug’s class had a plein air field trip to the beach this last Monday. You know I signed up to chaperone that trip! I’ll skip the mile walk to the farm in the sun, the overnight trip on the boat with pirate ghost stories and even the sing-along at some fancy schmancy concert hall but I am NOT going to miss out on a trip to the beach with painting.


That is MY KINDA field trip! I was supposed to schlep water to and from the bathroom to the children’s painting stations and supervise a bunch of rowdy kids on the beach who weren’t supposed to be getting wet (heh-to-the-heh on that) but when one of the teachers said I could sneak off and paint some too I was on that like a fly on… well, you know. I was ON IT!

I love love love painting outside and what could be more beautiful to paint than a foggy day at the beach?plein-air-painting-3

It’s funny. So many people moan and complain when a day like this comes along. Where is the sun? Where is the blue sky? Where are all the vibrant colors? How am I supposed to wear a bathing suit and get a tan on a day like this?!  You know what I say? Where are all the hordes of tourists?! Shut up and be thankful and consider this your one way ticket to your own private beach. How often do you get the beach to yourself? Not often!!


Personally, I love the colors of the beach when it’s foggy. I say this all the time and my long time readers will probably know what I’m going to say before I even say it. The beach is different every day. I used to walk it every day, Bug and I and our big fat jogger stroller. Every day it was a different ombre paint stick of beauty. Soft blues and grays, shades of lavender and beige blending with softness and then the next day zillions of bright red tiny lobsters might show up out of no where. You never know what you are going to get. The sky and water are constantly going back and forth in a playful battle over who’s going play the biggest color or lack of color card. You come to appreciate the subtleties when you see it every day. The foggy days are more personal, like a soft moody hug from nature.



But back to painting. We all had so much fun. They had different artists from the community helping the kids in groups of ten or so. It was a brilliant plan and you would not believe how the kids ate it up. The squirrely boys who can’t focus their attention span on anything that isn’t bouncing or loud, were quiet and focused. The shy girls who usually fade into the walls were shining with talent. It was just a great mix of involvement. Nobody fails at plein air painting. It’s an emotional experience and no painting is wrong. It’s how you interpret the colors and your palette. I was amazed at how good their paintings were. Blur your eyes and you might even think their works of blurry art were photographs.


I think they learned more about creativity and their own potential on this day than they probably did all year. I’m always for kids getting outside and learning. They will never forget the memories they made on this day.


Of course my beach girl was in her element, showing off her billy goat climbing skills like she learned to walk on the beach or something (she did).


It was just really fun. I am loving these years. Bug and I had a picnic lunch together and pretended that our peanut and butter sandwiches were fancy French pastries. Because that’s not really a stretch for us.


Her class had a blast. I imagine some of them haven’t really been to the beach that much, if at all. It’s always good to see kids let lose and have a little fun. You should have seen so many of them jumping in the waves, shoes and all. They had no fear of cold feet or the bus ride home with itchy uncomfortable sand in their shoes. They were just there in the moment full of joy.


Maybe we all need a little more foggy joy in our lives. I apologize for the nice neat bow ending but you know what I mean.


2016 Christmas Photos


We got our Christmas pictures taken last month. It’s the second year we’ve had Vanessa Brooke take them for us and I absolutely love them. I don’t care what kind of middle-class, white-woman bandwagon, marketing ploy I’m on…it’s just cool to take family pictures every year and since I design Christmas cards for a living (well, at least one month of the year I do) I might as well make some for us too!  So that’s why I still send Christmas cards. Don’t judge.

I love seeing how much the girls change from year to year. It’s going to be hard to take last year’s photos off the wall because last year’s were really cool too. I haven’t aged as well as I’d like and I think I look better last year but whatever, right?! Time marches on!  I only have so much wall space. Next year I’ll probably feel the same way about this year’s.


Last year (I can’t find my old post on last year’s photos. Did I not post them? Musta been on Facebook only.) we had our pictures taken out in the country, walking through brush and amongst oak trees. It was so pretty. I love how the magical sunset time of day makes everyone seem all aglow.

This year Vanessa asked us if we wanted to do country, city or beach and the kids picked beach of course. I was voting for city but obviously my vote means zip. I was stressing big time too because the beach kinda knocks out all my favorite shoes. I was planning on wearing my boots, that I wear every day with everything, but that’s not gonna work with sand and surf. Flip flops seemed too casual and heels were obviously not an option.

Thankfully the day we took these photos turned out to be unseasonably warm and I wouldn’t have wanted to wear boots anyway. In fact, we all made completely different outfit choices because it was so hot! But I like it. It’s more representative of our usual Southern California lifestyle.  We don’t dress up. No Christmas sweaters here. Sometimes a random outfit from the back of the closet shows a better slice of life than some perfectly chosen one.


The orange loafers that I chose out of desperation last minute are probably my favorite thing about our Christmas card photo this year. Sometimes the wrong thing is just right.


Like kids pretending to get along just for a photo. Just kidding. They actually got along great this day because, duh we were at the beach and there were about a thousand Pokemon creatures to catch that we’d never seen before.


Most of my favorite shots are of us on this rock where you can’t even see the ocean. I don’t mind though. I love the rough texture of the rock and the colors.

November is prime beach-photo-taking season and everywhere you looked there were other families doing the exact same thing. It was hard for Vanessa to get a shot of us with the ocean in the background without having to do hours and hours of photoshop to clone out everyone else. But she managed.


Then the sun went down and we got this goober shot.

Thank you Vanessa!