Saturday, February 3, 2018


I've finished and posted a new watercolor at my Etsy Site - Watercolors by Leenie.

It is of an antique pitcher and basin I saw on a table in the ghost town of Custer, Idaho. 

Late in the 1800's Custer, Idaho was a booming gold mining town. When the gold played out it was abandoned. Today Custer has been restored and preserved for history. Some of the items in the buildings were left behind by former inhabitants. Others are antiques from that era.
By a sunny window decorated with lace curtains, this pitcher and basin reflected the light. I tried to capture the pearlescent colors and the shine of the surfaces. All the time I was painting I was thinking of pioneer women who brought fine china to display in their houses as they worked to call this rustic place home.

"Ironstone" is my 11x15 inch ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR painted on Arches 140cp watercolor paper with Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith professional pigments. This is a one of a kind work of art.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


After being right in the path of the total solar eclipse in August of last year it was a bonus to learn there would be another show put on by the moon at the end of January.

 Astronomers were saying this kind of lunar event hasn’t been seen since 1866---or 1982. 

So I got up before dawn to see the second full moon in a month (blue moon) happening when the moon is supposed to be larger and brighter because it is closer in its orbit (super moon) which ALSO coincided with a total lunar eclipse (blood moon)—BUT the sky was cloudy.

Since I was already up I decided to put on my warm clothes and go for a walk.

 I walked out into the street just as the clouds were beginning to break up so I got a good view of the moon coming out of the earth’s shadow.
By the time I’d crossed Main Street and made my way to the park…

…the day was beginning and the big full moon was returning to its normal brightness.

In other news…

 This neighborhood which was leveled in the spring of 2016…

 …now looks like this.  It is with mixed feelings that I watch our little town turn into a big town.  More stores mean more convenience.

More businesses, services and schools mean more opportunities.

 But more people also brings more traffic and more crowds.   We try to hang on to the small town friendliness but it seems to be leaving with our open views of the skies.

Friday, January 5, 2018

OREGON COAST September 2017 – Part 5 - The Final Chapter

Instead of returning across the Oregon desert I drove north up the coast. One of the attractions there is the wreck of the Peter Iredale. It was a steel sailing ship which was grounded on the sand at the mouth of the Columbia River during a storm in 1906.

During World War II Japanese submarines fired several shells at the wreck thinking it was part of Fort Stevens just up the coast. No damage was done to the ship or the fort and Fort Stevens didn’t return fire so as not to reveal their location.

After a few photos I continued on up the beach.
Fort Stevens was built during the Civil War 1864-1865. It was an active military post until 1947 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The defensive walls around the fort give a great view of the shipping traffic moving between the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.

It was only a short drive to Astoria, Oregon where I made a stop at the Astoria Column, a 125 foot high tower on the hill overlooking the city and the river. It is painted with murals commemorating the history of the area.
I drove my little Subaru into the traffic crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge and took the 4 mile trip across the river to Washington State.

The last time I visited this part of the country we missed Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. I made steep hike up the trail to the lighthouse which has a view of the 6-mile-wide mouth of the river. The U.S. Coast Guard keeps watch there over an area known worldwide for rough sea conditions. Nearby is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center which marks where The Corps of Discovery finally reached their goal.

Due to the Eagle Creek fire near the town of Cascade Locks, all traffic was closed on Interstate 84. So I had to take the winding two lane Highway 14 along the Washington side of the river.

The firefighters were trying to slow the progress of the wildfire but the whole river canyon was choked with smoke. The fire started September 5 and with the dry conditions and wind it continued to grow and spread. It wasn’t contained until November and by then had burned over 48 thousand acres.

It took over an hour of driving east to get clear of the smoke and ashes in the air.

I stopped by the Maryhill Museum of Art. It sits high above the river on the Washington side and was originally supposed to be a mansion where the entrepreneur Sam Hill and his wife would entertain guests.

Among other things, it houses a nice cross section of sculpture and art from European and United States artists plus a display of Native American art.

Three miles away on the bluff is a replica of Stonehenge. It was also commissioned by Sam Hill as a memorial to people who had died in World War II. This was one of the places to be during the 2017 Solar Eclipse.

Alas, I finally had to leave the green forests, orchards and vineyards of the coast and drive on east across the high deserts of Oregon and Idaho to return home. Total miles: 2,098.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

OREGON COAST September 2017 – Part 4—Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Seaside

The watercolor artist retreat met at Manzanita, Oregon. Manzanita is a beach town located on The Pacific Coast Highway between Seaside and Tillamook.

It has a huge flat beach which has many moods depending on the weather and tides.

At the north end of the long beach is Neahkahnie Mountain. If you wander way up the beach from town you can even see where the ocean has worn a hole through the headland.

Here is my version of the arch. 

The town is a quiet place but with plenty going on in the way of food, arts and recreation.
If you sit on the hill just above the beach to sketch, you’ll find plenty of scenery plus a good measure of people watching.

 The sunsets are well worth waiting for.

Usually September on the Oregon coast is called “second summer” because of the mild sunny weather. But this time the wind was heavy and the seas rough on several days.

So we got opportunities for challenging seascapes.

I made a trip up the coast to visit Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock.

If you know where to look, you can see Tillamook Lighthouse built on a hunk of rock about a mile off shore. It has quite a history since the waves can be tumultuous and the fog heavy. Just building it cost several lives and many others followed trying to maintain the light to warn ships off the rocks. It was decommissioned in 1957.

It was a windy day when I visited Seaside South Beach to see if I could spot the gray whales reported in the water there.

These young Heermann’s gulls were hunkered down and waiting for better weather to go fishing. I didn’t see any whales.

So I went into town and had lunch at Norma’s. Great food.

If you’re in the mood for saltwater taffy, Seaside Candyman has 180 flavors. I picked out anything with chocolate plus some other kinds to share with the family at home.

For more of my watercolor paintings visit my Etsy Shop.  Or click on the Watercolors by Leenie button on the upper left of this blog page.

Monday, January 1, 2018

OREGON COAST September 2017 – Part 3—Barns, School, Beach

The final part of my drive to the Pacific took me past Newberg and on by scenic farms and vineyards then along Highway 6 through Tillamook State Forest. I stopped several times to take photos.

I later made a painting of this barn. I call this one “Transition.” The changes of time gives old barns so much character. Also you can see the transition from near to far by the shade of the hills in the background.

This huge building has a sign on it which says, “The Christmas Barn.”

Here is my portrait of the place. Both these paintings are for sale at my Etsy Site: Watercolors by Leenie. 

When I came through the forest into the valley near the town of Tillamook, Oregon I looked up the Maple Leaf School.

It has been restored from an empty building with blackberry bushes growing through the floors to what is now the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center.

In 1924-26 my father attended school there. This is a painting I made from old photos for him while he was still alive.

His mother saved most of his report cards. This is one from his second grade. He was a pretty good student!

Here is a photo of him in first grade. This was not at the Tillamook School but from farther north along the Oregon coast in Warrenton. Dad is third from the left in the middle row.

Now, on the stage where he may have sung in programs with his classmates, was a display of textile art.

And the room where my dad practiced arithmetic and spelling was filled with looms and spinning wheels.

That evening I reached my destination and was finally out of the heavy smoke from the surrounding wildfires. Air quality had gone from unhealthy to hazardous over Oregon as the huge fire just east of Portland spread causing evacuations of towns along the Columbia. Even with all the efforts of the fire fighters, the forests continued to burn for weeks. The month was dubbed, “Smoketember” by the Oregon news reporters.