I learned something about the tulip trees...

I love tulip trees (Liriodendron) - the shape of the leaves most of all probably. Large cup-like flowers with intricate shapes and crazy pattern, a lovely set of colors. The almost cone-like seedpods. Pointy remains of seed pods that make a naked tree look even more interesting than just a naked tree. The shape of the overall tree - it's awkwardness without leaves and might with them. How much shade it gives. The fact that they are related to magnolias.

But one thing always bothered me - the sticky sap on some of them. But not on others. I never could figure out the pattern, then remembered to search online and...

"Tulip tree aphids (Illinoia liriodendri) commonly feed on the underside of the tree's leaves early in the growing season. Aphids feed on tree sap and cause pale, yellow spots on leaves and may also make leaves curl or pucker and distort blooms. The insects ingest more sap than they need and secrete the excess as honeydew, which leads to sooty mold."

Report About My Urban Sketcher's Workshop: "The Joy of Gouache"

I had the honor of running one of the 10 Urban Sketchers workshops in the Bay Area this year. We gathered near the Menlo Park library on a lovely sunny weekend in April. The title of the workshop was "The Joy of Gouache" and that is what we did: enjoyed some gouache.

USK Workshop "The Joy of Gouache" 4-27-19
Each participant received a small sketchbook and an airtight gouache palette (just like the one I am using every day) with testing amount of gouache paints. I brought all kinds of things for people to try - from pens and pencils to brushes and viewfinders, different kinds of toned paper and additional types and colors of gouache.

USK Workshop "The Joy of Gouache" 4-27-19

I shared the way my plein air gouache set-up works and demonstrated some techniques and did all the exercises with participants.

USK Workshop "The Joy of Gouache" 4-27-19
It was a great experience - to have this amazing group of people who showed with lots of enthusiasm and worked hard on all the exercises I laid in front of them. I came home charged with lots of ideas for new gouache paintings and workshops!
(most of the photos here are by workshop participants)

Why palm trees get a haircut?

I love unkempt palm trees and never understood why people insist on this intrusion into the life of a tree. Recently I found out that the reason is that rats and raccoons live in those crazy trees and I loved it. Though now I think twice before I park myself to sketch under one of them :)

I saw a group of people singing while trimming palm trees once. They were working in harnesses, using large machete knives and were laughing and keeping the rhythm of the song with their work. I hope all of the palm trees are getting a haircut with songs and laughter.