Black-necked stilt.

Wherever I end up on tour, I try to establish a sense of place and relation to place by walking around, studying and sketching plants, birds, the lay of the land. Time in nature helps me understand where I am and can be very sustaining.

I especially like birds. They bring personality and life to a place. At my stop in Bellevue, the back yard connected with a large section of undeveloped canyon slope. The backyard birds there were varied, abundant, and interesting - jays, finches, hummingbirds, and on and on. Two stops later, in Burlingame, there were no such wild corridors nearby, not many birds of note, but my host, Tim, took me the the Palo Alto wetlands - which was teeming with shorebirds, like this one.

I don't usually make paintings of birds on tour, but during this trip I made several.

Tim, incidentally, is a good friend from high school days. Although the IAP tends to work better when I stay with strangers, it can be nice to see old friends.

He and I watched Monty Python before anyone else knew about it, trained barefoot for track, and took a lot of classes together - including a sort of private tutorial on British Lit that a favorite teacher put together for us. We never read the standard greats of American fiction but got a good dose of poetry, from Beowulf to Auden. Now Tim is on the Board of Directors for Sony, and I'm a wandering artist with very little to my name but a stack of paintings. An interesting juxtaposition as we might say in literature class.

Tim's wife is Japanese. We discussed the potential of an Itinerant Artist tour in Japan, perhaps following one of the routes taken by the 17th century poet, Basho, during his celebrated literary wanderings. For someone like myself who actually finds travel very taxing (my project being more about finding a meaningful context for art and building connections through art than sightseeing), a trip to Japan would be quite a challenge. But it might be exciting to bring the project to a culture that celebrates wandering poets.