I am off to the Sierra Mountains of California, near Lake Tahoe for a weeklong painting trip with 3 painting friends. The snow on the ground was nearly melted when I was there last month, so I have been expecting a week filled with budding trees, blue skies and closed ski resorts. But now the weather report says "CHANCE OF SNOW!" In preparation for this trip, I've inventoried all my paint colors, given my brushes a good clean, and stocked up on wet panel carriers. I've learned lots of interesting tips for cold weather painting, including standing on a dark blue yoga mat in the snow. The reason? To keep feet dry and to cut down on the snow's reflection under the easel. That's a great idea, and one more item to add to the packing list.
“Here, surrounded by a thriving vineyard, oak groves, hills and valleys, these creative artists will be able to concentrate on their work free from the concerns, responsibilities and distractions of their normal surroundings.” - John Carl Warnecke
In just over two weeks I will be headed off to my first Artist-in-Residence program, the Chalk Hill Residency, in Sonoma County, California.
The concept for the residency is based on the vision of the late John Carl Warnecke, an internationally renowned architect (1919-2010). In 1983 he laid out plans for an artist retreat on his family's 280-acre ranch and vineyard property near the town of Healdsburg, bordering the Russian River.
I am one of 11 artists chosen this year, and part of an interesting mix of painters, sculptors, writers, sound artists, musicians who have been awarded the residency since it began in 2011. During my three weeks, I will be living in a farmhouse and spending my days roaming the property painting the landscape. I will also have a studio space on site. It looks like an amazing place. I don't fully know what to expect once I get there, and for someone as organized as me, that is a leap of faith. In the meantime, I'll be making lists and packing paints and building wet canvas carriers. There may be an Open Studio day, and perhaps a show...I'll keep you posted!
Several months ago, I commented on a Facebook friend's picture of her three beautiful children on a beach, "I would LOVE to paint that."
What a thrill and surprise to get a message a few weeks ago asking if I would be interested and able to paint the image as a Christmas gift for the children's father.
Painting on an inch-thick birch panel treated with traditional gesso (marble dust and rabbit-skin glue), with brush and palette knife, allows the juicy texture of the paint brushstrokes to show on the surface.
It's an impressionistic landscape portrait that was a joy to paint. If you have a favorite image or location you would like captured and interpreted in oil paint, I'd be happy to discuss a commission with you!
Northern California summer starts when the hills turn from green to yellow to gold. I've been painting outdoors a lot during the past few weeks and every day the changes become more obvious. I've got several plein air paintings in various stages of drying, waiting to be photographed and posted on my website.
Plein air painting, while not officially a sport, is a good workout. First you have to pack your backpack (paints, thinner, brushes, palette, canvas panel, towels, garbage bags, clamps, bungee cords, sunscreen, hat, collapsible umbrella, water and a power bar) and your easel (in my case, a "guerilla" box and a tripod) and then drive to your previously scouted location. Then you either "car paint" if your vista is viewable from the side of the road or you hike. And then you stand for a few hours, stepping back and forth to check how the painting is coming along.
So, if you see a painter on the side of the road while you are out for your run or ride, wave or say hey. We sports people need to stick together!
I came to touch the time-worn railings and floor, to smell the turpentine, to flick the brushes and stare at the jars of pigments -- to walk and shop in the same art supply store as Cezanne and Picasso. This is Sennelier, housed on the Left Bank of the River Seine in Paris, directly across from the Louvre museum.
My recent trip to France provided lots of visual inspiration - the flowers at Giverny, the countryside of Normandy, the seaside towns of Deauville, Trouville, Honfleur and Entretat. Everywhere I went, the beloved Impressionist artists had been before.
But visiting Sennelier, a family-owned business since 1887 - that was retail heaven!