My second week at Chalk Hill Residency
starts with a whipping wind, but I am not going to let that get me down. On Monday morning, I set up outside, close to the house, to stay out of the elements. I paint the shed attached to the farmhouse. (The color is a nice switch from all the green.) I sketch from inside the farmhouse and from inside the car at various locations on the property.
When it’s too windy to be outside any longer, I head inside and make color charts to help me keep my greens straight.
In the evenings, I paint small still life paintings of the very interesting and colorful objects around the house.
The “field study” is emerging – my pencil thumbnail drawings have made way for small color sketches. The first painting was done at 10 a.m. on Monday. By Wednesday, the weather has improved, and over the course of the week, if I happen to be near the field, I begin each painting on the hour, working quickly to capture the light and shadows.
On Saturday, the field looked entirely different because red clover was opening all over! If my suspicions are correct, my muse could be glowing magenta in a few days – won’t that be fun to paint!
We had visitors this week. On Thursday a group of watercolor artists from a Sonoma mental health program came to paint, and we talked about how to use color to paint a landscape, with cool colors in the background and warm colors in the foreground to create depth. It was great to be able to share art with this delightful group which comes to visit once during each artist's stay.
On Friday, Klea and Nikki, the creators of the San Francisco-based art blog, “In the Make,”
came for a studio and site visit. We had dinner at Alice's house, shared a bottle of local wine and they spent the night in the residency house before heading out on the road for a series of more studio visits from here to Vancouver, British Columbia.
An observation. The field study, laid out on the table in front of the window facing the field captures the attention of each person who comes into the farmhouse. And every one has a definite opinion on which “o’clock” is their favorite.
If the point of an artist residency is to devote time to a practice, and to explore and experiment - it is working. I may or may not come away with great paintings, but I realize now that may not be relevant. In just two weeks I have learned that I can spend hours, days, weeks focused on making art without major distraction. I begin to understand that I have a process, and am evolving a practice that is a great learning experience.
Oh, and I am finally figuring out "green."
I was up in the Sierra Mountains last weekend, having a mini-vacation at Lake Tahoe. While much the U.S. is deep in winter, there had been no new snow in Northern California since the end of December, and what was left was under the shade of majestic pines.
Painting the light effects on snow is challenging fun. I found myself reaching for white paint, but always mixing it with yellow for the bright spots and tempering it with blue and red in the shade. The sky over the lake was very bright -- more yellow than blue -- and the trees created dark silhouettes. I used big brushes and worked hard not to fuss, so it has an abstract quality -- packed into just 8 x 10 inches.
Large and beautiful pine cones were to be found all over the lakeside property, but none were more exquisite than the artful interpretation of this pine cone-inspired dessert at the Lone Eagle Grille at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort.
Called a "Baked Tahoe," this confection is built with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream upon a layer of thin brownie, covered in soft marshmallow meringue peaks that receive a toasting with a culinary blowtorch.
It's a dessert you won't want to miss -- share it with a friend!
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!
I unpacked several new frames yesterday and I am really loving the way floater frames showcase small paintings. Each of these paintings of Muir Beach -- one towards the sea, one towards the hill -- is just 6 inches square. When a small painting is placed in a traditional frame, the molding that holds the painting in place can "trim" as much as 1/4" all around. In a floater frame, the painting is mounted from the front on the frame onto a backing where it floats (see the dark line around the edge of the canvas) and the sides of the painting are exposed. The frames are 13 inches square and the finish is dark brown with hints of a red underwash and a gold border.
Muir Beach 6x6 Oil, $200
Muir Beach Hill 6x6 Oil, $200
Saying goodbye to summer isn't as hard in Northern California as it is in other locales. Right now the fog is at bay, the air is clear, the sky seems bluer and the light is spectacular. I'm counting on a gorgeous warm October so I can keep on painting outside.
"Palms" is a plein air study of a chapel building in a decommissioned military base in Marin County. Unity in Marin is very generous and allows artists to paint on their premises, which features white stucco and orange tile roofs reminiscent of California missions and Mexican haciendas. I enjoy painting locations that evoke memories of unspecified, yet familiar places, and times of year. This painting reminds me of a beautiful summer day that can go on forever.
To celebrate the official change of season on September 22, this painting will go to the highest bidder at an auction that starts LOW and has a special twist:
It's all about the number 22. I originally posted this painting on Facebook on July 22, and I recall lots of people "liking" it. I went back to the post a few days ago and checked how many. At that moment in time it was 22. I was framing new paintings yesterday and tallied how many paintings had sold so far this year. When I saw it was 22, I knew the theme for the auction. The opening bid: $22. The incremental raise:$22. If the bidding ends at $220 or higher, the winner gets the original painting, and all other bidders can have a print for $22. The bidding ends on September 22.
If you want to get in the game of 22, head over to my Facebook page
and place a bid in the comments. If you aren't on Facebook or want to bid privately, send me an email
and write "Auction Bid" in the subject line. I'll post your bid for you and keep you updated on your standing.
P.S. At 2:22 on Saturday the 22nd, you might just find me buying a lottery ticket!
P.P.S. Congratulations to the winning bidder, Jennifer Faulker from Colorado!
Often, I see a scene I like but I am not sure how it will translate to a full-size painting. So I do a "study" -- a small painting to test out my ideas. Every so often, I just like the small painting the way it is and call it a day.
"Sonoma Hay" is one of those paintings -- it's just 5 x 7 and I popped it into a standard size photo frame (with glass removed). It's the perfect size for a small wall, a side table or on a stack of books on a bookshelf. If you've wanted one of my paintings - here's a chance to get one for a song - just $150. It's available at Moss and Moss
in Mill Valley.
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!
Several months ago I was commissioned by the Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, to create an historically-inspired painting for their clubhouse. The mandate was to portray the club as it existed at the turn of the 20th century, when it was a 9-hole private course located on Sound Beach (now Tod's Point), at the waterfront estate of J. Kennedy Tod.
I was unable to travel to the site, so, with limited e-mailed reference material -- a small black and white photograph of golfers Sound Beach in 1901, a copy of a 1900 hand-drawn course map, new color photographs of the Innis Arden Cottage (which is now a community treasure on part of the town beach), and sleuthing on Google Earth -- I developed a plan to place the golfers in accurate perspective to the home and figured out the direction of sunlight for that location.
I could take some artistic liberties to help tell the story. I chose the time of day (morning light) and season (late summer/early autumn), taking clues from the golfer's clothing. No one living today would know exactly what the golfers looked like and what specific plantings were around the home. At the same time, the painting needed to be an accurate impression of the site. Without the historic cottage and a specific pair of entry gates -- the painting could be three golfers anywhere along a coastline.
Over several months, rough sketches and color studies, more photographs and videos created on iPhones were sent back and forth by e-mail with the client. My very patient husband stood in as a model for the kneeling golfer, as the reference photo was very dark, and I wanted to place him in a different direction to improve the composition.
An online artist friend who lives in a nearby town kindly sent me some of his personal photographs of the area which helped me recheck the colors of sea, sand and sky.
The finished painting measures 30 x 40 inches and will hang in the main entry of the modern-day Innis Arden Golf Club, which is a few miles away from Tod's Point.
Sometime during the next year, I will see it in it's new home and give it a protective coat of varnish. Some things, you just have to do in person!
Northern California weather has been extraordinarily mild and dry this winter. I know this is not a good thing for our snowpack water supply, but it has given me the opportunity to get outside and paint.
I joined a "Meet-Up" group of plein air painters on the last Sunday of January in Sonoma County and had a great experience. The group loosely convened about 1 p.m.and wandered off in many directions. We gathered back together late in the afternoon and showed each other what we had accomplished.
Here's a photo of my finished painting "Marsh and Mountain" on the easel. You can see my pencil sketch up in the corner.
It's now ten days later, the paint is dry, the painting is framed and ready to be shown to prospective collectors at an event this weekend.
I just discovered a new type of frame - called a floater frame. Instead of mounting a painting through the back of the frame, which hides the painting edges, you "float" the painting on a solid board and the edges show.
This is very effective with small paintings, and gives them a lot of presence on a wall.
I was able to secure this frame at a great price, so I am happy to pass along those savings.
"Tennessee Valley" is a oil painting that measures just 6 x 6 inches, and is on sale for only $150 at Moss & Moss, in Mill Valley, California.