” The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

completed oil 11x14

“The Earth Laughs in Flowers”, oil, 11×14

Mustard flowers carpet the rural landscape in the valleys of California in spring. I loved how these yellow blooms seemed to grow to the rooftop of this barn in Livermore, CA. I knew I had to paint this scene. I decided to paint in oils instead of my usual pastels.

Yellow Flowers

Start of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Mother Nature seems to scatter the seeds of the mustard flower with ease. But, the process of painting the scene in oils like pastels requires a layering of a variety of color.

mid process oil

Mid process of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Although Emerson who penned the line “The Earth Laughs in Flowers” may not have seen the golden carpets of the California spring, I think he would be pleased.

Next Trip Around the Sun

"Lake Tahoe Sunset", 19x25, pastel “Lake Tahoe Sunset”, 19×25, pastel
It is a new year and with it comes a new show. I am part of a group show at the Danville Theatre Art Gallery that opens on January 9 and runs through February 28, 2015. The show features my work and that of fellow pastel artists Ruth Hussey, Mark Mertens, Pat Suggs, Debbie Wardrope. The theme of the show is “Romantic Expressions in Pastel.” Whether or not my work is viewed as “romantic” will be the judgement of the viewers. But, I do know that I need to feel a tug of the heart to commit to a painting and all that is involved.
“Lake Tahoe Sunset” was inspired by the view from the overlook on the Mt. Rose highway between Incline Village and Reno last October. It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment when viewers stopped and took in the magical display of light and color in the sky and on the lake. My reference photo served to remind me of it. I used Sennelier La Carte sanded paper which seems to work well for the clouds in the sky. My pastels included a variety of Unisons, Terry Ludwigs, Giraults, Rembrandts, and NuPastels.

Spring Fever

“Spring Fever” was everywhere at The Bouquets to Art exhibit that interprets the art of the De Young Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco. I love the interpretations of floral designs of the various art works. “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming, ” wrote Pablo Neruda. In this year of a drought in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California, winter did not show its face. So, the idea of a coming of spring doesn’t have the same meaning that it does it other parts of the country. But, even so, Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” Enjoy these images of Spring Fever at the De Young.

Metcalf's" Winter's Festival" & Alexander

Metcalf’s” Winter’s Festival” & Alexander

From Bouquets to Art 2014

From Bouquets to Art 2014

From Bouquets to Art 2014

From Bouquets to Art 2014

From Bouquets to Art 2014

From Bouquets to Art 2014

Do Wine Drinkers Vote More Often?

“Tell me what you drink, I’ll tell you how you vote.” This interesting topic was illustrated with a chart in the Wine Spectator Magazine and has been going around Facebook lately. The chart shows that Republicans were surveyed to be more likely to drink Robert Mondavi and that Democrats were more likely to prefer Smoking Loon. It seems risky to divide wine drinkers into red and blue states, rather than red or white wine enthusiasts. At my artist reception held earlier this month at Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room in Livermore, I did not survey the wine choice of Morning Fog (white) or Southern Hills (red) and the political preferences of my guests. I enjoyed visiting with friends and discussing my seventeen pastel paintings that are on display for the month of March in the tasting room on Tesla Road.
Here are some of the paintings that are included in the exhibit:

"Wente Vineyards - Cresta Blanca", pastel 11x17

“Wente Vineyards – Cresta Blanca”, pastel

Vineyard Symphony, pastel, 11x17

Vineyard Symphony, pastel, 11×17

"Between the Vines", pastel, 18x24

“Between the Vines”, pastel, 18×24

Wente Vineyards founded in 1883 has a strong tradition of wine making and is a beautiful venue for my 17 paintings on exhibit for the month of March. The winery also includes handcrafted small lot wines that compliment the tradition of realism in landscape painting. And now, do you prefer red or white wine with your art?

Why Are Barns Red?

"Old Barn in Spring", pastel, 11 x17

“Old Barn in Spring”, pastel, 11 x17

It is February already! It is the month of Valentine’s Day when we hope someone thinks of us with tokens of love, the color red and flowers. January found me busy with this painting, “Old Barn in Spring.” The focal point of the painting is the red barn. The color of the red barn made me wonder why barns are painted red. They have been called “architectural poppies” that contrast with green grass. According to Catherine Bauer of Colorado and others that have researched the topic, early settlers in America painted huge barns that symbolized great hopes and plans for life in the New World. Farmers began painting barns after the 1700’s with skimmed milk, lime, and red oxide. Linseed oil and often blood was also added to the mixture. Some farmers thought that red painted barns kept them warmer inside in winter.

Red is the color of Valentine hearts. It is also symbolic of a zest for life. In design it is used to attract attention. In this painting I think the solidity and timeless quality of the weathered barn contrasts with the fleeting nature of the delicate pink of the fruit tree in the foreground.

Technical elements of the painting: I first blocked in the scene from a reference photo with pastel and set the under painting with a wash of water. The original scene did not have the pathway and foreground fencing which I added as a compositional element to invite the viewer into the painting. There were several vanishing points due to the various hills which made for a few challenges.

I hope the month of February brings you more symbols of the color red!

Sunday’s Bouquet

Sunflowers are featured in my latest painting, “Sunday’s Bouquet” which is a garden scene behind Asbury Church in Livermore. In many traditions the sunflower symbolizes faith, life giving force, longevity, happiness, and loyalty. Sunflowers seem to bask in the warm glow of the sun and even grow towards the sun’s path. The color yellow is symbolic of happiness and in the Chinese tradition the flower represents life and good luck. In Christianity it symbolizes unwavering faith. 

The reference photo needed some additional color and I emphasized the sunflowers and used some artistic license to rearrange some of the colors of the flowers to add interest.

Photo of garden

Photo of garden

"Sunday's Bouquet", pastel 11x17

“Sunday’s Bouquet”, pastel 11×17

Impressionists on the Water

  • The Legion of Honor Art Museum on Land’s End in San Francisco invited me to demonstrate plein air painting on the final day of the show, “Impressionists on the Water” exhibit. This show coordinated with the America’s Cup Race. It was a great opportunity for me and three other artists from the Frank Bette Center of the Arts to paint on location on the front lawn of the art museum on a beautiful, clear October day.
    Legion Plein Air

    Legion Plein Air

    The Golden Gate Bridge and the Headlands are the stunning view from the Legion of Honor. I toned my Wallis paper with a warm peach before beginning the sketch for my 10×14 pastel.
    Progress on Golden Gate Bridge

    Progress on Golden Gate Bridge

    The afternoon was more about sharing the process “plein air” painting than polished piece. It was exciting to be associated with the exhibit of the famous impressionists such as Renoir, Monet, and my personal favorite Gustave Caillebotte. After demonstrating that painting on location is alive today, I was able to take in the exhibit on the last hours in San Francisco.
    Then it was on to dinner at the Beach Chalet Restaurant. How lucky to have a window table as the sun slipped in to Pacific.
    Pacific Sunset

    Pacific Sunset

  • Plein Air Week

    It was quite a week painting in the Frank Bette Arts Center Plein Air Paint Out from July 29 – August 3, 2013. Forty artists were invited to paint on location in Alameda, CA and show their art work at the show and sale on Saturday at the South Shore Shopping Center.
    Monday: I arrived at the Arts Center to have my blank pastel boards to be stamped to show that no work was started before the appointed time. After searching for parking, I set up my easel for painting Park St. Antiques in the commercial hub of Alameda.

    On location - Park Street, Alameda

    On location – Park Street, Alameda

    Here is the completed painting of the Park St. Antique store which sponsored a page in next year’s calendar.
    Park Street Antiques

    Park Street Antiques

    Tuesday: A windy and cool day to paint a sailboat by the Encinal Yacht Club. I was happy with my color and soft focus of the distant hills and fog. The challenge was to simplify the busy scene and to model the hull of the white sailboat. In the end, I think I need to show more contrast in the shadow to have this read correctly. I got lost in time and enjoyed the scene, but need to work on SPEED PAINTING! Each night there were social events planned which is great for exchanging ideas with like minded plein air painters. It was great fun and hors d’oeuvres at Dragon Rouge Thai on deck beside the estuary one night and a member’s backyard another evening. The forty artists came from CO, NC, Northern and Southern CA.
    Wednesday: Quick Draw check in required an additional stamp before heading out to paint the Victorians around Grand St. I painted an Eastlake cottage on Paru Street. The contrast of the soft landscaping against the moss green clapboards caught my attention. But, what a challenge to paint the off white gingerbread trim by 1 pm! It was a mad dash to frame the piece in the back of my car and return for the hanging and show by 2pm. Note to self: Smaller size paintings next time – 9×12 or so.
    Quick Draw - Schwalm Home

    Quick Draw – Schwalm Home

    Thursday: Enough working on fussy architecture! It was time to savor the landscape by the San Francisco Bay. So, I set up the easel in the sand dunes along Alameda Beach with the beautiful softness of wildflowers called “Sea Rocket” and “Coastal Buckwheat”.
    Easel set up at Alameda Beach

    Easel set up at Alameda Beach

    Alameda Beach

    Alameda Beach

    Friday: The day was dedicated to tweaking the three paintings this week, photographing, and framing them for the show and sale.
    Saturday: The big reveal! Check-in and hang paintings on panels with fishing line attached by nails in the top edge. The South Shore Shopping Center in Alameda hosted the Show from 10 to 5. I was competing and exhibitng with many talented artists. The juror was Kay Carlson. Although I did not earn a top prize, I did win the Calendar Award and $100 prize for my painting “Park Street Antiques”. The Frank Bette Calendar for 2014 will have a month with my painting featured. Then I checked in the Beach and Antique Store paintings to be exhibited at the Art Center from August 9th through September 28th. What a week. It is getting time for a vacation!img_1638

    In Southwest Art Magazine!

    Southwest Art Magazine, Aug. 2013 Southwest Art Magazine, Aug. 2013

    The August issue of Southwest Art Magazine is on the newstands. On pages 16 & 17 there is an ad for the upcoming Frank Bette Plein Air Paint Out which features 40 artists who are invited to paint outdoors in Alameda, CA. My pastel painting, “On Golden Hill” is included along with my website. I am excited to be in this beautiful art journal that has a national audience.

    The Paint Out is next week beginning on July 29th when we get our substrates (paper, board, or canvas) stamped and paint on location on the island of Alameda in preparation for the Exhibit and Sale on Sat., Aug. 3 from 10 to 5 at the South Shore Shopping Center at Otis and Park Street. It is a challenge to produce 3 paintings worthy of exhibition by Saturday. We will be hitting the tree-lined streets, historic Victorian architecture, lagoons, Estuary, and beaches with views of the San Francisco Bay in search of the perfect scene that inspires and may capture the heart of a collector.

    And on the subject of collectors… My painting, “On Golden Hill” of the Eckersly barn outside of Crockett, CA painted during the Valona Paint Out has been sold to a painting friend and collector in Livermore. As much as I get attached to painting, it is always rewarding to have others support my work.

    California Gold

    It was the discovery of gold in the hills of California that brought the 49’ers to seek their fortunes. There is still gold to be found at the Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, CA .  The 44 lb. specimen of Crystalline Gold Leaf displayed at the Museum at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys, CA  is the world’s largest of its kind. That is one reason to visit the area in addition to tasting some great wines paired with great food and viewing the art at the 16th Spring Obsession Art Show and Sale.  The Avocado, Tomato, and Marcarpone Stuffed Shells paired with the 2011 Obsession Symphony wine was my favorite pairing at the artists reception on March 2nd.  It was also fun to spend the evening with fellow East Bay Area artist Robin Leimer.

    44 lb Crystalline Gold

    44 lb Crystalline Gold

    My painting “Daffodil Hill” was selected to be shown in the Theme Division and is on exhibit in the Alhambra Music Room through May 12th. While the vintners wait for the growth on the grape vines, the daffodils were beginning to show their own golden hues. I set up my easel by the miner’s shack where gold panning was offered. Instead of panning for flakes of gold, I shuffled through my assorted sticks of pale yellows, golden yellows, and bright orange yellows to suggest the colorful array of daffodils on the verdant hillside.

    "Daffodil Hill"

    “Daffodil Hill” on display – Ironstone Vineyards

    On location at Ironstone

    On location at Ironstone

    It was great to have our friends the Nelsons stop by while I was painting before they went to the winery tasting room and the art show.  Here is my interpretation of the scene.  It was a beautiful spring day for painting at Ironstone Vineyards.

    "California Gold",

    “California Gold”, pastel, 11×14