Spring Forward/Fall Back

It’s the first day of spring, yet I am falling back to a painting of autumn. There is a natural lag of time between the inspiration from a season to the completion of a painting. Perhaps I am like the fashion industry which seems to have the timing of the seasons out of synch with the actual outdoor temperature.  Either I am ahead of my time or behind the time. I’ll let you decide.

I was inspired by the warm colors or red, rusts, amber, and golden leaves of the vineyard north of the Wood Family Vineyard  near our home in Livermore, California one early December. It was a bold painting for me, but it was time to ramp up my color palette.  When I felt confused by interpreting the similar values of foliage with, I used a technique to isolate the area where I was working. It was helpful to block out the surrounding color, and concentrate on a particular area of the foliage on the vineyard.

Below:  See close-up of technique of isolating an area of the photo to get the values of the foliage of the vineyard.

FallIFocus

Technical Notes:  UArt 400 sanded pastel paper mounted on Canson board.  Unison, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, and Girault pastels.

AutumnGlow

This painting is being exhibited at Wente Vineyards Estate Tasting Room in Livermore, California along with 16 other paintings through March.

 

 

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Yellow House in Vineyard

"Yellow House in Vineyard", pastel 11x14

“Yellow House in Vineyard”, pastel 11×14


The yellow house in the vineyard caught me eye one day when I was out on my usual walking route. I returned with my painting gear of pastels and set up my easel at the edge of the vineyard last week. Soon, the growth on the grapevines will be pruned to stimulate the growth for the next season. I wanted to catch the vines at their wilder state despite the challenge of depicting the tangled vines. Of course, there is always room for artistic license.
On location in the vineyard

On location in the vineyard


Painting Notes: Some of the background was simplified, so the focus was on the main elements of the scene, the barn, house, and rows of vines. To avoid a tangent of the barn roof and distant hills which, I added some height to the hills. Otherwise, the plein air painting is an accurate interpretation of the scene.
Technical Notes: Pastels by Terry Ludwig, Rembrandt, Sennelier, Nu Pastel, and Conte Pastel Pencils on La Carte Sanded Paper.

Challenged

Home Portrait as I received it to finish

Home Portrait as I received it to finish

My unusual challenge was to complete a commission of a watercolor painting which had been started though not completed by another artist before she passed away. It was an unusual challenge, but I decided to take on the challenge. The Arches watercolor paper had been damaged and I found that Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground is a wonderful product that will restore the surface of the paper.
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I decided to change the direction of the vineyard rows so that the viewer was directed to the home which was the focal point of the painting.

Repair of home portrait, watercolor commission

Repair of home portrait, watercolor commission

The watercolor ground made changes possible. Some time was spent determining the specific tube colors that had been used to add continuity to the piece.

"Walker Home Portrait", watercolor commission

“Walker Home Portrait”, watercolor commission


Although many artists advised me not to take on this challenge. I felt that it was important to support my clients in their project. In the process it was a opportunity to learn from the challenge. It is impossible to match the hand of a different artist since brushstrokes are like signatures, but I did include both names in the lower right.
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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
11×17


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

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

Bankhead Theater

The Firehouse Art Studios Artists exhibit at the Bankhead Theater is showing now through early January 2013.  Several of my pastels of local California scenes are on display in the entrance of the theater.  Also showing is work by fellow Firehouse artists Lynne Shephard, Claudia Willis, and Martha Eddleman.  A reception will be held on Tuesday evening, November 27th from  6:00 to 7:30 pm.

“Late Harvest’, pastel, 11 x 17

Fall Rush

After the lazy days of  summer, the fall rush is on in the Livermore Valley.  I headed out to do some painting in the vineyards and set up my easel at Concannon Vineyards.  A few vines had early color in the Petite Syrah section near the shaded picnic areas.  Trucks roared up the drive carrying loads of grapes for the crush.  The Concannon website describes the scene … Harvest has “weeks of frenzied activity as we rush to bring the grapes to the cellar.  Crews hit the vineyard before daybreak while the grapes are still cool.” 

Here is my latest painting from my day at Concannon…

September Syrah, pastel, 9×12

Summer: Water, Salt, Shells With the Beach

At Work – Nature’s Sketchbook

Nature’s Sketchbook Favorites

It was a busy two weeks of art classes this summer in Livermore.  My group of students had fun with salt and  plastic wrap and how they create different effects in Wild Watercolor.

The Nature’s  Sketchbook group showed the natural beauty of birds, seashells, and flowers. Nature’s subtle colors and textures became part of their drawings.  They were great students of Mother Nature in the class held at the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District summer classes at the Community Center.

After ten days of teaching, it was time to return to my art.  The following weekend in July it was the Art Under the Oaks show at Alden Lane Nursery. It is always a fun show and I enjoy visiting with friends and sharing my work with those who stop by.

Beginning to work at Alden Lane

Then in August it was time to head back home to Massachusetts and spend some time painting by the beaches off 6A on Cape Cod.  Check back again to see what the area inspires.