Flower Power


“Lupine, Poppies, and Rocks”, pastel, 12×16

Despite the stormy January weather, flowers have the power to brighten the dark days of winter. My painting, “Lupine, Poppies, and Rocks” caught the eye of juror, Peggi Kroll-Roberts at the Delicato Winery Show in Manteca, California. It received an honorable mention in the show which is on exhibit January 11 – February 4, 2017.  The artist reception  will be held on February 4th.  What is not to like about art, wine, and appetizers?

Technical notes: Rembrandt, Unison, Terry Ludwig, NuPastels, and Conte pastel pencils on U Art 400 sanded pastel board.  A few photo references  were taken while on a hike at nearby Brushy Peak in Livermore, CA last spring.


Harvest Moon Vineyard

Reference Photo Harvest Moon Vineyard

Reference Photo Harvest Moon Vineyard

It was this reference photo of a beautiful moon rising over a vineyard near my home in Livermore, California that inspired my painting. The soft pastel color of the sky contrasted with the strength of the vertical tree and vines.
Mid Stage Harvest Moon Vineyard

Mid Stage Harvest Moon Vineyard

I adjusted some of the color of the vines for visual interest. Also some of the color in the sky and outline of the distant hills were tweaked due to composition and value. This painting is included in a group pastel show at the Orinda Public Library.

“Harvest Moon Vineyard”, pastel, 12×18

Technical Notes: Wallis Sanded Paper (Belgian Mist), Various pastel brands, NuPastel, Rembrandt, Unison, Sennelier, Terry Ludwig, and Conte Pastel Pencils.

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

Sunday's Bouquet.

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

Post from the Left Coast

I am back on the Left Coast after a trip to the East Coast. After rearranging my studio space it was time to put finishing touches on paintings for another show at the Blackhawk Gallery in Danville, CA. The show “Autumn Collections” runs Sept.20 – Dec.1. My work in this show includes three fall vineyard scenes and one Pacific sunset painting.

“Pacific Grove Sunset” is a studio piece inspired by a reference photo taken as I walked along the path when  the sun slipped into the Pacific just north of Monterey.
Both “Pacific Grove Sunset” and “Vineyard Symphony” were done with a loose watercolor underpainting. This technique seems to enhance the light that I am trying to show that isn’t always possible with straight pastel.  Two other vineyard scenes from the Livermore Valley are also in the exhibit which runs until December.

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