Sunday, October 12, 2014

Plein Air Painting in Pioneer Park

                                                                "Mommy, it's raining."
i am a bit behind. About three weeks ago, the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Paintsites folks brought us together at the Mountain View Library, which is in Pioneer Park. I had to drive about 35 minutes to get there and enroute I actually had to figure out where my windshield wiper controls are located on my car. It hadn't rained more than a few drops for months. The rain had stopped by the time I arrived at the park.

I decided to paint a stately old oak tree and was painting away when a vision appeared on the wet green grass -- three small children playing with their two brightly colored umbrellas. I could just imagine them telling mommy that they needed to use their new umbrellas, even though the rain stopped. I snapped a few photos from very far away and included the little tikes in my painting.
 That means, of course, that they are not ideally positioned and have become the center of interest.  I so wanted them in the painting that I gave myself permission to include them.

I am not happy with the way Blogger works from my IPad. Hope you can view the entire image.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Entry for the 49th Annual SCVWS Membership Show

"Hoping We Get Some Wind"
16" x 23" Watercolordd caption
Framed and ready to go

It seems I am never satisfied with my first pass on paintings I want to enter in shows. So I painted this one over. You can read about my inspiration in my earlier post.

You can see that I changed the lighting and the angle of the lighting which I felt made for a stronger design. Of course, I had to imagine it, so I hope I was fairly accurate.  I decided to use 300 lb. Arches Hot Press paper which gives quite a painterly look with it's resistant surface. I used a different approach, not doing an under painting as I did before. I changed the color on the fence and Martin's shirt. I also went for more modeling on the clothing. I had to capture the photo of the framed piece at an angle due to all kinds of reflections on the glass.

The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's 49th Membership Show promises to be a good one with slightly over 100 entries. There are 400 people in the society and all are welcome to enter a piece of art. The show is not juried, but it is judged. This year, Robert Semans, a fine oil and pastel painter who happens to teach my Monday morning drawing class, will be the juror who selects the award winners.

Yesterday I spent a wonderful day at the beach with fellow SCVWS artists at the Santa Cruz Paintout. To be precise, we were painting that day in Capitola, a gem of a beach town. I will post once I have completed my 3 pieces, which are almost done.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: A Modern Venus

"A Modern Venus"
14" x 16" Pastel
My friend Susan and I have been wanting some life drawing experience. Of course, drawing the human body is a traditional exercise for artists through the ages. Our  class location within an art store precludes having a nude model. We paid our instructor for some private lessons with a model at his studio. We discovered, of course, that we have much to learn. We arranged for monthly sessions with Bob and a wonderful model who does a lot of work for San Jose State University's highly respected art department..
Meanwhile, instructor Bob Semans purchased two small clay figures, one male and one female, from an art supply company. These he can bring to our class. A few weeks ago I attempted the male figure. My drawing was fine, but not so much the shading, and I took so much time drawing that I got about half the pastel work done.
This week, I did the female figure with much more success, according to Bob. I am still internalizing what happens to the body when weight shifts. Bob always says draw from the inside out. So find the midline and build from there. Note the position of features in relationship to others. For example, from my point of view, the inner tops of the legs were below her right side of the neck. Her right hip fell just inside the outer edge of her right arm. The outermost point of her left hip is below the outermost point of her shoulder. Her naval is more to the right of the vertical halfway point. Bob calls this the science, not the art, of drawing. He enjoys teaching it and it is the key to success.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Painting My Muse

"Hoping for Some Wind"
15" x 24" Watercolor
Bob is ever a source of inspiration. His playful approach to life is very endearing. Yearly we attend a friend's birthday celebration at the San Jose Giants minor league ball game in the VIP booth. Bob worked with Martin in his software days. A bear was their mascot and they purchased these pinwheel topped beanie caps because the pinwheel was supported by a bear. Over the years Martin had to replace the attachment and Bob had to buy a whole new hat, thus the difference in the pinwheel. Bob is the man on the right.They faithfully show up at the game wearing their beanies, and certainly stand out among the fans who mainly sport San Jose or San Francisco Giants hats. I shot a photo late day with the sun creating a backlit rim of light on their right sides. 

Friend Penny, a fellow artist, suggested the title of the painting.  I am still trying to decide if this will be the piece I enter in the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's Annual Members Show. I have to make a decision by Friday.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Room with a View: "Rocky Mountain High"

"Rocky Mountain High"
7" x 5" Ink and Watercolor Sketch.
This little sketch was done on our first morning in Boulder, CO, at the venerable 100-year-old Boulderado Hotel next to the Pearl Street Mall. From my window I could view the "Flat Irons" of the Front Range of the Rockies. Gorgeous tilted rocks thrust into the air, inspiring the name. I drew with a micron pen, painted, then added some additional line, especiall in the rocky areas, using the Elegant Writer Pen. This EW pen is not waterproof, but I did not care as I applied it to dry paper. I've also seen some marvelous work where the artist allowed the ink to run.

Tis a very exciting time with Bob's youngest daughter getting married on Sunday. The grooms parents from the East Coast hosted a family get together, so East could meet West. We had the pleasure of meeting the future in-laws a few years ago in NYC, so it was fun to see them again.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: Another Plastic Bag

"Plastic Bag and Fruit II"
16" x 14" Pastel

This was my most satisfying pastel to date. I did the whole thing with just one mid-drawing suggestion from instructor Bob Semans. When he did the final critique, he told me that this was my best pastel to date. The challenges for me are making the bag appear translucent, creating the fruit so the viewer can determine which pieces are inside the bag, and pushing my values.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fun with Google Bicycles

"Searching for My Ride"
10" x 12" Watercolor

I have been very remiss at doing blogger lately. With a mini vacation in Mendocino and many life activities, I've had little time for art or my blog. I did manage a couple things and I am working on a large piece.

This painting was inspired by some photos I took when son Jason was here in April. We visited many high tech hot spots, including the Google campus in Mountain View. Google has a entire fleet of brightly colored bicycles, including a large conference bike that six people can pedal while meeting. If you drive past during the lunch hour, the employees go flying by on one of these bicycles. They are used throughout the day, though. The colors are, of course, the Google palette.

When I designed the picture, it was a half sheet. I was not happy with the design, but I really liked this part, which was actually the heart of the painting. I cropped it and may do a larger piece one of these days.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Floating Market in Thailand

"The Flower Vendor"
Damnoan Saduak Floating Market, Thailand
13.5" x 20" Watercolor
On the Bangkok Extension of our Indochina tour in March, we visited a floating market where hundreds of vendors sell fruits, vegetables, flowers, and goods from their boats. I took a photo from the bridge that crosses over the middle of the market and this woman was just a small part of the photo. I liked the unusual perspective. I had to use a lot of imagination to do this one, especially the water. There the waterway was a very greenish brown color and no doubt quite polluted, so I cleaned it up. My water ripples on the right side were suggested by the photo. I had to make up the left side and decided to add ripples to show movement and keep it in shadow to achieve a more effective painting. Here is the entire scene,

The market was a sight to behold. Both sides of the waterway had stalls where you could purchase every manner of goods. There were also little cafes and we sat to enjoy ice cream at one. If you wanted lunch, you could choose from many floating chefs. I won't call them restaurants because they whipped out those tiny stools that we Westerners had difficulty mastering, set them up beside the boat on the edge of the water, and cooked your meal to order. After having suffered turista in Siem Reap, I was not feeling adventurous.

I had to gather my courage to enter the market when we first arrived. Looking down from the bridge, I saw that the first vendor had 12 foot live snakes that they would drape around anyone willing to pay for the privilege. One was as yellow as a banana and I think the other was mottled color.  I will tell you that I have two unexplainable phobias, snakes and heights. I would be of little use in a rice paddy or on top of Mt. Everest.  I had to pull myself together and focus straight ahead as I walked within feet of the brave tourists sporting snakes.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Plein Air Documents Valley History

10" x 14"Watercolor
The real deal
Historical information
We had a picture-perfect California morning at the Rengstorff House, a preserved home from the 1800s typical of an affluent family of the times. Last year I was invited to exhibit two of my collages during their August show of local art. You can read about the event here.
The commute was just awful and I was never a commuter; I lived  just 3 miles from the two IBM campuses where I worked in my 30 year career.  I often bicycled to work the final 8 years. The 32 minute drive north to the paint site took almost an hour and a half! Thankfully, it was worth the drive. I had about an hour and a half to paint this piece before lunch, which keeps me from overworking the piece.
There were many great paintings done of the house, but I chose the lifeblood of the valley -- wind and water. Santa Clara Valley was known as "The Valley of the Heart's Delight" for its glorious agriculture. Today we are "Silicon Valley" and the fields sport companies with manicured landscapes like Google, Facebook, EBay and Paypal, to name but a few. There are remnants of agriculture and very fortunately, I live on the southern end of San Jose where the fields remain open between towns. We have a lovely farm stand just a couple miles from us where I buy my fresh produce. Today Linda gifted me with cantaloupes that she planned to compost because they were very ripe. Bob made cold melon soup from them -- yummy.

 I loved that you could order this windmill from Montgomery Wards for $42.50 in the Thirties. I enjoyed doing the dramatic shadows and I had a nice view across the marshes behind the structures and a piece of delicious shade. When we gathered for our picnic lunches at 12:30, we were impressed with the groups output. A few of the 20+ paintings are seen here.

Check out more about this paintsites event on the paintsites blog.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: A bag of fruit

"A Bag of Fruit"
14" x 12" Pastel
This morning Bob set up a plastic bag with apples, a plum, and a peach. I've never done plastic bags before and boy, this was a challenge. Three apples were mostly exposed and the three other fruits were in the bag. He says we will get to try wax paper next time.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: Hyderangeas

14" x 12" Pastel
Critique time
We enjoyed the setup today. Florals are a challenge. Instructor Bob Semans always emphasizes blocking in the values first, then going back and adding a bit of detail. You can see the drawing of the vase is off somewhat, but overall I like the painting.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Getting the word out on the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Exhibit

I just emailed my art distribution list to inform them of my latest show:

Two of my works will be on exhibit in "Fast, Fresh, and Friendly," sponsored by the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society and hosted by Hobee's Restaurant in North San Jose.
                                                        Fast Food Vietnam Style Final.jpg
                                                                                "Fast Food, Vietnam Style"
                                                                                   19" x 14" Watercolor
"Fast Food, Vietnam Style" was inspired by a recent visit to Vietnam. I love the conical hats and the market scenes with locals purchasing and selling produce, meats, fish, and merchandise. Bicycles and scooters are the primary transportation because taxes double the price of cars.  This piece depicts a scene in Hoi An.
                                                          Marinkas Figs.jpg
                                                                                  "Marinka's Figs"
                                                                                       9" x 13"

"Marinka's Figs" was completed last September on an art vacation to the island of Hvar in Croatia. We spent a day at the farmhouse atelier of artist Marinka in Dol. We had a beautiful time painting in her garden and feasting on two meals she prepared for us. Her fruit trees made great subjects.

Place:  Hobees Restaurant, 680 River Oaks Pkwy, San Jose,
Date and Time: 7 am until 2:30 pm daily from June 29 through August 2
Reception: Saturday July 19, 5 to 7 pm, sponsored by Hobee's. 
Please join me on July 19th at the reception and stop in to see the show if you are in the area.
 *You can also view or purchase artworks from Mary's studio by appointment

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Play It Again Sam

"Fast Food, Vietnam Style"
19" x 14" Watercolor

Before leaving town, I completed an entry for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Exhibit, "Fast, Fresh, and Friendly," the theme inspired by the Hobee's Restaurant motto. I was not satisfied with the piece, so I've done it over with a touch more color and some white of the paper.  I used the same combination of colors: Pthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, New Gamboge, and Scarlet Lake, selected for their transparency. You can compare this one with the original piece. I am happier with this redo.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Plein Air Painting in Vasona Park

"Summer Morn"
Vasona County Park
10" x 13" watercolor

Our Santa Clara Valley Water Color Society (SCVWS) Plein Air painters are a very active group. They paint all over the Bay area twice monthly on Thursday mornings and once a month on Saturday mornings in such interesting places. Some new leaders took over recently and are doing a fine job of carrying on the tradition upon which this 400 member society was founded and that our previous leaders did so well.

There is nothing better than painting outdoors in our lovely California sunshine with other artists. One woman asked me how she could join the group because there was such great energy. I told her to sign up at for a modest $30 a year.

 "Summer Morn" is a composite of the elements that say "Vasona." This county park is a little haven in the midst of Los Gatos, a vibrant and upscale community abutting San Jose. People from all walks of life use the park. School busloads of children, moms and/or dads with children, babies, and pets in tow, joggers, and bike riders were in abundance. We were at the boathouse and many children were taking sailing or paddle board lessons. I wanted a typical park view, so I edited out the dock and boats and mentally moved the rock. The rest of the elements are pretty true to the view.

We gathered sometime after 12:30 for our self-provided picnic lunches and sharing our work. Everyone did such nice pieces and the individual styles are so interesting to see. Check out the paintsites blog to see all the work:  when Brad posts them. An artist who teaches told me my pallette is the traditional WPA pallette of the 30s. Who knew I was such a throwback! I enjoyed meeting some newcomers to the group, including Rich who said this was his third outing and he is loving it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Monday Morning Drawing Class: Winter Squash - oh wait, isn't it summer?

"Winter Squash Summer Style"
14" x 12" Pastel

Did this yesterday and there are things to fix. Bob pointed out the top plane should be higher key and warmer tones. Should model the light reflecting surfaces. However, he complimented us three oldies that we are getting better at this all the time.