Thursday, March 19, 2009

Plein Air Painting at a Historic Home

"Too Early for Roses"
Harris-Lass Historic House Museum
Santa Clara, CA

Today was perfect for plein air painting with the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. Jenny and Sheila obtained to permission for us to paint at this lovely historic home, the last remaining farm in Santa Clara.The house was built by James Harris in 1865, the year of Lincoln's death. James had come to California for the gold rush, but soon decided to farm instead. The original home had 13 acres. By the time it was sold at below-market value to Santa Clara to remain a historical museum, there were 2 acres remaining. The city sold four lots to fund the restoration, but the remainder is a wonderful reminder of our agricultural past. There is the original barn from the 1860s, a summer kitchen, a tank house (water collection system), and lovely gardens.

After multi-generations of Harris's, the home sold to the Lass family. Christian was a retired cargo ship captain who had traveled worldwide on his 18 cargo ships. When the cemetary around the corner wanted to expand into Lass's orginal property, the family bought the Harris home. The last of the Lass family to live in the home was Johanna, who lived their until 1987, at which time she offered the property to Santa Clara.

Bob Byrd, president of the Historic Preservation Society that manages the property, is a retired librarian and history buff, so he gave us lots of information and a tour of the house. The artifacts, family possessions, and pictures made history come to life.

I painted the fountain, gardens, and part of the house. We had temps in the 70s and sunshine. I sat in short sleeves. Bob tells us that in another month there were be all kinds of gorgeous roses, hence the name of my piece. We lunched under trees in the garden on tables Bob set up for our picnic, and he even provided us with cold drinks and dessert bars. I was sitting there thinking, "I LOVE retirement."


Sheila said...

This is lovely Mary. You must be particularly proud of this piece!

Mary Paquet said...

Thanks, Sheila. I had such lovely day.

Trevor Lingard said...

Hello Mary
I am so pleased we are following.
You sound a very interesting lady and also must be very fit with your cycling and dancing.
Your watercolours are very pleasing and have transparency.
I do like you flower which are nice and fluid.
I hope we continue to communicate.
Kind Regards

Nancy said...

Love this! I love how you zeroed in on important things -- I have a really hard time when I try plein air! Isn't Spring wonderful!

Mary Paquet said...

Trevor, thanks so much for checking in. I had fun with the flowers and will be doing more.

Nancy, plein air is a challenge with all there is to see. Yesterday I was also very taken with an interesting pattern made by the angles of buildings seen from the parking lot. However, I couldn't resist sitting in the beautiful garden on a lovely spring day, so I settled for painting the fountain. and part of the house.

theresamillerwatercolors said...

Hello, Mary! Thank you for finding me and allowing me to find you! What an interesting and FUN blog you have here! Beautiful paintings, too! Thanks for the nice comments on my entry, so sorry I can't show yo the original... it was sold in last year's show at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland (where I presently live)to a lady in Australia... small world we live in. Looking forward to seeing your new entries. Hugs to you Mary, and have a great day!