Patterson Home at Ardenwood Farms
Yesterday, I did plein air painting with the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. We went to Ardenwood Farms, a wonderful gem of a park amidst the electronic-fueled growth in the East Bay. This is a working farm with live animals, old and newer machinery, and crops. At this time of year, the pumpkins are ready for harvest. I liked the old house, but found painting the entire structure too daunting, so I selected the top of the turret against a towering Eucalyptus tree. The original owners of the home and farm were the Pattersons.
The brochures tells us , "It was 1849 when George Patterson joined the stream of young men leaving the Midwest for California’s gold fields. His dreams left little room for failure, but after a year and a half of mining he was ill and broke, so he turned to work he knew well: farming. George gradually bought land with the money he earned by working for farmers near Mission San Jose. By the time he married Clara Hawley in 1877, he was on his way to acquiring nearly 6,000 acres of land and was one of the wealthiest and well-respected men in the area. At last he had struck “gold”—not in the hills, but through farming the fertile plains of the East Bay."
We had a lovely warm fall day and I painted this piece in about 2 hours with a few slight modifications after returning home. We ate lunch to the sounds of school children playing on the lawns. Then we had a half hour, so I quickly did a small, very traditional light watercolor of the fountain. I was channeling Bob Semans, my drawing teacher, as I did the cherub. Bob tells us to use values to describe form and little detail is needed.
After returning home, I repacked my art supplies and headed out to friend Penny's home for my South Side Art Club Thursday night painting session. The photo showed just one bright streak of Vermont fall color amidst darkened hills, sky and lake. Lake Eden is where Jeff's father, my late husband Gary, had attended Boy Scout camp, a defining moment in his young life. I was very tired and not motivated to paint, but I finally grabbed a brush and small watercolor block and without any drawing, did this small piece in 20 minutes. The painting is more vibrant than this photo and I liked the way the bright yellow and orange paint caused granulation into the darker color of the mountain. I waited until this layer dried and added the dark line of evergreens. I left a few imperfections because I didn't want to destroy the freshness and excitement.