Thursday, July 19, 2012

Plein Air at Pete's Harbor in Redwood City

"Morning at Pete's Harbor"
Redwood City
15" x 20" Watercolor

"Leonard Paints at Pete's Harbor"
11" x 14"Watercolor and Non-Permanent Ink

The sign as we exited Pete's Harbor in Redwood City said, " Reentering the United States. Arrivaderci."  I have to admit that I did feel like I was reentering the "real world" as we quickly merged onto busy Highway 101, one of two main routes between San Jose and San Francisco. 

Pete's Harbor was built in 1955 by Peter Uccelli on swampy lands adjacent to Smith Slough in Redwood City. His dream would be the site of our SCVWS plein ar outing. There were probably about 15 of us painting there today. We found a sunny spot with a great view of the exit from the harbor. There was a lone sailboat anchored , marshlands, power towers (I seem to be on a power theme in plein air), and distant mountains across San Francisco Bay. Later the boat would motor away from it's mooring. We were entertained by a group of young people on small sailboats, one of which kept ending up with its sail in the water. Not to worry, their superiors in a motorboat were there. We also saw large rowing teams practicing their skills. Sue found a garden by the harbor and chatted with a man who works in Louisiana 20 days a month and returns here to his motor home and boat. The Harbor is a tiny community separated from the rest of Redwood City by the freeway.

I first did a half sheet painting of the scene mingling color on the paper. I also occasionally spritzed some water into the wet paint.  In the final 20 minutes before lunch, I grabbed my dip pen and non-permanent black ink, and drew one of the artists quietly painting by the water. Leonard is a wonderful artist and I was able to quickly capture his likeness. I dropped in some color and voila, I was done. I do see that what was meant to be the slough looks like a wall because of the bleeding ink of the waves -- oh well. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bottles at Monday Morning Drawing Class

"Shiny Bottles"
12" x 14" Pastel

Shiny bottles are a challenge in pastel. They are a great subject, though, and they don't move.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Commission painting

"Hello, Goodbye"
15" x 15" Watercolor

A friend who commissioned me to paint a landscape also asked that I do a painting of her dog who is nearing the end of her life. The picture, taken on a smart phone, was difficult to enlarge for detail and was quickly snapped in a park, showing the surroundings, the woman's large purse, and part of another dog. My friend requested a square format focusing on the loving goodbye hug. I did a couple small sketches, cropping to about this pose and tried some different color palettes. My friend suggested she bring the dog to my house, which was so helpful. The dog is a small Dalmatian, and has a very sweet personality. I took some photos to help with the dog portion of the art. I draw my own subjects, rather than trace or project, so being able to see some detail on the dog is important. 

There is a very sweet story behind this painting.  Years ago my friend would walk her Lab past the home of a family from China. A Dalmatian puppy was always tied to the front porch, so my friend would stop and pat the dog. One day the grandfather handed her the dog on a leash and made it clear he wanted her to take the dog. Being a true animal lover, my friend accepted the dog. Many years later in a park, a young woman approached and said she once owned a dog like this one. Through conversation, they realized that this was the dog she had when she was a young girl. She and her brother had never been told the true circumstances of the dog leaving the home. Not long ago the young woman again got to see the dog and gave her a passionate hug, knowing that at the dog's advanced age, she was unlikely to see her again. My friend gave the title to this painting.

This dog is very calm and loving and has served with her owner in a program that brings dogs into nursing homes, VA hospitals, and homes of patients on hospice. She has brought love and consolation to many people in her life.

I have spent many hours on this piece. Unfortunately, my photo of the painting does not do the background justice. I wanted to suggest the outdoor setting with New Gamboge, Sap Green, Windsor Blue, and Cobalt. The background washes out in the photo. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

In the sketch book

Sylvia sketches at Point Lobos

The view from the beach at Point Lobos

Cypress Trees at Point Lobos, CA

Where is the art lately? Well, I've done a bit, but pretty limited. I had a lovely two days in Carmel Valley with four other artists, complements of friendships made in Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society.  We hiked in Point Lobos Reserve and sketched. You can see that it was a very cool day on the coast.

Hiking with artists Sue, Karen, and Jane
I am second from right
Sylvia is missing because she took the photo

We also took a hike up the coastal mountain range the next morning in Garland Regional Park. This day was picture perfect with sunshine and warm temperatures.

Hiking in  Garland Ranch Regional Park
Carmel Valley, CA

We painted at Lover's Point, but my piece was truly awful, though it prompted many compliments from children who gathered to watch.

The rest of the time, I've just tried to keep sane and do our daily activities while a major remodel is underway. Here you see the kitchen back splash being done today. The rest of the house is in a jumble.
A very nice tile crew installs the kitchen back splash

Stay tuned, though. I will return. I am working on a commission at the moment.