Tuesday, February 28, 2012


8" x 10" Mixed Media

Every now and then, I need to take a dive into something different and push myself beyond my comfort zone. The Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society is sponsoring a collage workshop in August by Derek Gores. I plan to sign up for it and as leader of the society, I can go for half price, the idea being that I get a chance to know more artists in our society. I spent some time looking at this young man's work and I just love his collages and his mixed media work. The collages are done entirely of paper, no painting. The mixed media looks like there is gesso involved and line work, and very little color.

So yesterday I bought myself some very heavy gesso and covered over a failed painting on 300 lb. Arches paper. I went back through my life drawings and found some I had done of a favorite model, Christine. She was actually nude in my life drawing, but I preferred a simple dress. After the gesso dried, I painted the background with acrylic paint and liquid gesso. I then did a free-hand drawing on this surface using vine charcoal. It was nice knowing I could paint over the lines if necessary. I stuck with the white, grey, and black palette, with red being the featured color of her hair and lips. I used a dab of blue on Christine's eyes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Plein Air at the Santa Clara Depot

"Down at the Depot"
South Bay Historical Railroad Society Museum
Santa Clara, CA
14" x 10" Watercolor

Another great day painting in the sunshine. We are having an early spring after a non-rain winter. Our paintsites group gathered in Santa Clara at the transit center. Morning commuter Caltrains thundered in and out, picking up and disgorging passengers traveling to and from San Francisco or the Peninsula. Buses came and went, a construction crew in hardhats worked nearby, and our artists tackled perspective. Leaders Jenny and Sylvia offered a wonderful concise lesson with handouts. I even received a nice plexiglass viewfinder for attending. This painting truly was a perspective challenge.

The train depot turned museum is set in the historic Santa Clara Depot that was built between 1863 and 1877. Beside it are modern commuter style ticket kiosks and passenger platforms. See the real deal here.

My title obscurely references a very humorous story from a classic "Bert and I" CD with tales of Maine. One of the locals won a trip to NYC, and when he returned the mayor asked him what he thought of the city. He answered, "There was so much goin' on at the depot that I never got to see the village" in a Classic Down East accent.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Art and Place" Show at the Forum Gallery

Vermont art

California art

On Wed. we hung the show at the Forum, a beautiful senior community of about 400 people at Rancho San Antonio Park.  The Forum is one of the finest in the Bay area and at the reception I met architects, doctors, the woman who started the docent program at Filoli, Stanford University professors, and  research scientists. Many people formerly lived in nearby Palo Alto and other areas of Silicon Valley and helped shape the technology industry.

The hanging was a challenge for the gallery manager and her crew. Judie had to order more hooks and complete the hanging with her maintenance crew. I was so pleased with the beautiful job they did. Yesterday Bob and I arrived a bit early and posted the art cards beside the paintings. I find that people linger to read the cards and view the paintings, a suggestion by the manager of University Arts who also is a prolific artist.  One woman told me how much she enjoyed my writing, which pleased me because I love to write. Here is an example of an art card.  The number is cross-referenced to my spreadsheet that includes pricing.

“Winter in the Garden" #33
North Danville, Vermont
14" x 11" Watercolor

In summer the stylish scarecrow protected the prolific plants
from hungry birds. The crops have been harvested and eaten, 
canned, or frozen. The garden was put to bed a few months 
ago. Ms. Scarecrow continues her cheerful watch in the 
Northeast Kingdom of Vermont on a subzero day.

Mary Paquet calpaquet@aol.com
http://mary-artadventures.blogspot.com/ 408-629-7325

Judie displayed my artist statement and show description and I brought a dozen extra copies of each, which soon ran out. I shall send her additional. My business cards are available, too. I forgot my camera so used a cell phone, which affected the quality of the photos.

I selected the theme "Art and Place" because my inspiration comes through my personal experiences and  travels, both local and worldwide.  I featured the landscape, architecture, and people of California (my current home), Vermont (where I grew up), and the world. I had people tell me how much they enjoyed the Vermont paintings as many here came from the East. The snow scenes were especially popular. 

The reception was top drawer and well attended. The room had large round tables with linens, a bounteous buffet of appetizers, and a bartender serving a selection of wine, champagne, and non-alcoholic drinks. I was asked to speak, along with Helga, a resident who displayed her beautifully knit crafts in cabinets. The head of the welcoming committee introduced people who recently moved to the Forum.

We then joined Helga, our friend Libby (who asked me to do this show), and Judie for dinner in the restaurant.  Everyone dresses up for dinner and I felt like I was in a fine resort. Off to one side people were enjoying live music. Helga invited us to see her home with a breathtaking view of the mountains and park from high on a ridge. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plein Air at Campbell Heritage Theater

"Floating Glass" 
7" x 10" Watercolor

Campbell Heritage Theater
10" x 14" Watercolor

The Real Deal

Today's Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society plein air group met in Campbell, a distinct small town surrounded by San Jose's 179.8 square miles and 17 miles from my home. Campbell has a very charming downtown and on the West side is their Community Center with the Campbell Heritage Theater, formerly a high school auditorium.

I had just two hours to paint. I was intrigued by the glass balls lit from below in the reflecting pools, which had a Dale Chihuly look to them, colorful stationary balls that look like they are floating. I found I couldn't rush the painting as each section needed to dry so the paint wouldn't bleed. Thus I began a second larger piece of part of the beautiful 1930s theater. I almost finished each piece before leaving the site. Tonight my South Side Art Club had to cancel Thursday night painting session, so I went up to my studio and put the finishing touches on the two pieces.

"Floating Glass" is whimsical and probably doesn't make much sense as a standalone piece. I felt the ball needed the contrasting purple to stand out, so that is what became of the grey cement. Though "California Heritage Theater looks more golden than the building in the photo, it's pretty close to how it appeared in the sunshine. I don't know why the photo looks so pure white, not being much of a photographer. There was a little artistic license applied to remove a wing and another building and somewhat relocate the cypress trees to enhance my design.

In a few days I will write about my show at The Forum and the reception.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Yes, But Is It Art?

Monday drawing "Wood Plane"
16" x 20" Pastel
In Process

The still life

Those of you who have followed this blog for quite some time know that I go to a drawing class every Monday morning. Robert Semans is a much honored artist, having won the People's Choice Award from the Portrait Society of America and painted the official governor's portrait for the state of California. I keep pinching myself that I can actually learn to draw from such a fine artist. Bob believes in drawing from life, so we work from still life setups. Those of us who have attended multiple years use pastels with our drawings. 

This week Bob, an enthusiastic woodworker,  set up a still life with blocks of wood, a plane, a box, and some gloves. Because we have less than 3 hours to work on the piece, I chose to eliminate the box and gloves, probably the most interesting parts of the still life. However, I had all I could do to accurately render the wood and plane. You can see I am about half done with the pastel phase. Note that parts of the plane remain drawn in vine charcoal. We all found the perspective issues for the various shapes very demanding. We called for critique about 20 minutes before the end of class.

At least six of us had worked on this still life. Bob actually expressed amazement at how well we had all done. That's not to say he didn't point out some things we could improve, but he told us our work was far better than some  he had seen in a recent competition. I firmly believe that good drawing skills are the foundation of art, so I spend time working on developing them. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Final Painting for My Solo Show

"Tulare Hills at Sunrise"
14" x 21" Watercolor
San Jose, CA

I had one last image in my head for my solo show at the Forum. My 49th framed work presented itself a few weeks ago on my way home from the gym. The sun was rising behind the Tulare Hills that cross the Santa Clara Valley just southeast of my house and continue west into the Santa Teresa Foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The gap on the right is where Santa Teresa Boulevard climbs 6 percent (from my bike computer) and drops back into the valley headed towards Morgan Hill. We live in the last development before the hills and open fields in San Jose. The city line is about three miles south of us.

I like the fact that though I live with a million other people in one of the nation's largest cities, I have a sense of rural California. From my front windows I see Tulare Hills and Santa Teresa County Park to my right. At the base of the park is a large golf course. A lot of electricity is required for a million people, so huge power towers march along the hills to the top of Coyote Peak in the park and beyond. Watching men working from helicopters on those power lines is quite a sight.

I created this painting with my South Side Art Club that meets every Thursday evening. The hills are very dry in the summer and green in winter, except this winter when we have had almost no rain. I like the simplicity of the piece.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Celebrating Chinese Culture

"Stately Lion"
7" x 12" watercolor
Overfelt Park, San Jose, CA

Sketch of  elements of the park

 Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall

View from the Hall

There is a lovely modest-sized park a dozen miles from my home known as Overfelt Gardens. There is a section memorializing Chinese leaders. Our Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society plein air group met there Thursday morning. There were about nine of us gathered on a crisp morning that soon warmed in the sun and then turned a bit windy.

A year ago we painted in this park and at that time I did part of the Sun Yet Sen Memorial Hall. You can see my post here. What to paint? So many choices. I settled on one of  the stately lions in front of the hall. Though I included some greenery with the lion, I channeled Chinese New Year and created a background of red with a bit of blue. Because these very same paints made up my "gray" on the lion, I was hoping for some harmony. When I got home, I added the character for Good Fortune, "fu" in Chinese.

As the other artists continued to paint before lunch, I decided to do a quick sketch using elements of the scene in front of me. That green hill? That was definitely not in the real scene - we've had almost no rain for months. I had fun with the tree using purple, magenta, and blue.