Saturday, April 20, 2013

A touch of Japan in the Santa Cruz Mountains

"Kotani En"
11" x 14" Watercolor
My view

"The Shapes of Kotani En"

Mid-day view
Sylvia received permission to paint in a private garden in the mountains above Los Gatos and Saratoga. She knows the person helping to restore the old property, a California Landmark, Kotani En, said to be one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in the US. We drove up a single lane mountain road -- I am always amazed at the properties hidden up in the coastal mountains. We used three of our cars to ferry 23 people to the site from the main road.

The property served as a wealthy man's country place beginning in the 1920s. Unknown to the owner, the cook he hired was an architect from Japan, unable to practice his profession with the discriminatory California laws at that time . When he saw Mr. Takashima sketching a Japanese garden for the property in his spare time, he sent him off to Japan to hire artisans and to meet with the big wigs. The Emperor of Japan and the folks at Kyoto donated many of the rocks and trees, including that 300 year-old evergreen in the left of my first painting.

The current owner has had the place since the 80s. Unfortunately, a gorgeous koi pond and waterfalls took a huge hit in the 7.1 earthquake centered just miles away. It has never held water since. The part of the property we saw had the owners home, a tea house, a temple, and another small building, plus these lovely plantings and rocks.

I loved the shapes and honored them with simplicity. I was especially taken with the evergreen against the flaming red of the old Copper Beech tree. Later I moved to paint a red maple amidst the rocks and ornamentals.

This was indeed a very special paintsite. We gathered after lunch to view paintings that people cared to share -- it's always the artist's choice.

Artists at work

The unveiling at 1:15

Some of the artists taking a break

You can read about the day from other perspectives and see some of the art on our SCVWS paintsites blog.


hmuxo said...

Wow! A beautiful place to paint, Mary..and an amazing painting.

CrimsonLeaves said...

Looks a gorgeous day, Mary, and a wonderful place for painting inspiration. I love how you've simplified and painted shapes too!

hw (hallie) farber said...

Stunning simplicity, Mary. These are really beautiful.