Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Peonies in the Mountains

"Sierra Road Sorbet"
14 x 22" watercolor
Last week the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society continued the theme of painting in gardens, many of them private and new sites for our plein air painters. Chateau CharMarron is so unique. It's at the top of the dry Eastern Mountains north of San Jose. I set out on a cool, drizzly morning and thought I had lost my way more than once. I arrived at the locked gates, the only one there two minutes before the advertised time. I called a leader who said no, they had not canceled, and she was enroute. Another brave soul showed up, so we buzzed for entrance.

The property has fabulous views, a herd of doe-eyed llamas graze the lower fields, and the peonies are up on top of the property. They were in full bloom. We would have two hours to paint before the public started arriving at noon. We could stay as long as we wanted, but we indeed had many people purchasing plants and flowers around us at the official opening time.

I was ambitious, selecting a close cropped view of three peonies on a half sheet of watercolor paper. Teetering on my 3-legged stool in lots of moisture and a few raindrops falling, I painted "Sierra Road Sorbet." The peonies had a white inner section and delicate rose outer petals.
 By the time we had lunch, I had a wimpy rendition. I spent several hours over the next few days achieving a broader value range, especially in the background.
About 1 p.m. we gathered for lunch and shared our work.  I was pleased to see that about a dozen artists braved the elements. By then, the sun was peeking through. One of the artists had painted the view across the mountains and a body of water below the house. The owner of the property bought it from her on the spot. I believe that was a first for the paintsites group, though not for the artist who is very accomplished. I loved the sketches people did of the llamas.
We have the most amazing scenery in the Bay Area. I was awed by the views and my surroundings.

You can see works of some of the other artists on the paintsites blog.


CrimsonLeaves said...

What glorious views! Love your peony trio too. I'm not sure painting amidst the raindrops would have been too fun but so worth it in the end!

Dean H. said...

Love your color selections, Mary! Great diagonal design, also.

hmuxo said...

Beautifully painted, the colors!!!

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Mary, I enjoy your adventurous spirit! I applaud your plein aire work and flowers are quite the challenging subject. It looks like a fun, hard working group. Were the llamas very good models? At least the peonies would stay still :)

Mary Paquet said...

Friends, I enjoy hearing from you. Peggy, I think the Llamas were fairly decent models. They did move about, but looked fairly sedentary.