My First Plein Air Paint Out

Life is about the experiences we have, not about what we have or often what we do. I’ve been painting for several years and never really entered a larger competition. I took a class in Mendocino and my teacher suggested I should join the upcoming Mendocino Paint Out; so I signed up. As the weeks went by, I collected frames and made sure I have enough canvases. I made an hotel reservation, and thought I was set to go.

About a week before I was set to leave, I thought I should check with the hotel about my reservation. I am glad I did, as I accidentally booked a room with twin beds and a bathroom down the hall. I upped it to another room with twin beds, but my own bathroom. In the interim, my husband decided to join me for the weekend festivities, so when I arrived I asked if I could upgrade a little more, so I would have one bed, not two. I ended up having a living room, bedroom and bath, which was large, but very old and very sad. The draperies in the rooms, had blackout shades in shreds. At one time they must have been beautiful, but today they were old and looked tired. Everything looked tired. It could have been spectacular with a little love and maybe a little money.

When I got back to my room after dinner, and discovered the TV did not work, I was glad for my IPad and was set to watch a movie on it. But as I pulled back the sheets I noticed a fairly small drop of blood on both the top sheet and the bottom sheet. That did not make me smile, but I was tired from the long windy drive in pouring down rain. I just crawled in, poured myself a glass of wine and watched my “Chick Flick”.

And then it began: The first day, we all (or those who started that day) lined up to have the back of our canvases stamped. We could enjoy viewing the one piece painted before the paint out, that everyone was to bring and hang. It was a wide of assortment of talent and style. The three main artists (the judges) had their work on display. The work was interesting and varied, consisting of two oil painters and a watercolorist. Although their work was artistic, it was not particularly to my personal liking. I would learn a lesson from this later in the week.

So we all took off to find out place to paint the first day. I headed to Little River Inn, where I has stayed before, and enjoyed the distant view. I finished my first painting in a couple of hours, and headed back to town to get a bite of lunch. Waiting in line, a nice young man informed me there was a spider on my backside, before he knocked it off. I had been sitting on a quite old and damp bench painting. As it turns out, I was lucky he saw it and ended its life, as it was a Black Widow. So that was how my week began?

View from River’s End Inn

My first painting was 20″ x 10″, and I painted it in an already framed canvas. I forgot to have this one stamped, so had to call to get permission for it to be allowed. They were very nice, and let me use this the first day. I had time after lunch and it was a beautiful day.

I had discovered when I set up my palette to paint, that my plein air paints had all dried out, so I decided to drive to Fort Bragg to a local and wonderful art store to refresh all my oil paints to the tune of $260. Fresh and new, but an expensive lesson. Since I was already in Fort Bragg, I ventured to MacKercher Park, hoping to paint the lagoon. As I was setting up, a creature crawled out of the lagoon with a direct line toward me. I did not know what it was, but it did not look “friendly”! I had never seen, what I found out a few moments later, was a Crawdad, alive. Luckily a young woman in the parking lot knew what it was, as her father was a commercial fisherman. But I decided I would go to the other side and paint the beach!

When I got to the beach, the fog was setting in and I could not decide what view to paint. It was busy with lots of people. I generally like to paint quietly in my studio or in a more deserted spot for Plein Air.
I did spend a lot of time on this one, and I am afraid it shows. By the time I finished my first day of painting I was pretty tired and wind-burned. Nevertheless, I took it back and hung it on my wall. The Art Center provided free pizza that night, and they even had gluten free. That and glass of wine was perfect!

The next day, I decided I would paint one of the beautiful houses downtown. I worked on it most of the day, and wiped it clean at the end of the day, not liking it. The next day I tackled it again and upon finishing it called it “a day”.

By this time, I am beginning to think that I do not work as well under pressure. The next day I went to Fort Bragg with a very nice woman I met to paint at the harbor. I decided to paint something a little more simple. I painted the trees on the hill above the harbor.
It was fun and relaxing and we painted in an area where there were not many people.

The last day was a quick draw contest. They give you a location and send you out. You have about a half hour to set up and two hours to paint. This year it was downtown Main Street. You could paint the beach or turn around and paint the town. There were 50-60 artists all painting downtown. I chose to go quite simple and painted the distant shore. I never knew so many small bugs could fly into a painting. Apparently they like the smell of the paint. I still need to finish the piece I did, as a gnat flew into it after I hung it up on the wall.

You can see the bug and the scratch marks, where someone tried to remove it.

That evening they had the rewards ceremony. My lesson with all this was: If you are not particularly fond of the work of the featured artists (judges), why would not be surprised that you would not have selected the same pieces to win the awards? Of all the talented artists in the contest, I did not agree with most of the winners. Many that were by far better, did not win any awards. Of the awards given, often another piece by the same artist was more beautifully executed. One of the awards went to the husband of one of the judges, and it was the one I really thought was color straight from the tube, poorly drawn and actually a little ugly.

I did not go expecting to win. I went for the experience and an experience it was! I met a lot of really nice people, and a few that were a little too overzealous about their art. I ate some great food, and some not so great food. I could not find a good latte anywhere in town, but the raw oysters in abundance made up for it, even if they were flown in from Washington State.

Many artists do ten to twelve of these a year. I found it exciting, exhausting and challenging. Would I do it again? Maybe for a shorter duration? I might try doing another medium, as no one was doing gouache, there were only a couple pastel artists and maybe one doing acrylic. That might up the odds of having a chance to win. Some paint outs provide a free place to stay, so that might make a huge difference expense wise. There are so many factors that go into deciding what to do with your art.

My First Plein Air Paint Out

Life is confusing (sometimes)

I signed up for my first ever Art Sale called the Crush, as it is held at a local winery. I paid for my space and went to put it on my calendar realizing I was out of town that week, at another “art first”! I signed up for a Plein Air Open Paint Out in Mendocino the same week. I already paid for that, and the week of lodging and am very excited about entering a contest, but disappointed I won’t be able to do both.

Trying to stay on top of everything you sign up for and want to do can be exhausting. Next week I am taking a figure drawing class in Sacramento, then meeting a high school classmate for lunch. It is a casual class.

In the interim, I decided to paint a couple of wine pieces. This one is 9x 12 inches and was fun to paint. I will start showing in Village 360 in Suisun Valley starting the 23rd. This piece is available for $450.00.

The other piece I am working on is 30″ x 40″, featuring grapevines and mountains and big sky. I worked on it all day, and forgot how long it takes to do big impressionistic painting. I am trying to expand my horizons on what I paint.

So many artists paint one thing, and I think it is important to experiment to see where you excel. I have been painting for a long time, with more in the last view years and love to try different things. At this point in my life, I like to go big or stay small, with nothing in-between. Just a random decision I made lately.

Life is confusing (sometimes)

Redoing a Painting

When we were staying in Newport and having dinner, this fishing boat passed by the window. I liked the composition, but not the colors. I thought about it for a while and decided I would try to add a sunset behind the bridge. I painted this about a year ago, and still thought it looked a little dull.

This is the original attempt and it seems lack-lustre.
So I gave it a little more life today, and now I think it is dancing almost too much and I really am not wild about the colors. The fishing boat is too centered in the painting and I think it is “dump worthy”. this just goes to show that you are not always successful with your painting. But if you do not try new things, then you do not grow. As I look at the composition, it is not my best.

What shall I paint tomorrow?

Redoing a Painting

Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco

Every time I go to San Francisco, I love to stop at Buena Vista and have an Irish Coffee. I have been doing this since before I was even 21. (Oh no). I only ate there once with my family when my sons were very young. I highly recommend the Irish Coffee, but not so much the food. (Although it may have improved in the last thirty years) The fries were good.

I recently went there with a group of fun women, where we laughed and loved our Irish Coffees. Can’t wait to go there again. It is always perfect, no matter what time of day! I loved the ambiance of the restaurant, even though the view was cut off by a tent outside because of Covet 19.

I painted this a couple of months ago and just kept looking at it, thinking it was just “too light” in color for a bar. I’m hoping to paint a few more bars in the future, as they just seem way too interesting to me.

All my artwork is for sale.

Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco

So I was asked to paint this adorable girl…

I am not a portrait painter by calling, as I find them challenging. Babies and small children are the hardest. I just spent two days working on a painting from this photo. It was not easy for me, as I do not do portraits very often. The grandmother wanted trees and surf in the background, so I made up a background with Palm Trees and surf and clouds in the sky. She did not want the block in the hand, so I formated the painting without the hand.

The more I have done commissions in my life, the less I want to do them. People either love them or hate them and there is no middle ground. I was told it does not look like her granddaughter and that she had too much “makeup”. I do wonder how you are to have roundness, depth and light without any change in color.

I did a little research before beginning and read that babies (i.e. young children) are the hardest to paint. I watched a few videos on painting babies and felt pretty good about the result. The person I painted it for is coming over tomorrow to see what she thinks. I think I don’t like doing portraits and am really an abstract or impressionistic painter.

Update:

Since the grandmother did not like the painting, I decided to work on it a little more. I thinned the face and lightened the eye. I think the trees in the background more of a distraction, but that was part of the request. The other was to take the toy out of the hand.

Would love to know what you think! I really paint big abstracts and smaller impressionistic paintings. So this was a reach for me. I think we all need to try new things in our life, when opportunity presents itself.
So I was asked to paint this adorable girl…

So I’m going to be featured artist in a local gallery

It was a last minute happening, so I have to take pieces that are already framed, as other than two inch canvases everything needs to be framed and ready for hanging. Fifteen pieces are now ready to go. In other galleries where I’ve shown my work and had my own show, you took your work in, hung it yourself and each one was labeled on the wall with information: Price, size, material & etc. At this one, there is a list to be made, someone else hangs your show and each piece has a rather complicated tag. It took all day to pull this together, and I still do not have a list of cards yet. Those need to each have a description, even though I put the name of the piece on every one.

It is about this point if you wonder if it is worth the work? Since I am new to the area, it will be interesting to see if anything sells?

This the largest piece I am showing at 36″ x 36″. It has been in my family room for the last year and I do like the piece, but needed a “Show-Stopper”. Hope it catches the attention of people coming into the gallery. It was painted after the fires in Vacaville and is called: “The Air is Clearing”. It is available for $2500.

Lagoon Valley was painted from a photo I took while walking around this lake. It is 24 x 18″ and is for sale for $750.00.

“And the Ducks Liked the Boat” was a derelict boat in a small canal that I photographed, while we were out looking for Christmas Trees last year. We did not get a tree, but this photo of the boat was lovely. It is 14″ x 11″ and available for $550.00
“Down By the Sea” is a Plein Air from Monterey. It was such a beautiful spot! Hope I captured the essence of the scene! It is 12″ x 9″ and can be yours for $450.
Mardi Gras is a smaller 7″ x 5″ watercolor that is framed and for sale at the gallery for $250.

A River Runs Through is 12″ x 9″ and available for $450 at the gallery.

There are several other pieces.

Come visit the Fairfield Suisun City Visual Arts Association

1350 Travis Blvd, Fairfield, CA 94533

So I’m going to be featured artist in a local gallery

Lagoon Valley Afternoon Walk

Last year this reserve was dry with very little water. The other day we went for a walk and I was lucky to capture several lovely photos of the area. It is close to Vacaville and always busy with a lot of families enjoying the day.

When I walk or travel, I am always looking for the “Next Possible Painting”. I enjoy the walk, the views, the company, but looking for the next painting is always fun.

This one is 18″ x 24″ and is available for $650. If I ship, I will have to bill additionally for shipping.

Lagoon Valley Afternoon Walk

Lemons are Yellow

9″ x 12″

In the backyard of our California home we have an abundant Meyer Lemon Tree. At first it does not look like you are going to have many lemons. Then they slowly start arriving. The little buds show up and they must grow and divide, as all of a sudden there are lemons everywhere.

Last year I made Limoncello, Lemon Bars, Lemon Marmalade, Lemon Chutney, Lemon Pie and etc. So in other words, if it had lemon in it or on it I made it. This year I am making the Limoncello, but little more than that! This year I will paint the Lemons, not bake the Lemons.

Lemons are Yellow

The Air is Clearing

It is so very nice to finally awaken to fresh clean smoke free air. Another day at last in my studio enjoying putting paint on a 36″ x 36″ canvas. With time in my studio and time in my kitchen life is good. I called the “The Air is Clearing”, as I could almost see the sky become blue during the day.

When I am not painting I seem to be cooking and made this Plum, Nectarine and Blackberry Galette in the morning.

My friend Reed really liked I think, as this was what was left after breakfast…

The recipe is in one of my earlier posts, and it is so easy and so delicious, you should make one. The last one I made with peaches and blackberries. I like to add a little cinnamon on top and four or five dabs of good butter, with an egg wash and a little sugar on the crust. I use Italian Joe’s Pie Crust recipe, as it is moist, flakey and goes together easily:

Italian Joes Pie Crust

Ingredients:

3 cups (375g) Plain Flour (unbleached and unfortified)
2 tbsp Sugar

I tsp salt

2 sticks (220g) of Butter 
(small cold cubed)
1 beaten Egg mixed with
3/4 cup Milk (cold)

  1. Mix flour, sugar & salt to evenly distribute the dry ingredients
  2. Place mixture into a large bowl ( He uses a food processor, but I prefer doing by hand.
  3. Add cold butter cubes with the flour mix and use cold bakers knives or your fingers until it transforms into small pea-sized crumbs
  4. Add egg and milk mixture mixing by hand or cold utensils until the mixture comes together or take the mixture out to the work surface
  5. Make a well with the flour crumbs mixture adding the egg and milk mixture in the well and lightly handling the mixture by hand or utensils.
    (do not knead)
  6. Incorporate all ingredients together to form a dryish dough
  7. Wrap it well with cling film & refrigerate for 1 hour
  8. Roll out the dough split it in half for two pie crust and roll it out bigger than the pie dish
  9. Fit the rolled out pie dough in the greased and floured pie dish making sure pie dough is press all around the crevices of the dish so it doesn’t sink in or collapse when cooking.
  10. Cut around the edge of the pie dish and refrigerate again for 20 before egg washing it and filling it with pie filling and cooking in the oven.
    Enjoy!

I put the second half of the pie dough in plastic wrap, then use my Seal A Meal to seal it before I freeze it till I need it.

The Air is Clearing