Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Middle of the Road

Truly. Literally. 

That's where I was over the weekend.

One of the best chalk festivals in the nation is held every June in San Rafael. This was their 22nd event! My first festival was 1998 I think!

The Italian Street Painting Marin had a theme this year of Venetian Carnivale- artists created murals of masks, costumes, gondolas... A wonderful variety of colors and textures and scenes. There were also people in costumes parading through the festival!

I always come up with an original design and this year I wanted to give a nod to the fantasy, beauty and surrealism of a Carnivale.

My piece is 'Bella Dea' or 'Beautiful Goddess'. She appears in the canals in a gondola, her hat (which is the night sky) casts a shadow across her face which is her mask.

I have two very talented little nieces who assist me each year. They're 9 and 12. We talk about color and light sources, school and plans for the summer. most of all, we laugh a lot.

Huge kudos to the ISPM organizers and volunteers for a wonderful event and congratulations to all the artists on their amazing talents and stunning murals!!

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Left Barstow at 5:15 and was rewarded with a vivid orange sunrise over the desert. I'm heading West!

A straight shot, no stops, get-me-home drive up Hwy 5. A few rolling twisting turns through Pacheco Pass and a heavy strand of grey fog welcomed me into the home stretch. Something about the golden yellow hills and oak trees... Feels like home.

3965 miles.
17 paintings.
1 (first) Artist in Residence.

I'm certain as time goes by I'll reflect on this experience, this gift of focus, this pause from the hectic pace of my real world and understand its impact. 

My work grew; earlier paintings are thinner, smoother. By the end of the trip there is a looser and thicker more confident brush quality. Throughout my compositions are strong and I can see the observations and interpretations I've made on form, line, mass and design. These are all strong and consistent.

The final paintings where I take these strengths and add more brushwork, show more depth in the environment but keep my heightened colors... These are the best. I feel them.

I'd always wanted to be an Artist in Resident, an A.I.R, and the Starry Night Residency in New Mexico was a great introduction to the work that is required, the focus and commitment, the communal arrangements as well as saturating oneself with an unknown environment and landscape. I'm well suited to this Residency thing!!

I'm now looking forward to future Residencies and how they will balance my day to day work life, my day to day studio life and my weekend warrior Plein Air life.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

From Moody to Hell to Home

Thought I'd be able to get a quick painting in yesterday morning...

Packed up my things, grabbed a bite to eat and the clouds only darkened. Drizzle. GORGEOUS! But yeah, storm approaching. Since I had to drive back up out of the canyon (Sedona) up to Flagstaff... I opted to start the drive back west.

Farewell to the spectacular Sedona!

And 5.5 hours later... A special kind of hell: Barstow.

What a shock. What is this place?? Outlets. Buses. Masses of shoppers. Hot like hell. Where am I? A pit stop.

I'm heading home. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Adventures in Sedona

Where to begin?!

Woke at 5:30 so I could get out to Red Rock Crossing Park early to catch the best light. It takes about 40 minutes to get there...

Arrived. Closed. Open at 8. Shoot!!!

Ate breakfast and coffee in the car and then cleaned the car.... Until 8.

I'd painted here before, when I took a Plein air workshop through the Sedona Art Center with William Scott Jennings. We painted at this spot, along the river looking up at Cathedral Rock.

But today... The river was FULL! All along the banks you couldn't see the Cathedral. I walked every which way.... Nothing. I had to cross the river. 

With my pochade backpack, my tripod, my umbrella AND my coffee... I climbed around trying to find a way to cross. 20 minutes of ducking under trees and poking around, nothing. I knew I'd have to go through. 

Pants rolled up. Coffee held high. I waded through a rushing river, only to just under my knees... to a rocky bank with a perfect view!!

Perfect spot! People started arriving and many couldn't figure how I got where I was... I said walk on through! Your shoes will dry! None did.

I caught the morning light despite all the hiccups - the colors were beautiful!

About half way through, a family walked by on the other side of the river. They said, excuse me lady... Just so you know, there is a snake right there. WHAT??!!! "I don't think it's poisonous" said the Dad. Oh, great. My not so little, 4' friend, slithered off..... First snake sighting!

Painting is great, super pleased. But only time for one today.

Wind. Crazy wind arrived. I was walking around town and everyone was taking cover in shops and then the dark clouds appeared. 20-64 mph. This I know because I took refuge in a gallery and the gallery employee looked it up :) 

I treated myself to a massage tonight, felt wonderful after hauling about my painting equipment, my luggage duffel and my electric cooler for 3 weeks. I needed it.

My plan is to squeak in a painting in the morning and then head WEST. As I'm eating dinner now, 8:45, and drinking a delicious Cucumber Margarita- we'll see....

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Looking down, looking up

It only took about a half hour east of Albuquerque for the red rocks that I love so much to appear. Gorgeous!

8 hours in the car today... Pretty much my max. Made a terrific stop to see the Meteor Crater, I totally recommend a quick stop here if you're driving near Flagstaff Arizona. It's WINDY!!! 

After a beautiful 40 minute drive down through forests and more red rocks I finally arrived in Sedona.

Absolutely one of the most beautiful places on earth I believe.

Tomorrow is a painting day! Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Couple of Churches

Today I followed my friend out to the tiny town of Galisteo to paint. The drive was beautiful; scrubby rolling hills and views to buttes out on the horizon. And trees! Trees in New Mexico are hard to come by, but my friend did a good job of picking a location with some shade and of course a view to a town Church. 
I'm not thrilled to bits with mine but I did remember to take pictures! I have some good color and temperature changes and even some brush strokes I'm pleased with... But overall - meh.

After about 3.5 hours, Bill left and I headed out to explore... He recommended I visit Lamy, and he was right. A great Church that needs TLC badly, but has great structure and form and stained glass still despite its condition.
The town is an old train town so there is a good train station and a few old rail cars but other than that, all was quiet and empty.

Back up to Santa Fe I ran errands and ate at my favorite restaurant Pasquales, that's it!

Coming soon: red rocks... CAN'T WAIT!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Off-roading the backroads of Santa Fe

Back at the painting today, I've missed it! 

Met up with my friend, and fabulous painter, Bill Rhea for a guided excursion to a perfect painting location.
This is me following Bill...

He suggested we head South about 35 minutes to Cerrillos where he has a favorite spot; it was past an almost ghost town and then down a winding dirt road and into a sort of canyon. Can you see the cars?? Look how small they are next to the rock walls! 

I think we were there about 3 hours. I forgot to get a photo of my painting on the pochade, darn it, but here it is on the ground.

Afterwards we split up for the day, I headed to a little funky town nearby called Madrid. (Pronounced Mad-rid.)

Some good art and good looking doors out there!
Lots of galleries, a terrific coffee spot called Java House (with iced coffee that has coffee ice cubes!) and little antique/junk shops. Very unexpected little enclave... With crushed glass walkways!

My biggest find however was heading back towards Santa Fe, I saw these sculptures of cranes off to the side so I flipped a u-turn, went back and discovered 'Oragami in the Garden.'
About 20 of these big sculptures of different Oragami along a self-guided walking path. My favorite were the Buffalo:
I thought they were all fantastic! The artist: Kevin Box.

Tomorrow is another painting day! It's great to have a local artist to suggest locations AND to have someone to paint with!