Monday, October 11, 2010

2nd Annual California Art Club Painting Retreat at Limantour Beach

Once again, our annual artists outing was a big success. This year's 2nd Annual CAC Northern California Chapter Painting Retreat at Limantour Beach was held Oct. 8-10 on the Point Reyes National Seashore. Thirty Six artists gathered at the Limantour Hostel for two nights and three days of painting, eating and conversation. At check-in, Laife (hostel staff member) handed out sets of Sennelier Artist Oils to each participant. They were generously donated with our gratitude by Savior Faire... the U.S. importer of the French artist materials manufacturer. After four months of preparation, some people drove in from L.A., Monterrey and Lake Tahoe, but most people were from around the Bay Area.

We had spectacular fall weather all weekend with totally sunny skies during the days and a small amount of shore fog in the mornings. Absolutely glorious! After a day of painting at Limantour on Friday with many of the participants, Christin and I checked in and gathered for a pot-luck dinner with the others. Everyone provided an enormous amount of food. We drank (moderately) and engaged in group conversations with stories, laughter and warm smiles all around. It was great to meet some new people and learn more about the lives of other artists. This year there were many more women attending, so we had two dorms dedicated for the women, one for the men and one co-ed dorm. Naturally, everyone wanted a lower bunk, but it all seemed to work out. In the morning we didn't hear any horror stories of loud snoring like the previous year.

Saturday morning began with a Bagel, Salmon and cream cheese breakfast. We added a new twist to the Saturday of painting this year by holding a group paint-out at the Historic Pierce Ranch on Tomales Point which dates back to around 1850. It was a large dairy ranch that produced prized butter, milk and cheese products due to the near ideal cool climate which was perfect for grazing cows. Although the ranch is not a working ranch any longer, the cluster of old whitewashed buildings with surrounding cypress tree windbreaks are now preserved by the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and allowed us to all spread out and paint a similar theme. At 3pm we gathered at the main barn for a viewing of one painting from each artist. Christin Coy's painting was selected as the winner of the Artist's Choice award and received a nice gift from the CAC. Returning home later, we shared a Barbeque dinner and left-overs with more socializing. Another beautiful day in paradise.

Sunday morning we ate breakfast and then we all set out our paintings on the outdoor picnic tables so we could experience the various styles and techniques. It brought us closer once again to see each others work. Michele de Braganca won a random drawing from the hat prize from the CAC. We cleaned up a bit and checked out at 10am and said our goodbyes. Local artists scattered about and painted in the region on Sunday too. I don’t know how everyone felt about the paintings they produced over the weekend, but I do know that such events hold a special place in each of our heats and will be a memory that lasts in our history as artists. We're already planning our 3rd annual retreat for next year.

Note: This event came about as a result of the combined efforts to bring more CAC events to the Northern part of our state. Our local chapter, co-chaired by Kay Young and myself, has been working closely with the CAC Executive Director Elain Adams, Managing Director Lisa Cavelier, CAC administrator Barbara Chung along with our chapter volunteer steering committee. I was very happy to have administered this event on their behalf. If you're not already a CAC member, you too can join...CAC MEMBERSHIP INFO

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Painting for MALT - Magic Can Sometimes Happen

MALT's "Ranches & Rolling Hills" Art Show is unique to the world of Art Fundraisers. As one of the family of artists who participate each year, it's an honor to be associated. I spend an enormous amount of time and energy focused on producing thematic work of the highest quality. As a by-product of this focus and dedication... sometimes the alchemy of challenges contribute to the magic of a special creation that prompts me to say to myself, "How did I do that".

I'm not sure everyone can grasp what I mean by this surprise, but I'll try to explain. As an artist, we put ourselves out there with our best work for the public to view and encounter all sorts of challenges along the way. We stand in muddy pastures, often get rained out, drive on roads that can split a drive shaft in half, log countless hours scouring the countryside, visit some smelly ranches and some pristine ones too, then either paint on-site or in the studio to hopefully complete a set of unique work for the show. The process makes you grounded to the earth that we are looking to paint and exposes you to beauty that can put a tear in your eye. The main challenge for an artist like myself is to communicate this beauty to someone else who wasn't there. As I said before, the magic sometimes happens.

Come to the Druid's Hall in Nicasio on May 15 and 16th to see the work of more than 40 artists who have all worked hard to bring this unique show to you once again. For more information go to: MALT INFO

Monday, April 26, 2010

CAC Artists Paint Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo Sites

As part of their 100 year Centenial Celebration... The California Art Club joined with the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo by inviting Artist members to capture the stunning landscapes of San Luis Obispo County featuring ecological preserves and privately-owned conservation properties that the Land Conservancy has played a role in protecting.

It took place during the week of April 18-23, 2010. The first day at Dana Adobe was 70 degrees and beautiful. Elaine and Peter Adams joined the others as we painted the Mustard covered hills and surrounding trees. Christin and I had not met many of the Southern California painters before, so it was nice to sit in the shade and lunch on the site while we painted.

Predictions of foul weather came true for the next few days so only the brave actually painted on Tuesday with very high winds. On Wednesday we drove down to Nipomo and were escorted to the Black Lake Ecological area. Surrounded by sand dunes to the west, it had an enormous eucalyptus circle grove with an adjacent lake. First it rained while we hiked with our gear, then the winds picked up and reached 40 mph gusts. Not the most ideal conditions for painting, but an experience only an outdoor painter would appreciate.

Rain and clouds once again on Thursday morning at the Octagon Barn, so Marcia Burtt invited some of us back to her ranch east of Nipomo. Four miles off the highway, their property sits on a sprawling california grazing plateau nestled between shale cliffs and rolling hills covered in oaks. Still raining, I painted under the buildings protected carport while others used the southern patio to face the valley vista. Beautifully tended native gardens surrounded her home and color was everywhere. What a nice woman.

There will be a show of the paintings at the CAC Old Mill Gallery in San Marino from October thru December and then a show in January 2011 at the San Luis Obispo Art Center (Museum).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Winters Plein Air - A day at Terra Firma Farm

Thursday April 1st turned out to be an unexpectedly joyful painting day. Shaunie had arranged for a group of us to paint at Terra Firma Farm, a sprawling arrangement of organic fields, orchards and buildings. After a brief tour of the acreage, we parked up at the old farmhouse with a few out-buildings. There were six of us who set up our easels on a bluff overlooking a patchwork of softly colored fields that were plowed in angular patterns of color. Some painted the fields, others the eucalyptus groves and barns. The sun came out mid-day and it felt great after a cloudy morning. I painted the fields and later the pond with some meandering Eucs. Another day in paradise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birding Trip to Colusa National Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and Gray Lodge

n and coastal scenic areas. Since the forecast was for a weeks worth of storms, Christin and I changed plans. Our new friends Bill Keener and Nance Becker offered to drive us up to birding country for a guided tour around the flooded rice fields and different wildlife refuges that inhabit an area near Williams, CA. We set out to view the flocks returning on their annual migrations. It turned out to be clear weather and the experience simply amazed our senses repeatedly. We have never been birding before, but we do identify some of the local birds here on our trips out to west Marin. Here are some of the impressions and photos from our trip.

THE DRIVE UP... Our adventure started out about 2 hours from Marin by exploring the back County roads en-route to Williams. There were abundant duck hunters, so we knew the birds were around and soon after we encountered a rare flock of about 300 Tundra Swans. Bill said this was very rare. The sounds of their chatter made us smile. Continuing our search we came across a bridge over the Sacramento River that produced a classic river landscape that I might paint someday.
DAY-1... We saw all types of Hawks everywhere, as well as Falcons and other raptors who frequent the trees and telephone poles along the roads. There were Red-Tailed Hawks, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Shrikes, American Kestrals, Northern Harriers, Ferruginous Hawks, Cerlews, White-Faced Ibis, Snow Geese, Canadian Geese, and Pheasants. First day we logged in 17 species in a couple of hours. After we drove to Granzella's Inn, a Williams landmark. We dined at their restaurant and had meals covered with gravy.

DAY-2... The next morning we hit the road early and went to Colusa National Wildlife Refuge and took the 3 mile auto tour through the marshlands. Saw Pintail Ducks, Shovelers, Cinnamon Teals, Buffleheads, Ring-neck pheasants, Curlews, Mallards, Kingfishers, Galanools, Pipits, Snow Geese, Gadwall, Red-Bill Geese, lots of Snowy Igrets and Blue Herons and an amazing sight of 45 Night Herons all nestled together in a bare leafed thicket by the canal (see photo). Next we drove past the Crested Buttes rising high above the Sacto Valley, a fog shrouded the sight but eventually opened up to an incredible and unique landscape. At one field, we passed a group of Sand Hill Cranes whose throaty calls were straight out of the movieWinged Migration. We drove on to Gray Lodge Wildlife area and it was magnificent. A large marsh with all kinds of migrating groups. We added Ross's Geese, Pipits, Cranes, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, Blue Winged Teals, Green-Winged Teals, Cooper's Hawks, Peregrine Falcon and the Bald Eagles. Here are a few amazing highlights. First, we saw a few Cinnamon Teal ducks sleeping right next to a large Turtle... almost on top of the Turtle. Second, a Bald Eagle landed in a tree and shared it with a Peregrine Falcon just 4 feet away. They stayed like this while we feverishly shot photos. Bill said he has never seen this before. Both birds are high on the food chain and quite territorial. The OMG moment of the trip was when we were standing by the marsh photographing a group of white Tundra Geese of at least 3,000 birds. All of a sudden ALL of them took to the air screaming loudly because a Bald Eagle was circling with talons extended at the west end of the marsh. We just stood there with our mouth's wide open. It was something extraordinary and Bill said in his 30 years of birding that he had never seen an episode like this.

We had dinner that night at Louie Cairo's restaurant where the garlic bread was completely covered with fresh sauteed garlic. We joined Michael and Marlene Rosenthal, Greg Lyon and Kathy Duffy, and their other friends. In the morning we decided to have breakfast and drive home after a short trip to the Colusa Refuge once again. Everything was quiet and fogged in.

Although our intention was to scout painting locations, which we certainly found, our eyes were opened to the excitement of birding and how much life travels through California on the annual migrations of both faraway and local birds. Quite simply, you've got to experience this.