Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thank You Alice

Recently, I helped my daughter Jen move from Fair Oaks to Paso Robles, both beautiful areas of California. Fair Oaks is east of Sacramento and Paso Robles is near San Luis Obispo. It;s not the subject of this blog, but Jen heroically drove a u-haul with a transporter behind carrying her SUV. B=Great job!!!

Jen was leaving a very supportive church community in Fair Oaks where she was a teacher in a Lutheran school.  One of her friends there was Alice, a truly sensitive and engaging woman.  Although I had been to Fair Oaks many times, I had only met Alice briefly.  She was a neighbor of my father, so we also had that connection.  While on this recent trip, Alice joined Jenifer and me for a dinner at the Olive Garden.  I, of course, wanted to pay for the dinner because I wanted to treat Jen and because I wanted to thank Alice for the friendship she had shown for Jen.  After the meal, as we prepared to leave, Alice "just happened" to have an Olive Garden gift card for me.  I was happy to get it, and told her I would send her a thank you note.  As readers of my blog know, I make a little watercolor painting on a card and then write a message on that card as a thank you.  This one for Alice doesn't have a restaurant scene....it is a scene from the front yard of my cousin's house in Italy---so Italian!!!!  Old buildings that have been added to again and again, vineyards, country roads, trees--some of the things I like about Italy.  Lots of memories from that and now, lots of memories of a good Italian dinner with Alice.  So, thanks, Alice...your card will be in the mail.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It IS Summer

...and so far, I hadn't painted any sunflowers.  Well, in my world you paint sunflowers in Summer--it is just something you do.  I am grateful that my friend Nancy lulled me out of the complacency of forgetting to paint sunflowers and brought me some when she came for dinner a couple of days ago.  This is a note card painting, so it is small, but I kind of like it.  I am not thrilled with how I did the "signature/logo" in the lower right, and will give that a little more thought.  It seems to work with this composition, though.  There were actually five sunflowers, but I focused on my favorite three.  This was kind of fun, and I loved going with a darker value background.  Thanks, Nancy.  I needed to paint those sunflowers!   I'm not limited to just one sunflower painting in the season, but at least I did one.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Rose Labyrinth

I'm still working on labyrinths, but not with as much intensity as I was on the first ten.  Here's one that was inspired by my thought that a labyrinth could be constructed that would look like a rose when viewed as a total image.  It took four tries, and this is the result.  It is watercolor with gold edges and is 22" x 22".  Hope you enjoy it, and don't get lost in the pattern!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A touch of luxury....and Italy

It doesn't get any better than this.

My artist friend, Kathy Allegri, has been teaching a series of watercolor plein air lessons this Summer.  They all have been very enticing, but I have had a schedule that didn't let me go until yesterday.  I am so glad I found that opportunity.  It was great!

We went by limousine from Portland to a winery in Hood River.  It turned out that the winery (Marchesi Vineyards) grows Barbera grapes which are most special to me because they are the ones I harvested with my cousin Jane Davis in her vineyard near Bologna in Italy.  Jane died a couple of years ago, but her family is keeping her La Verde Collina wine label and vineyards going.  I love everything that brings me back to her.  What a lovely woman she was.  So....that was great, with great feelings...but it got better.

Kathy did a superb demonstration of her ideas about the scene, and got us started on our paintings.  We had a great variety of scenes and all were compelling.

We painted for a little while, and then took a break for a wonderful lunch provided by our limo driver in a very intimate dining room created for us in the wine tasting area.   It was SO Italian!!!  Then, we had a tasting of  the Marchesi wines...also very Italian.   Of course, I bought a bottle of the Barbera--maybe I should have gotten two, or three, or????   Well, I can always go back.

Meanwhile, back to the plein air painting.  Kathy had demonstrated a technique that was new to me.  She used burnt sienna to do the drawing and the basic lay-in, instead of drawing in pencil.  I tried it in the painting above, and ended up filling in the other colors with what I call the Velasquez palette--burnt sienna, yellow ochre and ultramarine blue.  It helps that they are also favorite colors of mine.  I'm pretty happy with the painting, but think the background tree trunks are distracting.  I'm trying to decide if I should "knock them back" with another wash of ultramarine, or just call it "done."  The biggest argument on the side of "done" is that the day was completely perfect---leave it alone and enjoy!  Oh, and it helped to be driven back to Portland in a limo!!!  Thanks, Kathy...you know how to host a paintout!!!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I just returned from a great trip to California.  There wasn't much time for painting, but I helped Jen move from Fair Oaks to Paso Robles.  It was a great adventure, with her driving a u-haul and her SUV on a trailer behind.  I followed in a rented car.  Got in some nice "face time" with sister-in-law Sally, nephew Ben and his family while in Paso Robles, and visited with almost 99-year old Louise Reynolds.

Also got to spend time with friends....that was great!   I visited Virginia before and after surgery, had a nice dinner with high school friends Annette and Kathy, stayed TWO nights with Sheryl in Mill Valley, and then got to see Kathy's new Sacramento apartment.  Lots of good memories to store up.  Before leaving Saturday, I made a quick stop at Discovery Park, where the American River and the Sacramento River join up.  I made this quick gouache sketch.  The sun was beating down, but it was fun to be there and record this scene.