We just returned from a wonderful trip to England to celebrate my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. While over there I managed a few quick sketches.
This is Cosmo. My latest pet portrait. What a darling dog - I had lots of fun painting him!
Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 10 inches
This gorgeous winery is one of many that are a short drive from my new abode. ThIs was painted last Thursday - another beautiful fall day in the foothills. I was with three members of a plein air group from Lincoln. The weather could not have been better and both the vines and the trees had their best colors on. I was able to pick a nice shady spot under some oaks to paint from. Beyond the fall trees is a lovely pond area, which I took photos of, but didn't get to paint. Definitely a great place to go and paint again.
These two little watercolors were done for this months challenge for the new art group I joined. The theme was "Leaves" with a 5 x 7 inch size restriction. I painted with this group at an organic garden several months ago and while it was too hot to paint the cabbages at the time, I vowed to paint them one day. These were worked from my photos. I haven't painted for a little while, so it was good to get back into it.
Today's challenge was painting a green scene! Out by the pool are a wonderful collection of plants and trees, which is lovely and calming to view. Unfortunately it is a sea of of green. I decided to have a go at painting it as I am normally not patient enough to do lots of foliage. It turned out to be fun and I was quite pleased with the end result. It was delightful just being outside, hearing the birds and watching the butterflies dance around. The baby birds featured in a previous posting have fledged and gone - no more cheeping!
This was my first time painting with a group of plein air artists from Lincoln. We met at Lake Natoma, which is at the very southern tip of Folsom Lake. It was a boring scene to begin with, but once people started arriving it soon livened up and before we knew it we had beach goers, kayakers, paddle boarders, sailboats and all sorts to paint!
The weather was just about perfect, and we had a nice bit of shade to set up in.
Below are some sketches I did that day too. Not only did we have sailboats up by the dam, but we also had a group of model boat enthusiasts right next to us, who provided entertainment by racing their boats in front of us.
We have been enjoying our temporary accommodation very much. Out by the swimming pool a bird house hangs in a tree and the baby birds in it keep up a demanding cheeping all day long. The parents must be worn to a frazzle! Frenzied cheeping greets every visit by the parent bird, and even more frenzied cheeping accompanies their departure to get more food! I spent quite a while in the pool today observing them and felt exhausted after 15 minutes (and I was only floating there!) The parents have my sympathy. Today's weather was much more comfortable that recently - only 90 in the shade! The wildlife enjoyed it too, lots of butterflies and dragonflies zipping around. One dragonfly kept dipping into the pool for a drink.
So, having moved I'm a newby with a painting group again! It was great that the Nevada City Plein Air group were so welcoming and friendly, I felt at home right away. Plein air starts early up here - 8 am (OMG!) as it gets too hot to be sitting out by around 11 am. This was a beautiful site though, a lovely organic farm with fruit, veggies and flowers abounding. There were lots of bees buzzing around the lavender, and a few birds twittering in the trees, so it was a peaceful scene. This little sketch finished off my handmade sketchbook, so now I need to make another one!
Well, the move from our house went well, and we are now ensconced in some lovely temporary accommodation at Auburn Valley Ranch, Auburn CA. Above is today's sketch efforts beside the pool. They also have chickens here, so I sketched them today, and I also drew the ranch hound - Luke, who is a real sweety!
I am going to connect with artists up here and to that end I will be going painting Sunday with the Nevada County plein air painters. In the mean time I have a little companion to give me advice!
The paintsites group met at this wonderful park for another hike and sketch this week. This was my last hike and sketch before my move, and it may be a while before I see some of my painting friends again so it was bitter sweet. The hike and sketch events have always been fun though and this was no exception. There was an abundance of wildflowers, including poppies, miniature lupin and the largest swaths of Purple Vetch I have ever seen.
A view of the Heritage rose garden in San Jose
Our wet spring weather has been a real boon to the roses and we have had a spectacular showing this year. A recent visit to the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden was a real pleasure, even though a lot of the roses were past their best. What I learned - roses are darned hard to paint!
The watercolor plein air group visited a wonderful hilltop iris garden with gorgeous views and a riot of color in every direction. Absolutely beautiful!
Welcome to the first plein air paintsite of the year - may there be many more! Weather was cool, but sunny -hooray! The sketch above was done in the gardens of the Casa Grande, which is now the New Almaden Quicksilver Mining Museum. What remains of the old water tower is on the left.
This second sketch is of part of the back of the Casa Grande. A quick painting before lunch, so no time to do the whole house! The original house was built in 1854, and is the second oldest building in Santa Clara County. Sadly, the museum is not open on Thursdays, so we couldn't go inside. I'd like to come back another day and look at the machinery etc.
I seldom paint abstractly, which is a shame because I do like abstracts and I love painting in a purely intuitive way which lends itself to creating abstracts. Anyway, here is a recent abstract painting. Acrylic on illustration board. I started out with a few blobs of acrylic paint and a vague idea that I was going to paint mineral accretions based on a photo I took in New Zealand. The painting went in a different way eventually. See what your imagination makes of it!
So, I learned a valuable lesson this week. First there was that joyous feeling you get when you have completed a successful full sheet watercolor. I painted wet in wet and there is always a frisson of excitement as the colors bleed and mingle and do wonderful stuff on the wet paper. As it dried I was patting myself on the back when- SHOCK, HORROR! Strange lines started to appear in my painting. It suddenly dawned on me that I had done a stupid thing. I had wet my paper and put it on a large sheet of cardboard to do the painting. The lines were from the corrugated cardboard. Ugh! Well, that was a good painting ruined.
I had a second attempt at the painting - sans cardboard this time, but of course no two watercolors ever come out the same no matter what you do…!
Today started out at bit chilly (by California standards anyway!) but was gloriously sunny. Having painted the Ainsley House many times before, Jenny and I wandered down to Campbell's signature water tower on South 1st Street where we blocked the sidewalk with our painting gear in order to get the best view!
Then, back to the historic Ainsley House for lunch and another little painting. I'm painting wet in wet most of the time and I was even able to do some scraping out - normally the paint dries so fast you can't do that.
Here is my latest doggie portrait, a Boston Terrier called Tyson. This one was for my contractor. Sadly Tyson met with an accident just after this portrait was commissioned and is no longer with us. Take care of your pooches and treasure them every day, they bring such joy.
Today's SCVWS paintsite was at the Portola Vineyards. http://www.portolavineyards.com
The owners generously allowed us to enjoy their property for the day and make some wonderful paintings. What a lovely setting, and, of course, perfect Californian weather! I managed to create two paintings I was actually happy with. My secret this time was to think "simplify", and work wet in wet. Sounds easy, but its hard to remember what to do sometimes when you are busy admiring the puppies and ducks, and looking at the gorgeous colors.....etc. Painting en plein aire is just too much fun!
For Keith's 60th birthday I arranged for him to drive a steam train for a day at Felton Roaring Camp Railroads http://www.roaringcamp.com
He had a grin like a cheshire cat all day and thoroughly enjoyed himself! I was able to spend some time sketching the engines, riding the train, and even relaxing among the redwoods. A wonderful day all round!