Friday, June 23, 2017


               Serene Creek / Pastel | 8x16

Each year for the past few years I have been invited to attend the Los Gatos Plein Air Festival in June. I love traveling there and getting a week in indulge my passion for all the varied scenes this event offers. Our radius is all the way to the coast, including Santa Cruz and Davenport.  There are numerous reservoirs in the area, countless vintage homes I used to specialize in selling back in Sacramento, parks and vistas across the Silicon Valley.  Each time I make a point of going to Los Gatos Creek for at least one painting. My favorite access point is right in the middle of town, under the bridge over the freeway.  That Wednesday found me again here, looking downstream. What was most confounding and pleasant is that the freeway is right across the way- up the bank on the other side! And yet audibly undetectable. The water was flowing so high this year that the babble of the water was all I could hear!! In the heart of the town, I enjoyed two hours of pure bliss standing by this gorgeous spot, taking in its every nuance, reveling in the joy of being in nature!

Painting Notes:  I'm getting proficient at using fixative (Spectrafix) in early stages. I applied dark Spruce Blue NuPastel on the water half of this painting and rubbed it in my finger snood (inside-out bill counter), then sprayed it with Spectrafix. Drying time is longer than for Isoprophyl alcohol but I'm liking taking a ten minute break at this juncture, when I've already done my values thumbnail, drawn in the scene, and now fixed the underpainting colors.  What I like about the Spectrafix application is that you can apply a stark white/light on top of the dried area without picking up any hint of the underlying dark color. And vice-a-versa - a super dark tree trunk, say, on top of a white cloud.  It is a perfect aid for creating even stronger value contrasts!

Thursday, May 25, 2017


            Dancing Dunes | Pastel | 11x14

Five o'clock pm was the check-in time for the 2017 Carmel Art Festival. We were to have our canvases/substrates stamped and begin our 48 hour period to paint a minimum of two paintings for the Saturday and Sunday Festival Show.  I headed to the south end of town and the Carmel River State Beach. There I set up on the beach facing the shore where the steep dune with its ice plants tumbling down had caught my eye.  Using the artistic license we all learn to employ, the Monterey Cypress were actually across the road at the top of the dunes but the road was unseen from my vantage point looking up.  A short while later, another artist came racing by in her down long coat, setting up quickly to capture the fading light.  I was so envious of her coat as the temperature was dropping rapidly and the constant wind had left me with almost frozen fingers - a real liability for a pastelist who must hold the sticks securely!

Painting Notes:  The wind was helpful in letting me 'feel' the dancing Cypress. I waited on putting in the sky color, knowing that for a brief time just before the setting sun the sky would turn a lovely yellow. It was a pre-planned decision as I thought the interplay between the blue violet shadows and the yellow sky, while using the red/green complimentaries in the ice plants would add to the high contrast I wanted to achieve in this painting.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


  Davenport's Shark Fin Beach | Pastel | 6 x 12

Just a few miles north of Santa Cruz on the coast is the hamlet of Davenport.  A few houses, a Roadhouse, a market and close by a small foundry where artglass (among other things) is produced.  Rumor has it the left over shards and chunks are emptied into the river which spills into the ocean at the north end of Shark Fin Beach.  Out and in, the tides smooth the shards into lovely pieces of seaglass.  Most seaglass is from bottles.  Davenport's claim to fame is the best art glass seaglass in the US, or so I was told.  During my two hour paint out there, I saw over 30 people come and go, combing the beach for bright colored pieces.  Everyone left with something!!

Painting Notes: My 15 oz folding chair and my "Go To'" painting set up (a modified contractor's proposal box) was perfect, light weight, and surprisingly held every color I needed.  This is where my small pieces of pastel go to retire until they are toast. Just about when my butt starts to squirm on the small tripod seat, it's a signal I need to stand up, step away from the painting and check out how I'm proceeding with the work.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


      Where Goats Roam |  Pastel | 12x9

We thought we were alone, climbing on the rocks, through the arches.  We noticed two goats amble around the arch into our view. After a while of eyeing each other, his companion sauntered away while this fella continue to stare at us, totally unaware of how regal he looked set against this awesome backdrop of pastel arches!

Painting Notes: Using pastels to paint pastel rocks lends a perfect medium of expression to this scene. UArt 600 paper was the best choice for me as I wanted to have a smooth surface on which to create this scene. I'm painting this during the January 2017 Strada Easel 31 Paintings in 31 Days. These challenges (my 7th 30/30 challenge) have afforded me many benefits.  Daily painting creates good habits but also allows me to comb my 'Potential Paintings' photo file and try small versions to determine which would be best for larger renderings. Best of all, I'm finding at the end of each, I can see my progress in my painting and drawing skills! And, being the anal-ytical type that I am, it allows me to more easily reach my goal for the past three years of over a hundred paintings made a year!

Sunday, January 8, 2017


     Springtime Along the Lake | Pastel | 8x6

There's none so fair, as can compare with nature's display in the spring!  And to have it reflected in gentle rippling water is sublime!  Another scene from our many travels into the High Sierra's, a place we refer to as Our Church.  

Painting Notes:  I was drawn to paint this because of the interplay of the blue green/pink color scheme.  It is an additional advantage to now possess a good group of these colors in my Terry Ludwig collection. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


         Struttin' | Pastel | 6x6

Another painting of a rooster from Fair Oaks Village, Ca.  Years ago, the story goes, an heir decided he didn't want the chickens that came with the inheritance of his folks property so he released them in the village of Fair Oaks.  Others decided to release theirs too after the villagers declared their presence, albeit it noisy, created a rural ambience they appreciated. Today, they all hang out in rooster herds and hen communes and are beloved members of the neighborhood...except at around 4:45 am!!!

Painting Notes: Note to self: do NOT use one of my most loved soft browns to cover the whole background! Use a hard pastel instead. That said, I don't have a hard one that will produce this rich, dark, reddish brown.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


     Serenity of the Stream | Pastel | 8x6

There is something so serene about standing in the middle of a forest gazing into a stream.  It creates a 'Be Here Now' moment.  Embarking on the first 3 days of this 31 Day Challenge, I'm seeing a reoccurring draw to painting forest scenes.  We just spent 4 days on the coast at Salt Point where we get the best of both worlds - exceptional waves and coastal scenes coupled with mountainous forests thick with redwoods and mushrooms.  It was like being on two separate vacations.  I kept walking into the darkest parts of the forest, way off the trails, ostensibly looking for mushrooms but also for the quiet, the peace that being there gives me.

Painting Notes:  Once again, I chose Black Art Spectrum paper for this small 8"x6".  Its so luscious to have really dark darks to paint with!  I was frustrated once again though by the lack of just that 'right' shade of blues.  I have lots of turquoises and many purple blues but a really dramatic range of cobalt blues that pop are just not part of my storehouse. If anyone can recommend brand/color, I'd love to get some.  What I have in cobalts seem grayed down.