Wednesday, October 21, 2015


    Early Autumn at the Pond  | Pastel | 6x6

As soon as the first hint of fall came, we couldn't wait to go camping up in Hope Valley. Hope Valley and the Carson Pass area is the closest and our favorite Sierra getaway. It did not disappoint, even tho the aspen turn wasn't as good as most years (many the leaves fell off due to drought before they could ever get some color in them).  We rough camped in our RV at the edge of this pond I call the Lily Pad Pond.  It was sublime painting beside it in the morning light!  A seven mile hike afterwards capped the day off!

Painting notes- my first time using the new Warm Belgian Mist Wallis paper. Loved it!  Put in some darks, spritzed it with ISO and it just about painted itself!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


     The Meandering Eel River   | Pastel | 9x12

After the gala, the sales, the awards, on the final day of the LOST COAST PLEIN AIR event in Shelter Cove, we all drove out the 27 miles of curves road headed to our homes.  But the event wasn't over for all of us! The final day was the second Quick Draw (QD2) at the Benbow Inn.  Built in the 1920's by the architect famous for designing Jack London's Wolf House (which was torched before Jack's family could ever move in), this historic inn is filled with beamed ceilings, carved wood banisters and 'all things craftsman' from that wonderful era when a home was built like a castle!  We had free range to paint the grounds. I headed down to below the bridge arch across the east fork of the Eel River, here an almost still water body of hardly flowing water that allowed for perfect reflections of the foliage and rocks adorning its banks.

Painting notes:  using my fav, Wallis Belgian Mist - the old BM- was so fun. After putting in darks and spritzing with ISO, it was so easy to capture the yellow green leaves of the tree on the mid right by just skipping the pastel side across the paper, barely touching it. Reflections were a breeze - adding them in the right value and shade from what is being reflected, then using my finger cot (a bill counting cot turned inside out), I wiped each stroke down across the entire water area, then added a few horizontals and a few dots of floating debris.  I won Best Pastel for my efforts! A lovely green ribbon and bragging rights!  (Forgot to photograph before putting the frame on-see the blue reflections on my Clear-Vue glass? How many times must I do this before I learn??!)

Monday, October 12, 2015


        The Ebb & Flow    | Pastel | 8x16

Black Sand Beach - who wouldn't rush to go there! Ah, but in Shelter Cove, there are TWO Black Sand Beaches - the big one and the Little one. Almost no parking for either, but the 'big' one has a real  park bathroom while Little has a Port-o-poddy! And the BEST long range view!  This is my view from the top - right next to the P-o-P!  What surprised me is that all the black sand beaches I've been to, heretofore, were volcanic in origin. This one is not! It is made up of the pebbled King Range - the orangey-beige parts are sandstone, the black is slate! The pebble sizes vary in bands but all are a lovely mid-tone charcoal  with white drippy lines on them - they are each like a 'mini-Jackson Pollack'
pebble!  I brought one home to put on my 'Membrances' shelf.  The lovely woman who bought this at the LOST COAST PLEIN AIR last week said she lives in the closest house to the beach on the cliff and this is her daily view.  Wow!

Painting notes: Sometimes, Art Spectrum Aubergine paper is so perfect!  I learned about how perfect it is from Suzi Long, Mendocino Pastellist.  The pale eggplant/purple hue is perfect for all foggy environments (aka the coast) even when it's clear.  All the Art Spectrum papers are nubby - not too, but just enough to make one's painting more impressionistic looking.  If you haven't tried it, do yourself a favor and give it a try.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


         When the Sea Sparkles | Pastel | 9x12

Generally, fairly early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the sky is mostly clear and the sun shining brightly, there is a sparkle that happens on the sea surface that is almost blinding.  We all love this seeing this bright sparkling light, I think, because it enlivens us. Sure does for me!  
I had a really small flat area against the rocks and cliff to stand while I painted this. The high tide was coming in and the only thing that saved me from being inundated by the waves was the steep rise to my rocky platform. Nearby, local youths were at play and the ever-present smell of weed that is ubiquitous in this area of Humbolt County kept wafting towards me - and it was mid morning! Yikes!

Painting notes:  Trying to capture the sparkle's pure light is tough in painting - you can't draw it in with charcoal or pencils very well, it's tough with watercolor as the 'pure white' is only possible by not covering the sparkles while letting the white paper come through. Leaving open areas in a dark background are one of few ways to achieve with these mediums.Oils are a challenge as they don't do the 'splatter pattern' that well, even with a palette knife. Acrylics are the good for capturing this as the whitest white can be splattered over the surface. Pastels, however, in my experience, are not only great at it but fun to do! Just skipping lightly across the paper, adding a few dots and even dissolving the white or white/yellow pastel with alcohol and splattering it with a stiff brush!

Saturday, October 10, 2015


    I'll Take Mine On The Rocks. | Pastel | 12x9

A painting scene started in the late afternoon quickly morphed into flocks of pelicans and cormorants vieing for room on the rocky cliffs, seemingly waiting for evening activities to begin.  Day 2 of The Lost Coast PLEIN Air in Shelter Cove and we were again blessed with perfect painting weather and temperatures!  The scene on the cliffs began to remind me of a bar filling up with the after-work crowd - all anxious for the cocktail hour to begin!

Painting notes: Back using my truly favorite substrate - Wallis Belgian Mist!  I keep trying to find a substitute as getting it has been spotty at best these last few years, but nothing I've found is as perfect a surface!  I had to paint under a large umbrella (Wondershade) which I was able to stake in the ground. Very close ( but safe) to the cliff's edge, I had another painter worry about me stepping sideways off the cliff. Sweet but hardly necessary.

Friday, October 9, 2015


   The Tyvek House.   Pastel | 8x6

Arrived in the lovely community of Shelter Cove on California's wild Lost Coast for 5 days of non-stop, on location painting. This is the 2nd LOST COAST PLEIN AIR put on by a wonderful group of folks who call Shelter Cove home.  It felt like the whole town turned out for us!  On my first day of painting, this was my second of three and is of a somewhat controversial building that is right next to the iconic Lighthouse, symbol of Shelter Cove.  Seems the site is commercially zoned and building was halted for a while when some disagreement sprang up on intended non-commercial use.  Finally, I heard some planning forces put enough pressure on the owners to get the home insulated (Tyvek) at which point the whole project has again been put on hold, leaving this supreme view lot with an unfinished home for who knows how long! Even in the most remote locations, zoning issues are ubiquitous!

Painting notes: I chose a Fisher 400 paper pre mounted on a 6x8 foam core for this, entered my darks and a few background colors and spritzed it with alcohol to soak into the paper before overlaying the final strokes to the finish.