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.

Monday, January 2, 2017


    Along the Branch Line | Pastel | 8x6

Close by we have a great walking trail that is the old Clarksburg Branch line - a defunct rail that is now a path. Looking down the path is always a treat.  Even more delightful are the memories it brings back to us both of our beloved dog Candy.  It's hard to say that any spot is a dog's particular favorite as they are always so 'in the now', but watching her delight every day as she raced toward every new smell, every bunny rabbit, every squirrel will always bring a big smile to my mind and face!

Painting Notes:  I love using Black Art Spectrum paper for two main reasons - it allows me to negative paint the lights and all my midtone pastels become lighter, expanding my palette effortlessly.
I recently purchased Diane Townsend's Terrages set of darks which allowed me to tone the black surface. My inspiration for doing this painting came from a video I just had watched of Barbara Newton's White Pastel on Black

Sunday, January 1, 2017


         Lone Cypress, Salt Point |  Pastel | 8x6

Sitting on this rocky promontory point looking at the sheer majesty of this cypress clinging to the rocks being slowly eroded by the constant assault of waves is my favorite coastal perch! Years ago, I spent weeks painting a large version of this that now graces the walls of my guest bathroom. One if my goals for 2017 is to revisit my old favorite paintings and do them over again.  This cypress may not have the rep of the 17 Mile Drive Lone Cypress but it is equally beloved by all who hold Salt Point dear.

Painting Notes:  I took my 'Quick Ptg' set on this trip, knowing I would only do a small painting or two and did not need the whole plein air bag.  I recently bought a small tripod chair that was easily attached to it with bungees.  The whole set up is so light and compact that I can sling it over my shoulder or even strap it to my waist and off I go! Once at the location, I find I can sit easily for hours without legs cramping or feeling uncomfortable. And it's a great way to use all my small fragments of pastels that are too small to use for bigger paintings.