(note on the painting: about 40 minutes south of us is Moss Landing. It's a quiet spot along Highway 1, between Santa Cruz & Monterey. It's marked by salt marshes, grasses that are an amazing burnt sienna color, fishing boats, and a large power plant. There are also a couple of excellent restaurants here, making it all worth an excursion. I find this area quite beautiful, and look forward to making more paintings based on my explorations here.)
I've been busy at work in the studio. Not so busy on updating this blog, but I'm hoping that will change. I'd like the focus of this website to come back to the art, and for that to happen, I needed to make some paintings first.
Stay tuned for a listing of small works on paper... all priced low and just in time for the holiday season!
I thought I'd finally post an update on what's happening in the studio. Currently I have about 12 paintings which are in various stages of progression. I thought I'd post images of the ones that are complete, and post more as they develop. I am painting as often as I can, which amounts to 2-4 times per week (short sessions, while my kids are in school). I make it a priority if I'm able, but life with a family is chaotic... all in a good way of course. Lately I'm feeling like it's time to wrap up some of these pieces which are developing slowly. I'm not a fast painter. My recent method is a laborious process with lots of layers & glazes. It reminds me of building a drawing with graphite.... it's very gradual & requires patience. I may paint on a piece for 3 hours straight, stop for lunch or coffee & continue for another hour before needing to go pick up the kids. After such a painting session, I might decide that the painting is no where near being done, and the process continues the next day. By the end of the week, sometimes what I see are a lot of half-finished paintings... but I'm slowly but surely building a body of work. I absolutely love being in the studio again.
Summer is here, and so is settling in to our home here in California. The kids are out of school and are currently doing a couple of day camps. We've had some house guests from back East and really loved playing tourist with them. We're getting to know our newly adopted area more and more, exploring the coastline and finding family-friendly beaches to go to. We're also experiencing our first summer weather here, which is something to get used to. First, it never rains. Ever. From what I hear, it never rains from around April to October. As a gardener in my previous East Coast life, I find this daunting to deal with. I would just plan on watering this copiously from a hose, but we have water issues here.... mainly a lack of it. So I content myself with planting some things in pots on the deck and trying to keep the puppy from pulling them out by their roots. Everything is also so very dry and arid (and very dusty). Apparently this area has an annual Fire Season, which has come early this year. It hasn't rained since February, and everything is tinder-dry. We were in the house for only 10 days when a wildfire broke out just a few miles from our new home.
With these fires breaking out in the area, and raging down in Big Sur, I've witnessed some things I've never seen before: smoke and fog rolling through my yard, and the sky turning the most amazing orange. It's all eerie, beautiful and reinforces my thinking that this place is far from boring.
It has been an intensely busy week. Last Saturday we moved from our rental house to the place we bought recently. It seems a bit unreal that we're actually here now because it's been such a long process. We moved across country in September and started looking at real estate sometime in December. Even after we found this place, we had a long escrow... about 3 months. Finally we closed on April 1st, and spent a month and a half doing renovations. So, here we are... moving day:
Oh, and because we moved on Saturday and really had nothing to do on Sunday, we drove for 90 minutes to pick up the newest member of our family. Meet Bella!
Bella is a rescued Lab we got through Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue. She's about 12 weeks old and is just as sweet, playful, smart and lovable as can be.
Let me repeat: we moved on Saturday and then adopted a puppy on Sunday. Yes, we're crazy. I think it's a small miracle that by Monday the kitchen was unpacked enough to offer up this wonderful scene: Things should start settling down for us. We've landed where we want to be. I'm antsy to get my studio set up. Can't wait! Let's hope the Lab doesn't eat paint.
We decided that the old kitchen had to go. The appliances didn't really work, the cabinets were out-dated, the light fixtures hung low and made D. feel like he was going to be decapitated, etc.
So we had the kitchen gutted....
And here it is, almost completed. The cabinets go up to the ceiling, giving the space more height and there are now recessed ceiling lights which also make the room feel bigger. Still to go in are the metal drawer pulls and two pendant lights which will hang over the island. I'm excited about the shiny new kitchen and I'm so glad we did this before moving in.
The rest of the property still needs lots of TLC, but at least the kitchen rocks.
Well, we're in the process of renovating, before moving in next month. Every time we go over to the new house, we bring another car or truckload of stuff. It's nice to see the studio space, cleared of all the clutter that was there before. It's pretty bare, not even having insulation, real floors, proper walls, or electrical outlets. As we move in, I walk through this space, getting a feel for the light and space. I'm excited about it, and don't even care much that it's not finished. I'll take my time, getting to know it, and customizing it to what I need.
I'm also a bit smitten with these groves of Eucalyptus trees that are everywhere. When I first saw these, they struck me as trees in desperate need of water. But they just look this way, with their peely bark and drooping leaves. I still find them beautiful, and they smell amazing after a rain.
After a winter of looking at many properties for sale here, we found a house to buy! Part of me wonders if we must be gluttons for punishment. It's not enough to move across country with two small children. We are also choosing to live in the mountains AND we're buying a fixer-upper. Not to mention that this will be the second time we move in six months. But, truly, we'd love a place to call our own. Since Doug likes his job, and we're just getting started on getting to know this area, we want to stay a while. So, we found a place we can get excited about. The house needs loads of work, but it's a nice sunny property with a ton of fruit trees. And it has a guest house! With a studio! This, to me, sold the house. Forget the house, here's the guest house. Nice front door. Doesn't that door say "studio" to you? Upstairs is the studio-to-be. When this photo was taken, I was touring it with my real-estate agent extraordinaire (you rock, Carol!). The space is full of the current owner's stuff, and it's completely unfinished. Note the bare beams, lack of insulation and plywood floors. I really don't care. Look at those windows! Do you think they'll leave that crazy light fixture? Or the wooden horse? I can only hope so.
Apologies for the long delay between posts. Of course, life gets in the way, and somehow writing about art-making, when one is not making art becomes less of a priority. We've been here for four, almost five months now. I can tell you that this is an incredibly beautiful and interesting place. It's been quite a hectic four months, and things are finally and temporarily settling down. The first few months were a whirlwind of just simply settling in. Looking at preschools for my son, ferrying my daughter to and from school, finding us new doctors (hello Strep!), school activities, errands, unpacking, sorting our stuff, and getting through the holidays. Then over the school's winter break, it seemed like we were run through the gauntlet with our choice to live here in the Santa Cruz mountains. With the winter rains, we've gotten crazy storms, downed trees, and lots of mud on our dirt driveway. We've had frequent power outages, with the worst being an extended 6 day outage right around New Year's. We've had our first earthquake, and we've also had snow up here in the mountains, which doesn't really happen that often. From what I've heard, it only rains in the winter here. Come spring, it won't rain again AT ALL until next Fall. So in some ways we're enjoying the dramatic weather. The kids got new umbrellas & rain boots, so they're happy.
To add to the overall mountain-living experience, our sweet chickens (which came with the rental house we're in) were all killed on Christmas eve. We think raccoons or a fox got them. My dear husband managed to get a spectacular case of poison oak, which took about a month to run its course. Then there's the wildlife. We've seen lots of critters just in our yard and on our driveway: deer, hawks, a large owl, quail, and coyotes. Then about two weeks ago I came driving down my driveway. It was late afternoon, and this large brown thing jumped across the road in front of my car. I thought it was a deer, but no. It was a mountain lion. In my driveway. I was stunned. So many people have told me that there are lions here, but no one EVER sees them. Well, I saw it AGAIN, two nights ago, Again I was in my car, and this time my daughter was with me. Me: "Look at that fox honey! Can you see it, down on the left?" Skyler: "Mama, that's not a fox" When the big cat slinked up on the road and I got a good look, I realized that she was right. Not a fox indeed.
I'm fascinated by the moss here. It's this grey dormant moss that hides on the trees & rocks, until it rains. Then the color pops into this amazing vibrant green. It's stunning, and it's everywhere.
Mostly we're busy these days with every day stuff: school, work, etc. We're also enjoying getting to know this area. I'm thinking that this is a pretty cool place to land. Besides, there are jelly fish here.