Monday, September 26, 2011

Why This Place Is Full of Awesome

Four years ago, we made the crazy leap across country, moving from Virginia to the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.  My son was 3, my daughter 6.  We landed in the mountains, which felt a little wild & untamed & exciting.  We also set out to explore our newly adopted state. 

 Ben, at 3, at the Golden Gate Bridge

 Bear Creek House, crazy driveway

 Skyler, with freshly picked lemons.

 Beautiful red moss on madrone trees, Santa Cruz Mountains.

 View of Monterey Bay, as seen from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

 Ben amongst the redwoods, at Big Basin Park.

 Coastal drive down to Big Sur. 

 Miss S. with Snow.

What we didn't expect was how important the local mountain school is to this area. What we found was a very tight knit and welcoming community, and that has made us feel very much at home.  We also came to realize that California is in a terrible fiscal mess, and the schools are struggling.  It's up to the schools to raise their own funds to keep teachers & programs.  Our little community has stepped up by fundraising throughout the year.  I have to say that one of the most heartwarming events is the Jogathon  that's held in the Spring, because it's the kids who are working the hardest.  The kids all run (kindergarteners, running an average of 2 miles!) to raise money.  It's an incredible event with everyone involved: the teachers, kids, parents and community members coming out to cheer on and run with our kids. 

 Rallying to save our teachers.
 School spirit at the Jogathon.
 Jogathon, 2011

With this in mind, I was asked to create a painting for another great fundraiser, our annual Gala which is held in October.  I couldn't help but think of this unique California landscape, so different from the East Coast that I know so well.  One view that never fails to make me feel like I'm in a unique and beautiful place is whenever I drive north toward San Francisco.  Driving up 280, you go through a gorgeous area where the highway is flanked by the foothills of the Diablo Range.  These foothills are covered in a golden grass that much of the year is bone dry and is the color of lion's fur.  Interspersed are these gorgeous oaks and shrubs. Every time I drive through I try and take a few photos.  The photo below doesn't quite do it justice.   Instead, I made a painting that captures the essence of the hills with some of the color that I catch a glimpse of from time to time. 

 View of the foothills of the Diablo Range

Painting of the same view of the Diablo Range.
Oil on canvas, 30x48"  

This painting will be available for bidding at this Friday's Gala event.  100% of the proceeds goes directly to the school.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Evolution of a painting

I just finished another large painting in the studio that will be making it's debut at an upcoming fundraiser for our local school.   I documented the process and revealed the day by day progress on my artist page on Facebook.  

 Day 1 involved a blank canvas.  Prior to this stage, some work went into prepping the surface with artist based gesso sanded carefully between coats to create a smooth and porous surface. 

 This image represents the first day or two.  I began by laying down an underpainting, basically blocking in the shapes and color relationships.  The initial layers tend to be loose and painterly, with opaque layers of oil paint. 

 In days three and four, I continue to paint in both the details of the landscape in alternately layers of opaque paint and semi-translucent layers to adjust color and temperature.  With each day, I typically add 2-4 layers of paint, covering the entire surface.  As I paint, I'm building on the layers below. 

Detail of my work in progress:  Day 6.  I continue to add washes of semi-translucent oil glazes, allowing the layers below to come through and adding subtle transitions of color.  Each layers is allowed to dry before adding the next.  I reveal layers below by wiping away with rags & my fingers when the paint is still wet and carefully sanding when the layers are dry. 

Detail of work in progress:  Days 6 & 7.   With each layer of paint, the painting gains depth and luminosity.  Light filters through the top semi-translucent layers and reflects back from the more opaque layers on the bottom.  In the right light, the painting has a luminous glow.  Because of the thin layers, it also has a smooth surface. 

After approximately 10-12 full working days, the painting is complete.

Oil on canvas

Available for bidding at the Gala 2011, Magic On The Mountain event.  Proceeds support the Loma Public Education Fund.