Landscapes


Hours passed as I waited for the fog to lift.

Fog cover .... Mussel Rock, Pacifica, CA

Fog cover …. Mussel Rock, Pacifica, CA

Waiting for conditions to be right for my first paragliding flight is different from most other sorts of waiting.  I can usually concentrate on drawing while the minutes tick by.  This morning my attention was seriously split between being an artist and being a bird.

Fog at Mussel Rock, Pacifica, CA

Fog at Mussel Rock, Pacifica, CA

Still foggy and no wind

Fog begins to clear …. but no wind

Finally the fog cleared.  The wait continued as the wind refused to grow strong enough for sufficient lift.  I didn’t want to simply drop to the earth as I did when I jumped from a plane.  I wanted to soar, riding thermals to touch the clouds.

Succulents

Succulents

As the sun headed toward the horizon, all hopes of flying vanished in the warm glow.

Between drawings I wandered the paths, inhaled the sea air and thought about how I want to spend the next two years. Why two years?  Because I’m following the suggestions of my fabulous Business Coach, MS.  Where do I want to find myself as an artist in two years?  Where do I want to find myself in ten years?  Where is that magical balancing point between painting as painting leads me and painting as the economy leads me?  My brain felt foggier than the air around me.  I tried to be objective about realism vs. abstraction and where en plein air and the Color Scheme Game fit into the plan.  Though I reached no conclusions, I found more options.

I didn’t get to fly today.  Instead, I had a wonderful day of contemplation.  My sleep will be sweet tonight.

Sketchbook drawings:  Pencil and watercolor, Ink and watercolor on watercolor paper in handmade, coptic bound sketchbooks.

I’ve returned from California having remembered what fuels me as an artist.

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

In November I visited California Academy of Sciences and saw the Leafy Seadragon.  I scheduled to teach more workshops in Santa Rosa as quickly as I could.  Why?  I wanted to spend an entire day drawing seadragons.

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

Leafy Seadragon, Phycodurus equus

Reason number two for returning to California so quickly was to paint the steep rolling hills surrounding San Francisco, spotted with Live Oak, Black Oak and cattle.

Cattle Grazing along Calaveras Road, Milpitas, CA

Cattle Grazing along Calaveras Road, Milpitas, CA

Sugarloaf Ridge Park, Santa Rosa, California

Sugarloaf Ridge Park, Santa Rosa, California

The bonus was sitting along a path at Mussel Rock in Pacifica, watching Mike fly through the sky with other paragliders while painting the hills and the sea.

Paragliding at Mussel Rock, Pacifica, California

Paragliding, Mussel Rock, Pacifica, CA

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, California

Mussel Rock, Pacifica, California

These are the experiences that nourish my soul and heal the wounds inflicted by life’s challenges.  I now return to my studio, well-prepared to begin the new body of work focused on Healing through Art.

Images:  Drawn first with pencil, followed by watercolor.  Seadragon drawn live, beside the tank at California Academy of Sciences.  Mussel Rock images painted en plein air.

View from the parking lot of Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa, CA.

Lavender Garden and Vineyard

Lavender Garden and Vineyard

A gorgeous day was spent with Joanie and Wakar, painting at the winery.  The mounds of lavender were not in bloom.  They looked like scoops of blue green ice cream, maybe a mix of pistachio and blueberry.  The steep, rolling hills of the Sonoma Valley take my breath away and renew the pleasure of plein air painting.

This trip has been quite different from the one I planned.  My life is like that, always full of surprises.  If the surprise isn’t a good one, I do my best to transform it into something wonderful.  Just like a painting that has lost its way, the solution often brings the experience to a level beyond what it might have otherwise been.

Painting:  sketched lightly in pencil, followed by watercolor and areas clarified with pencil after the watercolor was completely dry.

To travel and paint ….. to paint and travel.  To pass along the various methods I’ve learned or discovered to express the life I awaken to each morning …. To make connections, on a daily basis, with new people from all walks of life  and to add, in a positive way, to the rhythm of the Universe …. Those have always been my goals.

On the Road to Asheville, NC

On the Road to Asheville, NC

As those goals become reality, other aspects of daily life require adjusting.  There are only twenty four hours in each day.  I had filled those hours completely before needing to upgrade my online presence, before needing to plan for days lost to airports and cars, travel logistics, packing everything into manageable suitcases.  It’s challenging and totally worth every frustration that crosses my path.

Developing new approaches to teaching the basics drives me along paths I might not have explored.  I discover techniques I had forgotten and I stumble across techniques I haven’t tried before.  My own work grows when I share my painting experiences with others.

Sketchbook travel drawing:  Drawn first with ink using a fountain pen, followed by watercolor using a waterbrush. Drawn from the passenger seat, en route to Asheville, NC where my friend, Pete, filmed the first of a series of online painting demos.

Home again after an inspiring and adventurous ten days in California.  Great people, great landscapes, great food and great weather.

San Francisco Streets

One of my goals was to play with the perspective of the streets during the two days I spent in the city of San Francisco.

Slanted streets and houses

The one day in San Franciso that I planned to sketch rather than walk and snap photos, it began to rain as soon as I put ink to paper.

Slanted landscapes everywhere

Most of my time was spent drawing and painting on Moffett Field in Mountain View and exploring the hills in the surrounding area.  Though I love the beauty of the flat landscape in New Jersey where I live, I feel more connected with the slanted and rolling landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Pacific Ocean Reflections

In addition to slanted landscapes, reflections and shadows turned out to be threads that wove the fabric of my trip.

Pacific Ocean Seaweed Shadows

Already, I  look forward to returning, perhaps in January, to teach another Color Scheme Game Workshop not only in Santa Rosa., but in Mountain View and San Francisco as well.  In addition to the Color Scheme Game Workshop I’ll be teaching a Color Value Workshop in Santa Rosa. (Thanks again, Joanie Springer, for helping to make this such a successful trip!  Thank you Kristen and Zak at Village Art Supply for hosting a last minute workshop in the middle of your amazing art store! )

Photos taken in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’ve enjoyed a fabulous week along the Wicomico River in Maryland, painting and visiting with friends.

rocks among the marsh grass

The water lapped at the rocks behind me. I turned and decided to paint them.  It’s been a while since I tackled painting a pile of rocks.  As the wind picked up the gentle smacking sound grew louder.  The sky darkened, clouds swirled and I felt like I wanted to paint in that spot forever.  It’s been a great week.

5″ x 5″ oil sketch, en plein air, rocks, water and marsh grass

October on the Wicomico River in Maryland is perfect.  I don’t have to wear a bee keepers face mask to protect myself from mosquitoes!

Wicomico River, oil painting, en plein air

The colors are simultaneously muted and bright once the mist has lifted from the water.

Plein Air Oil Painting:  5″ x 5″ color study on gessoed birch panel.

Thanks to Tom’s gift of a mountaineering compass, I know exactly which direction I am facing when I paint en plein air!

12:30 pm, facing East, October 18, 2012

Yesterday, based on the position of the sun, I guessed that I was facing East.

8 am, 60 degrees East-North-East, Polt Mountain, NJ, October 19, 2012

No more guesswork! When I awoke, the cornfield and harvested part of the cornfield were both bathed in a pinkish glow.  Within minutes of painting this little sketch the sky turned gray and the rain shower began.

 

Painting the landscape as it passed by at 65 mph reminded me that I could use more practice painting strictly from memory.

9 am looking East from the side yard.

After glancing at this view (not studying it carefully) I turned my back and attempted to paint an impression of what I remembered.  For me, this uses an entirely different section of my brain.  It is not an eye / hand coordination process nor is it a process in which the painting develops in its own direction with each mark.  It feels disjointed and awkward. Of course ….. that means I need to do it more often until it feels comfortable, until I feel the creative juices flowing during the process.

For this painting I lay down colors in watercolor.  The shapes and colors appeared lifeless.  When a painting is lifeless, I resort to splatters to bring energy onto the paper.  When that fails, I resort to my fountain pen to redefine something …. anything.  When that fails, I take what I’ve learned and move on, knowing I’m one step closer to a more exciting and more successful painting from memory.

Another en route painting from the passenger seat yesterday as we drove through Delaware.

Neutral greens

The farm is along a section of Route 1 in Delaware where the foliage appeared to be turning directly from green to brown. Yellows, oranges or reds were nowhere to be seen.

When I drive south again next week, I won’t have the luxury of riding as a painting passenger.

Sketchbook drawing:  drawn first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by watercolor using a waterbrush and my Altoid Tin of watercolor pans filled with paint squeezed from tubes.

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