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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My plein air painting group is having three shows!  Below are the details in the announcement:  Each of us will have 2-3 paintings in these shows.  We are really excited - as we are a new group.  Our group website is

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Paint-out at a ranch

"By the Haystack"  6 x 6 oil
"Corral by the Barn"  8 x 10 oil

Earlier this week we painted at fellow artist Ida's cattle ranch.  Around 9 painters came and Ida and Bruce opened up the ranch to us all to paint.  There were so many views and different interesting things to paint that we all had difficulty deciding where to set up.  Since we were having wind that day, I set up low and sat on a chair.  I actually did two paintings!  All from the same location.

We all had a wonderful time.  Thank you again, Ida!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Donner Party Passed By Here

"Bridge at Donner Pass"  9 x 12 oil

I started this painting a year ago - we went up Donner Pass Road in Truckee to the bridge that locals call "The Rainbow Bridge".  We all painted various views.  I painted this painting in various shades of gray oil paint.  Then, finally, at home - a year later - I painted over it with color, using the same values as the gray painting.  This is a technique that was taught in some workshops I attended.  It is really helpful if you don't have time to figure out the local colors and mix the paints.  Gamblin oil paints come in Grey Dark, Medium and light, and also there is a very good Chromatic Black (made from colors - not the typical black pigment that looks dead).  Then, white is also available to lighten the light gray even more.  I found this technique very helpful when I was doing this painting on location.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A look into my travel sketch book

Sometimes when we travel I cannot take a lot of art materials.  That is when I grab a sketchbook that fits in my big purse, a mini watercolor box, a small bottle of water and a Sakura ink micro pen.

Here are some of my travels:
A vineyard in Sonoma

The Trinity Church in Boston

The view from the 29th floor in Boston

Tulip Tree in Boston
A very windy and cold day on a hill top in Reno
Monterrey Pine Trees in Monterey
Oak Trees and view from Ventana in Big Sur, CA

Monday, May 25, 2015

May Challenge: to learn from Hokusai

CJT's Celebration of Hokusai's "Big Wave"

I have decided to challenge myself each month to copy artwork from a famous artist, so that I may learn something new.  Each artist has a style, a flair, a signature look that we like but we don't always know how they came up with it, let alone how to do it.  So like Nike says -- just do it!

A very long time ago I was lucky enough to be an exchange student to Japan.  This was when I first saw Hokusai works.  I loved his wood block prints.  They had so much rhythm, flowing lines, mysterious cliffside dwellings and amazing bridges.  And always, there was the famous and poetic Mount Fuji.  All my memorabilia is in the storage shed, and I all but forgot about Hokusai.

Fast Forward to this month - we recently went to Boston where I saw a beautiful Hokusai show at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  He was a prolific artist (tens of thousands of works) who lived and worked until he was 89 years old.  He moved constantly (more than ninety residences).  Many of his works were published in books, one was of the many views of Mt. Fuji.

I have always loved "The Big Wave".  It is so different from western art, and yet so descriptive in a stylized way.  So I copied it in pen and then watercolor.  I omitted the two boats that were in the Hokusai print.  I just wanted the wave and Mt. Fuji.

This challenge taught me to see the interesting flowing lines he drew and especially the complicated claw-like lines of he foam on the wave.  I hope I take with me a sense of rhythm and flowing line in my future original works.  It was a fun project and I am happy with my representation of it.

Painting a river...

"A River in Verdi"
The day our plein air group went to Verdi to Crystal Peak Park, it was cold and cloudy and breezy.  My companions were from Maui, Hawaii and troopers to join me on this particular day.  One thing about plein air painting, if you get addicted, it brings out the hardiness in us we didn't know we had.

I really loved the river section here.  There were many sizes of rocks in interesting arrangements with water going around them.  So, I had fun using loose brush strokes of diluted paint to sketch in the rocks and the way the water flowed and moved.

But my hands started to get numb, and I didn't pack my gloves (it is May, after all!).  So I brought it home and finished it just the other day.

Water scenes continue to beckon me to meet the challenge of the different layers in space - the bottom of the stream, the layer of water over it, the reflections on top of it, and the areas of white water.  It is so interesting and fascinating to me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rainy Days in the High Desert is Wonderful!!! Good days to paint in the studio...

"Winter at River Fork Ranch"

We are faced with a drought in the California and Nevada areas.  We here in the Reno area rely on the snowfall in the sierras to feed our rivers that come down the mountains into our valleys - for drinking water, watering landscaping and ranches and agriculture.  Our Washoe Lake is almost completely dry!  Lake Tahoe's waterline is very low and they closed the boat ramps at certain locations.

We have all been asked (in Nevada) to try to cut our water usage 10%.  So, I have been manually turning our landscape water on and off, depending on the temperature.

Lately we have been having 2-3 weeks of clouds and showers and sometimes a good deluge.  We are all doing our happy dances.

As a plein air artist, I am glad to have the excuse to stay indoors and finish up paintings in my studio.  Above is a plein air painting I just completed.  Below are some more:

"Willow Tree Thickets"
"Eagle Lake"