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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Two Hot Peppers - painting a day

"Two Hot Peppers" oil on canvas panel, 5x7" available at my Etsy store.

Another painting of these little Habanero peppers. I'm not sure I'm doing justice to the rich color of these peppers. But I do like how their little stems make the bowl look sort of like a little bug.

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Friday, April 27, 2007


"Terraces" 18x36", oil on canvas

This is a studio painting based on this plein air painting. The longer format gave me the opportunity to really develop the terraced vineyard behind the oak, and the sense of the hills receding into the distance. The painting initially came together very quickly, and then sat on my easel for a few days while I contemplated the risk of loosing the spontaneity of the first few layers. I did eventually go in and make some adjustments.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Habanero - painting a day

"Habanero" oil on canvas panel, 5x7", available at my Etsy store.

The white dish is one of the items I picked up during my Salvation Army hunt for new still life props. I picked it because I thought the reflective surface on the inside would work well, and I was attracted to the subtle basket weave pattern on the outside. What clinched the deal is the name of the pattern printed on the bottom of the bowl: "Totally Today". I mean, like, totally! Today!

I watched "Rivers and Tides", a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy last night. If you don't know his work he does sculptures from materials he finds on site. The works are often ephemeral, and quite elegant. There was one sequence in the film where he was building an object from stones on the beach, racing the tide, and it collapsed on him four times. After the fourth collapse he said with each attempt he's learning more about the stone, but it still has more to teach him. I feel that way about this bowl. It still has a lot more to teach me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Glass, Wood, Garlic - painting a day

"Glass, Wood, Garlic" oil on canvas panel, 5x7", SOLD.

This combination was a bit of a fortuitous accident. I was moving objects around in the studio trying to find the right background for this head of garlic, and noticed the light shining through the edge of the glass. I'm rather happy with the combination of angles and reflection with the organic form of the garlic.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

In progress

"Towering Eucalyptus" oil on canvas, 24x24"

I apologize for the photo quality - this is off my easel and the lighting isn't set up for photography. I generally use my scanner for small paintings, but large paintings require a sunny day in the afternoon when I've got the perfect shady photo spot in the back yard. Much easier than setting up the photo lights for shooting indoors. I've been working on this painting for a while now and wanted to share some larger work in progress. I thought it might be done, but looking at it again I'm not entirely sure. What do you think?

When I first started painting landscapes, I was very conscious of not wanting to paint Eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees aren't native to California, and they release compounds that inhibit the growth of any native species that might try to grow near them. So as a botanist, I think of them as noxious weeds. And the fact that I'm allergic to them doesn't help win my affections. But they're pretty ubiquitous around here. They were planted extensively as wind breaks around farms and ranches, and they're very difficult to remove. As I've been painting more barns and agricultural themes, the Eucalyptus have been sneaking in. And I have to admit they have a certain grandeur to them.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Three Tomatoes - painting a day

"Three Tomatoes" oil on canvas panel, 5x7", available at my Etsy store.

This painting combines my new fascination with placing items on a reflective surface, and my steady love affair with this little Japanese dish.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Morning Light - painting a day

"Morning Light" oil on canvas panel, 5x7" [$75+shipping]

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Shady Spot

"Shady Spot" oil on canvas panel, 11x14" [$425+shipping]

I did this painting in roughly the same location as this one, but focused on a different oak tree. I wasn't really happy with it once I got it home, so I did a little color adjustment in the studio. I think this is another example of a painting that really wanted to be larger than it is. I have another large canvas prepped, and I think I'll try using this plein air painting as a study for another studio painting.

Yesterday I went to the local thrift shop to look for more still life props. I can only paint the same set of bowls with different fruits and vegetables so many times, so I was hoping to find some new inspirations. It was oddly depressing looking through all the discarded knick knacks and dishes, but I did find a very nice reflective vase, and a couple of good dishes. I can see that collecting props could be a life long venture. I'm envious of the array of items that Robert Chunn paints in his lovely still life paintings.

I've also gotten notice that I've been accepted to the Los Altos Art and Wine Festival in July. So far I've been accepted to every show I've applied for, which is both gratifying and intimidating. My summer is starting to look very busy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Leaning Shack - painting a day

"Leaning Shack" oil on canvas panel, 5x7", available at my Etsy store.

I packed a lot of landscape into this little painting. I think this really wanted to be bigger, but I didn't have a larger panel with me. Just means I'll have to go back to this location.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pump House

"Pump House" oil on canvas panel, 11x14" [$425+shipping]

I did this painting last week, and only today realized I hadn't shared it on my blog. This little pump house was in the middle of a vineyard near Healdsburg, and it was the cast shadow of the eaves that initially caught my eye. This time of year the vineyards are just starting to leaf out, and the foliage is the most delicate green.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Avocado - painting a day

"Avocado", oil on canvas panel, 5x7", SOLD.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Avocado Reflected - painting a day

"Avocado Reflected", oil on canvas panel, 5x7", available at my Etsy store.

I don't know why I never thought about avocados as still life subjects before. They have really great shapes, subtle colors, and are tasty to boot. Thanks for the suggestion Heidi! For this painting I wanted to play more with reflections, so I put the avocado on a piece of glass over a piece of black mat board. I really like the result!

My other bit of news is I'm being featured as part of a promotion with Etsy and Woman's World Magazine. One of my paintings will be in the April 24 issue of the magazine. You can read more about the contest here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Red Roofs

"Red Roofs" oil on canvas panel, 8x10"

This group of barns is near my house, and I've been wanting to paint it for quite a while.

I drove down to San Francisco the other day to do some gallery hopping. By far and away the most interesting paintings I saw were paintings by Anne Subercaseaux at the Newmark Gallery. According to the little blurb in the gallery, they were inspired by her commute across the Bay Bridge. They have an eerie sense of being familiar and abstract at the same time. Really lovely use of color as well. Anna Conti has a nice article about them, and even a little video from the opening. The folks at the Newmark Gallery were very friendly, and made me feel very welcome, which was a surprisingly uncommon experience walking into most of the galleries downtown. Guess I look too much like an artist and not enough like an art patron.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oak Knoll

"Oak Knoll" oil on canvas, 12x24" SOLD

This is a studio painting I did after doing this plein air study. I'm really enjoying the long and skinny format. I think it makes it easier to enter the painting and have a sense of actually being present for some reason, maybe because it engages more of your peripheral vision. I bought a bunch of stretcher bars this afternoon to stretch more paintings in this size. I think they'll be a good size to take outside as well.

And the exciting news of the day is I've consigned some paintings to American Artisans gallery in Nashville. Anne Elkins, the director, found me through Etsy, and I'm really looking forward to working with her. So if you know anyone in Tennessee, point them towards the gallery!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Light Shines Through - painting a day

"The Light Shines Through" oil on canvas panel, 5x7", available at my Etsy store.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Top of the World - painting a day

"Top of the World", oil on canvas panel, 5x7", SOLD

I drove up the Geysers road the other day and was treated to a spectacular view across to Mt. St. Helena and the vineyards around Healdsburg. I did a couple of paintings, but this little painting of an oak on the top of a knoll was my favorite of the day. It was a great place to paint, but next time I'm bringing a couple of weights. I nearly had the easel go flying with the gusty winds.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sonoma Coast

"Sonoma Coast" 11x14" oil on panel

After doing this painting on the coast last weekend, I drove up Meyer's Grade Rd and painted this view down the coast towards Bodega Head.

I spent the morning prepping panels. It's a several stage process. First I glue canvas to hardboard panels and stack them under some weight to dry flat. Then I use a PVA size to protect the canvas and finally apply an oil ground. Just another demonstration of the integration of art and biology in this household.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

North Coast Fence - painting a day

"North Coast Fence" oil on canvas panel, 5x7", SOLD

I like the rhythm of the old redwood fences. This fence was near the coast, north of Jenner, and the mist from the ocean muted the colors of the hills.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cow Shed - painting a day

"Cow Shed" oil on canvas panel, 5x7" available at my Etsy store

I drove out to the coast on Sunday, and did some paintings. This little barn is near the town of Bodega Bay. I stopped to paint it because I liked the shadow it cast down the hill, and there was a whole herd of black cows and their calves in the field - at last, my opportunity to paint cows and a barn together. No such luck for this painting. As soon as I got myself parked and set up, the cows moved on to the larger field behind me. I still really like the painting.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Annadel State Park

"Rough Go Trail" oil on canvas panel, 5x7"

I took a long hike yesterday at Annadel State Park. It's a fairly large park, and I only covered a small portion, but I saw plenty of deer, wild turkey and mountain bikers.