When I was a kid one of my favorite artists was Andrew Wyeth. I had a bookon his art and I remember studying it and admiring the beautiful starkness of mood he was able to create with his gorgeous watercolors and egg tempera paintings, two media that I myself delved into “back in the day.” Later it was Edward Hopper who I meditated on with abandon. My dear friend from art school, Terry Jane and I flew to San Francisco from L.A. to see his retrospective at SF’s MOMA in 1981. We still laugh because we had to carry our luggage through the museum. Apparently we would have done anything to see a once in a lifetime event like that. Hopper’s landscapes propelled the painter within me. The common thread between the two is the sense of stillness, of solitude these artists so beautifully achieve in their depictions of scenes from their surroundings and their travels.
In the series of work I have been developing over the past several years involving rural architecture, I feel a sense of going back to my roots as a painter to the initial inspirations that guided what my painting has always been about at its core. Though my earliest work was decidedly more suburban in subject matter – as was my actual surroundings, the thread of my early obsession with painting masters Wyeth and Hopper was always there.
In my work, and with pastel specifically there is a tendency for it to create a dreamlike atmospheric feeling in the finished work. Since I continue to play with the premise of a heightened sense of reality or a dreamlike version of same, it continues to be my favorite medium of choice. My latest completed pastel landscape painting in the rural architecture series is “Green Roofs.” I was very attracted to this composition for its sense of disquieting calm amidst a blaze of color, pattern and light.
And the journey continues…..
In November my husband and I visited a favorite inn in Ashland Oregon, the Ashland Mountain House Bed and Breakfast. This was our second trip at the same time of year. We love the area in Southern Oregon and the rich fall colors of the landscape there. My previous series revolving around Litha Park were created from there and I continue to reach into my vast array of photographic files and sketches to create studio paintings. Interestingly from all of the beautiful landscapes I have captured on film, this little composition from the inn called to me. At the time this was a sweet moment captured. I remember wandering the grounds with my husband as we crunched through a sea of leaves and I happened upon this little courtyard. I can still feel the crisp fall morning air as I look at this and how I felt at the time – very calm but alive, much like the scene. There is something about small moments in time and how they resonate over and over. I’ll still revisit the vast, colorful landscapes in future work but at times it is wonderful to be able to relive sweet moments in time through the process of painting.Learn More
In December I finished a commissioned painting – a 30×40″ pastel depicting the land and view of Mt. Diablo from the Emerson Dairy property in Oakley California. I met Trish Emerson at the Sausalito Art Festival and she told me about having grown up in Oakley and the Dairy was in her family for generations going back to the late 1800′s. Ironically enough, I had lived in the same area from 1989 through 1999 and was familiar with the arid landscape that exists there.
Now, the last of the land, property and buildings had been sold and she wanted to give her parents a gift for Christmas to memorialize the property – a pastel painting for their new home which they were in the process of building. After spending an afternoon walking the property and taking reference photographs I chose a composition from one of Trish’s favorite areas of the property to do the painting from.
On Christmas, Trish’s parents were presented with the painting and were reportedly elated. This was one of the most enjoyable commissions I’ve worked on and I’ve created hundreds in my career. Trish selected another painting I created from the site – of the grainery building seen below. After giving a gift like that she had to go home with something to remind her of such an amazing and historically significant place. Thank you Trish and thank you Emerson Family!
My recent pastel painting “Yellow House at the End” received a “Best of Landscape” award at the 52nd Annual Spring Exhibition at the Morris Graves Museum of Art in Eureka, CA this past weekend. This is one of a continuing series I have been developing over the past few years of compositions from local alleys and street views from the area in which I live. The juror for this event was Debra Lehane, curator of the Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation in Geyserville, CA.Learn More