“My California Dream”

Coastal Ranch

There has been a lot going on in the studio , not the least which is the culmination of an exhibition of a body of work at Sewell Gallery in my city of Eureka, California opening next week with a reception Saturday Night, October 6 during Arts Alive!

Its always interesting putting together a show, especially one like this that has been in the works for a while.  Beyond the landscape theme there is a narrative surrounding each piece and the group of work as a whole.   There were motifs I had been exploring throughout the past few years and more that were revealed when looking at the body of work as whole.    The show title,  “My California Dream”  came as organically as the paintings.   In addition to many rides over our local scenic Highway 36, and 299, I had made several road trips from one end of the state to the other over the past few years crisscrossing every bit of California’s terrain, and the landscapes and architecture I depicted in the ensuing work reflected varying physical, emotional and spiritual states of  my own psyche,  from blissful happiness, contentment to sadness and overwhelm.   Working out these subtle states of mind and emotional being through the depiction of a landscape is not new for me but its never been more apparent to me how an attempt at creating something beautiful is cathartic and satisfying on a deeper level.       I find myself utilizing pattern (vineyards and farms and streams zig zagging through Elk River Valley) to achieve a sense of order.   In a similar way, trees create a sense of stability and strength  and the contrast of light emerging from darkness is a reflection of a changing inner mood.   The richness of pastel pulls it all together for me.  Like writing down a dream first thing in the morning, the goal is to capture  the essence of the emotion quickly and spontaneously and then continue to work out the formal elements at a more measured pace.

Its always curious what jumps out at me visually — being visually aware is a constant for me when traveling and so the compositions that end up being painted are very deliberate if not randomly odd.  A big round tree next to a farm on the highway,  rain puddles in the rows of a fall vineyard, a bleached white house in the summer sun, a peek of blue siding beyond an overgrown garden peeking out like a secret,  a single rain cloud hiding the sun over the ocean….there’s usually something else revealed  with the longer gaze.

I find I am continually drawn to rural architecture, farm houses and barns.   I might not be if they hadn’t become part of my everyday experience living in Humboldt County.  Now I identify with them.    There is a quiet solitude that attracts me to include specific architecture prominently in a painting, almost like portraiture.

Together, these paintings tell a story not of high drama but of the subtle ebbs and flows of life and its challenges and triumphs.    I can remember exactly how I felt whenI painted every one of these paintings.   The viewer may have a similar response or they may evoke something entirely different.    For me,  its a form of a solidified visual, psychological and spiritual memory, like a dream.   It is my California Dream.

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“Solace of My Winter” SOLD

 Well that was a life affirming road trip.   I’ve actually been back home for a week and a half  from our two week trip to Southern California and the LaQuinta Art Festival but had immediate work to attend to so am just now doing a post trip wrap up.  
Getting ready for shows always entails a lot of work and preparation but arranging all of the details necessary for a successful  show turned out to be  particularly daunting this time.   Fortunately life continues to be a learning process and the assimilation of experience and knowledge continues.   Some would think that the life of an artist is an easy one, but like any business, if it is indeed handled like a business, for every hour spent in the blissful glow of the studio light, being creatively expressive and steering clear of the left side of the brain-o-sphere, there are equivalent hours spent on the business side and the oft-stressful side of life.   As a smart girl product of parochial schools,  a worker bee since, well, forever, and an overly sensitive  Cancerian worrier I tend to be quite adept at utilizing   all facets of my psyche and left brain/right brain yoyo.    But being a creative, and an intuitively emotional sponge definitely has its perils along with the benefits.    Suffice it to say that though it has been a difficult year, it has been a creative time in the studio.    And that is a cool revelation to rediscover.   I say rediscover because its something that I’ve known in the past, when I was younger and less affected by the stress of business.    While preparing for this show,  I was also preparing for a solo show at the Sewell Gallery in Eureka, originally slated for April.    At some point in February it became apparent that this was not a solid plan.   Being a chronic “yes” person I was not considering my own limits and even the concept of  asking for a reprieve.   Thank goodness for revelations and support systems and the incredible graciousness and goodwill of my friends at Sewell.   I now have postponed my show for a future date to be posted soon.   Sewell Gallery is a beautiful gallery in my town of Eureka, California representing some of the finest artists on the north coast of California.  If on the north coast, its a definite place to stop in in Old Town.
Arriving in LaQuinta for this show was the equivalent of landing on Mars.   We drove through one of the worst dust storms the inland empire had seen in quite awhile.   Coming from the redwoods through the central valley to the desert, where I hadn’t been in years, and discovering a lush oasis set against these gorgeous sandy hills in a dry, 80 degree climate was surreal.   Fortunately the wind storm died down before we set up and it was clear sailing the rest of the show.    
Day One the Awards Jurors came around, introduced to the artists by a volunteer  and unlike other similar shows they actually engage the artists and ask questions.  I loved that.    At the Artists Party that evening I was Awarded  Best of Category in Drawing and Pastels assuring my attendance for the next two years, whoohoo.   I am proud of my new work so this felt great.    The Artists Party was beautiful!   The La Quinta Arts Foundation truly treats the artists well at this show and makes sure we know we are appreciated.      
At the show we were situated next to contempoary wood sculptor Jay McDougal and had a great time with him and his wife, artist Cindy McDougall.   Jay’s work is crazy beautiful.  Check out his website for a real treat.   Also at the show was fellow artist and friend Mark Kellar who in addition to being a seasoned painter is a long time  musician and voice over artist.    We all had a  great time.
The show wrapped up with good sales, good times and optimism for my return next year!   
Today there is a flood watch along the redwood coast and its been raining for days and will continue to.   I miss those sun drenched hills of the desert right about now.    Thank you La Quinta!

La Quinta Booth Shot


La Quinta Booth Second View







Jay McDougall

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My Continuing Love Affair with Water


"Winter Wildflowers"  23x31

"Winter Wildflowers" 23x31

Artists have been drawn to images of water, with its aesthetic and evocative qualities since the early cave man drawings.  There is a soothing quality to water…and evidenced based studies have shown that images of water create a calming, restful environment in healthcare settings.     


I was drawn to this composition  because of the strong blue  sky  reflection in this closed in waterway near my home in Eureka.   The winter brush and spent wildflowers had an amazing depth of color to play with.   This is one of the paintings that will be featured in my upcoming show at Art Brokers in Sausalito.   I will post additional images from the show in upcoming days.

I’ve wondered why I rarely paint seascapes since I’ve lived on the Pacific coast for the past 7 years.   I think I should make that be one of my challenges…

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Trees on a BluffI have been completely enjoying fall and winter, the months I get to just paint paint paint.  It is akin to hibernating.  I travel a lot in the months from May through September but the colder months are usually spent here in Eureka where I show at my favorite local gallery, Art of Wine.  Started by some friends of mine several years ago, Art of Wine has become a beacon for many to hang out, sample wines, and enjoy some great art from local artists.  Every first Saturday of the month, Art of Wine is packed for Eureka’s Art’s Alive.  I realize many small towns have Art Walks and Friday Night Art Openings but I have to say, living here, in this little berg, ours is the best.  EVERYONE comes down to our waterfront area of Old Town and in addition to the galleries, local businesses sponsor artists.  On Every street corner you’ll find musical talent from established bar bands to fiddlers to Native American music makers, to fiddlers with their babies in tow…it always reminds me why I love living here.

But now it is SHOWTIME. I just confirmed a solo show for March 27-end of May at Art Brokers Inc. in Sausalito.  No pressure!   I’ve been working on several different series though so putting together a cohesive body of work and editing will be the challenge.  That and the recent series of oils I have been working on, hmmmmm.  An opening reception on Friday March 27 will be open to the public and of course, to my wonderful legion of collectors!  Hope to see you there!  Now, back to the studio.  Here’s a little something for the upcoming show.

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Victoria Ryan