"Wine Country Afternoon"

Opening on April 7 at Robert Allen Fine Art in Sausalito, California,  is “Northern California Landscapes” consisting of paintings from yours truly and a handful of other regional greats.   Robert Allen has created a beautiful setting in which to showcase his artists and it is definitely worth the visit.

Continuing at Studio 7 Fine Arts in Pleasanton, a series of recent landscapes can be found.   If you are in the Tri Valley Area, this gallery is a must see having one of the largest exhibition spaces in the Bay Area.

Be sure to check the Upcoming Events Section for where to find me in the months to come.

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Why I Paint What I Paint

Red Shutters

"Red Shutters" 19x25 Pastel

Water Tower Mid Day

"Water Tower at Mid Day" 23x31" Pastel

The question of what a painter chooses as subject matter can sometimes be compared to an author.  The best writing tends to come from what you know.   I’ve been concentrating on landscapes for years more on than off and as my surroundings have changed so has my focus and direction.   I started painting in Southern California and my early work  dealt with that light and color sense.   I also lived in the suburbs so I found inspiration in suburban architecture.   Living in the Bay Area of California opened me up to the carved and othewise altered landscape of vineyards and farmland which for me was like stepping to an abundant waterfall of inspiration.   Living in Humboldt County for the past 8 years has  opened me up to a different sense of light, mood and terrain.   I love the muse my area provides yet I still am drawn to the geometry and colors of the vineyards that pepper the landscape from California into Oregon.   This is my visual playground and with my road trips and ever burgeoning photo library I have a plethora of imagery that continues to call me.    While I am usually excited about a recent expedition to go into the studio to explore I return often to trips and images from my past and revisit them in the studio.   There are many times I do not know what I am going to be painting on a particular day.   I visit my Iphoto libarary and a sequence of images will speak to me visually and I am on my way.

Here are some recent paintings.  I have been hooked on rural architecture for months now, segueing back into vineyards.  Other new pastels are posted in the Pastel Library and under Rural Architecture.

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Early Heroes and the Rural Landscape

"Green Roofs"  Pastel

"Green Roofs" Pastel

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…..


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Sun Sets on Emerson Dairy

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!

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“Yellow House at the End”

"Yellow House at the End"

"Yellow House at the End"

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.

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Victoria Ryan