Thursday, November 20, 2008

Villa Montalvo

Today we were at Villa Montalvo and the weather couldn't make up its mind. One minute it was sunny, then cloudy, then rainy, then sunny again - I thought I was back in England! Villa Montalvo is an Italian style mansion built in 1912 by James D. Phelan, the well know CA politician. Today the mansion is a CA historic landmark with gardens, aboretum, art center, and hiking trails open to the public. Its a great place to paint and sketch - even when the weather is less than perfect.
The mansion was all decked out for the Christmas Fair so it looked very festive. I did some quick sketches with brush pens and actually added a bit of color to the Xmas tree drawing in photoshop when I got home. (This the first time I've used photoshop for coloring so I'm pretty hopeless at it! I'm still getting the hang of using the brush pens, so the drawings are a little rough too. A bad workperson always blames their tools .... !)
Around the side of the house is a lovely area with sculptures and benches and the ground there was covered in fallen leaves. I drew the sculpture of the naked woman, but it made me feel very cold looking at her in this fall setting and I developed a hankering for some hot soup!

Wisteria is growing around the house and along the arbors and looks very colorful this time of year. The twisty trunks are fascinating to draw and I should have spent more time on this one getting the shapes right. Oh, well... there's always next time!

Monday, November 17, 2008

José Higuera Adobe

The Adobe
The "Casino", an original redwood building dating from the 1850's. This building was used as a saloon, gaming hall and, allegedly, a brothel! I discovered that the Sycamore tree behind the building is the largest in Milpitas - I thought it was two trees!

These sketches and painting were done on a gloriously warm and sunny November day. There was no-one around but us painters and a few cows in the field so it was lovely and peaceful.
This small historical park in Milpitas has the remains of an adobe built by José Higuera circa 1828. José Higuera was granted the land in 1821 by the last Spanish governor of California and this adobe is one of the oldest buildings in Milpitas. The current building is a shell, built to protect the remains of the adobe.
Prickly pear cactus that originally formed a hedge around the central compound of the rancho can still be seen at the site, as can pepper, fig and olive trees supposedly planted by José Higuera.