Wednesday, December 24, 2008


My current offerings are sketches from last weeks trip to the main quad at Stanford University. After some cold rainy days we were, with perfect timing, presented with a dry, sunny day.
The buildings and arcades of the main quad have gorgeous decorative columns and archways that reveal pretty views both into and out of the quad so artists really are spoiled for choice here.
As we sat in the quad I was reveling in the peace and quiet, when some nearby construction work started up. In the distance there were metallic squealing and grinding noises not dissimilar to something from War of the Worlds. Fortunately, no alien spaceships invaded our peace and it was almost musical! In a rash moment I decided to include my three fellow artists in the sketch.

From the opposite side of the quad I decided to sketch the church and show some of the trees that decorate the quad. The non-denominational Memorial church, completed in 1903, was commissioned by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband, Leland. Designed by Charles A. Coolidge, its Romanesque style features carved sandstone, red tiled roofs, and elaborate colorful mosaics. The original huge mosaic on the church's exterior apparently took 12 men 2 years to complete but was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The mosaic had to be recreated from the original drawings. Its worth going just to look at that alone. (I carefully positioned myself so that I could only suggest it in my sketch!) There are lots more mosaics to enjoy inside the church (open to visitors on weekdays between 8 am and 5pm).
After sketching, the four of us enjoyed a festive birthday luncheon at the nearby shopping mall.
Have a Merry Christmas ... and here's to more plein air adventures in the new year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Los Gatos Old Town

One of the fun (or scary!) things about painting outdoors is the possibility that people will be interested in what you are doing. I was approached by shoppers many times while sketching down in Los Gatos Old Town last week. One wide eyed little boy was wowed by my artistic talent (bless him!!) and told me that he likes to draw and paint all kinds of things. I hope that his youthful enthusiasm will stay with him and that his talents will be nurtured. Too often art is one of the first things to fall off the curriculum when budgets are tight. Yet when we examine other cultures, and even our own history, we look to art to show us what people do and how they think. Art is crucial in our assessment of how great a civilization has become. Hopefully no one is assessing the whole of Western culture based on my little sketches, but it's good to be reminded that art is a communal joy - not just a secret pleasure to be enjoyed alone in your studio!