Friday, December 28, 2012

Trainspotting at San Pablo Bay

We had a glorious day enjoying the vistas of San Pablo Bay, in the vicinity of Pinole. Railroad tracks follow the coastline here, so Keith was able to watch trains while I painted - a perfect combination! The scenery is just stunning and well worth the drive.

Sitting on the platform at Martinez Station was interesting. It seemed totally dead and quiet with no-one around. Then a train pulled in and suddenly I was surrounded by hordes of people all wheeling suitcases. I was so absorbed in my painting that I have no idea if they got off the train, or if they emerged from some warm waiting room to catch the train!

Los Gatos Old Town

This was the last SCVWS paintsite of the year. Parking was devilish difficult - as you would expect a few days before Christmas! The shops looked very inviting though, and I was enthralled by the reflections and mannequins.
It was breezy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stanford Quad, Saturday Dec 15th

Stanford Notice Board in the rain
Brrr, another chilly day for painting outdoors, but the Stanford Quad has copious paintable views so it was worth braving the weather. I plunked myself down at the first available spot and began immediately sketching the meditating group of people in front of me. It didn't turn out as well as I hoped, so then I moved on to a view of the statues on the approach to the quad. I gave up the pens and just sketched freely with the brush and monochromatic paint to try and capture the lights and darks, and drama of the poses. It was a bit tricky as the paint dried so slowly - you really needed several paintings to work on at once, otherwise you were tempted to go back into still wet paint - and therein lies disaster!

We had a warming respite in the cafeteria over lunch, and enjoyed the yummy chocolates Rajit brought along to share. Then back out into the cold - and now rain! I was intent on going home, but the notice board grabbed me on the way out and I had to paint it. I got a decent view of it from a fairly sheltered doorway. Returning to the car I had to carry my sketchbook under a towel because the paint was still well and I didn't want the rain to wash it off.
Meditation in the Quad

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz

Workers in the fields

We had a nice mix of sunshine and clouds for our visit to Wilder Ranch. (caught a glimpse of the sea from the parking lot, but didn't have time to walk over there!) I had the most productive paintsite ever, doing four scribbly drawings and three little paintings.
People brought a great mix of yummy desserts to share so we were able to pig out at lunchtime. What fun!

Our little group of painters

The smithy

Rusty baler in the field
Horses at Wilder Ranch (I need some new pens, these are drying up!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Joseph Grant Park, San Jose

What a great day. The rain stayed off long enough for us to do some painting and get in an exciting little hike! We saw some wild boar (a "sounder" I think is the collective term). There were quite a few of them and they can move surprisingly quickly - certainly scared the heck out of us! What a mess they make too, roto-tilling huge areas of the park in their search for food. Their little piggy footprints were everywhere.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Memorial Park Cupertino, Saturday Nov 17th

The day started off badly as I pulled into the parking lot and the heavens opened! It rained heavily for about 10 minutes, then just as I was considering painting from my car the rain stopped. The park was almost deserted but for the ducks and geese preening by the pond. I drew those, then moved on to a drawing of the memorial statue. By the time I was done with that the sun was peeking through and it felt worth risking the paints. I love drawing, but struggle so much with paint, but today my painting came out pretty much as I had planned. Yay! Only three of us at the paintsite today, but I expect the rain put most people off.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Harris Lass Museum

This great museum was opened specially for our group. Having painted outside the house in the past I focussed on interiors. I enjoyed the drawing so much and the grey brushpens really help me as I struggle with values.

Castle Rock Hike and Sketch

What a rainy start to the Hike and Sketch.  Jenny and I weren't sure anyone would want to go, but lo and behold a fair few hardy souls braved the weather! My sketches didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. The first was way too wet from the get go and the rain dripping off the trees did nothing to improve it.  With the second one I lost the values somewhere along the trail. Never mind, it was a fun adventure anyway!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pau Hua Buddhist Temple, San Jose

A quiet sanctuary with incense in the air and monks in the garden. The bright colors in the temple decorations and offerings were a feast for the eyes. What a lovely place for worship and contemplation.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wildwood Park, Saratoga - Mixing Grays

A gray day for mixing grays! We did a special on "grayed color" today and spent some time experimenting with mixing beautiful gray colors on the palette and on the paper. I found I had the most success by mixing primaries on the palette to make a neutral gray, putting that on my paper and then adding a little pure color (more red, or blue etc) to liven it up. Like our "mixing greens" special it made you think more carefully when you were painting about exactly what colors you wanted to use, rather than dabbing randomly into the palette and hoping for the best! I rediscovered Ultramarine Blue, and Raw Sienna, which I haven't used in a while! Having no green or purple in my palette I worked harder to get the complementary mixes for gray, but it was a lot of fun seeing the color mixes other people got.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jose Higuera Adobe, Milpitas

Jose Higuera Adobe, Milpitas

This is a great little place that has a history going back to the Spanish in the early 1800's. The trees and cacti are historic, allegedly planted in the 1830's. There are some cattle usually roaming around the hillsides and on the day we were there some turkeys were struttin' their stuff in the grounds.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Santa Cruz Harbor Thursday Sept 25th 2012

Aldo's Restaurant, Santa Cruz HarborCrane

Santa Cruz Harbor has a lot of views to offer. I started with Aldo's Restaurant, then some birds and finished up with some boat bits and a crane. A fun day out.


Here are my sketches from a recent trip to Kyoto, Japan.
 This is at Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto. A wonderful temple up in the hills. We approached it through a beautiful mausoleum with thousands of gravestones huddled together on the hillsides. This was my first sketch, done in high heat and humidity.

 Two views of Nijo Castle, which was across the road from our hotel.  This fortified home of the Shogun had "Nightingale" floors which squeaked as you walked on them so that no assassins could creep up on the Shogun! The top sketch is the entrance gate. Where I sat to paint that was mosquito heaven and I got eaten alive.
 Fushimi Inari Shrine. I visited this beautiful shrine in the rain. These lovely Torii gates create an orange corridor up hill through the trees. At this spot I set up my stool and huddled under my umbrella with my backpack between my knees, sketchbook on lap and palette and brush in hand. It was very tricky to balance everything - not having enough hands! At that point I realized my water was still in my pack, so I stuck my palette out in the rain and tilted the umbrella to get more. Its surprising how much water you need to paint with! This was a lovely spot, peaceful, with colors, orange green, black, and the gentle dripping rain. A couple passing by looked at me in amazement - probably thought I was crazy.
Heian Garden - less is more

Heian Jingu Shrine, Kyoto. The roof were very complex. The dragon is a water fountain.

Heian Garden covered bridge
 These three sketches were done at the Heian Jingu Shrine. When I sat to paint the covered bridge above lots of Japanese ladies kept stopping to see what I was doing. I didn't understand much of what they said, but they were all very friendly and admired my sketchbook.
This last little sketch is the Ebisugawa Bridge over a little walking path and stream that ran alongside the main road in front of the hotel. Again the mosquitos got me - despite wearing tons of insect repellant. This was a popular spot for dog walkers and joggers.

Monday, August 6, 2012

La Petit Trianon, DeAnza College

 DeAnza College has a sunken garden and some lovely urns on the walls above. This one gave me  a peek of the La Petit Trianon building behind.

The garden has a great geometric stone fountain in the center which is always fun to try and paint.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pete's Harbor

Studio painting on paper
Above is my second attempt at this scene - done in the studio from my plein air painting.
Plein air painting on watercolor canvas
Pete's Harbor is a favorite place of mine to paint and last Thursday I had high hopes of creating a good painting on watercolor canvas.  Unfortunately my plein air mojo has left me and it was a bit of a disaster!  The first painting I washed off (great thing about the watercolor canvas!) because the composition was bad. Then I had another go after lunch and that was only a little better.  I had drawn on the canvas with a pencil and that was a bad mistake because second time around I ended up with a scribbled boat floating in the middle of my sky. I had to paint a big pink cloud over it!

Rusty Stuff

I've been attending Kay Duffy's drop-in art class at Hakone Gardens and having a lot of fun with watercolors. Two weeks ago we did rusty stuff using lots of different things like wax paper, salt, cardboard etc., to create texture. Here's my  piece.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I spent a couple of days in the wonderful company of other women artists down in Carmel. 
On day One we went to Point Lobos and saw a couple of elderly people watching the crabs in the tide pools

A view of Carmel Valley Ranch from the Organic Garden

Lovers Point Beach
The beach was a wonderful place for people watching. Lots of little children jumped in and out of the waves.  Sue and I found some wonderful kelp and stuff on the beach and fun making a beach collage with it!
Kelp - all sorts of interesting textures and colors!