November and December 2018 the Arts Benicia Association sponsored a show of paintings done at Haypress in the Sierras. Haypress Lake is where Marshall Lockman and his family built a log cabin in the Sierras next to a small pond. Marshall is a resident in Benicia, but still spends time at his Sierra cabin and has over the years invited members of DaGroup to come and spend time painting there. The show was a collection of work done during these retreats. I was able to go in 2016 and camped out several nights beside their cabin. I gave Marshall’s daughter Ann the painting I did of their cabin. At this show I contributed my painting of the granite bolders we found near a large meadow. Marshall who recently turned 93 is shown next to my picture.
During October and November 2018 I was showing my work at the Berkeley Yacht Club. Sharon Hind-Smith who is a member there likes to invite artists in the East Bay Landscape group to have one person shows for the entertainment and apparent delight of the yacht club members. There is one wall in the social room that is available and competes with the ever changing activity outside in the approach to the harbor docks. Boats pass very close to the Club which is right at the end of the pier. I was also asked to give a short talk at the reception on October 14. It was well received and I enjoyed talking about my process for completing a Plein Air painting. Many friends showed up and enjoyed the refreshments and setting.
September 4 – October 31, 2018 about 15 members of our Monday painting group, the East Bay Landscape Painters, showed their recent Plein Air paintings completed with the group at the Alameda County Law Library. The Oakland Art Association sponsors the space and allowed us to show there as a group. The library is one block from Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland.
The annual art show for The El Cerrito Art Association was Friday night, Oct. 5, 2018. It’s always a fun evening of sharing art among friends and fellow painters. This year was a dream come true for me. I received the blue ribbon in the oil paining category. My Sierra Tops painting done outside Reno on my recent trip to Virginia City was selected. And my other entry in the oil painting category, Lafayette Reservoir, received a Merchant Award from the Olivera Plumbing Company. I was able to share the moment with my niece Jenny who was visiting from St. Louis. I am still glowing from that evening. My photo taken from the new Transportation Center in San Francisco, Disappearing, also received a Merchant Award from the Rialto Cinema in El Cerrito.
It’s been about a year since I’ve had this excellent new garage space for my studio. After Franco did an upgrade of our kitchen cabinets and floor, I asked him to install the old cabinets in the garage to create a workspace. He not only was able to remove, preserve and re-install the old plywood cabinets, he also created a loft storage space in the back of the garage, and added two skylights above the work area in the front. In addition, the walls were finished, the floor epoxy painted, a sink installed, and a new insulated garage door with windows replaced the old fly-up dangerous door. The whole space is much too fine for cars now. But it wasn’t until a week ago that I finally got the storage shelves above the cabinets for keeping the finished paintings. And yes, Bert has one of the cabinets for tools.
Since January I’ve been lucky enough to be part on an online class taught by Mark Daniel Nelson, an artist living and working in Denver, Colorado. He has presented his two recent online classes on Thursdays at 11:00 Pacific Time using Zoom software on the internet. The year-long series, started with Simple is not Easy, the second, Look Here, Not There, recently finished. The next class in the series will be about abstraction. He uses cameras, an iPad, computer and other magic to
make his online classroom available to 50 or more students at a time. We can ask questions or make comments and Mark responds to us as though he knows each of us personally. Many have actually taken onsite workshops with him I think.
Mark is a superb teacher. He presents concepts in a scaffolding manner that lets me absorb each new idea before adding the next. He does this mostly by showing us in the online lecture many examples of famous artists’ works from many different styles. He discusses how the new concept plays out in their paintings. But Mark also does this with the work class members do in response to weekly assignments that we then post to our private Facebook group each week. He will use the critique time to help us see how we have successfully interpreted the concept. And if we haven’t quite gotten it he will copy the piece into Procreate (a digital drawing program on the iPad) and share his suggestions by “fixing” the piece before our very eyes. He does this with a true sense of curiosity and exploration and never a bit of judgement. It’s fun to watch our paintings gain in impact and strength with his careful manipulation. And he handles a huge range of painting styles and interests.
I came to the class looking for a boost in inspiration and direction. I was feeling stuck and stale and needed something, but didn’t know what it might be. I have found the inspiration. My head and eyes are newly loaded with a renovated way to approach my painting. I can’t always pull it off, but I have a whole bunch of new tools to work with that will help me. I am excited.
A favorite painting of mine, Meeker Slough, has been juried into the current show at the Valley Art Gallery in Walnut Creek. I can see Meeker Slough in the distance from my house in the El Cerrito hills and it is bordered by the Bay Trail that skirts the San Francisco Bay. It is a favorite site for local Plein Air painters. The show features scenes from around the bay area, most of which are landscapes. I am thrilled to be in the company of many excellent artists, 2 of whom are painting buddies of mine; Kathleen Gadway and Joanne Uomini. The curator of the show is Emma Acker, Associate Curator of American Art at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. The show is up from May 12 – June 23. Treat yourself and have a look.
Immediately after our Open Studio event in Benicia, five of our daGroup group (Sue W, Sue C, Joanne U, JoAnn M, and Micaela) traveled past Reno to Virginia City where we rented an AirBnB house for four days. We were in the highlands just outside Reno with a spectacular view of the snow caped Sierra mountains. We spent our days painting in Virginia City. It is a funky restored mining town famous for the Comstock lode of silver and gold. Remains of the mine tailings surround the town and the main street is lively with old saloons, hotels, gift shops and the unique stately 4th Ward School, all tied together with a covered wooden boardwalk that keeps you cool in the dessert heat. Once a thriving town of 25,000, it sponsored the Civil War with its riches mined from the surrounding hills – a true gem of the “wild west”. While painting my first day I was entertained by deer jogging down the street behind me, quail darting from bush to bush in front of me and a herd of wild mustangs galloping across the open field between me and the houses beyond. The Plein Air painting experience is so much more than just the painting.
For the second year our Sunday painting group known as DaGroup shared space in Jerry Turner’s studio/home in Benicia for the annual townwide Open Studios event. Ten of us hung our latest work inside and on the patio for the weekend. Many friends and visitors came to look and buy. We enjoy the time together to really study and critique each others’ work. We eat, talk and relax together in a shared event that seems to cement the bonds we already share. This year I was able to swap my work for two new paintings, one each from Marshall Lockman and Kathleen Gadway. I am thrilled to have them.
Arts Benicia hosted a show juried by Donna Seager at its gallery in Benicia for the month of December. Works no larger than 12″ x 12″ were selected. My 9: x 12″ oil of a summer garden at the Blake Garden Estate in Kensington was selected. It is a favorite of mine and I have very fond memories of the two summer afternoons I spent with the Eastbay Landscape painters in the garden. Our group of plein air painters enjoy visiting many locations in the Eastbay.