About Me

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San Jose, California, United States
Some paintings far surpass my expectations and some are scary awful, but it's always fun.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Plein Air-Santa Cruz

Last Thursday the SCVWS plein air painters braved record-breaking winds at the Mission and Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz. My first painting of the mission will remain incommunicado, due to a perspective issue. After lunch I did this pen and ink drawing from the church grounds, looking back toward the plaza. I added washes later. It's on a 6" x 14" Arches cold-press block. I used a set of black Faber Castell Pitt pens with 4 different nib sizes. Love the way the redwood foliage turned out. It could use some shadows, though.
 We had a good time-the docent let us go into the walled garden to have lunch, which was fortunate or all of the treats we brought to share would have been blown miles away.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Plein air at Guadalupe Oaks Park

On Thursday the SCVWS Plein Air painters went to Guadalupe Oaks Park-a 63 acre park with lots of beautiful oak trees in the middle of a residential area. There are a couple of surprisingly high hills in the park, which give wonderful vistas of the valley. Mary Paquet even found a spot where she had a view of the downtown SJ skyline. There were 6 of us and we had a great time painting and helping Paint Site Leader Jenny Tero come up with ideas for the quilt she's making that illustrates Beatles songs! I did the first painting below of a cliff face in the old sandstone quarry in my Cachet spiral-bound book, 10" x 7". The cerulean sky granulated way too much, but there were plenty of streaky clouds. By the way, several of the buildings in San Jose's downtown were constructed using sandstone from the quarries in Almaden, including what is now the SJ Museum of Art (originally the post office.) Also, the charming Romanesque Revival Leticia Building on north First Street, which is now occupied by a law firm; the structure dates from 1890. A number of years ago, my dear friend, Eileen Connery, and I organized architectural walking tours of downtown and both of these buildings were on our tour!

The second is a different quarry view-I did this one on that odd little 4" x 10" Arches cold press block. A little more work would probably improve it-I began a bit of negative painting at the top of the cliff, which I like, but I don't want to overdo, so...maybe I should just leave it alone and get on with life!                                       

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Jan Hart Workshop

Last week I participated in a watercolor workshop led by Jan Hart, as artist who lives in Costa Rica. She has an enormous amount of knowledge about pigments, which was very interesting. In the past, she worked very closely with the Daniel Smith company and she started us out with samples of a few of their paints. She had us use a very limited palette consisting of Ultramarine Turquoise, Quinacridone Sienna, Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Magenta, and Zoisite(one of Smith's proprietary PrimaTek pigments.) While this is a rather bizarre palette, she wanted us to understand the unique properties of the paints. Above you see my first painting from the workshop-it's from a reference photo I took of kohlrabi that I grew in my garden, laying on an old tarp. This may be my all-time favorite thing I've ever done! It isn't exactly what one might hang in the living room, but I just love the way the colors blended on the paper and the loose, casual look that I labored so hard to achieve!

My second piece was a vase of peonies that I have painted before (and posted a couple of months ago.) The soft cloth in the background gives it a surreal look. I used the same palette as above, plus Permanent Rose. I like the way the peonies turned out, but I'm back to my ususal controlled style. I still want to do these again. By the way, I used quarter sheets of Arches cold press for all of these.

All was not rosy in the workshop-I tackled a beautiful landscape photo of a vineyard that our friend Erick took a few years ago. This time I used the same palette with the most unfortunate addition of Cadmium Red (WHY??? I've always hated this pigment!) On the last day of the workshop, Jan took on the challenge of "saving" a couple of paintings people had despaired of fixing, including this one. Even she couldn't salvage this overworked disaster! She added all sorts of colors but it was too late. RIP, vineyard.

There's a 4th painting I still have to complete-may post it at a later date.

Alum Rock Park Plein Air

This is a small (10"X7") painting I did about 6 weeks ago on a SCVWS Plein Air group outing at Alum Rock Park. There are beautiful old stone grottoes and bridges left from its heyday early in the last century.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Plein Air at Ardenwood

On October 13th I joined the SCVWS Thursday Plein Air painters at Ardenwood Farm  in Fremont. I used one of my new Arches blocks that is made specifically for land and sea scapes. This one is 3" x 10"-quite small. Fall colors were just beginning to show on a few of the trees, but the field of pumpkins was the real show!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SCVWS Annual Show

                                        Ginger has second thoughts about her walk today...
This is the painting I submitted to the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society Annual Members' Show. It's on a full sheet of 140 lb. Arches cold press paper. I worked from a photo that my son, Andy, took. (See more of his wonderful photography at his blog, www.rusticfences.blogspot.com)

Go by the Sunnyvale Art gallery before October 30, 2011 to see all 109 paintings in the exhibit-there are some wonderful pieces in the show.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Plein Air-Church of the Five Wounds 7/14/11

Yes, it's a fairly grisly name for a church; it's in a section of San José that was settled by immigrants from Portugal. Although it's a somewhat dodgy part of town and is bordered by a very busy freeway, the grounds are very well-kept. There are still a few Portuguese businesses nearby. The building's two tall bell towers can be seen from some distance and make the church a real landmark. The adjacent rectory is surrrounded by a beautiful border of rose bushes that are in full bloom. The Plein Air group from SCVWS had a good turnout-about 10 of us. It was a very breezy, cool day and the clouds came and went, changing our shadows minute by minute. I did this in a Cachet watercoolor sketchbook with a black pen and washes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I bought a bunch of beautifully fragrant peonies at Trader Joe's and they inspired me to draw and paint them. The clear glass vase I put them in somehow got way too dark-I'll try this again and keep the vase under control-I hope! I wanted to throw some paint around and this was the perfect subject for doing so.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Plein Air at Uvas County Park on July 28th

It was a warm day for our Hike & Sketch at Uvas County Park; eight of us showed up. Luckily we were in the shade on a  trail alongside a creek, so we didn't mind the heat too much. The creek is full of boulders and is edged with rocks and cliffs covered with beautiful very thick soft green moss. There were lots of small rapids and waterfalls. The only downside was the presence of biting mosquitoes. Note to self: buy Off insect repellent wipes before the next trip to the woods!
Instead of taking along my trusty travel palette, I experimented with various media; did all of them in a 7"x10" Daler-Rowney Cachet watercolor spiral-bound book. We only had about 20 minutes at each site.
For the first piece, I used Lyra watercolor crayons and hit them with a waterbrush. The colors are sort of wimpy, and I only have the 12 piece set, which has an odd assortment of colors. This is the first time I've ever used the crayons.

On the next one, I drew with a black pen and added washes after I got home. The paper in the Cachet books is almost as smooth as hot press, so the paint really moves around.

On the third page, I did a quick drawing with a black pen,  then scribbled the Lyra crayons in and used the watrer brush to blend them. This one works better than the first, as I was a little bolder with the crayon application and the ink sketch helps to pull it together.I think the waterfall effect is pretty effective here.

The last one began with a quick sketch in black pen, then I used Faber-Castell Pitt brush pens to fill it in. I only had the small "Landscape" and "Terra" sets with me, so I came home and finished it off with a few more colors.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Plein Air-Santa Clara Valley Water District Campus-May 26, 2011

The SCVWS Plein Air group went out to this beautiful site last Thursday. There are ponds, all sorts of flowering shrubs, mature trees, marshes and lots of wildlife. There was a paint-worthy scene at every turn! I negative-painted the trunk and branches of this huge sycamore tree that dominated a small island in the largest of the ponds. I used a 9 x 12 block. Painting en plein air continues to be a challenge, but it is such fun to be outdoors and sharing the experience with the wonderful people who are part of this organization.

Yosemite-Plein Air Painting

While David and our friends, Erick and Melinda, went on a hike to Mirror Lake, I sat by the shops and cafes at Curry Village and painted the nearby cliffs and falls. While lots of detail shows in the cliffs, the overall effect is too flat, for reasons I am still trying to figure out. I used a 10" x 12" Arches cold-pressed block.

Yosemite-Visitor Center and Upper Yosemite Falls

The scanner changed the proportions on this one-neither my IT guy (husband) nor I can figure out why, despite 5 tries. I used sepia medium, fine, and extra fine point pens then added the washes.

Yosemite Nat'l Park-El Capitan

This is trés experimental!!! I used an indanthrene blue brush pen for the drawing.  

Yosemite Trip-Half Dome

We were in Yosemite National Park with friends for 5 days earlier in the month-a good time to go before the hordes of people show up. Also the very wet and snowy winter has made the Merced River and the waterfalls just spectacular. I did quite a bit of drawing and painting-here are a few pages from my sketchbook. My Blog has gone crazy so I have to enter each picture on a separate post.
I used a 10" x 7" spiral-bound Daler-Rowney Cachet book with Faber-Castell Pitt pens and watercolor washes. This paper is much friendlier to the pens than Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper. It's about 110 lb. paper and can take a lot of water without warping.
This is Half Dome and I used a sepia fine-point pen.

PEO Directory Cover 2011

For the past 5 years, I've produced a painting to use on the cover of my PEO chapter's annual directory. The symbols of the organization (which is a philanthropic group that supports women's education and provides scholarships) are stars and white marguerites. It's tough to come up a new take on a daisy! Here's what I did this year. I used Faber-Castell Pitt pens and watercolor on a 9 x 12 Arches cold-pressed block


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Plein Air at Hayes Mansion

Two days ago I went to the Hayes Mansion here in San Jose and joined our wonderful group of plein air regulars in painting this charming old house. It's beautifully restored now, and used as a meeting center and restaurant. The weather was perfect, but the shadows were problematic for all of us. Wish I had sat off to the side a bit, as this head-on view was not as interesting as it might have been. The photo is a bit tilted-my painting is straighter than this!

. I used a 12" x 16" Arches rough block.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Plein Air-Nola's Iris Farm

Last Thursday I went to the SCVWS Plein Air group's paint site-Nola's Iris Farm-in the east foothills. The panoramic view of the Santa Clara Valley (aka Silicon Valley) was stunning, and the irises were in full bloom. I did 2 paintings, one of a single iris bloom, and one a hillside view. The bud on the single iris worked out beautifully. The leaves...not so much. Both are on a 9x12 Arches block. I also tried out a new Tombo water soluble pen with a water brush. I only bought 1 pen-black-and the black iris I drew with it is a little bit creepy looking! Who wants to see a black flower???!!? I'm not posting that one!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Murano Canalside Market

I'm not sure why I'm posting this-I am so not pleased with the way it turned out. It's from a photo I took of a produce market on a boat parked canalside on the island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon. I managed to take a cheerful sunlit scene and turn it into a murky mess! It's on a half sheet-15" x 22". I began the painting back in January, and it quickly became a mess, so I put it aside until last week, when I decided to bring it to some level of completion so I can move on.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Plein Air April 21, 2011

Today we met at SCVWS President Karen Wong's house in Los Altos. She has a lovely garden, as do several of her neighbors, and we all enjoyed painting there. Everyone LOVED her 10 week old puppy, Bones!

Once again I used an Arches 140 lb. block, 9" X 12" and drew with sepia pens before I applied my washes. I went back afterward and added lots more pen. Next time I'm going to try to zero in on a smaller area so I can get more detail. The arbor is not skewed so wildly in reality-I just had drawing issues.

Afterward I went to lunch with Kaaren and her mother, Kay Marinaro. Kay isn't a plein air girl, but we're trying to get her to give it a try! We had a great visit.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plein Air on April 14th

Last Thursday the SCVWS Plein Air group painted in Elaine Revell's garden. She is moving and downsizing, so she had a garage sale featuring loads of art supplies, books, videos, paper and more, the proceeds of which she is generously donating to the Watercolor Society. It was a nice sunny day and we had a great turnout.
I used a 9" x 12" Arches block and sepia Faber Castell pens with washes. I finally added the last few washes today. I'm happy with the way I was able to get so many natural-looking greens.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes from Dick Cole Workshop

I took a workshop the week of March 14th with Dick Cole. It wasn't the best workshop I've ever attended, but I got some work done that I was happy with and met a couple of new people. The members of SCVWS (Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society) are the nicest people! This painting is 9" x 13" and based upon a photo I took of some of the heirloom tomatoes we grew last summer in our plot at the community garden to which we belong. The 2 little odd things in the lower left of the basket are tomatillos in their crinkly brown husks. I'm thinking about doing it again on a full sheet.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

John Salminen Workshop-Bruges Canal

Last month I was fortunate enough to be a participant in a workshop with John Salminen. Not only is he an incredible painter-her's a great teacher, as well. The workshop topic was "Urban Landscapes." I painted this from a photo I took when we visited Bruges, Belgium last May. The rooftop on the dark house at left is actually covered in orange glazed tiles, but John suggested that I leave it white and shade it with the mouth atomizer technique. He was right-the bright orange would have overwhelmed the rest of the painting. Overall, the piece turned out...okay. I wish I had selected a different subject. (He did pick this one from the photos I brought-so he's culpable, too!)I will try to get back into posting mode on a more regular basis-it helps me stay focussed on painting.