The Vacation Purpose

I was the tag-along spouse for part of this trip to Carmel last weekend. The primary “purpose” was to attend a gathering of esteemed art photographers (emphasis on ART) who were coming from around the country, Canada and even Austria, to attend an opening of of the 2018 Biennial Juried Depth of Field Exhibition curated by Rfotofolio at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel. One of the first events was “20 Tables” where invited artists displayed their work and got to meet each other and share techniques, ideas, and approaches.

20tables

While Bob was enjoying the exchange with other artists, I was able to be a fly on the wall so to speak and sketch from my vantage point in the corner!

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But only after I’d made the rounds and listened to these amazing artists tell the stories of their work and show it off. No doubt some of what I learned will show up in future Muse Group lessons!

Diana Bloomfield‘s refined nature and mystical portrait work with gauzy layers of gum bichromate over palladium. Joanne Teasdale‘s work documenting the relations between women and water around the world. Sandra Klein‘s “portrait” series of Inner Dialogues relating to her relationship with her mother who has dementia. And so many more. It was a great honor to be able to hang out with these folks.

Bob20tables

And then of course Bob Cornelis sitting here at his table with his palladium prints in books and portfolios he made and printed with letterpress, and answering the questions of some very interested photographers.

garden

I got in a bit of sketching in the garden too. This fellow was another photographer’s helpmate enjoying the garden unaware that he was posing.

bicyclette

And brunch at a French bistro in town, where the people had left their table long before I got the color on. I loved the hanging lamps draped with vintage kitchen towels!

kite

The event ended with a memorial for two beloved photographers who passed away recently, Judy Sherrod and Denis Roussel. We gathered on the  beach in Carmel in late afternoon. Each person was given a different cyanotype print made into a kite to be flown. With a wind and rain storm brewing, there was just enough time for some pictures and final goodbyes.

kitecircle

And I made a valiant (?) effort to sketch the story of the event, adding color later out of the wind and rain.

kites

This lovely Hahnemühle Watercolor Book was a great companion for the trip. At 8X6″ it’s the right size for the purse or sketch gear bag. The CP watercolor paper is as good as it gets in a book that opens flat as this one does. Great for getting a whole scene in. If you paint wetly, then it is likely to curl up, so you need clips to keep the edges down while painting. I’ll write more about sketchbook papers in another post.

 

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Vacation With a Purpose II

We spent a few hours in Carmel, precious and touristy in the money’d way. Lots of galleries. We saw a bright orange Lambergini or Porsche convertible parked on the corner. You know, the kind of car you certainly wouldn’t park in S.F. or anywhere else for that matter. Not a speck of dust and soft leather seats. Ahhh. And there was a crowd of mostly men ogling it.

But I love to see the latest Mark English mixed media paintings at Jones and Terwilliger gallery.

demetra

ink and watercolor in Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book 6 X 8″

For lunch we ended up at Demetra, a mediterranean restaurant on Ocean Blvd that is so popular that I was dodging elbows while sketching the same wonderful fresco I sketched last time I was here about 3-4 years ago. Hummus and Babaganouj drenched in olive oil, yeah!

Asilomarbeach

(This is not in chronological order I’m afraid.) The beach at Asilomar, unlike our otherwise beautiful beaches north of S.F., has white sand, so you feel like you’ve been transported to the Caribbean. (except for the chilly wind)  It’s the main advantage of staying at the Asilomar Conference Grounds – this daily walk on the white sand beach.

As I was walking along the beach I had the thought that I really ought not to be thinking about anything that was not on that beach in that moment. I really ought to just forget, at least for the time being, everything but the bliss of those waves and that white sand and the endless horizon and sky.

grill

But vacations are also about needing to find a place to eat three times a day. That evening we were in Monterey and so wanted to be on the water. The windows at the Sandbar and Grill look out onto the bay. The sign promises that you will see otters playing. And Bob did while I was busy sketching.

Pablo was our waiter, a handsome swarthy Hispanic fellow. When he “caught” me sketching, it became a bit of an event. I was into my second half a glass of wine when the bus boy arrived, having heard of the artist. He was not satisfied with my rather “loose” portrayal of his buddy Pablo. “He doesn’t have a mustache”, he counseled, and offered other tips for how to get the picture right. This was not the first time I’d been corrected by my “audience”.

Another glass of the wine arrived then, courtesy of Pablo, hoping perhaps that the extra wine would help me to get it right after all?

asilomarlodge

 

There’s just something about the trees on the coast that makes them seem almost human the way they reach out – the textures of the bark and the way they reach out in ways that connect the land to the sea.

Next: 20 tables and kites in memorium

Vacation With a Purpose

Bob and I agree that we’re not much for the leisure-on-the-beach vacations. So when we headed to Carmel (California) a week ago we were looking forward to the events surrounding Rfotofolio’s Depth of Field Biennial Juried Exhibition at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel. As an exhibitor Bob was looking forward not only to the show but to meeting and sharing ideas with the other notable photographers who were converging from all over the country, Canada and Austria!

PGbeach

fountain pen, watercolor in Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book, 6X8″

We were staying at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove and had a couple days to explore first. This is the beach in town. I was so relaxed in the warm sun and loving my vantage point that I kind of overdid it and tried to put everything in! Just like me.

As we wandered around Pacific Grove we discovered throngs of people, trailers, security personel, and movie cameras at an area called Lover’s Point. An episode of Big Little Lies was being shot there and the fans were out in force. (off to the left of where I was sketching).

littlelies

“That’s Meryl Streep there, drinking water, see?!”

“Yes, and I heard they’re looking for extras. . .”

PGtree

So I found another lovely place nearby out of the fray and still in the warm sun.

redcafewait

Eating in town proved to be difficult our first night. We stood shivering on a porch until we got a table at the Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove. Not a big place, but when we finally got a table. . .

redcafewait2

we were next to a lovely fire and the food was yummy and filling!

Next: Carmel and the Center for Photographic Arts.

Texture+Paint+Cut+Paste

Sometimes the greatest successes in mixed media painting are repurposed “experiments”.

We were doing the gesso texturing method called “decalcomanie” in Muse Group. Slather gesso on the paper, put another paper over it to “pull” the wet texture out to create a rough painting texture when dry. Then paint wetly over it.

shroomsr2 acrylic over gesso texture with collage on 10 X 11″ watercolor paper

A rush of golden energy punctuated with silver whisperings. It’s not time to lie down. This is the ‘shroom dance of spring, the spores rising and settling in a fine mist. It’s time now to wake early and watch the birthing of these golden days.

This painting was not the beginning. It started with various textures painted on two pieces of paper. The first (below) was a class demo/sampler of different acrylic textures, with pumice and sand and molding paste. It got very confused the more I tried to “finish” it.

shroomsrough

See what I mean? I liked the mushroom (‘shroom) theme and cut this painting up.

Can you find the mushroom (later modified somewhat) that landed in the first painting when this one (above) was cut to pieces?

shroomsr3

Now I have such an abundance of choices to collage into yet another painting in the series.

I also went through my collage file to find other elements that could be added.  Can’t wait to work on this some more. It’s an invitation to “build” another painting with the most interesting materials.

Visitors From Denver!

threesome

I had a blast this week sketching with my friends and fellow teachers from Denver, Colorado, Judith Cassel-Mamet and Carol Ann Waugh. I met them last spring when we were all taking an urban sketch workshop in New York city. I was honored that they wanted to come and take a workshop from me to get some sketching tips to add to their already considerable repertoire. I had all kinds of plans for on-location sketching in this gorgeous California spring weather. You know, sunshine and blossoms and happy people congregating in public areas!

Instead they got to experience the Pineapple Express weather that flooded roads, drove everyone indoors and kept us in coffee shops and restaurants sketching people. But since PEOPLE sketching was what they were after, it worked out fine! And apparently wet weather and dampness is a novelty to folks from Denver!

stilllife

We started in my studio with continuous line drawing to warm up, then adding color, letting the wet paint edge bleed to connect shapes. As time goes on I become more and more convinced that when you are sketching quickly from life, the continuous line improves not only accuracy but also expressiveness because it keeps your mind (and therefore your mind’s eye) from wandering off.

What’s that in the bottom right hand corner you ask? It’s my troll doll made of grasses and seed pods. I was also going with the idea that you overlap shapes to connect the images, and the Troll wanted in on the action.

judith

We had planned to go down to the foot of my road and sketch the goats in the green grass after lunch, but the rains had started. So they talked me into sharing some of my strategies for skin tone and painting shadow shapes of figures. I’m not a portrait artist, but I had a willing model and needed a subject to demonstrate on. Yellows and reds with a touch of blue for the skin tone with the green from the background glazed over in parts to show reflections. And here you can really see the limits on this Stillman and Birn Beta Sketchbook paper which doesn’t do well with wet applications!

taylormaid2

Next morning we met at one of Sebastopol’s favorite coffee shops, Taylor Maid, and invited the person who was sitting alone at the table we needed, to join us in sketching! Luckily it was Linda Kammer, who happens to be a watercolor artist friend,  who seemed happy to share her table and sketch with us.

Judith and Carol had asked for ideas to get their figure sketches to capture the uniqueness of the people as opposed to the stock figures. As the rainstorm raged outside, we worked on getting the gestures of specific coffee drinkers and practicing skin tones.  I guess the tech-y people were upstairs with their computers in the loft, because there was actually a young man reading a paperback book! And at another table a fellow engaged in deep conversation with another and no phones/tablets/laptops in sight. And then there was the fellow at the window writing. . .on paper with a pen. What is this world coming to?!!

taylormaid3

When it got even stormier there were fewer people to sketch so we stood up to try to catch the baristas in action.

Like I said, we had a blast, and even though I was the ostensible teacher for the days, I learned as much as them. They do mixed media workshops together and separately all over the country and even in Europe. They share a passion for teaching and exploring the creative process. They began collaborating a few years ago, combining Carol’s love of contemporary fiber arts with Judith’s focus on mixed media, sketching and art journaling. They have stitched, painted, sketched and dyed together….and now give workshops together called Mixed Media Adventures! They both have Craftsy online courses you should check out.

 

Fire Restoration

The northern California fires of last October left us all feeling vulnerable. The devestation and loss of peoples’ lives, homes, livelihoods, and more is not even close to being put in the past. I’ve been going back out to some of the burned neighborhoods I sketched a few weeks or months ago to observe the physical changes.

fountaingroveburn2

fountain pen and watercolor in 8 X 8″ hand.book trav.e.logue sketchbook

After the fire you could always find the “steps to nowhere”, only then they were covered with the considerable debris of people’s homes that had burned down. Now almost 90% of the lots have been cleared and scraped and are theoretically ready for rebuilding, though little construction has yet to get started. Here you see a cleared lot, no longer blackened. All around one sees the irrepressible greening of nature. So many of the burned trees are now blossoming or budding out!

fountaingroveburn1 Here’s another lot which perches on the edge of the canyon with a jaw-dropping view. The cement foundation of the upper story stands clear and ready while a giant tractor claw rests in the green grass rusting. One wonders if the holdup is the post-fire discovery of toxins in the water system that must be remedied before construction gets underway? The lay of the land looked eerily familiar to me.

fountaingrove1

It was the same lot I had sketched (on gray paper) last December when part of the house was still standing! All the homes seen across the way had also disappeared!

Then last week I met Peter Phibbs, the sculptor who works at the Paradise Ridge winery that burned in the fire. I had the opportunity to see some of his creations made from burned wood and grapevines. My favorite was his “Wave”, an on site installation which took my breath away!

Paradise1

It was late in the day with not much time to hear Peter’s fire story or do more than one sketch. On October 8 he was busy at work building a stage on the property when the fire came roaring toward him and he just escaped in time, leaving all his tools and car to the flames. Since then he’s “rescued” a treasured oak tree by turning it into a sculpture that will last for ages. And he was just in the process of loading up and delivering a large burnt wood sculpture to a family who lost their home in Coffey Park (made of wood reclaimed from their property!).

Peter

While he was talking I snapped a picture and sketched this later. Here you see one of the phoenixes of the Tubbs Fire!

The much loved Paradise Ridge wines survived and the winery will be rebuilt. Visit their website to read their touching story. I hope to go back soon to capture more of this scene. The land is still laced with dramatic sculptures and llamas and more! And the vines are thriving.

paradiseridgevines

The Bouquets Continued. . .

On my visit to the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the De Young Museum last month, my eyes became saturated with the 120 stunning floral displays exhibited with the art they were responding to. I left with a voracious hunger for the floral image. Not surprisingly the fact that it is springtime here and everything that is not in bloom is swelling up with potential, has encouraged more bouquets of art.

homebouquet2

fountain pen and watercolor in Stillman and Birn Beta sketchbook 5.5X8.5″

These Calla lilies, picked from my garden and placed in a lovely little ceramic vase. Not a very skilled arrangement to say the least. But the next morning I saw that I had created a most humble but appealing Bouquet to Art! And so I sketched it to add to the collection in my sketchbook.

homebouquet

In the living room with my painting “Alvus” in the background.

And then as we started a new Muse Group, we used some fun mixed media techniques to create. . .floral paintings of course!

redsbouquetLots of acrylic paint slathered and fingerpainted on and scraped back to a warm underlayer of paint.

secretrsafterrain

There should be a way to get inside spring. To walk around first, hop up and grab a stem or branch, and stand up on the rim of it. Look down, and then ??

Secrets are like that. They don’t reveal themselves easily. They wait in the dark, hide behind the flowers and let you get all woozy with the fragrance so you forget to look. Do you really, really want to know what’s there?

Hang out a bit longer, just another minute.  Oh no! There you go again, drifting off. Spring is like that. Those blossoms give no sure footing, especially after a drizzling rain.

Does this part of spring make you a bit woozy? Does it make you want to do everything all at once and then to just sit still, do nothing, breathe it in? We’ve been drenched in sunlight here, watching the apply blossoms pop and the clouds of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies drunkenly imbibing their blossom nectar brew, then swooping down to lay their almost invisible eggs on the vines.