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An oak tree dominates the scene in a field where winter birds safely shelter. Wild mustard, which grows abundantly when it rains in the central valley of California, provides a bright yellow backdrop. This watercolor and ink sketch was done as a demo in a class I gave, but it is the only version of this scene which I have painted. I like the reflections, the colors of winter transitioning to spring, and the informal feel. This nature area is about a half hour drive from my home and is a favorite place for bird-watching, hiking, and for sketching… Continue reading… 0 comments

A pond lily in bloom with white to pale pink petals provides the center of interest with lily pads afloat on a murky pond which suggests a late summer day. Green and brown tomes dominate, with touches of pinks and pale purple. There is so much color variation in the green lily pads. It is an interesting challenge to get the feel for that coloration. In addition, getting accurate color in the photo of this painting has proved difficult. The flower has some pinks in it that don't show well in this photo. Of course,different monitors and different monitor settings tend to influence what the viewer sees. This makes some people afraid to buy art online. However, most artists share my policy of providing a refund upon return of a piece that is other than what the buyer expected… Continue reading… 0 comments

Deep distances layer themselves into coastal grasses, meandering estuary waters, stretches of sandbar, and an ocean that stretches into a misty horizon. Greens, blues, and a blush of pink are the dominant colors. Watercolor and ink were used to portray this coastal landscape. I sketched in the original colors of this work plein air at Point Reyes National Seashore, but completed it in studio. I enjoy playing with a mix of watercolor and ink. The way I use it varies. Sometimes I created an ink drawing and add the watercolor later. Sometimes colors only suggest a scene, and forms develop in detail via the ink. In this particular painting, I created the watercolor painting, and only decided some time later that it would be enhanced by the ink treatment… Continue reading… 0 comments

A bridge invites the hiker to step over the stream and into the woods. Golden fall leaves litter the trail on this side of the bridge while ferns and other low growing plants provide green patches under the towering trees across the bridge. The bridge invites and challenges, for we never know what we will meet when we metaphorically go "into the woods". The flow of watercolor on yupo creates its own sense of mystery. It is a material I recommend to those who are willing to be sometimes not quite in control. A walk with yupo, like a walk in the woods, can sometimes produce unexpected outcomes. They may be unexpected beauties or the painterly equivalent of a sprained ankle. Fortunately, both can heal. You've never met a surface more suited to wiping clean and redoing… Continue reading… 0 comments

A row of white houses with flat black roofs line a cliff. The slopes above them are forested and across a misty distance rise blue topped hills. Left to the viewers imagination is whether they look down upon a valley, the sea, or a lake. The opening for the image is 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. The frame is 8.5 X 10.5 inches. It was a challenge photographing this one for the internet, because the reflective glass covers the entire frame and I really wanted viewers to see it in the frame which does so much to complement the rooftops and the many shades of green. (See the Small Works gallery in my studio pages.) I like the peacefulness of this scene. I can easily imagine one of those houses as a place for meditation and renewal… Continue reading… 1 comment

An early morning summer garden features a flower barrel and a Buddha figure greeting the day. Cool colors and deep shadows are created by the early light, with highlights on the sun-touched snapdragons and dappled bark on the path. I spent some pleasant July mornings on the back patio, coffee cup and painting supplies at hand, working while the light was right. No wonder Monet so enjoyed building his garden at Givency and painting plein aire in his own back yard. What a contrast to some of the weather conditions and long absences from home he endured to catch scenes in various parts of France! The famous boat studio sound like a much more pleasant way of capturing what was before his eyes… Continue reading… 0 comments

Recently on another site, someone asked for others to describe her painting style. She felt baffled when people asked her because the terms are so often hard to define. How well I understood! When I'm listing a particular piece of art, I'm often asking myself is it more this? or more that? I've noticed that on the continuum from realism to abstract, a good many artists settle on impressionism as a comfortable fit. More analysis might cause them to use a term that better described their art. I settled on environmental for this peice. The world is painted in layers of blue, the dark sea, the paler blue of distant hills along the coast,and a pale blue sky… Continue reading… 0 comments

Merry Christmas! I've listed this painting just as December is about to begin. Paint and collage combine in depicting a cold and silent night with angel voices singing. I am always intrigued by Christmas stamps, and enjoy seeing both the secular and the religious ones. So often these bring us miniature versions of great art from the Renaissance period. Here I combine Christmas stamps, beautiful papers, and painting in watercolor and gouache for an unconventional and somewhat abstract portrayal of the holy night. The gouache was necessary to produce my whites on the dark paper and deep blue watercolor on the sky. I hope you enjoy the painting and accept it as my greeting card to everyone who reads this. I am using it on greeting cards I will send out this year… Continue reading… 0 comments

A lighthouse on dunes where a river meets the sea is surrounded by breaking fog and by dune grasses. The piece evokes a feeling of the shore without a bit of water in sight. I have painted this lighthouse before in watercolor, but I decided to try it in scratch board, a medium which emphasizes the importance of line. The architectural lines of the lighthouse contrast with the random sway of the beach grasses. There was some risk in placing the strong verticals of the light tower and the pathway so nearly at the center of the composition, but I think it works. The broken vertical moving from the light tower to the pathway and the interesting window to the right of the lighthouse door help create harmonious movement. The color palette is very limited… Continue reading… 0 comments

Floral or Landscape?

by Caroline , October 14, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, color, flowers, making art, nature, watercolor

White desert poppies grow on the eastern side of Sierra Nevada peaks, where moisture is sparse. Their yellow centers are echoed in the dry plants and soils beyond. Few trees climb the base of the mountains. The hearty flowers brighten the day. A trace of snow dots the mountain caps behind them. It was tempting to make this painting a floral, pulling in close to the blossoms and prickly leaves of this flower. This time though I decided to place them in their setting. The viewer gets a chance to see how these bright white little blossoms capture attention even in the bigness of these western lands. The thin petaled blossoms bend to various shapes in the desert winds, but the plant they grow on shows a rugged tenacity… Continue reading… 0 comments

Gold resist outlines the shapes of brilliant color in this landscapes painted in silk dyes on a circlet of silk. Sunrise upon green fields, a pine tree, and a meadow scattered with white flowers promises a lovely day. Usually when I paint on fabric it is in creating accessories or garments, but occasionally it is a pleasure to do for purely decorative purposes. Silk painting requires the lightest of touches. Lovely loose freehand works may be created without resists, but for this piece I chose to use a gold resist to highlight the golden light of sun in early morning. Perhaps the happy feeling of this little landscapes reflects my own joy in the beginning of day… Continue reading… 0 comments

Watercolor Goat in Pasture

by Caroline , April 8, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, animals, composition, nature, painting

A goat in the foreground looks directly out of the picture plane to the viewer. Further into the field a cluster of three go about their goat business. The greens of spring color the field along with a scattering of wildflowers. I find it interesting that animals will give you that arresting stare and judge whether you are a danger. If they mistrust, they are out of there. If you seem okay, the stare may continue as if in pure curiosity. This goat looked up as I parked the car along the roadside, watched as I took the photo, and didn't lost interest until I was ready to go. In that instance, we both had about the same attention span! The setting had enough bucolic, spring time peace and beauty to have set a romantic poet, such as Wordsworth or Keats, to creating a new ode… Continue reading… 1 comment

Wyoming Skies

by Caroline , January 10, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, light, oils, painting

A sweep of high plateau leads back to mountains and a clouded sky. Storm clouds gather for summer rains that clean the skies and green the earth. Bison graze in the distance. Sage and a bright yellow wildflower cluster complete the foreground. The painting is especially about the sky and its relationship to the life below, thus the title and the focal point formed by the sun-kissed upper right point of the largest cloud. For more thoughts on art & skies, see my ArtId blog… Continue reading… 0 comments

Painting fog presents a different challenge in every medium. There is great variety in the fogs that the artist may be depicting. Wisps of fog hover low over an autumnal field. Pea soup fogs cut visibility to a few yards, or even a few feet, in every direction. Low lying coastal fogs can obscure the lower landscape leaving crisp clear views of lighthouses, cliffs or mountain tops, or the spires of the Golden Gate Bridge. The marine layer often plays cat and mouse games with the coast, approaching and withdrawing in its own mysterious ways. This is the fog of Emily Dickinson__™s short but vivid poem: The Sun and Fog contested The Government of Day __" The Sun took down his Yellow Whip And drove the Fog away We know that sometimes the fog wins, thus it is always a contest… Continue reading… 0 comments

Persimmons in Winter

by Caroline , October 17, 2010—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, backgrounds, light, pastel

Persimmon trees are at their most beautiful in winter when bare limbed trees are ornaments in bright orange. They are stunning on clear January days when outlined by a bright blue sky. The persimmons take on a magical glow when caught in light against a night sky. This tree is behind a house, lit by the light shining out a large window or sliding door, with the dark night sky beyond. A dusting of snow on the tree, the fence, and the ground adds to the feel of winter. The one area of bright color is the orange fruit. The work is in pastel pencil. Image is 6" by 9" shipped in an 11" by 14" white mat. For comments on this painting in the broader context of Nocturnes in Art see my art_composition ArtId blog http://artidContinue reading… 0 comments

Watercolor wash with pen and ink produced a vignette of a creekside area very near the apartment door of someone dear to me. This is another of my sketchbook pieces, done during the recent weekend. My sketches often inform other works, but this one will probably simply stay in the sketchbook. It was a morning moment when my tendency to be an early riser gave me an opportunity to take a cup of coffee out to a quite spot of wilderness within an urban area and record the pleasant scene… Continue reading… 2 comments

Revisiting the Sketchbook

by Caroline , November 6, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: Drawing, Landscape, Sketchbook, composition, plein air

I made this sketch on a recent trip to Felton, California, a small town among the redwood forests in the coastal mountains south of San Francisco. The bridge is reputed to the the tallest covered wooden bridge in the world, and I drew it straight on to emphasize the height. It was a brisk fall morning, with a wind sufficient to damage and shut down San Francisco's Bay Bridge, some miles to the north, but simply chilly in Felton. I worked fairly quickly because I did not want to be out in that location too long. Under pleasanter weather conditions, I painted a plien air acrylic version of the bridge in two morning sessions last year. That is listed on my Etsy site reading… 0 comments

Mighty Oak

by Caroline , October 23, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, nature, the artist's life, watercolor

I painted this after a walk behind my brother's house. The hilly terrain is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I chose watercolor for it's transparency. For me it is the memory of a walk with my sisters and nieces and nephews out across a field around a natural pond fed by a spring, and among the trees. It was late spring with the trees still in the bright clean green of new leaf growth, plenty of wildflower bloom, and a wonderful clarity to the air… Continue reading… 1 comment

Simple Beauty "Snow, sea, sky"

by Caroline , September 11, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, color, composition, mood, sea scape, value

Small acrylic painting has a snow covered hill in the foreground. In the moonlight it has tints of blue and has white highlights, beyond that is the sea painted in the cold blue of ice, the blue white moon rides in a deep blue sky. The lines a simple, the palate limited, and the composition compelling. I love detail and complexities, but sometimes simple is absolutely best. I wanted to create a painting that was restful without being static. I aimed for a crackling sense of immediacy in the cold of a clear winter night. Much is left to the viewer's imagination. The only colors I used were titanium white and ultramarine blue. Limiting the palette really forces the artist to concentrate on building value--those essential contrasts of light and dark… Continue reading… 0 comments

The Pumpkin Patch at Honey Lake was filled with bright, beautiful pumpkins casting deep shadows. I wanted to show these three pumpkins as the stars of the piece, but I also wanted to show the field in which they grew without diluting the power of the close-up pumpkins. The resulting composition was something of a tromp l'oeil piece as if the main image were on a separate sheet floated on the larger landscape. I chose sepia rather than black pens as part of a desire to make the background painting recede and move the smaller detail painting forward. Honey Lake is formed in a large shallow basin in the Eastern Sierra along the route from Reno, Nevada to Susanville, California. During mid to late summer the lake bed may be entirely dry… Continue reading… 1 comment

Fall colors in the foreground are highlighted by the contrasting purple and blue of the distant mountains including Lassen's peak. I began this as a plein air work in the light of late afternoon in the autumn with the shadows of evening starting to fall, but the fading sunlight bouncing golden off the mountain top. I exaggerated the colors somewhat to give the feeling to the time and place to the viewer. We were on the western slopes of the Sierra/Cascade region looking back at the volcanic peak of Lassen on our way home from a camping trip at Lassen National Park when we stopped to enjoy and capture this scene. I did the painting several years ago. I liked the painting, but it lived in a drawer waiting for that something to make it sparkle… Continue reading… 1 comment

Two boys play in a pool among oversized boulders at Zion National Park in Utah USA. The watercolor painting depicts both the rugged majesty of America's southwestern region and the charm of children at play anywhere. This painting started as a plein aire watercolor sketch. The original composition covered a larger area, getting into the scrub brush and canyon wall behind this scene and including a boy climbing on the large rock behind the wading, dancing boy. In the end it seemed better to focus on the more intimate scene. The story becomes one of childhood living in the joy of the moment, for the time being unimpressed by the grandeur around them and sending laughter rippling against the mighty walls of Zion… Continue reading… 0 comments

Scratchboard drawing with watercolor tint of the northern California coastal village, Mendicino, as seen looking out across one of the inlets along the Mendicino Headlands. The fog above the village was created by using steel wool to remove the india ink while leaving a good deal of gray. This allows the crisp whites of the village buildings, including the church steeple, to stand out as the whitest whites in the painting, calling attention to the village which actually takes up only a small part of the total surface area. The rock, shown in the light red-browns tints common along this crumbling coast, is shadowed by the deep blacks of the india ink, supporting the rugged quality of the cliffs… Continue reading… 0 comments

One of the things I like about scratchboard is working with a black starting point and then taking the whites and grays back out of the surface. The potential for drama is strong. Colors may be added or the work may be at its best left black and white. I love the moonlight effect of the white highlights on the black surface in my "Moonlit Beach" which appears in my "Drawings & Scratch" ArtId gallery. I usually use a pre-inked surface (I like the one produced by Claybord), while others prefer inking their own. An advantage to having india ink on hand is ease in repairing errors. In the photo here I had begun to work the face of a cliff, scraping away large rock wall areas while leaving rock shadow. As you can see, I had already been working the ocean… Continue reading… 0 comments

My recently listed oil pastel "Birches" might not have been created if I were not a thrifty pack rat. The canvas was a leftover from my husband's short lived interest in becoming an oil painter several years ago. The original attempt was of a stretch of coastal landscape in a horizontal format, with just dark under layers painted in. I found the general shapes of the composition intriguing when it was turned on its side in a vertical format. They were vaguely in the shape of tree trunks. Then I jumped to the idea of creating a stark contrast with the white of birch bark. At this point I decided I could work with oil pastels. I couldn't have done the opposite, put oil paint over oil pastels. That would be bad science. There were lean oil colors long dry on the canvas… Continue reading… 0 comments

Bright yellow mustard grows abundantly among the dormant vines of a vineyard in January. A rain puddle in the foreground is colored by the reflection of a sky where spent rain clouds drift. Bare branched trees line the far edge of the vineyard field. The painting is 10 inches by 7 inches. It is done in watercolor and sepia ink. This work is more of a painting than a drawing, but the lacework of bare branches against the sky brought the sepia colored ink to mind, and the effect proved it a good decision. The mustard, grasses, vineyard, and clouds are painted very loosely with hue and expanses of color of greater consequence than fine detail. Only the trees get this treatment, and it is more suggestion than photorealism… Continue reading… 1 comment

This drawing, like the one called 'Stormy Beach Watch" which I added to one of my galleries yesterday, is a result of one of my habits when away from home. I am by nature and early riser and Tom is not. If we don't having anything early scheduled, I will let him sleep, grab my art bag, and take a walk. Usually involving a stop for coffee along the way, on this day at Java Junction, an aptly named coffee house next to the railway from the beach up to the redwoods. I can always find something worthy of sketching--more than enough so that I will often spot sites for a later visit. The morning light creates lovely value studies. The morning I did this I noticed a perfect low wall for sitting on and viewing the river mouth as I walked down for coffee and knew I would draw it on return… Continue reading… 0 comments

Painting an Aroma

by Caroline , February 19, 2009—02:02 PM

Topics: Landscape, humor, ink, inspiration, making art, watercolor

This work in progress, which is in ink and watercolor, came about as a result of a challenge my son gave me when I put together my "Lodi Scenes" featured artist show. Dan asked me "Where's General Mills?" While Lodi, California, is best known as a wine community, the General Mills plant has been there for as long as I can remember and is certainly an identifiable landmark. My response, though, was, "What? A big regtangular box with a letter G on it?" One of the positives of having the big G in town is the aroma when they bake the Cheerios, and one December day when I was driving along and suddenly hit by the distinct odor of Cheerios inspiration also hit. The General Mills presence is most notable not in the building, or in the truck and trains that deliver product, but in that scent… Continue reading… 0 comments

I painted the Pacific Squall, a scene of sudden rainfall out at sea viewed from the beach for an show themed "Clouds and Weather". I meant to create a very wet on wet work with the movement of water on and into the paper creating a very liquid looking sky. I had taken paper and paints with me to work away from home while staffing as a volunteer at a local gallery. After I started I discovered that the paper was not taking the water as I expected it to. The flow just was not flowing. I could only work effectively with smaller sections of the paper, and I had to go back and create sharp edges where needed, and soften up a few other with added water and brush work… Continue reading… 3 comments

"Heavenly Path" took a long time to paint. It started as spill of dark blue paint with bits of watery reds and yellows dropped in on watercolor paper. After a great deal of thought, it seemed to me that the central area should be a window into another world, a glimpse though to an enchanted place. At this point the pines came into being, the pinks and yellow were given more definite shapes as blossoming shru. I also Intensified the red in the deep blue at the top, and let the geeen emerge above. scatterings of blue long the bottom were stretched to form a path, still in a blue gray. i lifted some blue in various parts of the painting to give greater light to the world. Still it wasn't finished. It waited… Continue reading… 0 comments

I put this piece on hold after deciding to frame it and use it as my show piece for a preview of artists who are in this years' Open Studios Tour, October 11 and 12. I'm busily painting, framing, and cleaning the studio in preparation for what I hope will be flocks of visitors, although I'll settle for dribbles. My biggest drawback this year is that I am not located near any other artist on the tour, but the advantage is that I could be an easy first stop for anyone "on the way" from any area south of the larger cluster of artists in town. Watercolor with the intense flow of poured paint creates the heart of this almost abstract landscape. The brilliant red tones of autumnal trees are complimented by the green moss on the rocks of the falls… Continue reading… 0 comments

Capturing the Gold

by Caroline , September 25, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, making art, oils, shadow, technique

Tourists film the Golden Gate Bridge, recording memories of the magical city of San Francisco on a day when the fog broke to glorious sun over a sparkling bay. This oil painting is 6" by 8". Strong shadow emphasizes the brightness of the sun and records the movement and body language of the figures. Shadows were extremely important in establishing the mood of this piece because they do so much to delineate the forms. Both figures are focused outward toward the landscape before them. He bends well back to capture just the right angles on the bridge… Continue reading… 0 comments

Watercolor and sepia ink come together to create this autumnal landscape. It was created by a method I regard as pur fun. First working very wet, watercolor is poured or dropped by brush onto watercolor paper. Move the paper around a bit to get the pigment moving. Keep adding pigment is color appear to pale remembering that watercolor dries lighter. Then I set aside the paper to dry completely. Next comes discovery. What images can you find in these accidental splashes of color? What media are best from bringing them out? Here I used ink, choosing the sepia color because it harmonizes well with the fall colors and mood. In my finished product distant blue skies are seen through scattered clouds, peaks of the Sierra Nevada rise in the distance… Continue reading… 2 comments

My latest ArtId listing is a monochromatic painting of a river, riparian forest, and rising moon emerging from a cloud bank is all in shades of blue. I once did a river scene with a swan floating in a wide pool and distant castle turrets above dense forest growth entirely in greens. It sold at its first showing, a small works competition. These pieces are great lessons in establishing values within a painting, for that is the only tool you have to keep the forms from getting lost in one another and giving form to the objects in your painting. In watercolor the amount of water used and the number of washes are the control for the values… Continue reading… 1 comment

The Light--Fantastic!

by Caroline , June 30, 2008—06:46 PM

Topics: Landscape, color, light, making art, oils

Yesterday the light was good again. For the first time in almost a week I painted, working on this coastal scene which is still far from complete. Colors look right again. They did not in the dim red-gray filter of smoke. (my last blog posting dealt with the effects of the California fires). The edges of the horizon are still marked by smoke from the various fires but a delta breeze moving through the pass where rivers flow into the San Francisco Bay has pushed much of the particulate matter away from my area. while out shopping a short while ago, I looked up and the sky was a blue bowl with a bright white egret flying directly overhead. Oh, joy! With still some thousand forest fires burning, you can be sure there are many people still under a pall of smoke or at personal hazard… Continue reading… 0 comments