Sunday, May 10, 2009

4 days of Painting in Sonoma

I spent last week painting for the Sonoma Plein Air event, a non profit organization that raises money to fund art education in the public schools in Sonoma County. I have been a part of this event every year since its inception.
I arrived late on Monday, so just scouted locations in the afternoon drizzle that might offer shelter and a view of some sort. Tuesday and Wednesday were both wet, though it cleared on Wednesday afternoon. By then I was keyed into the possibilities of tree moss in gloom, and had to recalibrate my sensibilities to the 'glare' of direct sunlight casting shadows. Shocking. Here are the paintings, all pastel on Canson paper. I did 14 pieces, didn't bother to frame 2 of them (woof!). Sold 1 at the auction dinner, then 4 on the day of the show. I was beat by the end of the week, but had a great time. Sonoma Plein Air is well thought out, and superbly run by great people.

Windbreak
Painted in an off an on drizzle from the back seat of my car with the window rolled down.


Wet on Watmaugh
This is later that day with weather moving in. I was outside the car under the back hatch, with an umbrella up for further protection. However the cars roaring by a few feet away periodically swirled a mist onto my paper, some of which is stlll visible. Finally the entire background disappeared behind a grey wall. Time to go taste wine.



Maison Du Fox
While I was painting this, some vineyard workers came by and told me that a fox would come every year with her kids and live inside this tree trunk for a few months.



Mossy Tree
This tree was about 50 feet away from the preceding one. I found these green mossy trunks to be very luminous during the grey light early in the week.



After the Weather
I was driving down the hill from the mossy trees, and saw another painter working away at a turnoff which afforded
a great view down the valley. It was SusieHyer (no space in name intentional) a painter from Colorado. We chatted a bit then
I went to work as I spied some sunlight sliding across the hill in the midground, while the mountain behind it was in shadow.
Nice to have company out there from time to time.


Atwood Rocks
Julie Atwood was very generous in allowing painters to roam her property in search of material. She's got vineyards, old trucks, barns, livestock, but I liked the small boulders sitting under the oaks in the weeds...


Patten St. Spring
This is a small bridge over a creek in a neighborhood. I painted this about 5 years ago, and have checked it every year I come up to paint. A trio of female ducks came waddling by me, continuing right into my painting, and disappeared around the corner.


Carriger Closeup
There are magnificent specimens of Eucalyptus trees all over the Sonoma Valley. Some are bleached grey, others subtly striped with warm and cool bands. Their peeling bark lodges in the crooks of the branches and hangs down like dreadlocks. You got form shadows on the trunk, warm and cool planar color relationships in the shadows, little spots of background color peeking through the dreadlocks... what's not to paint?


West Sonoma
I thought this one would be easy, but instead had to struggle to get it working, hence it's non-rendered, iconic nature. I had to keep simplifying and flattening my shapes, and then try again. I think I was mainly attracted by the overall shape, plus the color of the shadowed grass, which is about what I ended up with.


E. Bonness a.m.
I may do a larger studio version of this. It is really more of a sketch. I'm not used to painting
that many discrete elements in an image, and reminded me of how clumsy my tools are for certain kinds of shapes.

23 comments:

Tom Scholes said...

Oh these make me happy to see.

:::Julia Lundman::: said...

I love the tree trunk pieces. They are all really great!

Bill Robinson said...

Wow, these are really incredible. I agree with Julie - the tree trunks are my favorite of the bunch. You make me wanna get out there and paint!

TheLostBook said...

These are inspiring. I love the view under the bridge - gorgeous reflections and light (and, nice to imagine the ducks waddling by!).

Bobby Chiu said...

so amazing... I'm speechless!

Linda Stern said...

Hi Bill,
Jean and I think your new paintings are just exquisite! We love the catalog; thank you so much for sending a signed one. We're sorry we had to miss your show but we're sure it was a great success and that you have many new devoted collectors. You just get better and better with every new painting. Whatever you're doing, keep at it. Much love to you and Patty and we hope to see you very soon!

Jared Shear said...

I agree with Julia and Bill....those tree trunks are spectacular!! Though the whole series is especially nice. Thank you for sharing these!

GWhitehall said...

As a sonoma county native i gotta say you really captured the feeling of "home" for me. Great work!

karlsimon said...

these are amazing! Lovely green. It really does look wet out there too.

Paolo Strano said...

Fantastic works. You are a Master Monster. Greetings from Italy.

alberto abril said...

Amazing work!

Petite Sanaa said...

waw !! Bravo !

vivien said...

a great series :>)

Marcelo Braga said...

Can't stop looking at your pastels, man. For me this is the most difficult technique, and you're truly a master.

Cheers!

Andrew Price said...

WOW! These are amazing. I'd definately put a bid down for the big log one.

I live in Australia but went for a holiday at Sonoma 2 years ago and I agree, it was beautiful! Such a vast change of pace from San Francisco, which was only about an hour away.

Jala Pfaff said...

Wonderful!

A. Riabovitchev said...

Really Beautiful!

Matthieu Gaillard said...

what a beautiful work ! You catch the light very good... Thanks for your works and sorry for my english ^^ ...

abhishek singh said...

i've been visiting ur blog almost daily and looking at ur amazing work , i'm glad that one can come to this space and learn from a master :)
big fan

Elflling said...

All of them are beautiful work, and I love the Eucalyptus trees bark pattern the most -- your capture of interwoven lights and shadows of color are unbelievably poetic. Often I would pass a field of Eucalyptus trees and be mesmerized by the stripes of light and dark patterns of their half-striped barks, and you have captured that sense so perfectly! Looking at these paintings are just like standing half awake in the river of passing time and forgotten dreams. They are so beautiful and sensitive, making me want to cry. Your pastel technique is certainly beyond dexterous, but the beauty of these works lies far beyond technical excellence. I am so out of words looking at them...

Zeljko said...

So nice,
love it!

Nevena Nikolacheva NEN said...

MEGA COOL !

AM-GoalsfortheWeek! said...

these are gorgeous. stumbled upon your blog;-)

i live in Sonoma so really, really appreciate them;-)