Sunday, December 11, 2022

 Late Notice, but I'm not using this platform as much as Instagram and Facebook. Come on over today between 11 and 5, but also check the page on this blog that says available work 12.22. That is most of what is in the show. Email me at for prices. Happy holidays!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Gallery Show and Talk

Rab Terry and Jennifer Farris, the co-owners of the Studio Gallery in San Francisco, gave me my first solo show there 10 years ago. Since then I have had 7 shows with them, and my current exhibit of pastels will be up until the 29th of April. Thanks to their support I've had a forum about every 18 months to display what I've been up to, what's caught my eye, and where I've been.

This Thursday evening,  from 6-7, I'll be giving a talk at the gallery, and will use my paintings in the show as touchstones to tell the backstories behind some of them, why I pick the kind of images I do.  If you want to know why I like to paint rocks, and why birds have started popping up in my work, come to the Studio Gallery this Thursday, and these beguiling mysteries and more will be revealed!

Afternoon above Ediza
9 x 11

Deep in Tilden
9 x 12

House Finch
10 x 11

The Meadow
14 x 20

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pt. Reyes workshop this weekend, May 19-21

I've got spots available in this weekend's workshop out at the Historic Lifeboat Station in Pt. Reyes. I do have a workshop page on this blog, but not sure if folks have noticed it! This is a unique spot to paint and spend a few nights, as it is relatively remote, and has a stark beauty. I imagine it as the kind of place Andrew Wyeth would have gravitated to, had he spent time in California. You can read more about it on the link above, or just click here to signup. Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions. Hope you can join me!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Studio Sale this Saturday, Dec. 10th

I will be hosting a studio sale of my pastel landscape work this Saturday in Moraga, from 11-4. The address is 146 Donald Dr. I will primarily have field studies from my regular haunts: the east bay hills, Pt. Reyes, the Sierra back country, and central Oregon. Plenty of water, rocks, weeds, dirt, and atmosphere... The bulk of the work is in the 6x9 to 9x12 size, is un-framed, and un-fixed. I will supply glassine folders to safely transport the art home. I also have a selection of framed pieces that have been exhibited in a show or 2,  and deserve a chance at a better life rather than languishing in my studio.
Here's a wall of candidates undergoing selection and revision...

Here's some of the work, pulled from storage folders, that will be pinned up. Anyways, please come by tomorrow for some holiday cheer and snacks, peruse the art, and say 'hello'. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summer Workshop in the Sierra Buttes

I've been teaching up at the Sierra Nevada Field Campus in the Lakes Basin for the past  7 summers, and feel very fortunate to be able to do so. We sleep in a forest on the headwaters of the north fork of the Yuba river, and have easy access to the vast Sierra Valley, as well as numerous lakes, waterfalls, and meadows. Plenty to observe, paint, and ponder. Though we re-visit many of the same locations, each year is slightly different, due to weather, water levels, and every artist's temperament.

Here's a few of the demos I did during the week, with some notes and observations.

We painted in the Sierra Valley twice during the week. The location is about a 20 minute drive from the field campus, on the east side of Yuba pass.  It is a great location to study atmospheric color shifts, as well as a range of foreground and mid-ground elements... barns, trees, fences, etc. Here is a demo I did on the second trip down there. The owner of the property we were painting on had graciously given us permission to work in the relative shade among a cluster of trees, which made it more comfortable for everyone.

Not surprisingly, we study water. The north fork of the Yuba river runs right through the campus, in the form of a boulder choked creek, alternately tumbling and winding its way down the grade.

Setting up to paint at Love's Falls, a few miles downstream from camp. The river is much bigger here.

One evening we painted up on Packer Saddle, which is a ridge on the northwest shoulder of the Sierra Buttes. This is a spot where we hauled our telescopes to every night to observe when I was taking an astronomy class up here about 10 years ago. The Pacific Crest Trail also runs along this ridge. The trees  here are more exposed, which is reflected in the amount of snags and deadfall. The silvery trunks of those trees in shadow beautifully reflect the the range of color in the sky. The study below was  painted later in the evening, as the light was getting warmer.

Another spot we re-visited was a meadow at the top of Yuba Pass, enjoying the range of greens, wildflowers, small, crooked aspen, and the textures of grasses.

One source of fascination in the meadow was the color of the white Yarrow flowers in shadow and light, and how close in value the color of the flower in shadow was to the sunlit grasses, as shown below.

As always we close out the class by pinning up the week's work on the wall of the dining hall, and talk about it. In fact, we had several show and tells throughout the week, as participants are apt to learn as much from, and be inspired by each other's work, as they can from the instructor alone.

Thanks to all those who joined me this summer. You were a great group, and I hope to see you next year, when we can renew our investigations into light and color in the mountains.

And for those that are interested in an upcoming weekend workshop in Pt. Reyes, check out the workshops link on the right. I still have room for a few more students.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Water on the Brain

This summer marks the 11th year that Paul Kratter and I have organized a trip into the Sierra back country to paint with other artists for a number of days. The other artists on this trip were Ernesto Nemesio, Suzie Baker, Lori Putnam, Aimee Erickson, and Carol Marine. This year we chose (for the fourth time) Garnet Lake, which sits on the east side of the Sierra crest between Thousand Island Lake, and Lake Ediza. All these drainages form the headwaters of the San Joaquin River, which ends up in California's Central Valley. Surprisingly the headwaters were still running, and the lake, though down a bit, had plenty of water in it, but the only snow in sight was two permanent glaciers on Mt. Ritter and Banner that have been shrinking in size since the first time we saw them in 2006. This was the warmest weather we ever had, and there was also a fair amount of smoke from time to time throughout the week, a reminder of the fires that were burning north of us around Tioga Pass.

One of the interesting features of this location is a basin at the upper west end of the lake that sits right below Mt. Banner, and contains a large shallow melt pond, filled with boulders, surrounded by a large meadow. We first hiked up there in 2006, and though we were able to briefly paint there in 2007 before bad weather drove us out, I have long wanted to get back up there to paint again. This year I was able to get up there for 3 days in a row, in perfect weather. The place has a magical aspect to it.... something to do with the range of color in the water due to depth, as well as how the reflection of the sky can impede, adding another range of blue. Of course the overall location is rather spectacular, plus one gets to share it with other artists. After waiting for 8 years, I was not disappointed in either the aesthetics, or the challenge of painting up there. 

I did paint other views, some of which are shown below, but my primary fascination was hiking up there day after day to try and decode those colors and forms in that incredibly bright light and clear water. Here's a selection of paintings below with notes. 

I worked small this year, primarily 6 x 9, painting 2 paintings per 9 x 12 sheets of paper.
This was an image I did one afternoon, sitting on the ground in front of my tent, looking up the hill. While I painted this, Aimee Erickson started painting me amongst the trees, and Suzie Baker set up and painted Aimee, which is representative of the kind of synergy the entire group had.

The above 2 were painted one after the other, early in the morning on the shore of Garnet Lake before breakfast. As we've done in the past, we have a cook on our trip, and so we are free to work from the time we get up until breakfast. This was the second day in a row I painted these same views, just trying to warm up, and figure out all that was going on. I was especially interested in the soft blue cast shadows of the trees across the shallow water, seamlessly colliding with the reflection of the mountain. More research is needed...

I should mention also that many of us swam in Garnet Lake every afternoon..
It was wonderful. (photo by Carol Marine)

The melt pond at the base of Mt. Banner. Carol Marine, Lori Putnam, and Paul Kratter setting up to paint.

Where artists camp, the laundry looks different.
A few of Aimee Erickson's paintings.

Here's the first piece I did at the pond, after 8 years. The rocks under the water are often a very rich red. At the same time, the deeper the water gets, the bottom surface goes from an ochre to a turquoise. Then the sky reflection starts turning all the shadowed areas navy blue... 

A day or two later, same location, looking at a shallower spot, where you can see how red the rocks are underwater, while the shadows are reflecting the blue of the sky, but the shadow pulls the value way down... 

This image is about 20 feet to the left of the one above. The meadow that surrounds the pond is just an unkempt shag rug of multi-colored grasses, with little inlets from the pond cutting in. The boulder has a toupee of vegetation it.

We were right near the timberline, and there were very few trees above our position. Many of the pines that dwell up there resemble brooms of a sort, in that they are narrower at their base, and wider at the top, in contrast to the pyramidal icons we are familiar with. Above those regions are primarily rocky slopes, giving way to solid rock. This is a view of a ridge to the south, called White Bark Pass, which leads to the Nydiver Lakes and the Ediza drainage. The smoke from the fires added to the apparent atmosphere in views like this. 

Probably the most 'refined' piece I managed to do. This one is 9 x 12, and was painted on the 3rd day of hiking up there to study this stuff. Carol Marine made a very helpful suggestion while I was working: Squint!
Usually I do that to study value relationships, but in this case squinting actually made it clear how strong the sky color was overwriting everything under the water.

Art show! Always a favorite (and humbling) part of the trip to see what everyone else has been doing. Lots of beautiful work. 


I should also mention that on our way out, Paul slipped and dislocated his kneecap, leaving him totally immobilized in a matter of seconds. We were about 7 miles from the trailhead, and not on a regularly travelled path. Fortunately one person had a text based satellite phone, and another quickly hiked to a spot where there was cell coverage, so that in short order, 2 emergency calls were made reporting our position and the problem. Unfortunately we had to wait about 3 hours for a helicopter to show up to assess the situation. They circled us for a few minutes, sounded a siren briefly to acknowledge they spotted us, and then flew off. About an hour later they returned, and dropped a first responder named Megan. Following her assessment and guidance, we helped package Paul up, put him on a stretcher, and we all carried him up to the drop zone, where he was essentially zipped up into a giant duffle that the helicopter hauled up and whisked away. It was quite a departure from our usual hike out, and gave us a lot to think about. Everyone pulled together to help in whatever way we could, which was wonderful. In addition, it was evident that technology played a huge role in resolving the situation so rapidly. After the helicopter left, the hike out was quite a lighthearted affair, in late afternoon light, all the way to dusk and moonlight by the time we reached the pack station.

Another memorable trip with great folks. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Solo show and talk at the Studio Gallery

Every 18 months or so, Rab Terry and Jennifer Fariss, the owners of the Studio Gallery in San Francisco kindly offer me a forum to exhibit work that I've compiled. As I work full time, it takes me awhile to accumulate enough pieces that are 'gallery worthy'. I primarily work plein air, but the impetus of a show like this encourages me to generate some studio pieces as well. This show is a good representation of my regular painting 'haunts': the routes I take to and from work in the east bay, some coastal pieces from my Pt. Reyes workshops, and work from my annual Sierra painting pack trip, plus the summer workshop I teach up at the Sierra Buttes. 

The show went up a few days ago, and this afternoon is the reception. I'll be heading over soon. I'll also be giving a talk at the gallery, this Thursday, the 18th of June from 7-8. 

Part of the studio wall where candidate pieces for the show wait before being selected, signed and trimmed.

Some framed pieces line the crit rail, and a few other 'hopefuls' are pinned above.

The nerve wracking part of this process, after cleaning up all my edges, signing and photographing them, is to trim each piece within about 1/8th of an inch of its border, to fit it to the acid free foam core backing it will be hinge mounted to. 

Here's a few pieces from the show:

Tomales Bay
This was painted on site at the Marconi Conference Center during the CAC winter retreat. It benefitted from hanging all spring in the studio, where I had time to ponder how to clean up and organize the sky a little more. I've been studying skies and clouds at work as an ongoing project, so used some of my thinking from that exercise to explore temperature shifts as a way to separate very close values between the cloud and the sky.

Painted up at the Sierra Buttes last summer, during my workshop. This is Love's Falls on the north fork of the Yuba River, which I've painted aspects of many times. I tried doing a large studio version of this, but it did not have vitality of the original plein air piece, so this one is in the show, and the studio version did not make the cut. 

The Edge of Moonlight
Here's a studio piece that did make it. Last summer's pack trip was up into the Sabrina Basin, to Drunken Sailor Lake. We were camped on almost solid granite, and there were a few other lakes within walking distance, including Moonlight Lake, which had a beautiful emerald/turqouise color to the water from glacial silt. This type of subject is a favorite one of mine because it combines aspects of water, plus a celebration of reflected light in shadow, which on pale granite manifests itself in subtle temperature shifts that vary from the angles of the rock.

That's it for now. I gotta run to the opening. Hope to see a few of you there.