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Friday, December 30, 2011

Painting Pomegranates

For The New Year

Do you know, pomegranates symbolize fertility and abundance?

They are one of the oldest fruits known to man.

Each pomegranate has exactly 840 seeds....really?

A pomegranate is actually a berry.

The syrup made from pomegranates is called grenadine.

It seems fitting to be sketching a painting pomegranates as we enter a new year.  

Wishes for abundance to all.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

But The Fire Is So Delightful

And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Some of us can only hope for snow.

Indifferent Majesty
48" x 30"
$ 2000

A few more hours at the work table to complete a couple little gifts.

Working with Pearls...

Then three days of family, friends and the joy of the season before heading back to the easel.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Time Lost and Found...

It is the Season

The busy season.  No time to get everything done.  Frantic behavior seems to surround us.

So stop, take a deep breath, look out the window, smile, stretch, turn off your computer. And don’t clean the house.  Get back to creating or what ever else it is that you love to do.   That’s what it takes to create the rich life you deserve.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sketching for A Commission

And Getting the General Idea on Paper First

I took some time to get a bit of exercise on a rainy day in the desert, so it was into the gym and onto the exercise bike.  Not my favorite way to exercise.  I'd rather be outside where I can look around and see everything there is to see, but it was raining, and while I know I won't melt in the rain, it just seemed more expedient to go inside today.  

Sitting next to me was a friend who asked about my palm painting and my preparation for a commission.  " Do you make notes as well as drawings?" was her question.

Yes Yes Yes....I do.  Not always detailed notes because so much of what an artist does to create is carried around in the head.  And sometimes those notes become obsolete during the process as changes are made, so mine are fairly brief.

This discussion with my cycling buddy made me think you might like to see a few pages from my sketch book, with the notes.  I get the general composition with positive and negative space delineated in the sketches, the palette recorded in the notes, always the date, and any other thoughts I think are pertinent to the process.  It is all very general in the sketch book.

Monday, December 12, 2011

More Palm Tree Painting

It's Still Cold In The Desert

And I am still painting palms, looking at palms, sketching palms.  It's not only palm-mania in my studio but that is all I see right now....everywhere I look.

They are statuesque trees.  

I even went to see a film called 'The Sex Life of the Date Palm'.

It's about time to complete this palm study and start sketching for the commissioned work.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yes, It's December...

And I am Painting Palms

This is a work in progress and is incomplete.

Lucky I am.  I have a list of commissions.  One of these is for a large acrylic on canvas palm tree painting and since I have always painted my palms in watercolor, I am working on a 'sample' canvas, pictured above.

Date Palm II
30" x 22"
Watercolor on Paper

 I want to make sure the customer and I are on the same page, so to speak.  They have seen my watercolors of palms and the giclee prints of these watercolors blown up to huge scale, but they wanted an original.  I suggested an acrylic on gallery wrap canvas and it was agreed.  So even though it is December and everywhere you look you see evergreens, in my studio it's all about palms.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Influenced by Things on the Farm

Crops, Animals and More
The final post about 'A View From The Farm'
The final nod to November before the craziness of December.

Beyond The Fence
48 x 48

A couple other ranches are just north, so when looking that direction you see cattle grazing and it is those creatures and pasture land that inspired 'Beyond The Fence'.  Carved circles in the paintings above and below are representative of the  huge watering pivots on the land.

View To The Smith
48 x 48

A colorful, old red barn sits on one of those other ranches.  The property was always referred to as 'The Smith'.  Looking that direction you see a blue blue sky over the open land and it is this view that dictated the palette used in 'A View From The Farm' series of paintings.

Duncan Idaho
48 x 30

If you read the Dune trilogy you are familiar with the character Duncan Idaho who was inspirational in the naming of this particular horse, and it is said that the young boy, named Duncan, who lived on the farm at the time the horse was named was an influence as well.   

Almond Blossoms
48 x 30

About 200 acres of the farm were planted in almonds, an orchard crop.  The trees are expressive and interesting all times of the year, but late spring after pollination and the nut set the blossom petals create a delicate floral snowfall.  How could this vision not be included?

Peach Blossoms
48 x 30

One row of Saturn peach trees grow in the middle of the almond orchard.  It is difficult to see a difference between the trees however the color of the blossoms is an indicator.  Almond blossoms are creamy white while the peach blossoms are a vibrant pink.

48 x 30

The year these works were painted, the farm was growing oats.  As harvest time nears, the oats turn golden and wave gracefully in the breeze, far too picturesque and a must for inclusion in the series.  'Oats' became one of my favorite paintings.

48 x 48

Some crops are cut and baled, and such is the case with oats.  The bales are stacked close to the host field until sold and moved.  The rows in the field and the stacked bales became a visual that just had to be portrayed in paint.

As the month of November comes to an end I have shared with you most of the paintings in 'A View From The Farm'. It was a challenging and rewarding project, one that ended up having a great deal of meaning for me.  Hope you enjoyed seeing these paintings and learning a bit about this farm.  Remember, many farms are available for tours and if you have not done so, I recommend you take a tour.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Places on the Farm

Gates And More... 

A View From The Farm series has two paintings with entry gates as the subject.  One of these was inspired by The Flying M  which is an adjacent ranch.

The Flying M

All of the paintings are made up of layer upon layer of pigment which has been blended, carved through, textured.  Each canvas incorporates a photograph or photographs of what ever it was that inspired that particular painting.  Elements from the photo are repeated in the painted part of the work.  In The Flying M, there are carved M's flying through the sky and  the name of the ranch is carved through the paint.  

Hunt Farms Gate

In this painting, Hunt Farms Gate, not only is the ranch brand carved through the paint several times, but carved circular and straight lines are featured as a design element to represent the row crops on the farm.

Mamo's View

Over the years, the matriarch of the family came to be known as Mamo.  Visitors often found her sitting outside in front of her farm house where she had views across a catalpa tree lined drive, a corral and numerous fields. 

This project became a scrapbook of sorts, a preservation of a place in paintings, which was emphasized with the use of photographs embedded in the paint.  Because of this there are areas on each of the canvases that give a sense of borders used in scrapbooks.  An example of this can be seen in Mamo's View around the photo and more prominently in the two paintings shown below.

The Courtyard

As you drive further into the farm you enter a courtyard surrounded by stables and corrals, a remnant of the cattle ranch days, and the inspiration for this painting.

Betty Lane
48 x 30

Beyond the courtyard, behind the stables there is a short dirt road named Betty Lane.  Betty became Mamo but the name for the road stuck.  There is an area of agave's planted here which became a significant part of the composition in this painting.

Crossing The Fairfield
48 x 30

A canal runs through the farm carrying water used in the farming process.  A rickety old wooden bridge crosses that canal and that bridge looks like it could collapse at any minute, however it seems to endure the traffic and continues to survive.

The Far Away Barn
48 x 48

After crossing the canal a dirt road leads up to The Far Away Barn, which is a magnificent old wooden structure with tall doors and open sides.  It is a graceful yet imposing building that can be seen from miles away.  

I am enjoying a visit to this collection of paintings, thinking of harvest, being aware of the farm and farming.  It seems like an appropriate time of year to be doing this.   

 Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Farming

A View From The Farm

Several years ago I painted seventeen canvases to represent farm land my family purchased in the '70's.  At that time it was a working cattle ranch.  My husband and I moved there in 1978 with our two young children and a dog.  It didn't take us long to acquire a Shetland pony named Bucky, a cat or two, a Muskovy Duck we called Quacky Doodle, Canadian Geese named Silly and Candy, now and then responsibility for a calf whose mother had died.  Eventually the cattle ranch became a farm with crops, rows and rows of crops.  It is to be expected that the farm became an inspiration and that some of it ended up influencing my work.

During the cattle days, looking north from our home across the adjacent ranches and Lake Yosemite, we had unobstructed views of grazing and orchard land all the way to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.  In the spring, depressions were filled with Butter and Eggs, a local low growing wildflower.  Towering eucalyptus trees grew along Lake Road.   To begin with I created this painting, A View From The Farm, that gave rise to the idea of creating a body of work which would commemorate and celebrate the farm.  Of the seventeen paintings in this collection, eight are 48" square,  eight are 48" x 30".  Only this one is 48" x 60". 

Nine of the canvases were inspired by places on the farm, barns, lanes, fields...

Eight of the canvases were inspired by things on the farm, crops, animals, gates....

My next few blog posts will show photographs of each of the paintings with descriptions of the place or item and why it was chosen as subject matter.

Check back to read about and see the paintings that make up the collection:

A View From The Farm

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There is A Visual Beauty to Farm Land
Especially at Harvest Time

From the series:  A View From the Farm
48" x 48"
Acrylic and photography on stretched Canvas

Have you ever driven through or spent time in an area where crops are grown?  The Central Valley of California is just such a place.

File:Map california central valley.jpg

Driving through land covered with cotton, wheat, oats, barley, nut trees, corn, and tomatoes can be a visual treat. These are wide open spaces bustling with activity which changes with the seasons.  Spring time is beautiful with new growth, Summer is hot with crop maturity taking place, and Fall is abundant with harvest.  The tail end of harvest time is especially interesting to me.  It's the end and it's the beginning.  

Hay Stack

Stacks of hay, cotton and nuts which have already been cut or picked, sit along the sides of the fields and roads waiting to be moved and used. 

Harvested nuts, covered and waiting

While the sky is not so blue it is understandable with all the tractors working the fields stirring up dust.  Cutting, gathering, ripping,'s all taking place.  

Harvested Cotton waiting for a trip to the gin

Loaded trucks are cruising the roads taking their haul to packing houses and processors. Tractors, monotonously moving back and forth, are reworking the ground to prepare for the next season. 

There's a rhythm to all of it, and there is a color to it as well, many colors.  The colors we associate with Fall surround farming this time of year.

Corn Stubble

Have you seen where the food you eat and crops you use are planted, grown and then harvested?  If not, I suggest you take a trip to a farm area just to see what is going on, and find a farm that will give you a tour.  Not only will you experience a visual treat but you will have an educational experience.

I have a friend who farms in Colorado.  Take a look at her blog  and you will get a peek into the life of a farming family.  Boyles Family Farms

A couple weeks ago I visited an organic farm and restaurant  in Baja California where they grow what they serve.  The menu was interesting, the presentation was beautiful and the food tasty.  They are sustainable farmers who believe what they do should benefit the land and the people around them.  Here's a link to their web site:  They are located in a lush, palm filled valley and the restaurant sits in the middle of their fields, so you are surrounded by rows of growing edibles.  It's colorful and unique.

Some of the farmers I know in the Central Valley are working large tracts of land, hundreds of acres, sending their production far and wide. They too believe what they do should benefit the land and the people around them.  It's just on a different scale.  

Whether you visit a small farm or a large farm, whether you visit in Fall or another time of year, you are in for a visual treat, an educational experience that is heightened by the visual.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It looks Wintry, but it is Fall.

It Truly is Still Fall Time

Ignore the evergreen trees with lights that have begun to appear as decorations in parking lots.  It's Fall for goodness sake.  

Most retailers are still showing Fall fruit, pumpkins, colored leaves, everything in orange, golden tones, brown...Fall colors.

A few apricot and golden leaves are clinging like crazy to the aspen trees in the yard.  They don't want to give up.  You don't need to either.  When passing by those decorated evergreens put yourself into a zen state of Fall.

The word zen, by the way, is from the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word Chan, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana, which can be approximately translated as meditation or meditative state.

Focus on the colors, the feel, the sights of Fall.

It truly is Fall.