Tuesday, August 31, 2010

California's Gold

Every year, I appear on Sacramento's PBS station to help with their annual live, on-air art auction that raises money for the station. Artists throughout the Northern Calif. region submit art to be juried into the auction. The artists fully donate their paintings and the station keeps all the money made from viewer bids. The viewers call into a phone bank to place their bids as each piece is talked about and auctioned off on live TV. I usually appear with several of the auctioneers as an "art expert" and in from two to four half hour auction sequences to pontificate about the various art pieces. This year there will be an auction sequence called California's Gold. The art from some of the area's top artists (myself included) will be in this section. The name was approved by a very well known PBS host who travels about our state and records it all in a weekly program called California's Gold. He's a big good ole boy original from Tennessee with a winning blue grass twang and an uber southern charm. I was interviewed by him several weeks ago while dabbling at my easel. The interview will be aired to help advertise this year's auction and will also run before my piece goes on air in the California's Gold sequence. Ahh, if I could only have this type of fire power to help sell my art on a weekly, year round basis...and...all the money gets donated to me!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Grape View! (and your input)

Go ahead...tell me this ain't a grape view. I know a grape view when I see it! Glad we got that settled. NOW HERE'S A QUESTION FOR MY BLOG READERS AND FOLLOWERS: I've got all sorts of small acrylic and water color paintings here at Studio L. What are they doing?... just loitering and taking up space are what they are doing! I need to find them some good walls where they can bring people happiness! My plan is to put them up for sale on this blog every week. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bill's Delicious Old Fashioned Grapes

I took a photo of a bunch of Bill's grapes on his grapevine that runs about 50 feet along his and his neighbor's fence. The vine is just across the little alley way that my studio is on. From the ref. photo, I did a looser watercolor. Bill's grapes are the old fashioned kind...non- genetically engineered...they have seeds in them for god's sake! It's finally a normal 100 degree plus day today and the grapes are tasting good! By this weekend, it will be in the low 80's and high 70's...weird summer and a late California grape harvest this year.

How green are my grapes

I found a wonderful photo of green grapes on the net and used it as a reference to crank out this watercolor (11"X15"). First I laid down a light green/yellow wash for the grapes and let it dry. Then I painted clear water around the grapes and painted the darkish background colors wet-on-wet. After that, I painted in more color hues on the grapes, mostly wet-on-wet and a few wet-on-dry. At the same time, I laid down some more washes onto my previously painted background to darken it a bit more in order to contrast against the grapes. Finally, I worked on coloring the grape stems and painting some spots on all the individual grapes...do grapes get acne? This is a combination of loose and tight water coloring.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Not yet raisins in the sun

This small 11"X15" watercolor has not been painted with my usual flair...but...its kinda got a nice, fresh, California sunny feel to it, because I painted the sky with some paint from my last tube of Grumbacker Manganese b\Blue. Oh yea!...great color, and when it dries, you get a righteous granulation that only a REAL manganese blue can give you! As far as I know, they don't make REAL manganese blue anymore. Too poisonous? I haven't a clue, but I WANT MORE MANGANESE BLUE!!! The other thing I dig about this watercolor is the sun hitting only the tops of most of the grapes. This is definitly one of those "controlled" watercolors that came out OK. Now it's back to more looseness. As our actor/governor once said in one of his action movies...I'll be baaack!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Amongst the grapes again en plein air

Yesterday the weather felt like the Sacramento Valley was on the coast...sunny with a soft, cool breeze! We are having the coolest summer I have ever witnessed. That ole jet stream continues to dip over California. Anyway, a fellow artist and I are planning another winery paint out workshop except this one will be in early October and will be in the beautiful Sierra foothills of Amador county (gold rush territory and now a huge wine growing region). We were scouting out a winery for the workshop. These are two watercolor sketches I knocked off (n between wine tasting) and at the winery we chose for the workshop location. The vista view is OK but I'm not thrilled with it. The lone haystack and looking out between low handing tree branches, I'm more excited about. It is a mixed media sketch. It's watercolor and gouache. I packed four color prints off of Nathan Fowke's blog for inspiration in doing this particular painting. He works mostly in opaque guoache and his sketches are about 6"X8" as are both of these. For me, lots of fussy detail is the bane of my artistic existence, and anytime I find a minimalist like Nathan, I use that person to keep me on track and stay a happy camper. He is a superb colorist and painter. Check him out!

Monday, August 16, 2010


Last Saturday I was looking out onto the absolutely stunning San Francisco Bay with my absolutely good buddy and fellow artist Paul Bianchini. We were doing what we absolutely like to do best...sketching! The cold summer fog cleared out and we had absolutely warm sunshine on our backs ( I got a sunburn on my neck but who the hell cares, I was sketching!). Today, I got on the road to Concord, Calif. to see my friend and absolutely fabulous artist, Myrna Wacknov, and sat in on her portrait workshop at Gallery Concord. Being a workshop teacher myself, it is often educational to see how fellow workshop teachers do their thing. The gallery offers workshops by absolutely nationally known watercolor artists like Myrna, and, like her, I am now a member in absolutely good standing with the California Watercolor Association. Yes, indeed, it's been an absolutely good week, and both of these sketches reflect that fact. Click on them twice to enlarge. They were done on a cheap cold press watercolor sketch pad with an office pencil followed up with a fine tip Sharpie pen, followed up with a water soluble Tombow pen whose dabs of ink can be dissolved with a wet brush to make absolutely lovely, lovely value washes. I once wrote an article for American Artist Magazine about this absolutely wonderful sketching technique and will be conducting a workshop on it this Friday. That will be yet another joyful experience...absolutely, and may I add, for sure!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Grappling With Grapes

Kinda looks like 2010, A Grape Odyssey. Interesting light and planets, ugh, I mean grapes. Anyone got some good Strauss music? Ineed to go now and throw a bone up in the air.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Only in California

Another grapes- on- the- vine watercolor painting...an iconic California image. My nephew, Pablo Lobenberg's marriage (the bride is from a Figian Indian family. Next month, she will be inducted into the US Navy as a lieutenant clinical psychologist) last week to Ashlyn Batt. The Hindu priest is from San Diego...knarly, man!...only in California!...and what a wonderful family Pablo married into!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back to Grapes

Two grape watercolors I just completed. One has back lighted grapes and leaves and the other has front lighted grapes and leaves. In both watercolors, the grapes start out as an amorphous wash of color. When dried, I go in and define individual grapes with darker shadow values. In other words, I go out of my way with the initial wash not to paint individually defined grape shapes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I think this is it.

When I have my weekend watercolor sketch painting workshop late this month at Ledgewood Creek Winery, this is the style I want to teach for the "sketching" part of the watercolor. One goes in with simple non-water soluble drawing lines with a Sharpie ultra fine tip pen and finishes up with loose watercolor washes. I'm happy with this style. The other watercolor sketch was done recently of a local park garden and arts center...Sharpie drawing followed up with watercolor washes, loosey goosey style.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Struggling with the vineyard - study #1

Ever try to capture the impression of something without having to tediously paint details? I do it a lot, but I know I can do it better, and especially while painting from the reference photos I took last week at the Ledgewood Creek winery in the Suisun wine growing region. I need to get colors, values, and brush marks that reflect a strong impression of what I am trying to interpret from those photos. Not, not easy! This first attempt was done mostly with watercolor and little colored conte crayon and gouache (140 lb. cold press 14"X20"). I'll keep trying. I'll have some grape paintings to post soon that currently are lookin mo betta, but I need to master the vineyard asap for my weekend workshop at Ledgewood Creek coming up towards the end of this month.