Friday, November 20, 2009

Simple Pleasures: Show at Napa Senior Center

I just put up a new show of still life work at the Napa Senior Center. This is the first time I've had a show of my drawings – these are both small pencil drawings (I'll post one or two of them later) and larger graphite drawings with acrylics, like the two I've shown here, Thistle Bouquet and A Simple Repast II.

These were inspired by my students, as so many things are. Our conversations in class about still life, about composition, about using acrylics in a watercolor-like way, about lights and darks, about simple palettes, and about drawing ellipses – all inspired me to revisit these lovely subjects.

You can see this show, Simple Pleasures, at the Napa Senior Center, 1500 Jefferson Street in Napa, California, through the holidays.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The last of autumn

Rain clouds were rolling in as I spent an afternoon photographing the last of autumn's colors this week. We'd been hit by frost for three nights in a row, and already leaves in many of the vineyards were crisp and brown, just hanging by a thread, waiting for the wind to blow them off.

This scene is on Palisades Road, a short and lovely road, with the most beautiful views, just northeast of Calistoga, California. My admirably patient dog, Zoe, waited in the car.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reception at Arrowood Winery

I hope you can come to a reception for my show at Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, 14347 Sonoma Highway, Glen Ellen, on Saturday, November 14th from 12 to 3 p.m.

The show, Land, Trees, Vines, includes some of the paintings you can see here on my blog, including Sunset Meadow. Arrowood Winery is combining it with their "Celebrate the Holidays at Arrowood Winery" event, at which they'll present their new release of Cabernet Sauvignon, Monte Rosso Vineyard.

I'm looking forward to this - I'm planning on extending my birthday celebration all week long, and this is a big part of it!

The winery is open daily from 10 to 4:30, if you'd like to see the show at another time.

My apologies for the late notice - hope to see you there, if you're able to make it!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Calistoga Art Center reception and faculty show

Calistoga Art Center will hold its first reception in its new space, in Calistoga's historic Masonic Building, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Thursday, October 22nd. For this night only, the reception will accompany an exhibition of artwork created by the faculty. I will show Sunset Meadow, above, and two other paintings.

It is a wonderful opportunity to see the new space (if you haven't yet), meet all the teachers, and see their artwork. You can also find out what classes will be offered next semester. I hope to see you there!

Monday, September 28, 2009

5 reasons why I love being a part of Napa Valley Open Studios

Selection of Mixed Media and Still Life paintings by Karen Lynn Ingalls

1. I get to show EVERYTHING I want. So, if I want to show some mixed media work, or little still life pieces in addition to the landscape paintings people are expecting (see above), I can. I love it.

Three paintings by Karen Lynn Ingalls from 2009 Napa Valley Open Studios

2. I'm part of a larger community - Open Studios artists of the Napa Valley - some of whom are friends of mine, and many others whom I know. I love being able to send visitors on to see the work of other artists I know they will enjoy, and it's always great when someone comes in and tells me that another artist, who sent them, said hello.

3. Arts Council Napa Valley - - does an incredible job of supporting and promoting the artists. Each year the catalog and website get better and better (how do they manage that?), and the wonderful staff at the Arts Council - Michelle, Kathy, Kristina, and Kate, and Kristine the website guru - really pull out the stops to find new opportunities for us.

Three paintings by Karen Lynn Ingalls from 2009 Napa Valley Open Studios

4. I get to meet the most wonderful people! I love the opportunity to meet people who want to look at my artwork. And when they really, really love what I do - well, who doesn't appreciate that? It's fun to get to hear which paintings are people's favorites, and what draws them to my work. I enjoy answering questions about my process, or how I came to be doing what I do, or whatever else it is people are interested in. And when people come from a distance, specifically to see me - well, who wouldn't appreciate that?

Six small paintings by Karen Lynn Ingalls from 2009 Napa Valley Open Studios

5. I've been showing my work at Graeser Winery - - this year and last. Last year, they liked me enough to ask me to be their Artist in Residence, so I have work up year round, and do other things now and then (such as a series of photographs of the winery and the vines in each season). This year, the second Saturday of Open Studios was also the day of their Harvest Party. What a hoot! People were having a great time. I'm looking forward to next year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Morning light

One morning last winter, I rose in the dark to photograph the first rays of the sun hitting the trees and fields just around the corner from my home. It was 22° outside (not much for my relatives in Sweden, Alaska, and Minnesota, but it's news here), and ice clung to the grasses, the trees, and the vines, shimmering as the first rays of light hit them.

I warmed up the colors in the paintings - I wanted them to be about morning, rather than about winter. The ice sparkling before it melted gave the scenes a shimmer and the shadows a blueness and beauty different from any other time of the day or the year. There is a third painting in the series, which I still have to photograph. I love them enough to consider rising in the dark and cold again some day this next winter, just to see what I find. That's something, for me....

Autumn colors

Although the rich greens and subtle grays of winter and the sprays of floral color in the spring are soul-satisfying, I think the colors of autumn and summer call to me most deeply.

The Red Tree and Neighbors are two of a series of three paintings on full-sheet watercolor paper, all from photographs I took in the same area. The madrone trees that year were full of red berries, more so than they had been in eighty years, according to my friend's father-in-law. When the berries fell beneath the trees, they created red "shadows." It looked more like magic than anything else....

I love painting oak trees and meadows, the kind of rural California scenes that have disappeared in so many parts of the state, but whose beauty embodies my sense of what California is, at heart.

Autumn Vineyards at Sunset was a gift. I was driving, taking roads at random to see where they led me, considering future painting locations. I found myself up on Bennett Ridge, looking down at vineyards and across at Sonoma Mountain, just at that last hour before sunset, the one filmmakers call "the golden hour."

From my perch high above the valley floor, the rows of vineyards became patterns of line and color, all cast in a sunset glow. Even better, the only camera I had with me was a little disposable one, with old film, so that the results, developed, were grainy and indistinct, allowing my imagination and memory to fill in the gaps.

Summer colors

Golden July was engaging and challenging for me to paint - in this spot, the grasses were turning to the colors of summer, but had not yet all become that bright straw color of early-to-mid summer. The field was a kaliedoscope of greens, yellows and oranges, and it took me layers and layers of glazes, scumblings, layerings, and repaintings to capture its essence.

Conn Valley Road View began its life as a demonstration painting for the Napa Valley Art Association. That was the first time I'd done a demonstration in a setup with a large mirror behind me, so that viewers could watch my hands painting as I worked, while I faced them and talked. Painting and talking at the same time is a tough call - it works both sides of your brain simultaneously. Generally, painting, for me and many painters, means disengaging from logical, sequenced, left-brained thought and slipping into a non-verbal, non-logical creative zone. It's always fun to see what emerges on the canvas as my brain slips between the two modes, painting, talking, and answering questions. I very much enjoyed the day and the great questions participants had for me.

A little about me and websites

I've begun this blog partly as an interim step to a major redesign of my old website. So, in lieu of an "About the Artist" page, here's my bio:

I live and paint in the mountains west of Calistoga, under the watchful eye of my dog, Zoe. I began drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon (preferably magenta colored). Somewhere my mother still has a drawing of an anatomically correct nude woman I drew at the age of three.... My focus on figure drawing and painting took a little turn when I began painting endangered landscapes - places threatened by development - in conjunction with working to save those places. Ultimately recognizing that much of rural California is threatened by development, I now primarily paint rural landscapes - the land, trees, vineyards, water, and the skies that I love.

My artwork has been exhibited on both west and east coasts, in places ranging from the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, California, to New York City's Lincoln Center. Articles about my work have appeared in the Calistoga Tribune, the Weekly Calistogan, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the Salinas Californian, the Monterey Herald, and the Monterey County Coast Weekly, among others. I have also been interviewed about my artwork on radio stations KVYN, in Napa, and KAZU in Pacific Grove.

My work can be seen currently in the Sacramento offices of State Senator Pat Wiggins; at Graeser Winery in Calistoga, California; at the Sonoma County Central Library and the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California (look for the life-sized painted statues of Peanuts comic strip characters - here is my Charlie Brown, along with some statues by other artists); at the Silver Grape and North Star in Calistoga, California; and on the web right here.

To see a little more of what I've done on the web, here are links to:
• my Napa Valley Open Studios artist's profile page
Endangered Landscapes - a mini-gallery of selections from a larger show, presented online by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation
my old website
Napa Valley Art Camp, the instructional blog I keep for my students

Painting mustard

The Calistoga Art Center holds a show of mustard art as part of Calistoga's Mud, Mustard, and Music Festival - both events part of the larger Napa Valley Mustard Festival. Mustard and the Mountain, my entry the winter before last, won the People's Choice Award for Best Yellows.

I drove all over the valley, photographing beautiful views, searching for the best one - but, really, it was no contest. The best, most glorious view of mustard, in my opinion, was just north of Calistoga on Highway 29 - this scene of mustard and vines beneath Mt. St. Helena, the old volcano that gave the valley its wonderful, rich soil.

In the studio

I will hold this year's Open Studio at Graeser Winery (255 Petrified Forest Road, Calistoga, California - on the web at, as I did last year. It's a beautiful place - driving up there is like stepping back in time - and the newly remodeled tasting room and gallery area is a wonderful spot for looking at artwork (and, perhaps, savoring a lovely glass of wine).

My actual studio is about five miles from the winery, in part of a lovely old barn in Franz Valley. I have natural light and a view - I work in heaven. How lucky can I get? It's not set up for visitors (there is no bathroom), but for one working artist, it is a soul-satisfying place to be.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Two paintings that won't be in my Open Studios show

...but I love them and want to share them anyway....

August Sunlight and Shadow is one of those paintings that felt just right to me throughout the whole painting process - a rare enough occurrence. It has spent the last year and a half in the Sacramento offices of State Senator Pat Wiggins. It has been a joy to me to know that she loves my work (she also chose one of my paintings to use as the image on her holiday card last winter). I hope that it and my other paintings there may have helped brighten her and her staff's spirits as they've dealt with all the challenges these last legislative sessions have brought them.

Afternoon by the Lake was painted for the wedding of my friends Don and Michelle. We were neighbors on the small ranch where I used to have my open studios; the view from their deck had just a glimpse of the lake beyond the trees. I haven't yet seen where they've hung it in their new home in Oregon, but I hope it brings good memories and a bit of the spirit of this place back to them.

Figurative painting

Most people know me as a landscape painter, but for most of my artistic life I drew and painted people almost exclusively. I thought I'd post a painting from 1998 of my nephew and a friend of his. He's just gone to college, for his first year of film school - it makes me feel more than ever the old, old saying that "art is long, life is short."