Sunday, September 13, 2009

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.


  1. Hi,

    The first two have a very pleasant chroma, good contrast due to a wise work on the values and a convincing perspective.
    I still haven't decided if I like the bottom one :-)

    Have a nice weekend,


  2. Thank you for your comments! How did I miss this until now? My apologies.

    The first two paintings are part of a series of three (the third one is shown in another post).

    The third one here was actually painted three years earlier, from a tiny - maybe 1/2" wide - marked-off section of a 4" x 6" photo. When I painted it, I was interested in the patterns and colors, and didn't think much about perspective....

    When I began it, I had just finished painting a life-sized sculpture which required a new palette - Golden Paints's suggested palette for outdoor painted sculptures. The colors seemed just right for this subject.

    I began a second piece from another section of the same photograph, but went to Alaska before I'd finished. I came back with my head full of blues and greens. I haven't been able to get back to it. Now, I'd want to do more with the perspective - the patterns aren't enough for me. It's interesting how our perspective (pun intended) as artists changes with passing time....