Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The arty side of the California State Capitol

California State Capitol building, from the side • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Three years ago, Arts Council Napa Valley approached State Senator Pat Wiggins, our representative in Sacramento, and asked her if she would like to choose artwork from the Napa Valley to display in her Sacramento offices. She said yes, and chose two artists — painter Molly Corbett Kruse and me.


Lofty Oak © 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls


She loved our work! I was honored that she chose one of my paintings, Lofty Oak, as the image for her holiday card the following December. And what originally was intended to be a six-month show lasted three years.…


Last week, Molly and I drove to Sacramento, to pick up our paintings, and had an art-filled day at the Capitol. It was a day to remember!


Molly and Koren on the floor of the Senate Chamber (obviously not in session – the new Senators were just sworn in a few days earlier, and the new governor and lieutenant governor will be sworn in after the new year). Notice the television camera artfully hidden behind the draperies? • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls


Koren Benoit, art curator at the Capitol, gave us a special tour, showing us paintings in offices and committee rooms that most visitors don't get to see. After lunch, we saw even more with a Capitol docent. What a wonderful day!


An office in the State Capitol, with one heck of a gorgeous painting (I wish I'd written down the painter's name) • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls


I'll be sharing some of what I saw and learned in my next few posts here and on my art teaching blog, Napa Valley Art Camp.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Combing through my photographs

Franz Valley School Road vineyard • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The next stage of my painting process is looking at all those photographs I took when autumn colors were at their loveliest. As I have nearly 650 photographs to go through, it's a pretty extensive part of the process.

Not only do I look through all the images and choose the ones I like best, but I also crop photos to find new compositions, and adjust the lighting to approximate more nearly my memory (and imagination). I resize and save them, labeling them so that I can identify where I took the photo. The photo above, by the way, was taken on the way to my studio.

Thank heavens for digital photography! It allows me to take plenty of photos, giving me lots of images to work with in the paintings I'll be working on throughout the year.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A (cyber) wall of paintings

Wall of paintings • image and paintings © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I've posted fourteen of my paintings on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KarenLynnIngallsArt), in an album, California Landscape Paintings - Portfolio 1, that, when viewed all at once, becomes a (cyber) wall of paintings, with the images stacked salon-style. I'm enjoying seeing the color and impact of them viewed all together in a way that they could never be seen in life, because of the differences in their sizes and the difficulties of finding a wall big enough....

Lofty Oak, private collection
chosen by Senator Pat Wiggins for her 2008 holiday card
© 2003 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Next week, I'll be traveling to Sacramento with painter Molly Corbett Kruse. Three years ago state Senator Pat Wiggins chose our work to grace the walls of her office. During an arts advocacy day not long after, when arts advocates met her to lobby for the arts, she enthused about my paintings, including Country Road, the top left painting on the wall above. She also chose another of my paintings, Lofty Oak, above, as the image for her holiday card the following December. Because of her love for our work, what was originally intended to be a six-month show was extended indefinitely.

Now that Senator Wiggins's term has ended, Molly and I will pick up our paintings on Tuesday. We're looking forward to a tour of the Capitol! After I get home, I intend to rephotograph a couple of them, and add them and one or two other paintings to the wall.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More photos from the road - II

Napa Valley trees and vineyards, Silverado Trail • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

More photos from the road, taken from along the Silverado Trail.... We had a little respite from the rain, between storms.

Napa Valley trees and vineyards, Three Palms Vineyard, Silverado Trail • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Frost has kissed some of the vineyards, browning the colors in them a little, and the wind is blowing leaves off the vines. It's curious how one vineyard can be full of leaves in strong color, while another across the road or next door can be nearing leaflessness....

Napa Valley trees and vineyards, Three Palms Vineyard, Silverado Trail • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Three Palms Vineyard is one I keep photographing, nearly every year, though I haven't yet painted it. I love the shapes of the palm trees standing, iconic, in the middle of the vines. It helps that the road rises above the vineyard, giving me a good view of lots of color as I stand on the side of the road. There's a little too much traffic and not enough room there to use my stepladder for added height.

Napa Valley trees and vineyards, just off the Silverado Trail • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I particularly love discovering little roads and byways I haven't yet explored. This was one of them, just off the trail. Often these little roads don't lead far, blocked by the Palisades, the steep hills rising to the east – or they become ranch roads, private property unless you know the right people and have connections.

Napa Valley trees and vineyards, Silverado Trail • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I don't have connections on this road (yet), but it leads just far back enough to take me to some heavenly views. It was a beautiful afternoon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More photos from the road

View of upper Napa Valley from Mt. St. Helena • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

As the rain pounds the roof, I think of the leaves falling to the ground, the cold weather and frost to come, and the inevitable curling and browning of the leaves that will follow it. I am glad I was able to get as many photographs this week as I was, while the weather was good.

View of upper Napa Valley from Mt. St. Helena • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I love this time of year, with its glorious riot of colors. The vineyards are here what maple trees are to New England.

View of upper Napa Valley from Mt. St. Helena • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

It's important to me to take as many photographs as I can. Sorting through them, choosing, cropping, and printing them, all are jobs for rainy days, all preparatory for painting.

View of upper Napa Valley from Mt. St. Helena • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I drove up Mt. St. Helena to get some faraway shots of the northern end of the valley, north of Calistoga. I've always thought it would be heavenly to take a balloon ride over the valley - aerial images of the vineyards and fields appeal to me, especially in the intense yellows and reds they wear in autumn. This isn't quite the same, but it's as close as I can manage with a Volvo and a highway....

On the side of Mt. St. Helena: the Volvo and the highway • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Preparing for winter

Photographing, south of Calistoga • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

You might wonder why I haven't been posting many new paintings lately. The reason is that, this time of year, once Open Studios have passed, I and the squirrels are busy preparing for winter.

Grapes hanging on the vines, south of Calistoga • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Like squirrels gathering nuts for the winter, I'm busy gathering images. This time of year is, for me, heaven on earth. Last year, our first frosts came in late October, and I'd missed the most beautiful colors. This year, with our weird combination of early rains and a cooler autumn (but no frost yet) is hard on growers and winemakers, but it is giving me beautiful images to photograph. I'm racing against time, though.

Photographing, south of Calistoga, looking towards Sterling Winery • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The green grass is coming up, and the leaves really only began turning colors in earnest last week. Now they are proceeding apace – more yellow, more red, more glorious each day. But the rains have come, and they drive the leaves to the ground. I have to squeeze in as much time for photographing as I can, before the leaves have fallen. The days are short, I need to catch the light when it's just right, and I need to be in the right spot at the right time.

Photographing, west of Calistoga • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Gathering the images is only the beginning. Then I sort through everything – hundreds of photos (thank heavens for digital cards!), and choose, label, and resort my favorites. Later will come cropping and adjusting the colors and values in each photograph, and printing out the versions I like best, all before I get back to my empty and waiting canvases.

Monday, November 1, 2010

California afternoon

California Afternoon (working title) • © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here's a small painting I did a little while back... I love the early California kind of feeling the colors have. This spot is in Knights Valley, near Calistoga, at the northern end of the Napa Valley.

In spite of the half dozen or so paintings still partially completed – ones I was racing to work on before Open Studios – this painting and another small one I did at the same time keep calling to me. I'd like to see both of them on large canvases....

Scarecrows as art - III

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

A little bit more from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest.... (drumroll) the first place winner is... Michael Holmes, from Napa!

I wanted to share a few wonderful details of Michael Holmes's pumpkinhead scarecrow. Here's an overview – the scarecrow sits on a stump, with cornstalks around him.

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Despite a countenance whose friendliness looks questionable, this fellow shows his heart of gold as he shares popcorn with his crow friends. (Now, that's a nice way to spend your time in a cornfield... or anywhere.)

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

There are so many exquisite little details, like the tendrils of the pumpkin stem, and the gestures of each of the crows.

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The crows are happily munching on popcorn. I wonder if the popcorn will bring in real crows, too - there are plenty in the neighborhood. Would they be intimidated by the ones they'd see here?

Crow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I love the simplicity and featheriness of the crow's newspaper wings. They flutter in a breeze.

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

More crows enjoying their snacks. It's a nice harvest party....

Crow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This crow holds the scarecrow's number (for the competition). He's #13.

Pheasants by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

A couple of pheasants have joined the feast. They're made of feathers and natural materials.

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest © photo 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

A last look at the tableau.... It really needs a name, don't you think? Scarecrow's Party? Friends' Feast? What name would you choose?

You can see more of Michael Holmes's design work (it's sumptuous and creative) at his website, www.michaelholmesdesigns.com.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scarecrows as art - II

Scarecrow, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here are yet more scarecrows from the Calistoga Scarecrow Contest at Indian Springs Resort and Spa, in Calistoga, California. This first, wine-loving fellow definitely isn't in Kansas anymore...

Scarecrow, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

... and he is generous with his wine, too. No scaring crows away here!

Scarecrow by Gina Cerda, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Gina Cerda's metal wino scarecrow looks a whole lot more forbidding. A good reminder to keep all things in moderation!

Scarecrows, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Then there is this couple, with a tub of grapes ready to stomp (and she looks fresh from the spa – is that a mud mask she's wearing? With cucumbers over her eyes?), who are "blown away by the Napa Valley." These really do make me grin. I love seeing what people come up with!

Scarecrow by Beverly Wilson and Carl Ciliax, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Keeping to a local theme, especially for the foodies among us, Beverly Wilson and Carl Ciliax created this very creative chef, whose recipes ought to scare off any self-respecting crow.

Scarecrow by Beverly Wilson and Carl Ciliax, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Crow's Nest Soup, Crab Crow-quettes, Crow-Quilles St. Jacques, and Blackbird Pie are on the Specials Menu. What's the matter – doesn't that crow read?

Scarecrow by Sharie Renault and Linda Wilds-Beltz, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here's a Day of the Dead Frida Kahlo scarecrow, complete with paintbrush and palette, created by Sharie Renault and Linda Wilds-Beltz. She looks even more colorful than her palette!

Scarecrow, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Frida is accompanied by SeƱor Death, with his scythe. In spite of the smile, I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night....

Indy Crow, by Connor Hitt, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here is Indy Crow (notice the Indiana Jones-ish hat and whip?), created by the contest's youngest scarecrow maker, Connor Hitt, who is in third grade. Indy has a skull on the other side, too.

Connor Hitt and Indy Crow, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Great photo of Connor with Indy Crow, isn't it?

Scarecrow, by Bailey, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Bailey's bone-and-Spanish-moss-bedecked scarecrow is another one I wouldn't want to meet on a dark night....

Scarecrows, from the First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

And, last but not least, this family of man-and-woman symbols.... Two fellows who work at Indian Springs put these up, grinning, while I was working on my scarecrow last Tuesday. When I told one of them how much I enjoyed it, he said, "Aww... it's just random." Nyaaah... you can read all kinds of things into it....

The scarecrows will be up into November. The best way to see them is to stroll around the grounds at Indian Springs – you'll miss a lot if you only stay in your car.

Scarecrows as art - I

Scarecrow by Michael Holmes, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest brought out scarecrow makers from all over. Here are some of their scarecrows. This giant pumpkin-headed fellow, who so generously shares his bowl of popcorn with visiting crows, was created by Napa artist Michael Holmes.

Scarecrow by Yvonne Henry, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

What could be more disturbing than a crying baby? Now, that will surely scare the crows away. This crying baby was created by photographer and artist Yvonne Henry.

Scarecrow by Guy Pederson, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This enormous crow was created by Guy Pederson. He's big enough to scare off all the little crows....

Scarecrow Straw Owl, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here's a sweet little straw owl.

Scarecrow fashionista, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This fashionista wears a dress made of green tea packets.

Scarecrow, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

This friendly, colorful pumpkin-headed fellow looks like he's getting ready for Mardi Gras!

Scarecrow, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

I so appreciated the creativity with which many of the artists used natural materials in their scarecrows, such as this one.

Scarecrow pirate, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Here's a pirate with his treasure chest (notice the parrot on his shoulder, too). I don't think I'd want to cross this guy....

Pique assiete scarecrow by Ann Shelby Valentine, The First Annual Calistoga Scarecrow Contest • photo © 2010 Karen Lynn Ingalls

Shelby Valentine, whose Napa River stele – created in pique assiette, a form of mosaic – is part of the Napa Artwalk, made this wonderfully whimsical pique assiette scarecrow.

I'll post more photos of more scarecrows soon. You can see the scarecrows for yourself at Indian Springs Resort and Spa in Calistoga into November.