Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont, Thursday, October 31, 2013

Aside from a layer of smog in the distant north and a cool afternoon breeze coming off the Bay, it was an exceptionally fine day for plein air painting.    And not too bad for hiking either.   So we took advantage on both counts for our first Hike & Sketch Paintout since May.    Interesting rock formations, wide swathes of green, yellow, orange, pink & red pickleweed marshes, humble but beautiful fennel stalks, and the angled maze of salt evaporation pond levees gave us plenty of subjects to choose from.

For more information about the Coyote Hills Regional Park, check-out:

Upcoming Paint Outs:
  • Thursday, November 7, 2013:    Byington Winery, Los Gatos
  • Thursday, November 21, 2013:   Roberto-Sunol Adobe, San Jose
Check the Watercolor Society website  or the November Newsletter for additional details

What the camera saw:   an intrepid plein air artist braving the wilderness

What the artists saw:
Leslie Grimm 
The low autumn sun brought out beautiful colors in the rocks and trees -- fun to paint!    Leslie 
Jane Saltman 
Rock Outcrop.    Jane
Brad Santos 
It took millions of years to make these beautiful rocks - Jenny gave us 20 minutes to paint them.   Brad
Marilyn Perry
Jenny Tero 
The view from the top of the hills was magnificent:  almost monotone, hazy and perfectly still.  When the breeze got up the colors of the water changed to a lovely aqua blue - but it was getting too cold to stay up there.    Jenny
Jane Saltman

Marilyn Perry
For hike and sketch days, I plan simple paintings, and I finish them within the time limit which is very enjoyable.    Marilyn

Jenny Tero 
The pickle-weed next to the almost dry marshlands was a glorious mix of colors in the early afternoon sun.     Jenny
Leslie Grimm

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Gilroy Gardens October 19, 2013

What a treat!  We were one of the attractions of Gilroy Gardens theme park, "Artists Day."  The weather could not have been more cooperative. The balmy October sun and turning leaves make for a perfect day to paint. More than a dozen of our plein air artists made the trip. Special thanks to Sylvia and Jenny for arranging this special day with the staff at Gilroy Gardens.

The "Critique"

A closer look

Jane Saltman

Marilyn Perry

I am very grateful to Gilroy Gardens to give us this opportunity to explore the park for an hour before the families arrived and to paint in such a beautiful garden setting.  Even though everyone has to walk past Claudia's Garden to enter the park, I sat in quite a secluded spot, and only three families asked to see what I was doing.  I was very happy to show the children my painting in progress and to encourage them in their own artistic pursuits.  It wasn't until I got home that I read the back of my name tag that said that the purpose of "Art in the Park" is "so that children can be exposed to art in this environment.    Marilyn

Sylvia Waddell
This was a great place to visit.  Jenny and I were captivated by a glimpse of the balloon ride through the trees.  It proved rather difficult to capture as the ride was in constant motion, but I had fun trying! Thanks to the Gilroy Gardens docents who provided a tour and a wonderful opportunity for us to enjoy the park. Sylvia

Jenny Tero
I did better tackling something that remained still, and this peaceful view across the central lake was from a spot that was a lot quieter and less busy - we could only faintly hear the repeating tape of Halloween music.   Jenny

From another quiet location we could see the same rocks but this time with enormous ducks and swans floating by.  We were too busy with capturing the rides on paper to ask if our free artists entry for the day included rides!  Jenny

Uma Kelkar
Thank you the paint-sites coordinators and the park. By opening an hour earlier, by keeping the name tags ready, we all felt important stepping inside the garden gates! With ego all puffed up, I sat in an idyllic spot by a waterfall besides Holly Garden. The water bubbling sound eradicated all the thoughts of work and pending chores from my mind - only to fill it with confusion from the many values I saw and constantly moving water of a waterfall!  

Then, I saw the gigantic ducks that floated up close to the waterfall and obviously their incongruousness felt very attractive! 

At lunch, Sylvia showed her painting of the hot air balloon ride - the viewpoint was so intriguing, I had to give it a quick attempt and so I did!   Uma

Mary Paquet
Our gracious hosts made us feel so welcome. The gardens are incredibly beautiful and filled with happy families. As we toured the park I was drawn to a water feature with a colorful bridge, beautiful rocks, and stately Redwoods.  Mary

Brad Santos
This a wonderful site for painting almost anything:  the hallmark trees, the backdrop of the Park's undeveloped hills, bright colored rides (next time I think I'll do the race cars), water features, and lots of people enjoying themselves.   It's a happy place that positively welcomes artists.    Brad

Friday, October 18, 2013

Saratoga History Museum - Thursday, October 17, 2013

An absolutely perfect day for watercolor painting plein air:  Jenny & Sylvia selected a wonderful paintsite (which I'm sure many of us have often driven by without really noticing or assessing its merits as a subject), paper dried when it was supposed to, and the sun stayed at our backs the whole day.   The site is pretty small which made for a cozy group and a bit more peering over shoulders and interaction than normal - a nice change from paint sites where we're spread out all over.

And, a bonus, right next door to the Museum is the Saratoga Friends of the Library Bookstore  which a number of us couldn't resist visiting as they have a reputation for having high quality art books at low prices.

For more information about the Saratoga History Foundation Museum, check out:
(There is a small parking lot next to the Museum and a public parking lot behind the Fire Station across the street.)

Upcoming Paintouts:
  • Thursday, October 31st - Coyote Hills Regional Park, Fremont  (Jenny's back so it's time for a Fifth Thursday Hike-and-Sketch - wear hiking shoes and pack light.)
  • Thursday, November 7th - Byington Winery, Los Gatos
  • Thursday, November 21st, Roberto-Sunol Adobe, San Jose
  • 46th Annual Member Show - through Saturday, October 26th (there's still time to vote for your favorite painting) - Rose Shenson Gallery, Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara.  
As always, check out the Society website ( or the Newsletter for more information.

We need a sign -- "Artists at Work" (and maybe orange vests?) ...

some contented artists after the critique
Here are some snapshots taken during the critique (check back later when the completed paintings will be shown) ...
And some of the completed paintings...
Dick Zunkel 
Another perfect day for painting with flawless weather and perfect light with the autumn sun.     Dick
Mary Paquet
We had a beautiful fall day for painting. I loved the colorful artist painting amidst the flowers.    Mary
Anna Jacke

Brad Santos
The History Museum is such a serene little compound that it was easy to shut out the vehicle noise on Hwy 9 which runs in front of the site.    Brad

A perfect weather day and a beautiful spot.  The roses were glorious at the side of the white cottage.  Who would have thought this was Silicon Valley!    Jenny
Liz Siegel

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hvar Art Retreat - September 2013

On the island of Hvar, Croatia

Imagine  creamy white stone houses,  warm terracotta roofs, clear aqua water with white boats bobbing, then turn around to see rugged mountains, the lower slopes covered in dry stone walls, fig and olive trees, and vineyards, their crops plentiful and ripe.  Wouldn't it be magical to be "let loose" in such a place with your sketch book and paints, (and camera).  This was the recent experience of five SCVWS members on the Hvar Art Retreat, hosted by Marion Podolski and her husband Zdravko, who have a beautiful house on the island of Hvar on the Dalmatian coast. Zdravko was a very knowledgeable tour guide and every day we were taken somewhere different, learnt a lot, and sketched and painted the unique scenes before us. 

We painted at a deserted village (with one open functioning restaurant), a fortress high above the town of Hvar with amazing views over the harbor and surrounding islands, ruins of a Roman farm amongst an olive grove, an eco-farm with animals galore and a huge brick outdoor oven, an artists' atelier - a magical and inspirational experience, Stari Grad, where we painted in the garden of a 15th century fortified residence with stone built fish ponds, and Jelsa, a lovely peaceful town along the coast. Then there was, of course, the charming town of Vrboska where Marion and Zdravko stay.  On top of that there were delicious locally sourced meals with local wines flowing at some wonderful restaurants, including some at the painting sites. We enjoyed  real "insider" treats;  a private wine-tasting at the island's best winemaker's cellar, a Dalmation peka meal with a klapa band  - traditional Croatian food and music, and a BBQ in a field (with grapes and olives growing)!
Marion will be holding another Art Retreat next year (7 - 15 September 2014)  It comes exceedingly well recommended by all who attended this one.  Read more about it on her blog: or contact her for more information:
Here are the participants enjoying refreshments on the patio of the apartments while reviewing some of the paintings we had worked on during the week

Here are some of the paintings and sketches produced by our artists:
Vrboska where we stayed:
I created this half sheet painting on the first day of the Artist Retreat from the comfort of Konoba Lem, while sipping coffee and enjoying Bob's company. On our last day in Vrboska, we visited Vrboska's little fishing museum, a charming walk through the history of this town. Old photos show that these buildings existed more than a hundred years ago. I can picture this waterfront through the generations.   Mary

 Flowers on the wall at Konoba LemLisa

Our waterfront base in Vrboska for the week was to be Konoba Lem, who kindly allocated a table for our artists right at the front.   Marion

And a similar view across the water from Konoba Lem. The weather that day had been a bit cloudy but by late afternoon there was faint glow from the west.  Jenny

Boats alongside the waterfront, Vrobska.  Karen

Tvrdalj in Stari Grad.  This is the 15th century fortified summer residence of Petar Hektorović.

Tvrdalj has a beautiful cloistered fish pool, and a peaceful, shady garden. I selected a view of the dovecot as seen through an archway.  Marion

View from the little terrace overlooking the pool area and out towards the church of Sv Stefan next door. Marion

I loved the arches with the light/dark contrast.  This was from under the cloister surrounding a fish pond.    Jenny

Malo Grablje, deserted village:  The owners left around fifty years ago. Having become quite prosperous and seeing a downturn in future economy they moved down to the village on the coast. Bertie Tudor, who runs the restaurant, comes up everyday from there - for the tourist trade!


The view from Stori Komen restaurant terrace with some of the ruined houses of Malo Grablje - a rather sad place, which looked a lot more cheerful after the sun came out.   Jenny

We had another great day in the abandoned town of Malo Grablje. The lone open building, Stori Komen, was a welcome refuge from the downpour of rain. I sat at a table and painted the scene from the Konoba (restaurant) while sipping coffee. Later in the day the skies cleared. Marion and I explored the old buildings and were especially taken with one with a bright blue door. I started a painting on location. The next day I redid the painting, zeroing in on the door. I could imagine the centuries of life that took place behind the blue door before the villagers left for the coast. Watching lunch cooked on open coals by Bertie Tudor added to the pleasure.  Mary

 A house with blue doors and a concrete floor; we wandered into what was probably the kitchen. The walls still show signs of decoration in a lovely terracotta shade. This is the blue door from the inside.  Marion

Rooftops in the village,  Lisa

 Marinka's Atelier, in the village of Dol:

My favorite day was spent at Marinka's atelier. Everything was so perfect - lunch, painting with other artists, the old stone buildings, Marinka's amazing art, and dinner on the patio. I like to do focused paintings, so I selected a branch of persimmons to paint. Next I did a few leaves and figs from a tree in the garden. I was so taken with eating fresh figs while in Vrboska. Warm from the tree is the very best.  Mary

An old green door at Marinka's Atelier, one of the many intriguing features on her property, and the view from a higher area of the garden across to the village of Dol.   Jenny


Another little nook, for art supplies !   Jenny

Kupinovik, Roman ruins and Agro Turizam Pharos on the Stari Grad Plain.  After scrambling through very low-branched olive trees and over boulders we arrived at the remains of a Roman farmstead, and took a welcome break in the ruins. A short drive further on was the more recent AgroTurizam Pharos, an eco-farm with hens, goats, cows, donkeys and horses. They grow their own fruit and vegetables and serve food and wine.
Stari Grad Plain has such rich history and is a UNESCO site. We briefly visited an old Roman farm. Using some Tombow markers, I quickly sketched some of the ruins. I was intrigued by the large tone with a hole in the center. Mary

Mary and I sat next to each other whilst sketching, both rendering a different interpretation,  Jenny
 Squash on the vine at AgroTurizam,  Karen

The oven cooking that evening's dinner.   Jenny

Lui and Dragona's field.  They were the owners of the apartment where some of the group were staying, and they also owned an olive orchard/vineyard/vegetable "field" - complete with full range cooking facilities!  We had a chance to paint before eating a delicious meal of their local produce.

The white grapes are bogdanuša, and the black (blue, really!)  are plavac mali. Paint them now, and drink them later!   Marion

Another challenge – paint the sunset before it all fades to grey! You have to be really quick about it, and I’m not sure I did justice to the soft glowing clouds at all! Here is my extremely rapid rendition of those wonderful sunset colors…  Marion

Among the olive trees,  Karen

The olive grove with rocks.  The smaller ones are removed to make dry stone walls which can be seen everywhere.   Jenny

Jelsa:  we walked to this peaceful village three miles along the coastal path from Vrobska, where after coffee at a British ex-pat gathering place, we all went our separate ways finding views to sketch, and cheese pastries to eat.

A boat at Jelsa,  Karen

Another cafe along the waterfront provided this view across the habor with the mainland in the distance,   (painted later)   Jenny

Hvar Town. The climb up the fortress was quite a work-out, but the views were an amazing reward for our efforts.

Sketch of the beautiful panorama from the top of Fortica using a magenta pen.  Marion

Sketches from the top of the fortress at Hvar Town had to be spread over two pages.  Paint was added later.   Jenny


Homework for the week was four trading cards each so that we could exchange our memories at the end.  Here is the entire collection before distribution, most of them painted at Konobo Lem over coffee or a glass of wine.
Thank you, Marion and Zrdavko, for a wonderful week!