Thursday, April 30, 2015

Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens, San Jose (above Milpitas). Thursday, April 30, 2015

Readers of this blog are probably rolling their eyes and asking themselves: "What another garden?"  Yes, another garden!   We're so fortunate that there's no end of Bay Area gardens worthy of our best efforts with brush & palette.     Highs in the 90s were forecast for San Jose but, surprisingly, it was quite pleasant higher up in the Diablo Range.  A gentle breeze both cooled us and wafted the fragrance of the peonies over us and made for just a perfect day's painting.   And, as was the case last week, we were fortunate that the gardener who created and now maintains the garden, Marcia Reed, was able to share her knowledge and love of peonies with us.

Marcia, our wonderful hostess and the woman responsible for the spectacular  peony demonstration beds in the background.

For more information about the Chateau CharMarron Peony Gardens, see:
If you plan to visit (do so pretty soon while the peonies are still in bloom), be sure to follow the driving Map & Directions link provided on the website as it offers a much better route than heading straight up Sierra Rd.

 Upcoming  Paintsites:

  • Thursday, May 7, 2015: San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose
  • Thursday, May 14, 2015: Stanford Arizona (Cactus) Garden, Stanford
  • Saturday, May 16, 2015: Stanford Arizona (Cactus) Garden, Stanford  (1st 2015 Weekend Paint Site)
  • Thursday, May 21, 2015: Sunset Magazine Gardens, Menlo Park
  • Thursday, May 28, 2015: Guadalupe Oak Grove Park, San Jose
This is an area of great natural beauty so if peonies weren't your "thing", we could look in any direction from Chateau CharMarron's hilltop location and find something interesting to paint...

Waiting for the paintout to start, John did this sketch of Calaveras Reservoir from his car.
Marilyn was equally taken with the Calaveras Reservoir.

Marilyn's painting of Calaveras Reservoir with Mt. Diablo in the far right background

John supplied his own shade while painting a hillside and barn to the west of CharMarron.

John's painting.

Sylvia experimenting with a new watercolor and oil pastel technique.

Sylvia's peonies (left), poppies (right) and path (center) painting.

New member Salimah joined us for her first SCVWS Paintsite.

Melanie up close with a peony that (figuratively) grabbed her.

Melanie's gorgeous painting captured all the colors in this particular variety.

Iris' perfect peonies.

Lisha, surrounded by peonies.

Lisha's painting of a "bouquet" of peonies

Mary P.

Mary's pink peony painting

Liz braved the sun to paint her perfect peony
Liz's panoramic "Peachy Pink Cobbler" peony painting 
Jane K. and Helen

Jane K.'s peonies.
Helen's sketch of the same peonies.

Marilyn took a long view of some peony beds.

Brad's painting of a particularly floriferous peony.
John, who as "The Painter of Rust" has a reputation to maintain, waited until he thought everybody else had left before tackling some decidedly non-ferrous peonies.   But he didn't reckon with Liz who was still there and took this photo to document this historic moment.

A "Belleville", but not the one that we usually see.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cummins Iris Garden, Scotts Valley. Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just another Thursday and just another garden for the Paintsites crew?    No way!  True it was Thursday (and a surprisingly cold one for April) but it wasn't just another garden -- this is a Great Garden!    And Irene and Jim Cummins the most welcoming and informative of hosts.  Several of us commented that it's a can't be anything but be a special day when talented and enthusiastic artists and equally talented and enthusiastic gardeners come together in a beautiful garden --- turns out Jim and Irene appreciated our paintings as much as we appreciated their beautiful iris.

Jim & Irene Cummins and some of  the iris varieties which Jim hybridized
 For an interesting article about the Cummins and their irises, see:

Upcoming  Paintsites and Watercolor Society events:
  • Thursday, April 30, 2015: Chateau CharMarron Peony Garden, San Jose (11:30 start time)
  • Thursday, May 7, 2015: San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, San Jose
  •  Thursday, May 14, 2015: Stanford Arizona (Cactus) Garden, Stanford
  •  Saturday, May 16, 2015: Stanford Arizona (Cactus) Garden, Stanford  (1st 2015 Weekend Paint Site)
  •  Thursday, May 21, 2015: Sunset Magazine Gardens, Menlo Park
  •  Thursday, May 28, 2015: Guadalupe Oak Grove Park, San Jose

A tour thru the Garden:
The iris didn't seem to mind the cold and, once we started painting, neither did we.   It was only when one stopped painting that one noticed the cold.   The obvious solution: keep painting!   Which we did.

Closest to the parking area is the 1840s stage stop and an old barn ....

Which John, "The Painter of Rust", couldn't resist.  (Don't let the shorts deceive you - it was cold.   John's one tough artist though, he'd wears shorts if it snowed)

John's painting of the old barn, rusty pump with a nod to the site - a few iris in the foreground

Dan working on some iris.   That's the old stage stop in the background.

Then we come to a potting shed which was hard to walk past without stopping for a quick sketch or painting ... 

Dick chose garden tools for his subject matter.

Dick's painting of a quartet of garden tools which spoke to him.

Leslie liked the tools too, some of which look like an Inquisitor would find them useful.

Anna, able to rejoin us after a too long absence, also choose the tools for her first painting in some months.  You can see she hasn't lost her touch..

Although the goal was to get into the iris beds, there were so many interesting and whimsical subjects that it was easy to be sidetracked ...

Carolyn standing in front of just a few of  Irene's & Jim's treasured "finds".

Carolyn's fun painting of lots more of the "finds".

Almost into the garden, Anna found some birdhouses that had to be painted first.

Finally, in the garden at last ...
Rows of iris, rows of artists.

More iris, more artists (photo by Liz).
Now that you've seen the outline of the garden, here are some artists and the iris they choose to portray ....... 

Anna and some color coordinated iris (photo by Mary)

Anna's iris painting.

Barbara working on her iris painting.


Elaine's painting of a multi-colored iris with frilly (or maybe that should be ruffled) petals

Helen's sketch,
And Helen's finished painting.

Not all of the lovely irises were in the fields - we brought our own:  Iris
Iris' painting of iris and a neighbor's house.

Iris' painting of an iris.
Jane K., Master Gardener and Master Artist, in her element.

Jane K.'s iris painting.

Jane S. and Leslie.

Or looking at it from a different viewpoint, Leslie and Jane S.   Either way you look at it, two fine plein air artists and painting companions.   (photo by Liz)
Jane S.'s painting.

Leslie's painting.


Liz's first painting -- "Kachina Dancer".

Liz's second painting - (from left) "Political Zoo", "Venita Fay", and "For Lovers Only".

Marilyn's painting.

Mary P.

Mary P.'s iris with valley hillside in background.

Shirley - boldly working on a half-sheet.    Shirley brought three of her regular plein air painting friends for the day.  We hope they didn't blame us for bringing the cold weather to their normally sunny town.  At least it's convenient for them to make a return visit when it warms up.   (Jenny & Sylvia usually arrange for perfect weather for Thursday Paintsites but they couldn't make this event so we all suffered.   Come back soon.)

Shirley's friend Melita - also working large.

Melita's unfinished iris painting.

Jenny, another of Shirley's Santa Cruz plein air painting friends.

Barbara's friend Michele.  (She's not painting the plastic chair - only using it to support her paper.)

Barbara's friend Paula.

Susan found her perfect iris.

And then painted it -- Susan's perfect iris.


Painting done for the day, it was time for lunch and the critique...

Brad critiques Iris' painting.   From the look on peoples faces, he's just said something particularly perceptive or, more likely, stunningly inane.    (photo by Yan)