Friday, June 3, 2016

Rancho San Antonio County Park & Open Space Preserve, Cupertino. Thursday, June 2, 2016

This was a bittersweet day for Paintsites as it was Sylvia's last paintout with the group as she and her recently retired husband will soon be heading up to the Gold Country to live.    For old time's sake, we asked her and Jenny to lead this Hike & Sketch -- something they've done many times over the past 10 years.  For those not familiar with the Hike & Sketch format, when Sylvia and Jenny joined the Watercolor Society in 2004, most paintouts were in private gardens and public parks where artists would pull up, pull out their gear and paint.    When they took over as Paintsites Coordinators in 2006, their idea was to visit venues where the group would meet in a parking lot; hike for 20-30 minutes; sketch or paint for 20 minutes; hike for another 20-30 minutes; sketch/paint for 20 minutes, and so on for a total of 3 - 4 hours and maybe an equal number of miles.  This demanded great discipline (the sketching/painting part in particular as they timed the stops to the second.   If I recall correctly, they had a whistle to alert us that it was time to wrap up what we were doing) as well as stamina.   (Or, as Jenny says: "You can't escape the fact that there's always some 'pain' in 'painting'.")    They found there are a couple of very positive aspects of Hike & Sketch outings which strictly sedentary paintouts don't provide:  (1) there was always a chance to talk with fellow artists on the trail and (2) there was sometimes an element of adventure that made the outings especially memorable.    The current coordinators hope to keep the spirit of the Hike & Sketch paintouts alive but maybe dial back, just a bit, on the "pain" part.

Sylvia and Jenny lead, we follow.

For additional information about this very popular park, see the official website at:

Upcoming Paintsites:
  • Thursday, June 9,  2016:    Allied Arts, Menlo Park
  • Thursday, June 16, 2016:   Vasona County Park, Los Gatos
  • Thursday, June 23, 2016:   Sierra Azul Nursery & Garden, Watsonville (new Paintsite)
  • Thursday, June 30, 2016:   Duc Vien Buddhist Pagoda, San Jose
Check the SCVWS website and the  June Newsletter for details.

Other ongoing  local events of interest: 

  •  Midnight, June 9, 2016:  Registration closes for "Summer Palette" show which runs from Sunday, June 26, until Friday, August 26, at the Hobee's Restaurant in north San Jose.   See the Newsletter or SCVWS website for details.
  • Through Sunday, June 12, 2016:  18th Annual Botanical Art Exhibition at Filoli.   See the particulars at
  • Month of June, 2016:   An exhibit of Paintsites regular Richard Bloechl's watercolors will be on display at the Campbell Library in downtown Campbell (77 Harrison Ave., adjacent to the Ainsley House).   Open Mon.-Tue. 1-9pm; Wed. 10am-9pm and Thu.-Sat. 10am-6pm.  (See Rich's website link in the right sidebar for images of his paintings.) 
 The two most recent Rancho San Antonio paintouts (2012 & 2014) were pretty tame affairs with just the 1.5 mile hike (with maybe one stop) to Deer Hollow Farm.    The Farm is a wonderful destination and some of us opted to go there directly.  Others chose to experience a vintage Sylvia and Jenny led Hike & Sketch taking the long way around to Deer Hollow Farm.  The two groups set off in opposite directions - Marilyn leading the Farm contingent, Sylvia & Jenny the Hikers (you can think of this as a well orchestrated military "pincers" movement led by skilled commanders as you follow this narrative).
The Hikers - First Stop on  the Trail:    The Hikers traversed the South Meadow until we came to the PG & E Trail and took it up, up, and up until we came to a spot which offered shade and a view
overlooking the entire Santa Clara Valley.    Because of the "haze" (in Northern California it's never called "smog") over the valley, the most distinctive landmark was the nearby Maryknoll Residence (formerly associated with St. Joseph's Seminary) where we painted last year.    Feeling charitable, Jenny & Sylvia allowed 30 minutes for these paintings/sketches.

Sylvia and Jenny at the first stop.

Jenny's painting of the hazy Valley and Maryknoll (left center).

Sylvia's sketch of the same (except here the haze may be more accurately called smog because of its sepia color).

Left to right: Roger, Candy, Sylvia, Jenny and Pat on a shady spot on the PG&E Trail.

Candy's painting of the valley and Maryknoll.

Pat used an unusual paper palette with very vibrant, concentrated colors and a water brush to paint her Valley / Maryknoll scene.

Kaaren caught more of the North Valley than the other artists - Maryknoll is right of center.
Left to right:  Salinda, Lisha, and Helen.   It doesn't look like they're actually painting or sketching in this photo  (what are they doing?) but they are and they came up with some wonderful paintings.

Salinda's Valley view.

Lisha's ink sketch of the Valley.

Helen took much the same perspective as Salinda and Kaaren.
New SCVWS member Ji-eunalthough relatively new to watercolor, is an experienced artist.   This was her first Hike & Sketch.

Ji-eun's graphite sketch of a twisted old tree.

The first paintings completed, Sylvia and Jenny lead us onward and upward ... 


Second Stop:  Still smiling, still heading uphill (an unlikely combination) on the PG & E Trail, Jenny & Sylvia called a halt where there were some interesting twists and turns on the trail.   (My recollection is that we were allowed 15 minutes for these sketches.)

Helen's sketch of a trail-side gnarly old tree.

Jenny's sketch looking down the trail.

Kaaren's sketch also looked down the trail.

As did Sylvia.

While Lisha focused on one of us and relegated the trail to a supporting role.

Brad's sketch on the trail.

A fork in the trail:
Do we follow Kaaren down towards Deer Hollow Farm to the right or keep going up on the trail to the left?    Sylvia and Jenny look back at the blog photographer and decide best head for the Farm else they'll have to carry the photographer.

 Third Stop:   On the Wildcat Loop Trail heading downhill towards Deer Hollow Farm.
Left to right:   Helen, Lisha, Kaaren, Sylvia, Jenny,  Ji-eun, Pat, Candy, and Salinda on the Wildcat Loop Trail which trail parallels a small stream at this point.

Candy's sketch of one of the many bridges crossing the small stream.

Kaaren's sketch of the same bridge.

Lisha's bridge sketch.

And Sylvia's.
And Brad's

Meanwhile, the non-Hikers were busy at work too:
Dick checked out the very popular model airplane and drone flyers and painted "Flight Instructor".

 Waiting for the Hikers at 160 year old Deer Hollow Farm:
Broncha and Nancy painting at Deer Hollow Farm.  (photo by Marilyn)

Broncha's rendering of some of the 19th century farm buildings.

And Nancy's.

John's painting of the old (still in use) White Barn.

Elaine's painting of one of the very old ranch houses and some old outbuildings.

Marilyn's painting of some of the crops in the Farm garden.

Some of the Farm contingent - left to right: Nancy, Elaine, Marilyn, and John.

Jenny & Sylvia, in the shade of the White Barn, painting together for perhaps the final time as Paintsites Hike & Sketch leaders:

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