Sunday, December 20, 2015

Stanford Sculpture Tour, Stanford University. Thursday, December 17, 2015

Has anybody else noticed that people these days don't seem to have much sympathy for plein air painters when a paintout is rained-out (as were our first two December, 2015 paintouts)?  In fact, when I complain, they say, with a smile, "Get used to it" or "Get over it".   Must be a drought / El Nino thing.    But that wasn't at all the case for our Stanford Sculpture Tour - just the opposite in fact as not only was there never a threat of rain, it was sunny and warm enough for some of us to regret having worn so many layers of clothing.

Thursday Paintsites coordinator Jane Saltman  made several reconnaissance trips to Stanford to evaluate and develop a Hike & Sketch itinerary which kept us on point for what could easily have turned into an interesting but unfocused wandering around the campus looking for sculptures and, ultimately, for each other --- it's a big campus and there's a lot to see.   Jane also gave us a brief description of the selected sculptures, their significance and their history.    Perhaps even more appreciated was her decoding of Stanford's byzantine parking rules and regulations.

For general information about visiting the University, see:

For more information about the Sculpture Tour (either guided or self-guided), see:

For information about parking, refer to:

Upcoming Paintsites: 
  • Thursday, January 7, 2016:   La Casa Grande, New Almaden
  • Thursday, January 14, 2016:   Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz - Hike & Sketch or Sit & Paint.
  • Thursday, January 21, 2016:   Cooley Picnic Area, Stevens Creek County Park, Cupertino
  • Thursday, January 28, 2016:   Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch, Santa Teresa County Park, San Jose
For details, see the SCVWS website or the January Newsletter.

Remember:    The Annual Holiday Party is Saturday, January 16, 2016. 

Details and sign-up forms are posted on the SCVWS website and in the January Newsletter.   Everyone is welcome to display their 2015 plein air paintings (not just those done at Paintsites events) on the stage.   

First stop for Jane's "tour" participants:
The Burghers of Calais (Memorial Court):
A group of Rodin sculptures located in the entry court to the Quad honors a group of brave civic leaders of the French city of Calais during the Hundred Years War.

Some Burghers and some Artists.

Lisha's painting one of the Burghers

The White Memorial Fountain (The "Claw"):
Another magnificent sculpture with a sad story behind it:  dedicated by the parents of two brothers enrolled at the University who died in separate accidents.

Leslie commented that the advantage of painting this particular sculpture was that nobody could possibly tell how accurate our depiction was.
Leslie's painting of the "Claw".

Marilyn painting the White Memorial Fountain.

Brad's painting of the "Claw". 

Every look at the Claw revealed a new claw or fin sprouting out of the sculpture as the strong shadows alternately hid or revealed details of the work.   Brad

The Stanford Legacy (Totem Pole):

We pay close attention as Jane tells us about the story behind the Totem Pole - the sad tale of the Stanford's loss of their only son at a young age.

Jane, Marilyn and Liz work on their Totem Pole sketches and paintings.

Jane's painting of the Totem Pole.

Marilyn's sketch of the Totem Pole.
Leslie's painting of the Luna Moth Walk I sculpture - part of the artist's Origami series --- certainly an apt description if one can conceive of  folding a huge sheet of  3/4" thick steel. 

Painting in the Main Quad:

John, Tom and Dick and a couple of appreciative visitors in the Main Quad

Tom's painting of Memorial Chapel.
Dick's painting in the Quad looking west.

We found an uncrowded (actually almost deserted), sunny spot in the Quad for lunch and our "critique".  If we weren't so concerned about our parking time limits, we might well have stayed longer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Weekend Paintsites November 21, 2015 Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills

"Ten artists arrived to enjoy a flawless autumn day. There was a very welcoming sign at the kiosk, and Nancy took my photo with it. I set up by the White Barn, a high traffic area, and I had lots of young artists stop by with their families.  One little girl was astonished when I opened my brush case with so many brushes.  I showed her how I used a flat brush to apply the paint with a straight edge at the roof line.  I was delighted that every single young person who stopped by said they were an artist and told me what kind of art they liked to make or what material they liked to use

After lunch and a quick critique of our artwork by Karen Druker, several of us took the house tour, led by Emma, a member of the Hidden Villa staff.  She started the tour on the bridge leading to the house.  She took us around the back, and we entered through the servants' entrance and into the kitchen.  I was astonished to see how large the house is at the back. It is the bedroom wing and it runs perpendicular to main living areas that we toured first on Thursday.  Emma told us that the house has 10 bedrooms, and that the Duvenecks liked to have house guests, so all the bedrooms were usually occupied."  Marilyn

From our hosts:
We are thrilled to be hosting the Plein Air Painting Group from the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society today.  Feel free to quietly observe these talented artists as they carry on a fine Hidden Villa tradition in various locations around the farm.

What is Plein Air Painting?

Artists have painted outdoors since the origins of art, but working in natural light gained international recognition in the mid-19th century as it was taken on by the Hudson River School, Barbizon School, and Impressionist painters like Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro.  Plein Air painting translates from the French language to "open [in full] air".  This painting style focuses on each painter's acute observations of minute moments in the natural world.  Today, the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society carries on this art form at the farm which you are about to explore for yourself.  Have fun!

The Plein Air Legacy of Frank Duveneck Sr.

Hidden Villa was founded in 1924 by the visionary and philanthropic Frank and Josephine Duveneck.  Hidden Villa's legacy of Plein Air painting traces back to Frank Boott Duveneck's father, Frank Duveneck Sr.

Frank Duveneck Sr. was born in Covington, Kentucky in the year 1848.  Frank began his painting career in churches at a young age, and pursued this passion by studying at the Royal Academy of Munich, Germany.

While his paintings were mostly ignored in his Kentucky hometown, they attracted a great deal of national attention through shows with the Boston Art Club around 1875.  By the age of 27, Frank was a celebrated artist, once called "the unsuspected genius" by Henry James.

Frank Sr. went on to open multiple art schools in the village of Polling in Bavaria, as well as Munich, where his career took flight.  His students (known as the "Duveneck Boys"), included John Twachtman, Otto Bacher, Julius Rolschoven, and John White Alexander.  Frank's paintings decorate the Duveneck House on Hidden Villa's property to this day.

There were 10 artists, 1 guest ( we found Jane Saltman hiding in the garden after lunch and after starting to leave the site). Even though we had a small group, each one of them was bubbling with energy and came to the paint out with an aim of making it special! I didn't see a single piece of small paper, everyone drew bigger and better! The farm had a special light, which was bewitching. The cool air did make a head hat a must have but didn't freeze the painters' fingers. Next time, I might think of going later in the day with a sketch pad to rapid sketch the farm animals.


Marilyn at the kiosk

Alison's Painting
Jayne's Painting
Kaaren's Painting
Marilyn's painting of the White Barn
Linda's Painting
Nancy's first painting

Nancy's second painting
Uma's first painting
Uma's second painting
Uma's sketch
Artists' lunch

A guided house tour by Emma, Hidden Villa Staffer

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills. Thursday, November 19, 2015.

Marilyn (Thursday Paintsites co-coordinator) and Uma (Saturday Paintsites coordinator) arranged with Maggie at Hidden Villa for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society plein air groups to paint and interact with school and family groups for two special paintouts.    We were rewarded for their efforts with a particularly fine turnout on a particularly fine November day during which we did the following:  Welcomed three new members of the Watercolor Society and two guests to their first Thursday Paintsites paintout; Painted the White Barn (as opposed to the Tin Barn), the White House, the Duveneck House, the greenhouse, the blacksmith shed and various bits of farm equipment; Entertained and were entertained by the many delightful school groups; Listened attentively when the docents were introducing the children to the various farm animals; Had a long & sociable lunch before our show-and-share critique; Got a guided tour of the Duveneck House; and finally Effected a group rescue of a small bird that was trapped in some bird netting --- not only are we good artists, we (at least Jane, Laurie and Katherine) are good people as well.

For more information about Hidden Villa, see:
For information about Josephine and Frank Duveneck and their remarkable lives and contributions to the Santa Clara Valley, see:

 Upcoming Paintsites:
  • Saturday, November 21, 2015:  Hidden Villa, Los Altos Hills.    Special Event.
  • Thursday, December 3, 2015:  Santa Cruz.  Mission Santa Cruz and Holy Cross Church.  Annual Holiday Plein Air Pot-Luck.
  • Thursday, December 10, 2015:   Willow Glen (San Jose) - Residential Holiday Decorations.
  • Thursday, December 17, 2015:  Stanford Quad and Sculpture Tour (Sit & Paint or Hike & Sketch).
  • Saturday, December 19, 2015:  Stanford Quad.
For details, see the SCVWS website or the November and December Newsletters.
Note:   Save Saturday, January 16, 2016, on your calendars for the Annual Holiday Party.   Details and the sign-up form will soon be posted on the SCVWS website.   Everyone is welcome to display their 2015 plein air paintings (not just those done at Paintsites events) on the stage.  
The Children:

Children getting ready to hit the trail.    There were many such groups of children at Hidden Villa on Thursday.   The programs are very well organized, the docents knowledgeable, and the children enthusiastic, inquisitive and well behaved.   And they all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.  (Sounds like the Paintsites group doesn't it?)
The White Barn:   Hands down the most popular subject...
Artists painting the White Barn with the White House in the background. (photo by Jane)

Artists (photo by Jane)

Jenny's painting of the White Barn (left) and the White House across the organic garden fields.
Kathy's finished painting of the White Barn across the garden fields.

Front to back:   Susan, Jenny and Katherine

Susan's unfinished painting of the White Barn across the fields 
New member Gretchen's painting

New member Dana and her unfinished painting

Jane's painting


Broncha's painting




Liz's finished painting

Dick's painting


Betty's painting

Candy's painting

Lucila (standing) and Lois

Lois'  journal entry painting.


Rich's painting

Tom's painting

New member Nikki's first plein air painting.
Kaaren's painting

Elaine's unfinished painting

The White House (1860s):

Helen's painting


Lisha's unfinished painting

Melanie fulfilled the mission of the day -- she had lots of playful interaction with large groups of children -- to the delight of both parties.
Melanie's finished painting
The Duveneck House (1929):

Christine's painting

Marilyn's painting of the Duvenck House (from under Liz's dogwood tree).


Kathy's unfinished painting of a Duveneck House window

The Greenhouse:   Not in the best of repair, it was still an interesting subject with an added bonus of some attractive fall foliage framing it.

Laurie's painting of the greenhouse and an unusual "planter" in the foreground.

Nancy went after the fall foliage in the little glade near the greenhouse.
Brad's painting of the greenhouse.
I thought this would be quick and easy until I realized the glass walls and roof made the interior structure and trees on the opposite side of the building important elements of the painting.   At which time it became neither quick nor easy.    Brad

Miscellaneous Farm Stuff: 

 Docent, kids and a cow.  (photo by Melanie)

June 2014:  Leslie did this sketch of wagon wheels and was thinking of visiting them again and doing a proper painting this time ...
...but this is what she found at "The End of the Road" --- both literally and figuratively! 

Rich didn't have to go very far to paint this old farm implement ....

... and he just turned around to paint the blacksmith shed - his 3rd painting of the day.
A chicken eyes Rich's lunch while Broncha eyes the chicken.

The rest of us eat lunch.    Hopefully only our own.

 Tour of Duveneck House:

Dan, our host for the Duveneck House tour, and Marilyn, our Paintsites coordinator.

Wildlife rescue:
This poor sparrow's feet were tangled in a net.   Katherine and Laurie expertly cut away the net and the bird happily flew away.   (photo by Jane)

Post net-removal.  (photo by Jane)