Creative Here, Artist There



I had no clue on how to start this particular post and I wanted to go back once again and visit one of those creative moments that included plein air painting which is my passion. After a fantastic hike yesterday with my daughter, Amanda, I got to thinking that if it weren’t for her, my blog wouldn’t even exist! She has been my encourager “go get ’em” fellow artist. She is a creative and has just recently started venturing out into painting. I think creativity comes in all forms. I feel you are creative if you allow your imagination to run wild as you hike along a forest trail, as simple as that. Allowing your creative soul and mind to wander and explore to me is being a creative. Now just get out there and discover what kind of creative you are!

So, on this particular day back in May of 2012 I believe, I asked my fellow creative (and daughter) to come with me while I plein air paint. This location here is one of my favorites and there is quite a bit to explore. Located about 3 miles north of Downieville, it is a well known spot to fish and swim and also a favorite of the local bear. Often going down to the riverside I am cautious to not come upon a bear sunbathing or whatever it is that they do! Downieville is beautiful little town nestled around the Yuba river. It is infamously known for its hanging of a woman in July of 1851 for the killing of a miner. A young woman by the name of Juanita though in Wikipedia she is named as Josefa Segovia. Regardless of the name difference, apparently she was pregnant and a miner had harassed and attempted to assault her for several days. The town held a mock trial that found her guilty of murder and the mob then quickly proceeded to hang her from one of the bridges over the river.

My story must go on. Here is a photo of Amanda contemplating and writing in one of her journals. I do believe that she was working on one of her many stories that keeps her mind active; her mind never is idle! As you can see, she is “hanging” waiting for those characters and events to come hurling through creative space, sometimes you have to wait for the magic.


On this day I don’t remember all the particulars of what I struggled with but I do know that I didn’t like my painting until I got home and I took another look. Always seems to happen that way, hate it while I am working on it, wrap it up discouraged and then when I arrive home, I either still hate it some more or I love it. In this case, I was warming up to it and now I love it! I eventually set it as the background for my business cards! Setting aside the need to criticize and analyze my art is still an on-going struggle.

Now, for the unveiling of my painting! I decided to keep the background rough because I  believe that it gives it more feeling. The focus is the river and those foreground rocks. This is a pastel painting approximately 9 x 12 on PastelMat.


Another wonderful day on the North Yuba! I never tire of painting the river. The next photo is me and my easel. My trusty easel that has been through a lot of painting adventures, scrambling over rocks and in all kinds of situations. I just recently had several pieces of hardware literally fall off. I have been coming to the decision that I need to change out my equipment for something lighter and more compact. I will miss my easel and all our adventures.






Look at those Buttes!


Look at those Buttes! Hwy 49 has another name which is The Golden Chain Hwy and looking down that road you will find Sierra City just a short 3 miles and further on is Downieville and then onto Camptonville. A map for those who are interested:  I remembered travelling this road on our way back from Canada in 1969 and somewhere I have that photo. If only I had the patience I could locate it and include it in my post here but another day, another post. I am sure that I’ll be posting more about the Sierra Buttes and as I get more experienced and comfortable and yes, more interesting with blogging, I’ll find that photo!


Isn’t that pretty? The day that I painted here was on March 7th 2012  and just a bit up from the river for a nice overview. By the way this is the North Yuba and it rises or “starts” less than a mile from this spot. I would like to find exactly where this “rising” is and paint on that spot. What does it look like I wonder? Aha! maybe I need to go scout this out and do another snow scene! I am sure that they received over a foot of snow last week from that big storm that blew in and I do believe I need to make an excursion. In fact perhaps tomorrow which would tie in with this post.

Do you see those ice caps on the rocks? I see one in the photo on the right side at the rapids. I have always been a country girl even when I was growing up in LA. We raised a large garden and raised rabbits for meat in our small lot but I never felt at home in the city. Coming up to Northern California to visit with family or camping in the woods I always felt I came home. I am country! Plein air painting fits right in with my demeanor and with what I hold dear to my heart. When I am painting I often spot birds such as the Blue Heron or deer or river otter. I haven’t spotted a bear while painting though I have while hiking on the trails near my house. I just love wildlife and being out in Gods’ nature, there is nothing like it.


Enough talking! This was my painting and I have to admit that I was a bit down on this day and I wasn’t too sure if I would come away with anything to like much less brag about. Obviously the above painting isn’t one of my best or my favorite but it is a moment in time. When I look at that painting I think back to my experience and what made my day none too happy. I was very hard on myself that day in regards to my personal relationships and it carried over into my painting. I felt that it was a total thrashed experience until I took it home and re-evaluated it and hmm I realized that perhaps it wasn’t so bad after all.

There is such a vulnerability in life itself and with painting outdoors, you are even more vulnerable. Either the weather, attitude or mood you bring with you affects your painting experience. I would never give in all those bad or tough days for a perfect day. Within such angst art and creativity comes out, if not in your painting, in your character. Character building and learning is a personal theme of mine that I dwell on. I am learning to embrace all that I encounter and I hope that my being human and how I relate to my environment will be present in my paintings and ultimately turn into true art of the spirit.

Looking towards the Buttes at the river side. Ah, it was a tough day but I value what I felt and have accomplished since. I am working to let go my discouragement over imperfections in myself and difficulties with relationships. Every day is a learning experience and I apply that to plein air painting as well. It does get better and better and  is reliant on your determination and perception and a reminder to be willing to readjust your point of view.


Somewhere in Sierra County

Somewhere in Sierra County you will find sites that are beautiful and often with historical distinction along Hwy 49 such as this amazing and yet little known spot. I live approximately five miles from this location rich in gold mining history. On this particular day I wanted to paint a snow scene and this was back in March of 2012. I will be taking you through my best or most memorable plein air experiences until which I will post a current painting session.  

Joubert’s Diggins hydraulic mine established 1852 472341_3417619761366_1213407843_o

I am so fortunate to live in an area that has such an array of locations to discover nature, hiking, outdoor activities and gold mining history and obviously where I love to plein air paint. I live within 2-3 miles from the Middle Yuba River and about 5-6 miles from the North Yuba. I headed north on this particular day and had planned to paint along the N. Yuba but I had a sneaky feeling that I would have trouble finding an area along the river where Caltrans had plowed an area to park. So, I decided to stop right across from Joubert’s (pronounced jew-bear) to paint the woods.


Ha! I found an area to park and I think that the only reason they did plow at this spot is because it is where a lot of people decide to turn around or to stretch their legs because at this point it is nothing but windy downhill from here. So I called it good enough.


I do believe that is was my first time to paint in the snow and I know I admire people in the areas of the US or other parts of the world where they get more snow than we do. I know one thing I realized how much strength and stamina it takes to carry my equipment over the huge snow berms to reach my spot. As you can see I had to keep my pastels somewhat covered to protect them from snow slipping off from the trees. Pastels and water do not mix well.

I brought along my Heilman Box and set it up but decided to rely totally on the pastels I had in my Julian easel. My Heilman box contains the more expensive pastels which are mostly filled with Unisons, Great American, Terry Ludwig and Sennelier. I have since purchased other brands but I will talk about that in later posts.


All bundled up b428189_3417775885269_1997649646_nut warm. Currently I have yet to get out and do some more painting snow scenes so it is in the plans. I have bought quite a bit of hot hands and hot feet to help to keep myself more comfortable. This is my painting and I have just recently worked it to a finish but I only show my initial start as it pertains to what I accomplished on this day. I have learned that some days you aren’t able to complete a painting and some artist discount plein air paintings and only use them for a study for a future studio painting. I differ in that I feel a plein air can be a stand alone painting in that they can be quite lively and rich in strokes that are “in the moment”. I value plein air paintings for what they are, a note or a poem of an experience.

I was quite happy in what I accomplished for being my first snow scene and I applaud those people who get out and paint in the snow and cold.  Don’t ever be timid or afraid that the difficulties of taking your studio outside is too hard or scary. Get in there and be determined! I am not as young as I was when I first started about 11 years ago and I am lightening up my supplies and I can’t walk as far back in to paint as I used to but I still get out there. Never let the supposed difficulties stop you.




Sierra Buttes 9/20/13

For my first post, I am excited! my first post on my first blog! I wanted to go back and document for you here my one of my memorable plein air trips or actually a day excursion. I live approximately 45 minutes to an hour from this location which is located in Sierra Co. On this particular morning I loaded up my supplies and headed north. I am including a link to the Sierra Buttes area for extra info. Sierra Buttes and Lakes Basin Recreation Area

The photo below shows the Sierra buttes with all that atmospheric blues that made painting those colors quite tricky. You never know how to proceed or what you are grappling with until you roll up your sleeves and get to it!


Now who can resist such a setting? My easel is a full size Julian. My pastels are mostly Rembrandts which are hard pastels that are used in the first stages. I carry a limited number of Unisons and Great American pastels which are softer and as you build your layers you’ll want to use the softer pastels. I always start out with Rembrants and proceed through to the very softest which is Sennelier. I have only one Sennelier and it is a pure white which I use when I need to paint rapids of the river.

548414_10201972473055529_1541307905_nTaking a look at that mountain you wonder how do you ever capture the colors and subtleties, I just know I do a lot of talking under my breath and praying! It takes just getting in there and trying to find your way in until something feels right. Sometimes the painting paints itself but that doesn’t happen too often, at least in my experience it doesn’t.

574614_10201972476215608_1966290881_n As you can see, there is a mountain on that painting, I accomplished an image that is recognizable which is all that I hope for! There is something magical in plein air painting. On this particular day I didn’t see or hear no one which is my kind of painting. Don’t get me wrong I like people but when I am hard at work especially in the midst of nature I like it quiet except for the wind and birds.

1240154_10201974301421237_418898763_n    A word about photos. I always use my own photos except now and then I’ll use a photo from the internet or someone else’s photo. I have either received permission or I give full credit to the photographer (if known). If you find a photo that you would like to copy or use, I request that you ask me for permission and please give me the credit for my own photo. I am free and easy but I appreciate the respect and consideration.  In the photo above, there was no copyright or name mentioned. With that out of the way, this is a photo of the Sierra Buttes clothed in white, isn’t it pretty? The road that goes up the Buttes is closed as soon as Caltrans decide that there is enough snow to warrant the decision to close off the road. It will usually stay closed through the winter until they plow through which can vary from late May to early June.