Looking Back at 2016

My  goodness time sure flies and here we are just at the door of 2017. I have been busy painting but posting only when I feel something is ready. I really like my slow approach. I have been painting a lot behind the scenes but slowing down my posting, it makes sense for me because I want to focus more on the art. Bear with the length of the images, I have been having a difficult time with uploading photos and having my page get stuck many times. This is the easiest way to put together this post. I will do a post in the next few days of my favorite photos of 2016 as I am getting impatient with how long this is taking. It has been a fantastic year and I am looking forward to what 2017 will hold for me and my art endeavors.

Here are my favorite paintings of the year, first the pastels:








P1070947 (1)
My intuitive painting


Now for the watercolors that I liked the best:


















P1090300     P1100584





My most favorite watercolor painting


another all time favorite!


*A word about photos. The photos on my blog are mine, taken by me and copying them would be stealing from me. If you find a photo that you would like to copy or use, I request that you ask me for permission and I expect you to give me full credit for my own photo. Thank you so very much.









Where in the Goodyears Bar Is….


This spot is another location where my husband was wanting to show me just outside of Goodyears Bar which is about 25-30 minutes from where I live. There are several mining claims along this road that I wouldn’t have attempted without him. Rain was in the forecast and we left early hoping to get a few hours at the river before the storm came in. The road had me so nervous my stomach was getting upset and I kept wanting to “bail out” but that is the typical reaction when I am very uncomfortable with a road. It is a running joke in the family. But I stayed the course and my husband told me that I need to get out more, I think that he is right. We arrived safely and I was a nervous wreck but ready to take pictures and this was the first one. Believe me I didn’t feel like painting after that road but I knew that we didn’t have much time because of the incoming storm. I literally told myself to get with it and get ‘er done!  


The view looking the other way. That rock was huge and this photo doesn’t do it justice. I had a hard time trying to decided which view would be my scene to paint.


There was so much to look at and I had to make a decision on my scene because we didn’t have much time. So, with an upset stomach and a feeling of not really wanting to paint, I set up my easel and got to it.


Here is my painting on the easel. I wasn’t so sure that my colors were working but I ignored my initial feelings and dove in anyway. My husband really helped me because I wasn’t thinking that I was getting anywhere with it but he was saying “it is looking like you are nailing it”. I initially didn’t feel that way and his comment gave me perspective. Today was the day for me to risk and throw out misgivings or fear. Fear of that darn road, fear of not doing well in painting my scene and the fear of not getting it done before the rain. Pastels and rain don’t mix and when I felt the first drop, I started to pack it up.


A close-up of my painting. I struggled with the lighting because there weren’t any sunlit areas to focus on and what was there was subtle which made discerning the colors very tricky. I ended up enjoying my painting experience and I was able to throw caution to the wind and I decided that I was going to make it happen. My artistic eye was coming in sooner and all was moving along as hoped for. Usually it takes up to 30 minutes for my brain and eyes to discern and really see the shapes and colors. Sometimes it doesn’t even happen and that is always frustrating. Plein air painting can be a joy or can be a trial, you never know until you are out there painting.

My trusty husband that didn’t break a sweat bringing me down here. He has to deal with roads like this all the time because of his job. I demanded that he put it in four wheel drive going back up that hill. He was so obliging, anything to keep my fears in check.

Finally back to Goodyears Bar! I was relieved. The town is very quaint and has an old time feel to it. Kate Wolf, the folk singer is buried at the cemetery here. I have yet to find out why she is buried in this small out of the way town. There is no mention that she was born here, vacationed here or had family here, a mystery to me.


Thank you for coming along with me on our little adventure out and about along the North Yuba River painting and sweating and leaving fear behind. No matter how old or young you are learning and growing is never static, I say….embrace it.

Paint it or Mine It


In my neck of the woods, recreational mining is an activity that is very popular. There is a prevalent hard-rock and placer mining enterprises in the area such as The Original Sixteen to One Mine, http://www.origsix.com/ and The Ruby Mine http://northbayresources.com/ruby/ to name just a few. Mining history is very rich throughout the Sierra foothills.

On my plein air ventures, I often will paint on a mining claim or run into miners doing their thing. I had the great fortune of meeting one on this cold November day while I was packing up to leave. I was given permission to take his photo and to post it publically.


This spot is located between Indian Valley Outpost and Goodyears Bar in Sierra County. When I arrived, it was very cold but thank goodness I was dressed warmly with many layers of clothing. I was carrying my newly found “paint when it is shady” technique. I wondered if I was carrying it too far especially when it was so cold!

What I love about plein air painting is the wildlife that I often see or spook. In this case, I spooked a large buck who made a warning sound that I have heard before or similar to a black bear! At first I was thinking it was a bear but I then realized that it was a deer and he was scooting fast. As I approached the river bank I saw a rather large river otter and he disappeared under the rocks. It certainly was starting out to be an interesting and exciting day.


I decided to paint this scene. The colors in the rocks and river were as dark and rich as you see here in my photo.


At this point I decided to go find some sun, warm up, cheer up! After being in the shade and cold it was starting to get to me. I am not a moody person but for some reason it was affecting me and I needed to go take a walk and see where the sun was coming in. I am pleased with the rocks and the water but I need to finish up the background. At this point the eye bounces off as though there is a barrier present. No worries, plein air is usually not finished in the field anyway.



SUN! It didn’t take long and I had sun shining on the river. I decided to finish up my painting later in the studio and start my second painting of the day.


The painting on my easel. I loved what I was seeing but all that light and excitement was changing so quickly! I had to get a move on it. I call plein air painting, “painting by the seat of your pants”. You barely have time to think or plan, just react and hope for the best.


My painting for now. I did finish it later in the studio. I gave more shape to that large rock in the upper left and the smaller rocks on the bottom. I didn’t want to touch the cascading water over those rocks. I think I am learning what to finish and what to leave alone. If I were to make that area, the focal point “better” I might have inadvertently lose my plein air freshness.

Just another day on the North Yuba river somewhere in Sierra County.



Shady Business on the North Yuba

With my discovery of starting a painting in the shade, I scurried up to the North Yuba to plein air paint once again. The day for this excursion was on October 31, 2015, I am getting current! well, almost! I hope to get up to speed soon. I might be posting every day in order to start current postings.

This spot on the North Yuba is between Indian Valley Outpost and Goodyears Bar in Sierra Co. I live about 25 minutes from here, not bad living so close to my favorite painting locations. As you can see, it was dark.


I like having the extra time to set up because plein air is a “by the seat of the pants” experience and I cherish a breather now and then. Not having to hurry because of the optimum light is passing you by is a real treat. Problem with this particular morning it was quite chilly. I was amazed by the colors of my scene, the blues, purples and that large bank of bushes across the river were an unusual reddish color. My dilemma was to distinguish between the subtleties of all the colors and to choose the correct values.


I struggled with this painting and I decided to stay loose and more abstract and also to punch up the color. The background gave me fits and I decided to retain the busyness and yet push it back with colors that were hopefully worked. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the river on that top section on the right side is not set down properly and rises rather than being anchored down. I actually decided to work it later in the studio and of course I ended up fixing it too much and now I have a stylized painting rather than a plein air. Sigh…..it happens every time I decide to make the painting better (in my mind) or finish it later.

I am wanting to learn when and if I should finish a painting or simply leave it alone.  I truly consider a plein air valuable not just for a reference but as a sellable item. Obviously this is sometimes not the case and it is better left alone. I am in a constant learning curve in this area.


Light is coming! what a glow! I always get excited about light, just like a little kid.


Now that I had light hitting the river, I decided to paint one more painting. This time I used rubbing alcohol and using a brush, I swiped in the darks on my paper which was a small 9 x 12 section of Wallis paper and using my pastels, I went with even more of an abstract view and very loose. This is a miracle for me, the person who strives for perfection and the “correct” color. I envy those artists who can let their imagination fly. I have to work hard at it and my way of working hard at it is to pretend I am one of those artists and I fling my arm in there and don’t think about it.


My photo here doesn’t show the blues of the high lights in the water correctly, so keep that in mind. Those blues are rich and more of a cobalt blue. I tried looking for a better photo but I couldn’t find it. Once I framed it I of course found areas that bug me. I don’t care for that very exact line of white rapid smack dab in the center of the painting and I still wonder if my painting is too dark. Some day I hope to be completely satisfied with a painting, like I said, someday that will happen!

Very interesting, you know how I chase light and wait for it, drool over it? Once the sunlight hit that large bank of reddish brush, the color totally washed out and my scene was more beautiful in the shade rather than in the light. The rocks turned dull even with shadows present. The only time that I liked what I saw in front of me (with light) was what I captured in my painting.  And here….in this photo!


Of course once I am ready to pack up I see a beautiful scene like this one and than I am left wanting more! Never satisfied am I? Plein air is always different each time I venture out. Sometimes it is frustrating to the point of tears, yes I have cried! Some days it is heaven and you want to sing and dance. I would suppose if it was perfect each and every time you venture out to paint, it would turn into a boring experience. I have decided that I need to embrace even the bad days, after all, a good day is always around the corner!


Who is Afraid of the Dark?


Often when I go out to paint in the great outdoors, I chase light and color. My focus often without really thinking about it, is the sun! I rotate around the sun I suppose. In the past I wouldn’t budge out the door to go paint unless there is sunlight. The fact that my favorite lighting is when there are clouds and sun barely peeking through. I am sure that there is a term for this kind of lighting and if you can enlighten me, please do. I think it is the special glow that makes the colors go “pop”! Now with that being said, I still ventured out only if the day is sunny. Even though I like the lighting found in part cloudy days, I won’t venture out because I like the assurance of a clear, sunny day.

All habits now and then need to be broken. Like most people, I have a difficult time venturing away from what is safe, secure or what I have deemed”tried and blue”. I have been pushing myself in areas that I know keeps me safe and stagnant. In general, I like to explore new ideas, new locations and new attitudes but when it comes to art, I find this stops short. You may ask why? Like most artists, their paintings are tied to the self esteem, am I good at painting? Do people like my paintings? The list goes on and on. For myself, venturing out is hard because I am stepping away from what I feel confident in. For the past two years maybe more, I have been trying to give my static attitude and approach a big heave ho.

Last October of 2015, I ended up once again on the North Yuba to paint. I often find that finding the right time for a particular spot on the river is often difficult because some places the sun hits the river at 8 am, sometimes not till 10 am! I decided that by 8:30 am  I would be set up by the time the sun was just hitting my scene. I was wrong! I was off at least over an hour or so. It was dark, no sun and I was thinking that by the time I was completely set up, I would have sun. No. Then a lightbulb went off in my head (sometimes it happens!) and I would start painting all my darks and shapes and by the time the sun hits my scene, I would be ready! What a novel idea!


This photo doesn’t show how dark it actually was but you get the idea, no sun directly shining on the mountains or trees in the background. I was able to lay in all the darks and the shapes and got a wonderful start on the painting. Before long there was light!


I love this new technique because when I proceeded to put my lights in I didn’t have to rush because my painting was already 75-80% finished by the time I focused on the lights. Since then I have used this technique at least 5 times and it has worked except a few times where the sun beached out the colors and the subtleties of the scene were lost. Now I prefer starting my painting in the “dark” rather than when the sun is shining brightly. I am beginning to understand why I chase light and color. It is exciting and beautiful and I use it as a catalyst for creativity. I have learned that it takes a quiet, observant eye to properly discern colors that are obscure in the dark of a scene.

Learning is never a done deal in the world of art and creativity, be willing to be shaken loose from a safe and seemingly secure artist stance. I now challenge you to do something this week that will put you in an area of discomfort. Remember that discomfort is just a feeling, it doesn’t mean that failure is just around the corner. Don’t be afraid of the dark and don’t be afraid of not knowing where you are  going! It is an adventure!

Here is my painting on the easel and then lastly, my painting up close. I finished up my painting in the studio and it turned out beautiful.



This painting is on PastelMat paper and I used various hard and soft pastels. The location is approximately 2-3 miles north of Goodyears Bar in Sierra Co. in California.