Thursday, January 29, 2009

Green Flash, River Otters and Friends

My kayak friend Jan came to visit Tuesday afternoon, and we went for a nice long walk along the Headlands - good inspiration for the painting I am working on. We went down to see the sunset and an amazing thing happened - we saw the green flash - very clearly! My first ever - pretty awesome!
Wednesday we went for a paddle on the Big River, and were joined by Cate from Liquid Fusion - we had a great afternoon paddling down the river looking at bird life and mushrooms along the banks - Cate is in to mushrooms, so that was fun!  Don't be surprised if you see me painting mushrooms in the future - they are actually quite beautiful, and there are so many varieties once you start looking at them.
Apart from the usual Buffleheads, Kingfishers, Blue Herons and Common Mergansers, we saw a small flock of Common Goldeneye and a Downy Woodpecker, but most thrilling was to see the 5 river otters again!
Wednesday evening we went down to the Mendocino Hotel with Carol to enjoy another "Cabin Fever" concert.
In between I have managed to do some painting, and have made really good progress on my Mendocino Headlands' painting - I think I might be able to finish it tomorrow, before I have to pack up my studio in preparation for my reception tomorrow evening. I also started another painting inspired of the walk I took with Jan this morning through the Russian Gulch to the waterfall. Cate had given us directions to a shortcut to the waterfall, so we could squeeze that in this morning before Jan took off and I went back to the studio.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Last Week at Mendocino Art Center

I am into the last few days of my stay here at Mendocino Art Center, and I am not ready to leave! 
I am already thinking about coming back next year, but for a longer time! 
I have had such a great time, and really do feel that my paintings have progressed - it does pay off to spend most of every day painting, and being surrounded by creative souls! 
I have gained so much - a wonderful memory to take with me - great new friends, a kindred soul in Carol - (we call ourselves "one of those" meaning having packed up our stuff, put it in storage, and taking off without a specific plan!  Actually I just found out that a fellow painter from Santa Cruz who is up here is also "one of those"!   It's an epidemic!) 
Yesterday Carol did a "reading" for me - my first ever! It was interesting, and a good omen for the future year - I am on a quest!  I will try to enjoy the journey and not worry too much about the goal.  We traded so on Thursday I will give her a makeup lesson before we go out for a last "cabin fever" concert and dinner at the Mendocino Hotel.  Friday I have invited everyone to my studio for a "See-You-Later Reception" - I refuse to say goodbye!
Over the weekend I got an email from a woman from Liquid Fusion Kayak - she had seen my kayak on my car, and wrote down my website (it's on the rear window of my car).   She had seen my blog about "her" Harlequin duck on the Noyo River.  We are going kayaking tomorrow on Big River with my friend Jan, who is driving up today! It should be a nice day, and I am hoping to get another look at the River Otters - this time armed with my good camera!
Carol and I went for a long walk yesterday afternoon at Van Damme SP - deep into Fern Canyon - it was so nice to get some exercise and be in the deep woods.  It gave me new inspiration for a painting!  
Exercise is one of the things I have been neglecting while here, I get too engrossed in my painting, and if I don't get out before I start painting, I usually cannot tear myself away!
Today I will continue working on my Headlands painting, it progressed pretty well last night, and in between I finished some small 4"x6" paintings - to get a break from the big 40"x 51" - I enjoy both!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Imersed in Painting

The last few days have been busy painting days - I have finished a few more small paintings, and today I started a big painting inspired by Mendocino Headlands. I also worked on my "Out of the Woods II" painting today - I have worked on it on and off since I first got here, and I think it is close to finished. It is one of those where I could continue working on it for months, but the key is to know when to stop! Since it is an imaginative/intuitive painting the key is to leave things for the imagination!
Tomorrow I have signed up to volunteer at the gift shop mid-day, and then back to painting!
The weather has changed these last few days and it has been cooler and overcast with a few showers - more typical for January. Tomorrow morning I hope to get out for a good walk along the Headlands for inspiration and some fresh air and exercise - I have been so involved in my paintings that I have neglected everything else.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Busy Days

It was such a busy weekend and the first few days of this week seemed to just fly by! My daughter Janicke visited over the weekend, and we enjoyed beautiful weather while she was here - long walks, beautiful sunsets - lots of whales - and a great Saturday spent doing "soul collage" with Carol - my fellow resident and friend. We were 6 women at a lovely studio in the redwoods, just a few miles from Mendocino - Carol was the instructor, and we had a lot of fun and gained some insight to the subconscious mind - I quite liked what came out of it - sort of a vision statement.
I finished both my large paintings along with some smaller ones, and yesterday I took them to get matted and framed, so they are ready to be exhibited in the upcoming shows both here and in Monterey.
Monday night we had slide presentations of the various Artist in Residence for the Board and Residents, and it was fun to see what everyone is working on and to get to know their background - I was part of the presenters, so I spent some time Sunday and Monday to get my presentation together on Powerpoint.

Art on the Noyo River

It's been a couple of really busy days, and I have not had a chance to fill you in yet, but tonight I will sit down and recap.  For right now I just had to share with you a couple of beautiful images from the Noyo River where I celebrated the Inauguration yesterday afternoon in good (and beautiful) company of some very special birds!!  I spotted a Green Teal duck quietly swimming along the shore, and a beautiful Harlequin Duck had joined the Bufflehead - suddenly I saw the rust-red flash of his side, and quickly and quietly got my camera in position - he obliged by giving me the opportunity for a few good shots. Even the Kingfisher was more cooperative, and I managed to get close enough to get a decent photo of him.
The morning had been spent watching the Inauguration at the Mendocino High School - a very fitting place I think, and great to see the young people being so involved and excited!  A very good sign to see the youth fired up and excited about their country - as one girl said to me:  "I am so excited that now it is Okay to be patriotic and proud to be an American and wave our flag - for so long it felt like it was something I had to be ashamed of!"  Out of the mouthes of babes!  It gave me goose bumps to hear a teenage girl say that!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mendocino Days Fly By

The last few days have been so beautiful up here, like summer!  I have been busy painting, and have made some good progress, now I am almost finished with both of my large paintings, just a few more adjustments, and they are ready to be mounted.  In between I have worked on a number of smaller paintings for the upcoming new exhibits at Gallery at 417 and Le Beau Soleil.
The sunsets here have been fantastic - as you can see from the photos - I even managed to get a whale spout in one of my sunset photos!  It is amazing to see how many whales are passing by the Headlands here, I don't have to spend many minutes looking out over the blue waters before I spot spouts at any time of day!
My daughter Janicke came yesterday to spend the weekend with me here, so today we are going to enjoy the beautiful weather before it changes and explore Mendocino.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Big River Reflections

Today was a gorgeous day - warm, sunny, not much wind so I took some time out to kayak Big River again, this time going quite a bit further up the river in the hopes of finding the River Otters I knew inhabits this river. 

After about 2 hours paddle and crossing through at least 4 kingfisher territories, it was time to turn around and ride the current back to my launch spot.  Shortly after turning around I suddenly spot a small river otter quietly swimming ahead of me, and soon thereafter I see 4 more otters who are busy getting in and out of the river with their catch, and I can hear them chattering as they are munching on the small fish they caught, not paying much attention to me in my blue kayak as I quietly glide by on the tide snapping photos of them. What a treat!
It was such a lovely day on the river, I enjoyed the peace and quiet, and the many colors of green of the surrounding forest reflected in the green of the river.  Sounds of trickling little creeks running down the hillsides and joining the river's journey towards the ocean. 

I ended the day by going down to the Headlands to see the sun set in the ocean painting the sky orange, then pink and lavender as dusk settled on Mendocino.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Getting Familiar

It seems like the days fly by and I have already been here at the Art Center for 10 days! Last night was the opening reception for the January show and I volunteered to pour wine, which gave me a good chance to get to meet some of the people associated with the art center, as well as getting to know some of the other artists in residence better. Slowly I am starting to feel more like a part of it all here, and I am beginning to learn the stories of some of the other artists, and that's a nice feeling. Tonight was another reception held by the Board to thank the staff and volunteers of the art center and us Residents were invited as well, so many of the same faces I had seen the night before were here again, and gave me another chance to get to know the people who are an integral part of what makes Mendocino Art Center such a special place.
During the past couple of days I have been busy working on my paintings, and I am getting pretty close to finishing my big Moon painting, but I am struggling with an area of the Sunset painting. However, I think I have figured out what I need to change, so now I just have to find the courage to do it! I finally got started late this afternoon after having "tip-toed" around it for well over a day, so I think I will be well on my way to finish that painting also. While thinking about what to do I worked on a couple of smaller paintings, and they are coming along nicely.
Yesterday morning I got up early and wanted to go kayaking - I got down to Big River, but it was so cold that I decided that it really was not a great idea, so I went for a short walk instead, deciding that early morning paddles probably was not the most ideal this time of year, so tomorrow I think I will go for an early afternoon paddle instead, while the sun is high on the sky taking the worst chill out of the air. I can definitely feel that Mendocino is farther north than Monterey - it's much colderr here at night and in the mornings.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Progress Report

The weather is beautiful here in Mendocino - sunny and a bit breezy and I have been out to walk the headlands at sunset the last few days - gorgeous!
Today was especially beautiful and lots of spouts to be seen from the passing Grey whales as I walked down to enjoy the sunset.
I am making good progress in the studio as well - I finished a small rock painting and I have continued working on my two big pieces, as you can see on the photos.

Last night I went with my friend Carol to the Mendocino Hotel for their winter "Cabin Fever" concert series and we had a splendid evening at this historic old hotel with wonderful folk music perform by very talented local musicians!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Painting and Kayaking

Yesterday it turned out to be a beautiful day, not the rainy day the weather forecast predicted, so I decided to fulfill my promise to myself to go kayaking when the weather was nice! So after painting in the morning I grabbed a quick lunch, before I packed up my gear and drove the short way to the mouth of Big River SP. After launching I got my camera and binoculars out, and spent a couple of peaceful hours paddling up the river, enjoying the peace and tranquility. I got a few good photos of some of the birdlife, and returned to the Art Center refreshed and invigorated!

I painted for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, and make some progress on my two large paintings, as well as a couple of smaller ones I am working on, before I called it a day - and a good one at that!
In the evening I had my collegue Carol over for a glass of wine and a quick pasta dinner and some good conversation.
Today I painted all day, and I have finished my "Dancing with Waves II", and my two large paintings are really taking shape now - so I am looking forward to continuing tomorrow!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Mendocino Art Center & Mac Genius

It has been a couple of busy days getting organized and settled in here at Mendocino Art Center, but everyone are so nice and accommodating that it is easy to feel right at home!

Of course in every paradise there has to be a snake - here it appeared as a crashed computer!!! Help! After spending about an hour on the phone with a kind Mac-Genius he had to give up and send me to the nearest Mac Store in Santa Rosa - that's more that 2 hours drive - one way! So, Sunday afternoon I headed East and another Genius spent a couple of hours - fixed it - almost!
So today I spent solid 3 hours on the phone with two upper-level Geniuses - and finally I am up and running again! All this high-level computer talk does nothing for my creativity, so I had to unscramble my brain, and get over in the right side of it again! I think I am almost there! I got my iPod on with some inspiring music, and the paintings I have started are beginning to develop.
I love having a big light studio to myself where I can work on large paintings without worrying about dripping paint on the floor! And it's messy when I start pouring the colors on! I am working on 2 large paintings at the moment: a Sunset/Valley painting and a Full Moon/Big Sur painting. In between I am working on various smaller paintings that needs finishing touches. I always like to have several things going, it keeps me from going back into a painting before it is dry - patience was never a virtue of mine, so this way I can control myself!
Yesterday I went for a beautiful walk out along the Headlands - it was a clear day with a brisk wind blowing - whitecaps on the ocean and seagulls riding the wind. There really is nothing more inspiring to me that nature! On the way back I saw a big flock of robins feasting on red berries having a wonderful time! Today it rained most of the day, but next time it is clear weather I have promised myself a couple of hours in the kayak with my binoculars and camera!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Road to Mendocino

The first day of the New Year - and the first day of my adventure - I have been looking forward to this day for so long! I got up and put all my "must have" things in the car and waved "so long" to my daughter as I set out in the wintry morning in Truckee - the snow glistening, and the sky blue with some floating white clouds signaling that another snow storm was on it's way. I was excited about getting to Mendocino to start my Artist in Residence Program, and decided to take the unknown back roads instead of following along the freeway, which I had already driven so often to get to and from Pacific Grove to Truckee. I turned of the I 80 onto Hwy 20 and drove through snow covered mountains to Grass Valley and on through Marysville, Yuba City, crossing the Feather River, eventually getting down into the Sacramento Valley, leaving evergreens, snow and blue skies behind. Down in the valley I saw lots of waterfowls and big flocks of swans, snow geese and many other birds I could not identify from the car. I would have loved to have stopped to do some bird watching, but I wanted to get to Mendocino before dark, so I kept going west, passing by Clear Lake, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and reminiscing about past camping trips there with early morning kayaking on the lake. I am bringing my kayak with me to Mendocino, so I look forward to paddling and exploring new territory as well as rediscovering familiar waters. For me kayaking and painting have always gone hand in hand - kayaking helps me get inspired to paint and brings me that sense of peace and appreciation of nature that gets my creative juices flowing.
I pass by Willits - gateway to the Redwoods - and after about a hours drive through the redwood forests I get to the coast by Fort Braggs and soon I reach the end of my road for today - Mendocino and the Art Center.