Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Break and a Vlog

 Here it is: my first Vlog - aka, video blog. Just a quick peek at my studio, all cleaned up for company.

I'm going to be taking some time off from bloggging - August will be packed with family, travel, and many other things, and my social-media-self is feeling in need of a general recharge, anyway. My plan is to do a lot of sketching and drawing, and paint if and when I can for the next few weeks, but my posts may be sporadic. Hoping you all are having a wonderful summer - there's plenty of summer still to come!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Escape From the Beach

 "Luna Sea Fish House, Yachats, Oregon"
11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas

After my Seal Rock Sunday debacle, I was ready to press the proverbial Reset button Monday morning. I loved my last cityscape outing, and Yachats is such a sweet little town. Painting there was just what I needed. That, and clam chowder for breakfast.

When I pulled into the parking lot of Luna Sea Fish House, I instantly saw a painting. Such great, vibrant colors on the shopfronts. Such lovely morning light.

 I managed to finish up and vacate their lot in advance of the lunch crowd, and while wandering around I saw this:

 "La de da." City motto? Love.

Just around the corner, I set up my easel on Ocean View Drive. I let a teeny bit of the Pacific sneak back into my painting, but kept it firmly in the background, enjoying the neon signs that flickered in the Underground Bar's windows.

"Ocean View Drive, Yachats, Oregon"
12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

Then I headed back to the valley. 20 miles inland, it was already broiling hot, and only got more so as I approached home.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Life's a Beach

 "Rocky Creek Vista"
approx. 12 x 9 inches
oil on Arches oil Paper

 My second day at the Sandgren Coast Paintout was a total bust - if I can call a first visit to an amazing beach, an entire day spent watching the changing light and tides, sun, good company, and a little random exploration a bust - just because my painting didn't turn out.

Bad painting, great day.

You can see my start below, on the right side in the middle. 

You can also see Erik Sandgren painting away, Patti McNutt striding in all geared up and ready for anything, the first living crustaceans I've seen outside of an aquarium (or a kitchen), and my granny hat.

I took a break for some random exploring. These shots are from Depoe Bay, a place where "Fine Art" and "Thomas Kincade" are not synonymous. (Click on the image to see what I mean). Bonus: Gluten Free clam chowder? So Oregon.


In Seal Rock, I just couldn't pass this enormous sign advertising BEARS without stopping. I think I met Ronald Reagan there, too.

So, a great day, but not on the painting front. Not to worry - I redeem myself tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My first Oregon Coast Paintout!

"The Cliffs at Rocky Creek"
8 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Well. A warning: this post is going to be long! The only thing that irks me more than overlong blog posts are bloggers who split days into multiple posts.  So here you will get my entire first day at Erik Sandgren's legendary, famous, long-lived, and beloved Oregon Coast Paintout.

First, I packed. And, since my family was joining me for the weekend, there was a lot to pack! On the left you see the essentials: art stuff!

We got to our cute beachfront cottage in time to have Patti over for dinner - she'd already been there almost a week, painting up and down the coast!

The next morning, I groaned my way out of bed for a run I knew I wouldn't regret. Four miles on a deserted beach, leaping over tidepools, following my own footprints back home. 

After a quick shower and some even quicker shoving down of food, I kissed my mom, husband, and daughter goodbye and set off for my first encounter with this legendary Paintout.

Rocky Creek State Wayside was the location of the day. A seemingly-unassuming pit-stop along US 101, when explored further, offered many gorgeous vistas - not to mention picnic tables upon which to stand while painting! The bathroom was more than appreciated by all, as well,
but even better than that were the multiple spots so sheltered from the wind that I found myself shedding layers as the morning went on.

The Oregon Coast is cold. The highs over the past weekend at my house in Eugene, a mere 75 minutes from the coast, were in the 90's. At the coast, we were hoping for 70's. And not too much wind.

In the afternoon, we had an informal critique with Erik. If you were in college with me, and you actually read my blog, I love you! (but no... no one does). If you did, you'd remember me as a fan of a good critique. I absolutely love talking about art-in-progress. And there was some lovely stuff happening this day - in all different media!

artists pictured: upper right Renee Nelson, bottom center Leland John, bottom right Za Vue.

 After lunch, and the critique, I moved on to a less precarious painting spot on the beach head. I did a quick sketch of the ocean and then another of Erik and his wife Katherine painting together on the cliff edge as the day came to a close. 

"Artists at Rocky Creek" 

As I was introduced to more artists throughout the day, (Thanks again, Patti!),  I realized that a large group were staying right across the street from us in Waldport! Of course, they demanded that I join them for a glass of wine that evening, and I was more than willing to comply. These are people that I've been hoping to meet for some time: L-R David Talaski, Za Vue, and Quin Sweetman. Loved meeting you all!

Ready to book your hotel room for July 2014? Just wait until you see my post about the rest of the weekend. Amazing. Summer is fun.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Party of Two

 "Becca in July"
12 x 9 inches, oil on canvas

I was feeling overjoyed last night, walking back into Maude Kerns Art Center's open studio after a three week hiatus. I was happy to be there, but I was almost alone in that feeling, because Joy and I were the only ones who showed up! Summer is a crazy time around here - everyone travels, there are tons of things to do, it's almost impossible to throw a party because no one's around to attend....

Well, we enjoyed our party of two last night, and I got to set up the pose and the lighting without any interference collaboration whatsoever. See how creative I got? She's sitting. On. The. Model. Stand.

If anyone has a *small* couch or comfy chair they want to donate, consider dropping it off at Maude Kerns. The artists there will thank you for years to come.  And you'll get to see your rejected furniture immortalized again and again!

Bonus random sky shot: it was a beautiful evening!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When You Commission a Portrait

"Sketch for 'Keila'"
10 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

I've loved gettting to know many amazing art collectors and enthusiasts over the years, and I've found that everyone has an idea percolating in the back of their mind for that perfect custom painting. So what really happens when they finally decide to take that step - make that investment - and commission that piece they've always wanted - a truly unique statement just for them?

I've been working with an old friend this week on a portrait of his beautiful wife. He initially contacted me on Facebook, and after seeing what a gorgeous picture he had for me to work from, the rest of the negotiations were a piece of cake! This is the preparatory sketch I made for Keila's portrait, which I will post once it's been officially unveiled.

I love painting portraits. When I was little, I drew princesses, faces, dresses, girls, girls, girls endlessly! I vividly remember the day I figured out how to draw a purse over someone's shoulder - it was a milestone, of a sort. I've never stopped loving painting the human face, and I'd love to paint your loved-one too. Have a painting in mind? Email me. Let's talk.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Destruction is a Form of Creation

We did it! Yes, we did. Thanks to my girl Carol Marine, a bunch of Oregon artists gathered on Saturday to destroy some art that was asking for it, at our inaugural Bad Art Destruction Party!
Sharpies, knives, and small children were all involved. 

Here is Carol destroying one of her paintings.....and one of mine:


 what an honor!!!

 And here is my wonderful husband, helping the cause. 

Joseph Pfeiffer-Herbert's super-cute son Arlo running around with a stretcher bar necklace:

 Some more carnage:

This was actually a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be. I was afraid I'd be nervous or sad about shedding some of this old, dead weight, but no - it was cathartic. Thanks for joining me for this.

Hopefully we'll have even more artists next year.... we will definitely be doing it again!!!!!

For even more, please visit Celeste Bergin's excellent blog.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


 "A Bend in the River"
10 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to head out for some plein air yesterday. There's a spot called Willamette Greenway that's been very popular with the Plein Air Painters of Lane County lately, and I had yet to check it out. I almost ran off the road several times heading down there - admiring the gorgeous rolling farmland, and pastoral scenes of sheep grazing. Everything is starting to turn crispy brown as it always does during our rainless summers, but that just makes the clumps of dark green trees stand out even more dramatically.

By the time I reached my destination, it was sizzling hot. I had my sunscreen and my trusty granny hat, but wasn't willing to spend time scouting around for a shady spot. I wanted to get in, get it done, and get out - and that meant setting up right at the end of the path to the river. 

As a result, I spent a ton of time doing this:

And this:

My coquettish pose has a purpose here:  attempting to hide the hideous eruption of pimples on the other side of my face. Hormones + vanity + blogging = Sarah.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Out on the Town

 "The Tiffany Building, Eugene, Oregon"
10 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

So I signed up for my very first plein air paintout the other day. I think it's appropriate that it's the first for me, and the first for Eugene, too! I signed up for both categories: landscape and cityscape. Just leaving my options open - after all, I'm going to have an entire day to work! 

Since I definitely plan to win don't want to completely fall on my face next month, I figured it was time to get out there and start practicing my cityscapes. Luckily I got to tag along with Patti at the Park Blocks downtown for some "I-got-your-back-when-the-vagrants-harrass-you" style plein air. Actually, the only people who approached us were some city marketers hoping to photograph us for their Facebook page, and some small, curious children. 

Which was good, because I had to pump all my spare change into the parking meter. 15 minutes for a quarter, Eugene?! Ha.

 I think I might just love city-scape painting more than landscape. The light does such beautiful things to buildings, and the dappled tree-shadows make even the sidewalk interesting to paint.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In Case You're Feeling Poorly

"Hot Toddy"
12 x 9 inches, oil on canvas

Your grandma has a cold, and also she set up my still life today. She told me you should call her! 

Or maybe just text.

Monday, July 8, 2013

I Wish I had Three Arms

"A Shady Spot"
14 x 11 inches, oil on canvas

Not the same blue umbrella, and not the same model, but yes, back-to-back blue umbrella paintings on the blog. It's a July thing.

I was wishing for a third arm to hold an umbrella over me this morning. We're having a hot hot summer in Oregon, and the Monday Painting Ladies were all slathering on the sunscreen / hiding in the shade in Patti's sunny garden. We literally brought out a fan on an extension cord to keep our model from melting. She's made of chocolate, you know.

Have I mentioned how much I love summer? My dance card is full until September, folks. I spent the past week partying with family (which was great), but now there are lots of fun things in store art-wise. So, plan to join me - either literally or online. The highlights include the Oregon Coast Paintout, my August 10th workshop "Painting the Figure en Plein Air" (4 spaces left!), and the Create Eugene Paintout August 21st. I just signed up! So should you.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Art and the Vineyard, my Awesome 4th of July

"The Blue Umbrella"
8 x 8 inches, oil on canvas

 I had a great Fourth of July! The day began with hugs from my sister-and-brother-in-law who'd snuck into my house after midnight on the 3rd (who's awake to greet guests at such an ungodly hour? Not me.) Next I headed out to my favorite festival of the year, Art and the Vineyard, with my friend and fellow Maude Kerns instructor Farley Craig and a gorgeous model to spend the afternoon painting in the sun. We talked to so many awesome people, and squeezed in a little painting too!

Don't you love my Oregon Art Supply apron? It's new.

To really cap off the day with a bang, we had our closest friends over for a BBQ, and with both of my wonderful sisters-in-law and their husbands visiting this weekend, it was a house full of fun. And I managed to look the other way when the menfolk started blowing things up.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

From Memory

"Knowing Eyes"
20 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

I started this painting, from life, a couple of weeks ago. You can see what it looked like when I brought it home from the Art Center here. I really thought I had a good start, so I've been attempting to finish it from memory. 
After two-and-a-half years of weekly figure painting, I think I'm finally approaching a point where I can maybe begin thinking about possibly experimenting with debating doing something like that! 

Luckily, it was mostly subtle changes, and background. :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I Display My Values

 "Breakfast Bar"
10 x 10 inches, oil on canvas

Hope you all enjoyed the blog carnival-slash-virtual-studio-tour yesterday! I thought my studio was pretty cool, but man, now I've got serious studio envy! The Titanium is always whiter....

So, this painting has a back-story. And as with many stories, it beings with "I've got this friend...." Because I do. Have this friend. Who is really into whiskey - or scotch - or whatever this stuff is - and also likes art. His big idea was to buy me a bottle and see what kind of painting I'd make of it after sampling the goods.

Let the record show: I'm perfectly willing to be the victim of sadistic artistic manipulations when high-quality alchohol is involved.

The eggs were kind of incidental. I had just finished this piece, and thought, 'Man, some whisky/scotch/moonshine would be really good right now,' and before I knew it, I had begun my commission. 

The value scale was another happy accident. I just threw it in there, but halfway through the painting I saw the genius. Whiskey and eggs for breakfast - now those are some solid values. Get it? Yuk yuk.