Thursday, January 18, 2018

Flood and Mud

January started as a hopeful new year full of recovery from the Thomas fire. That changed abruptly early in the morning of the 9th. Probably the worst catastrophe that Montecito has ever seen - mudlsides off the bare, burned mountains caused by the worst downfall of rain we have ever seen -in some places a half inch of rain in a 5 minute period. 
Lives were lost, some still missing; houses and properties destroyed or damaged, and people displaced from an evacuation zone 30 miles square.
My studio is in the middle of that - unharmed, as is my general small neighborhood. Half a block away, homes were drowned in mud and crushed by boulders that came from miles upstream. Just luck of the draw.

So we carry on - the community has come together in extraordinary ways.

After a week and a half I was able to get my work for "The River's Journey"
out of my studio. A neighbor who was evacuating kindly loaded up 30 newly framed gouaches, plus my gouache painting kit and my plein-air painting kit and brought them out to me.

We're moving forward with the show at the Wildling, and the Artist Book show at the Elvehoj. Westmont is keeping the "5x5" show going - ongoing online auction and the reception this evening. Sullivan-Goss held a second reception for "100 Grand" since the fire took a bite out of the first one.

I hope people will come out and support these endeavors - many more artists than just me are involved.

The River's Journey, Santa Ynez River Watershed, Artist Book, 27"x 4 1/2" Filamentous Green Algae, Ink, Blue Thread.

This accordion-fold book is made of 'paper' I made from dried filamentous green algae that I picked up from the SYR bottom. It's a beautiful green color when it first starts to grow, then turns light colored as it (and the river) dries up. I flattened the pieces and attached them with Japanese paper tape. The shape of the watershed is drawn in ink and the river's flow - from the Murrieta Divide to Surf Beach, Lompoc - is stitched in with blue thread.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Year News

We are just around the corner from "The River's Journey: One Year, Six Artists, Ninety-Two Miles" which will open at the Wildling Museum on February 17.

The six of us - myself, Libby Smith, Pamela Zwehl-Burke, Nicole Strasburg, Holli Harmon and Connie Connally - are really excited to see the culmination of over a years worth of hard and rewarding work.

The Wildling Museum is holding an exclusive Preview Event for the exhibition, which includes a special reception with the artists and the following:

Here are a couple of links to the Museum and to the event - take a look!

Another great exhibition of a different sort will be at the Elverhoj Museum in Solvang. "ReOpening The Book" is a show of Artist Books - a unique and interesting art form. There are 23 artists exhibiting their work in this show, myself included. This will be opening on Saturday, February 3, and run through April 29, 2018. Reception is from 4-6 on the 3rd.
I will be showing 4 unique (meaning one-of-a-kind) artist books. Here is a sneak peek:

In case you're wondering what an "artist book" is - come and see this show!
Check out for more information.
In addition to the upcoming Wildling and Elverhoj Shows, there are a number of other events and exhibits I am involved with:

January 11, 2018 - Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art 5"x5" invitational:

Please check the following links for more information and to see all the work:

lake, gouache on archival watercolor board, 5"x5"
This is my piece that is included in the auction. All proceeds go to support Westmont Museum's outreach and arts programming. It's a good cause!

Let's not forget the current Sullivan-Goss Gallery "100 Grand" exhibition - this will be continuing until January 28. Stop on by to see my work and support our local businesses and artists. Here's a link to the Gallery:

small fir, gouache, 3"x4"

And lastly, the Santa Paula Art Museum "Art About Agriculture" exhibit - this will be continuing until February 26.

Old Dairy Barn, Loleta, oil on panel, 20"x10" 


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve after the Thomas Fire

December 4 was the beginning of the Thomas Fire, outside of Santa Paula. It raged from behind the Fillmore area, into Ventura, the Ojai area, the coastal enclaves of Faria, La Conchita and into Carpinteria. In the meantime consuming much of the Los Padres National Forest back country, Sespe, Matilija and the Santa Ynez River watershed behind Montecito and Summerland. Wind and 7 years of drought conditions, kept pushing it along through the Santa Barbara front country and the Montecito foothills. It has become the largest recorded fire in California History. As of this writing, they are looking at full containment around January 7.
Life took detours or changed forever for much of the population. I look out at a bare Montecito Peak - like a moonscape - just dirt and ash.
A lot of things were put on hold, a few carried on and life is slowly coming back to it's senses for Christmas. But a sober Christmas indeed.

Santa Paula Art Museum bravely stayed open with the "Art about Agriculture" show. I could not attend the artist's talk, as by then we were in evacuation mode. Please show local support by stopping by the museum and seeing the show.

Sullivan-Goss Gallery pushed on with a smokey First Thursday opening for the 100 Grand Invitational Exhibit. 

small fir
gouache on archival board

This year I had one of my paintings printed for Christmas cards:

low creek

The Westmont 5"x5" Invitational will include the following piece for their fund-raising online auction. This will open in January.

gouache on board

Art is a refuge in times of hardship and uncertainty - it carries hope and beauty.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a New Year without Fire, ash and smoke.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December Daze

The beginning of the end of 2017 - so much time spent getting ready for the Rose Compass exhibition at the Wildling. Choosing, editing, adjusting, finishing, matting, framing, printing and trying to keep our momentum going. As we get closer to the February open date, it's getting really exciting. A huge effort on many levels - it should be a great show with interesting and beautiful work and a real message about our water resources and the Santa Ynez River watershed. Here are some outliers from my work of the last year:

from figueroa mountain 

the lake below, oil on panel, 9"x12"

tamarisk - santa ynez river at live oak campground, oil on canvas, 60"x40"

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Finally Fall

Here it is, end of October and we're just coming off 103 degree weather. Much cooler at last now that we are nearly at Halloween.

Closed up the cabin for winter, hoping for another good snowfall year.

Last full moon at the lake - smokey, cloudy:

moon, dusky night, oil on panel 8"x10"

Went to visit family in Humboldt. Terrible fires in Napa and Sonoma counties - Santa Rosa is a tragedy - all the smoke changed the timing of my visit. Did get to sit and look at the view from the house and get a little gouache done.

King's Peak from Honeydew, 5"x7"

Back to Monday painting, Libby and I went to Paradise Camp. The River is completely dry, and sycamores are barely turning color.

Riverbank Sycamore, oil on panel, 9"x12"

Working hard to finish work for "The River's Journey" - we got good coverage in the PleinAir Today Newsletter, October 18th online newsletter:

"1 year, 6 women, 92 miles" is our tag-line. You can also get information from the Wildling Museum's website: and of course our website:

Some of the latest work for the project:

dry riverbed, Alisal bridge, gouache, 3"x10 3/4"

yurt view, Cachuma lake, gouache, 3"x5"

flowers and bees, Lompoc, gouache, 4"x4"

I'll be showing a painting in the annual juried Santa Paula Art Museum "Art about Ag" show, opening on November 11.

old dairy barn, Loleta  oil on panel, 10"x20"

And coming up in December, the annual "100 Grand" invitational holiday show at Sullivan-Goss, as well as the "5x5 invitational" at the Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fall equinox

Yes, Fall is in the air, even though today it's in the high 70's. Doing some studio time catch up and getting outside a bit. Re-visiting the Arroyo Burro open space and a Monday trip to Dos Pueblos Ranch.

This weekend (almost over) is the ArtWalk at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. I have 3 oil paintings in the show, which features the Oak Group as the main attraction.
Also did a fun workshop with Meredith Abbott, painting still-life. 
Here's work from the field:

honey locust, 9"x12" oil on panel

locust tree, arroyo burro 9"x12"

black cows, DP ranch, 8"x10" oil on panel

Saturday, September 9, 2017

september smoke

spending a couple of weeks in the Sierras - fires burning in Sequoia and Yosemite, thunderstorms, lots of chainsaw noise followed by enormous thumps of falling logs as crews clear dead trees from the last many years of drought.
it's unnerving, but managing the forest is important for the health of the forest.

There's been time to catch up on The River's Journey project as well - I'll post more on the site.
Can't resist the small buildings:

santa rosa park

bees and flowers, lompoc, gouache, 4"x4"

SYR, from santa rosa road

farm horse, gouache, 2"x4"