Thursday, October 31, 2013

PLEIN AIR IN THE RAIN AT ARASTRADERO PRESERVE

For the past two years, I have painted plein air at Palo Alto's Arastradero Preserve during the change of seasons.  On Tuesday, October 29th, I meet up with the Peninsula Outdoor Painters Group who had arrived an ahead of me.  Dark clouds hung over the golden hills, a sure sign of things to come.  Rain!   Just as I was about  to set up my easel and painting supplies, the clouds opened up and poured onto our dedicated group of painters.  For those who were using oil paint, they were lucky.  But for a watercolor artist, it was very difficult to keep the paint on paper.  Talk about wet-on-wet!

By Noon, I had pretty much given up on painting because there was so much moisture in the air, even with the sun peaking out of the clouds from time to time.   I managed start one painting and do another sketch while sitting in the car waiting for the rain to stop.   This is why painting plein air can be such an adventure and how Mother Nature keeps reminding us that she is still in charge!





Last year's plein air paintings completed at  Arastradero Preserve.









Sunday, October 20, 2013

43rd ANNUAL HALF MOON BAY ART & PUMPKIN FESTIVAL

On October 19th and 20th, Half Moon Bay was host to thousands of people at their 43rd Annual Art & Pumpkin Festival.  Months of preparation certainly went into this year's festivities.  It also happened to be the first time I've ever been to the Pumpkin Festival. In early September, the Coastside Land Trust sent out an email to members and artists who might be interested in working a volunteer shift.  I choose the early shift on Sunday to beat the traffic on Highway 92 into Half Moon Bay.  At 6:50 a.m. it was dusk as I reached Skyline Drive with just a hint of orange tinting the sky over the East Bay.  Tears filled my eyes when I thought about how lucky I am to live in the beautiful State of California.   It was like being on top of the world. . . and the San Andreas Fault.  



When I arrived 10 minutes later, the street lights were still on and a heavy fog blanketed Main Street, keeping the temperatures down to a cool 47 degrees.  At least I had the foresight to bring a travel mug filled with hot Earl Grey until the doors opened at the Coastside Land Trust.

Shortly after Staff Member Eric Rutledge arrived, we went to work on set-up and banners.  Their supply of pumpkin cookies nearly sold out on Saturday, so the banners had to be quickly changed to read "Seeds" instead of "Cookies."  I was on the floor with markers and oil pastels, drawing letters in the ever popular 70's style.  The banners were then brought over to the Family Fun Zone where volunteers were already stocking the seed baskets.

When finished, I made another hot cup of tea and began my shift as a greeter from 9 to 11:00 a.m.   I enjoyed being a volunteer and the fact that I could spend most of that time people-watching and taking photographs for future figure paintings.  

 

 
When my replacement arrived, I retrieved my camera and zoom lens to begin a journey down Main Street.   By that time, the streets were packed, music filled the air and the smell of hot food made my mouth water.  But once the camera came out, I didn't focus on food.  My mission was to take as many reference photos as possible for studio work. 

I still don't know how I managed not to have pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin macaroni & cheese, pumpkin beer. . . and steaming chowder bread bowls.  Even these guys from the Rotary Club offered to deliver me a bowl!



While making my way down Main, Filbert, Correas and Miramontes, my hunger was satisfied by all the free food and drinks that were offered by vendors.  The San Mateo Harbor District gave away mugs and pencils, something every artist needs in a studio.

I spent some time (all of one minute)  watching today's NFL game at the LED TV Lounge where many spirited fans cheered on their team with a glass of beer in hand. 

But for me, the main attraction of the day was the Town of Half Moon Bay decorated for this amazing festival.
Despite the recent Government shut- down, an American flag proclaimed loudly that we can still buy "Gifts Made In America."




Besides the advertising signs in front of the Coastside Land Trust, my favorite artisan displays were of the plush pumpkins made of velvet.  I thought about the sugar pumpkins that are still growing in our garden since summer and realized that those stems could be put to good use.  

Pumpkins and art . . . a winning combination.   -- Artist Anna Jacke

Standing near my 2 watercolor paintings at the Coastside Land Trust.