It has certainly been a major transition living in the Pacific Northwest where rain, fog and lots of water are flowing after living in the dry and sunny California climate.
Since relocating to McMinnville, Oregon in August, I have not had the opportunity to paint plein air or to work much in my studio. It has taken months to unpack and settle in. Our new home (9 years old) sits high above the Yamhill River Valley and Oregon wine country where we also have magnificent views of Mt. Hood and the Cascades. There is so much to paint just from my front porch!
We never grow tired of the sunrises or having 5 acres of land to cultivate and hike. Yes, it’s a hike to get from the house down to the mailbox. The 200 foot change in elevation requires hiking boots or an AWD vehicle. My husband Peter has already planted a small organic garden with winter vegetables - lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and other hearty crops. We will also be getting chickens in the spring for eggs and to sell at the local farmer's market.
This is my first Christmas in the Northern latitudes of the Unites States since moving from Connecticut in 2009 to the Bay Area. It really feels like Christmas being surrounded by snow-covered mountains, forests of spruce trees and rushing rivers filled with fish. It motivated me to have a live Christmas tree and to make fresh wreaths and sprays from greens on our property.
My creative brain has been enjoying living in nature and utilizing Mother Earth’s many gifts. My camera never sits idle. While "hiking" down to the mailbox in October, I spotted a Barred Owl in the trees. It had no problem posing some 10 feet away.
In 2016, I anticipate returning to watercolors with dedication and passion. Several artists in Oregon have signed up for the Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days Challenge sponsored in part by Artists Helping Artists. If all goes well, I'll be posting 30 new paintings on my website in January.
I also hope to work several hours a week in McMinnville so that I can meet more people. It can get a bit boring living outside of city limits on a country road. However, Youngberg Hill Vineyards is our neighbor and I have been given the green light to paint plein air with friends. If any of my artist friends from the Bay Area would like to visit and paint in Oregon wine country or on the coast in Lincoln City (an hour from my house), please email me. Would love to have you stay for awhile at the Jacke Ranch. It's a short flight from SFO or SJC to Portland!
I have also been asked to teach watercolor art to several middle school children who happen to be neighbors. That would be a win-win for me and it would satisfy my longing to share my joy of art. In the meantime, I have become a member of the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County and made application to be juried into the Northwest Watercolor Society in 2016 (stay tuned on the outcome.) I am also looking to form a plein air painters group. I miss painting with the SCVWS Paintsites Group and POPS.
Since moving to Oregon, I have only produced one new studio painting: On A Snowy Perch (above). I love cardinals and how they stand out in the snow. Even though they are not native to Oregon, they remind me of my New England roots and their snowy winter seasons. There is so much to be grateful for just outside our door. Life gives us many blessings in the air that we breathe, the water we drink and the sun in the sky to grow the food on or tables. The love and support of family and friends are the most priceless gifts we can give this season. I am grateful for the many that I have here in the United States and across many oceans.
Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season and a prosperous, healthy and Happy New Year 2016.
December 24, 2015