Archive for November, 2009

Deep Roots

November 30, 2009

Boundaries, soft pastel on Ampersand panel, 11 x 14″ © 2009 Marianne Post

The California landscape as we know it today has to include the eucalyptus tree. They are everywhere. Imported from their native homeland of Australia in the 1850’s they were the answer to many entrepreneurial ideas. When you think about it they were ‘very California’ from the very beginning. Shipbuilders, furniture makers, ranchers, pharmaceutical makers and railroad companies all embraced their deep roots and believed they held a promise for prosperity. Somethings don’t pan out as planned or hoped. But an empty promise makes for artistic fodder.

The groves of ‘eucs’ seem to have given way to rows that act as wind breaks or boundary lines across the fields of crops in my neck of the woods. There are so many varieties. Some are stout, others are like a ballerina as their graceful sway gives way to the valley breezes. They have been the subject of many California Impressionist painters including Edgar Payne. So I decided to give it a try. I painted Boundaries, inspired by a few trees that grace the approach to my driveway. How lucky can I get?


Thankful for Turkeys

November 26, 2009

The Turkeys at Montgeron 1877 by Claude Monet oil on canvas, 174 x 172cm Musee d'Orsay

The Turkeys at Montgeron, Claude Monet
Musee d’Orsay

Yesterday I stepped out onto the hills to do a quick sketch of the wild turkeys that roam the hills. There is usually a flock somewhere to be found. I thought that since Thanksgiving was upon us that I could parlay this into a fitting blog post. Well, wouldn’t you know, there was not a turkey to be found. I usually don’t welcome their presence but I was amazed at my disappointment in not finding a one.

So to wish you a very happy day I can think of no better way than to bow to Claude Monet and his painting The Turkeys at Montgeron. It was commissioned by his patron Ernest Hoschedé in 1877.

As artists and those who enjoy the vision art brings to our lives we have a lot to be thankful for. Enjoy your day!

A Return Visit

November 23, 2009

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
–Rodin (1840-1917)

Tomorrow’s Promise, 11 x 14″ soft pastel on Ampersand pnael
© 2009 Marianne Post

The weather wasn’t cooperating so it was destined to be a day in the studio. I decided to revisit a painting I had done earlier this year along the American River. I usually don’t do something like this and I am not sure why. I have seen other artists paint the same subject or scene many times over, and each painting tells a slightly different story. I think I am leery of getting bored with the process. So to mix things up and give it a go I selected a different size (the original was 9 x 12″) a different surface (pastelmat vs an Ampersand panel) and a different time of day.

River Light

Rodin was right! I was pleasantly surprised when I got “sucked into” the process. The watercolor underpainting responded differently on the panel than the paper. And the pastel application had a different feel. Time flew by and in a matter of a couple of hours, Tomorrow’s Promise was done. Tomorrow I’ll try it again, promise!

The Grass is Really Greener

November 19, 2009

If you have been following along the past week or so you probably have noticed that I am on a roll with how we use words to get a thought across. Take for instance the saying, the grass is greener on the other side. Well if you stop and think about it, have you ever turned grass over to look at its other side?

Well, around here in Northern California, the grass is getting greener; right side or wrong side, it’s definitely greener. We had one storm come through and the hills have turned their chamber of commerce “gold” to a screaming lush sap green. The orchard trees are bare and look like nature has forsaken them. But the carpet that lies at their feet is thick, lush and vivid. A foil for any artist knowing the power green has in a painting.

So I planned to take a few minutes and sketch the hills from the my studio view. For some reason I took a handful of colored pencils to task. I should have known better, since it takes so long to do anything in colored pencil. But my sketch is what it is. The grass is really greener than I have depicted, but time was slipping away and I had to call it quits for the day.

Mixed Messages

November 16, 2009

Okay. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? Why do we call it a tv set when we only get one? How do you get off a non stop flight? Funny how we know what we mean but we say it in an incongruous way!

Recently the whole idea of “concept” came up in class when a student was composing a painting. She knew it didn’t feel right but wasn’t sure what was out of sync. I have found that everything I include in a painting has to pass a big question mark, beginning with the format. Last week, painting-a-day artist Lori Signori blogged about  her decisions on selecting vertical, horizontal, and square picture planes and many weighed in on their approach. The thread to her post has continued over the span of a few days. I ask myself “Does it support the emotion, the feeling I want to express?” Then, what do I include or more importantly what do I exclude to solidify my message. What plays the role of the prima ballerina in my painting? What becomes the supporting cast? What color palette will carry the message even further? When do I stop?

The last one is big one for me. How little can I depict? I marvel at the suggestion found in other artists works and somehow when it comes to mine I can’t say “enough” soon enough. I guess we all bring our own personality to our work and I could be the poster child for type A folks. If  “less is more’  is what I am after, then maybe it doesn’t start with the painting. Perhaps it starts with finding a quieter space within myself that ultimately gets expressed in my art. After all mixed messages don’t really make much sense do they?

I Can Smell It, But Can I Sketch It?

November 12, 2009

Garibaldi Harbor, Oregon Coast

Ever since I returned from the Oregon coast a couple of months ago, (where did the time go?) I have been thinking about harbors, boats, the smells of the seafood cafes and fish markets. Maybe having just watched The Perfect Storm for the third time also has made an impact on checking out harbor life.


Under the Carquinez Bridge, Crockett, CA

So I meandered to Suisun harbor and then onto Crockett to a place I had actually painted this past summer. I had no intention of setting up an easel, just trying to capture the vulnerability of man and land against the sea.

Drawing a Blank

November 9, 2009

It’s Monday and I feel compelled to upload a post, but somehow I am drawing a blank. Actually, how does one “draw a blank”? Something to ponder. But what does come to mind as an artist is the power of negative space.

Francis D.K. Ching authored  Design Drawing, a publication aimed for an architect or designer more than the fine artist. But nonetheless he addresses the concept of negative space quite well. He points out that as we capture the positive shapes we need to study the interconnection of the negative spaces that develop. Likewise, in rendering the negative shapes the positive image evolves.


I have been attempting to paint the positives by painting the negatives and I like where things are going. For instance in the small plein air study below I started with a watercolor wash, then with pastel, the trees were created by painting the sky. By selecting a pastel similar in color and value to the forest trees I defined the edges of the bushes. The reflections were painted by the glow of light on the river.

I don’t like to think of myself as a negative person, but in this case it’s a positive thing!

Nature at the Easel

November 5, 2009

This past Tuesday I was flying from Portland, OR back to Sacramento, CA. It was night, the plane was full and I had one of the last available seats on the plane, a window seat.

We were about 30 minutes out from landing and starting our descent. It was night and I hadn’t really bothered to look out the window until then. Though it was dark, the sky was cloudless. A full moon was waning but not by much. It was like a search light in the sky. But what was happening on the ground was what caught my attention. The light from the moon was casting its reflection on the waters of the Sacramento River.

The river was like a stream of kerosene lit by a match. As the plane moved through the sky, the moonlight raced along the waterway, darting into darkness behind tree lines and foothills to magical reappear and continue its course. I had my camera, but it was useless in this instance and ditto for my sketchbook. With my tray table in its upright position all I could do sit back and enjoy an incredible light show. Nature was in charge of capturing the fleeting light this time ’round.

Small Things

November 2, 2009

"Vineyard Shadows" © 2009 Marianne Post

I call them “smalls.” After all, 5 x 7″ isn’t very big. I do them just once a year in preparation for the addition to the December show at the Chroma Gallery. Chroma asks its artists to submit paintings no larger than 8 x 10.” Special panels are set up throughout the gallery. The curtain opens with a by-invitation-only preview party, and these small treasures take center stage.

So this past week as I was painting among the vineyards I thought I should get working on my submissions. I finished four 5 x7’s and have some concepts for another four, probably in square formats. I am posting just a couple for now. These are on Ampersand panels and were started with a watercolor wash. They will all be framed in such a way that their diminutive size is dramatized. They are fast, fun and if history repeats itself they sell quickly.

“Vineyard Retreat” © 2009 Marianne Post