Why Paint? Why Plein Aire?

I am coming up on my first real Opening as a solo artist next week and the restaurant owner asked me to send her my BIo or something that explains why I am my kind of artist…. Writing about yourself is hard enough without trying to codify what it is that drives you to create. You don’t want to sound pretentious or arrogant, however, you do want to put the right words to the internal, primal impulse that causes you to regularly breathe life onto canvas through paint. So instead of some bio, the better question for me anyway, may rather be to answer “Why Plein Aire? Why landscapes?”

Making it all work as an artist Mom

Making it all work as an artist Mom

My answer is simply that painting the natural world focuses my life to feel appreciation and gratitude. Painting outside or in the studio, this practice teaches me to step back, BE CALM, and LOOK. To take in these blue sky breezes and creamy gray fogs and heavenly vistas then to selfishly make them mine, truly see this region for the national treasure that it is, before carefully placing these celebrations back onto a canvas panel for others to love too.

Catching those first hints of fall over our Annadel Estate vineyards earlier this month

Catching those first hints of fall over our Annadel Estate vineyards earlier this month

Life in Sonoma County is aesthetically stunning. Moving here in 2007 allowed me freedom to breathe – in all 5 of my senses. And opened my eyes on a daily level to the wonder of our natural world. Always a closet painter, once I left Los Angeles my work turned from large watercolors and urban-inspired abstracts to smaller works in oil that celebrate the natural beauty of these bluffs, vines, and waters in Sonoma. While I’ve been painting Sonoma County literally every day or every week since moving north 6 years ago, it has only been in the last year that my art works have returned to a more abstract narrative.

Bluffs over Salmon Creek Beach north of Bodega Bay

Bluffs over Salmon Creek Beach north of Bodega Bay

When I visited the Maynard Dixon retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, printed on the wall was a Dixon quote explaining that he sought “to minimize the noise.” In everything. Those words stayed with me. To this day, when I work to capture the essence of a scene, of a single place or a single moment, I work to strip out that static noise that does not need to be there. Often the human imprint poor development has left us. But also people, cars, cell phone towers, billboards. I also work to retain the vibrancy and LUSHNESS that life in Sonoma gifts. Sonoma Artist Dennis Ziemienski and his fabulous wife Anne – and the great people making wine from these hills — have infused my works with a reminding calling to celebrate TODAY. This sunlight? This fog? Those hills? Vines, mountains and waves? This is IT. Celebrate THIS. And REVEL.

Lunar Nocturne over Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, winter 2013

Lunar Nocturne over Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, winter 2013

We now have two kids under 3 years of age and a start-up, critically acclaimed winery named Annadel Estate Winery. I don’t have crazy amounts of time to luxuriously devote to painting al fresco but I do have the spiritual drive to SEE this stunning County for all of her splendors and catch it. As best I can.