Three strangers met for the first time at Cindy's house which was in the middle. It was an unusual cold and very rainy Southern California day. The weather forecast had us all extremely worried about how we might fare on this unusual excursion. Kerri had contacted the Sedona Art Center which had arranged this painting trip in the first place. An email was sent out to see if anyone in Southern California wanted to join her in driving to Flagstaff. (Cynthia Loyd) (Kerri Hedden)
Both Cindy and I responded. As it turned out, we never got the chance to meet before we actually were getting the car packed up to go. Cindy agreed to drive. It was absolutely the best way to start off this trip.
We had a whole day and evening to get to know one another and we all had a wonderful time sharing our fears, frustrations, and excitement about the upcoming adventure. As it turned out, Cindy had gone to high school with Kevin Macpherson and has been a long-time friend of the Macphersons. She provided Kerri and me with stories which helped us see the person behind the famous persona.
Aside from a 2-hour delay caused by a truck that crossed over the center divider wall of the 118 freeway in the stormy morning, it was a smooth and pleasant ride to Flagstaff. We repacked, went out for dinner and fell into bed.
Day 2 -- Meeting our boat-mates and getting our gear at Lee's Ferry - May 7
After meeting at the designated spot, we all piled into a super van and headed toward the Colorado River. The rafting company put us up for the night at the Marble Canyon Lodge near Lee's Ferry, the starting point of our trip. There, we met Stiner, the lead boatman, who passed out dry bags. One contained our tent, sleeping bag and tarp. The other was for our "stuff". There was also a small one for the things we wanted to have handy on the boat during the day. (camera, sun screen, rain gear, etc.)
Do you recognize our great leader, Kevin Macpherson? We repacked (again)...(trying desperately to stuff the essentials into the bags). Then we went for a walk toward the bridge which crosses the Colorado. Everyone there was excited because a California Condor had been posing. We thought we had missed it, but after a while, #73 flew back and posed for us in several different spots.
The weather was ominous. We figured we'd be in for several days of cold and rain, but hoped for better. We had a great group dinner at the lodge and off we went to bed, ready for an early morning start. It rained during the night.
Day 3 -- The river trip begins -- May 8 This was my Mom's birthday and she must have been watching over us, because the skies appeared like they might be clearing. We lugged our gear to the vans, drove to the landing and then helped one another pack everything into the 2 awaiting boats. I'll talk about this routine in a later post, because it was a twice daily routine.
Most of us were wearing our rain gear. We hadn't experienced any rapids and really didn't know what to expect. What we got was loads of exciting fun, beautiful sights, awesome geology, big horn sheep. Stiner, who was "driving" our raft was full of information about the river and during lulls in the river, regaled us with stories about the canyon's early explorers, the geology and almost disasters. The rock formation in the photo on the left is casually known as Indian Dick. A more politically correct version has replaced that colorful name....... Native American Richard.
Each day we stopped at some mid-point where the crew set up a table for lunch which was usually lunch meat, lettuce, tomatoes, condiments with bread, tortillas or lettuce wraps, cookies and snacks. On the first day we stopped at mile 12 near the Soap Creek rapids. We always ate over the water to avoid leaving food to attract the red army ants. Then we piled back into the boats and continued on. After lunch we went through a series of rapids known as the "Roaring 20s". You can enjoy a brief bit of one of them in the You-Tube video embedded above.
So the first day of our 225 mile long river rafting and painting trip along the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon led by Kevin Macpherson came to an end, we camped at Shinumo Wash. Everyone went out to paint on their own after figuring out how to pitch our tents and secure our huge amounts of "necessary" stuff. The painting above, titled Shinumo Wash was my first painting of the trip.
by Marian Fortunati on 5/5/2013 10:56:22 PM8 Comments
Seacliff Oil on Canyon 20x20
I can't believe it! The time has just flown by and I leave tomorrow bright and early with two equally adventurous women whom I have never met. We live within 80 miles of one another and will share the ride together on our way to Arizona.
It all started last year when I received an amazing email about a painting workshop led by Kevin Macpherson. The group would be river rafting through the Grand Canyon and camping and painting along the Colorado River. As soon as I saw the email, my mind went back to my early years of wanting to actually go down into the canyon. I remembered how much I loved the book "Brighty" when I was a girl. Since then, I've visited many times, but I have never gone into the canyon. Mind you, I didn't actually have river rafting in mind all those years back, but ... hey... as my wonderful little guy, Tyler, keeps saying "YOLO*!".
Grand Canyon Paintings by Kevin Macpherson
I jumped on it and called the same day I received the email notice. It turned out that the trip had already filled and I was first on the waiting list. I couldn't decide whether to be relieved or disappointed. But a few months later I got a call saying that someone had chickened dropped out and now there was space for me on the trip. I took a deep breath and thought... YOLO!
Tyler's 13 and he's saying YOLO.. but he's right.
I'm no longer a teenager... (not by a very long shot). I'm not a camper. The river's 50 degrees. I hate being cold... and I get up at night a lot. It's going to be interesting. It's going to be a great ADVENTURE.
I actually a bit anxious, but I am so looking forward to the new experience. I can't wait to learn all I can from Kevin Macpherson. I'm told he's a super nice guy and a great teacher. And I can always learn more. Plus... there will be so many beautiful places to paint.
I've been so totally wrapped up in several volunteer projects for the last couple of weeks and I am SOOOO glad to get away. I'll be away until May 18th and during that time I'll be off-line. No cell phones. No internet. Only beautiful and awe-inspiring mother nature.
******* And what does any of this have to do with the painting at the top of the page?? NOTHING
I painted this before everything got so busy and never had a chance to blog about it. It is a scene from a road trip I went on with another friend last fall. We had a ball. Life is beautiful. Seacliff
I entered it in FASO's monthly BOLD BRUSH contest and look what happened! :o) ***************
Congratulations! Your painting, "Seacliff", was selected as part of the FAV15% (jury's favorite 15% of the entries) in the March 2013 BoldBrush Painting competition. You may view the FAV15% paintings, including yours: http://faso.com/boldbrush/fav15/104 This honor means that you might be featured in http://informedcollector.com in the coming months. Please login to your account and make sure your bio info is current if you want any additional info to run in that article. Thanks again and congrats again!
Clint Watson Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic
*Just in case you don't already know... YOLO is one of those words that has come about from texting. It means "You Only Live Once". (So in my mind... live it well!!)
I'll let you know all about it when I return. Until then... hasta la vista baby!
I am so excited. I leave in a little over a week for a 10 day river rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. We'll be camping and painting. Kevin Macpherson will be leading the workshop and I am very excited to learn all I can from him. Cody DeLong will be the artist with painting and rafting experience in the Grand Canyon.
In the meantime, I'm trying to get all the gear I might need to camp and ride the river. Although I totally love my EasyL box, I thought it might be a bit big for this excursion. So I borrowed a slightly smaller EasyL pochade from my girlfriend. Actually we switched. I had the smallest EasyL box, but thought it was too small and she had the pochade box that was between the smallest and my size. Anyway, I've used it a few times and it seems just right. Then Guerrilla box offered a tiny thumb box "second" for 1/2 price... So I bought it - couldn't resist the deal.
The Thumb Box
Well, one should never set out on an outing without using the equipment / clothing / etc. I've also been re-reading Macpherson's book and was reminded that he painted his nearby pond every day of the year. I thought to myself, "Well, I don't have a pond, but I do have a canyon right up the street." So I popped my paints into that little thumb box and hiked down into the canyon.
I found a cluster of my favorite trees amid the grasses of the canyon. I kept trying to look for interesting shapes and patterns. And I kept asking myself what was the reason I wanted to paint what I painted.
The little pochade box will only hold 6x8, 8x8, or 8x10 panels but it worked just fine. I learned that I need to think about where to put brushes, and my turpenoid. I am so used to hanging them off the side of my EasyL. All in all it was an enjoyable trial run and a great learning experience.
Although I won't be able to do any blogging while I'm on the trip, you can be sure I'll be writing about it both in my blog and in my newsletter. If you're interested you can get my blog posts sent to you by clicking on the RSS feed here:
by Marian Fortunati on 4/23/2013 2:59:35 PM8 Comments
San Simeon Sunset -- 10x10 O/L
Memories linger as we watched the sun set after a beautiful day.
I was on my way home from a morning painting at the beach with friends. I was driving along in the snazzy silver Infinity G37 that my Dad gave me for a surprise birthday and Christmas gift so many years ago. The radio was blaring and I was happy to have been outside painting and seeing the world on a beautiful day. Life is good.
The phone rang (happily the car has blue tooth), so I answered and an unknown voice identified herself and told me that someone (she couldn't remember who) had given her my card. She had looked at my website and thought my work would be perfect to hang in the gallery she curates. I had never heard of the gallery, but the location was in Burbank which is a nice area. Since I was driving, I told her I was interested and asked her to email me more information.
Then I didn't hear anything for several days..... (*&^%*!!) I wracked my brain, but couldn't remember the details so I looked up all the galleries in Burbank and nothing seemed familiar. Sigh. I figured I'd blown it.
Happily after a few more days, the woman called me back. We connected. We set up a meeting so I could see the gallery. It is a gallery in the main lobby of a large theatre in Burbank called the Colony Theatre. Obviously, the gallery is called the Colony Theatre Gallery. -- It looked like a nice space, and the work that was in the current show was spectacular, but very different than mine, so I thought... Hey, why not??
We set a date for the start of a month-long exhibit. I have many projects going and sort of set this aside for a while. Then one day the woman called me again and wanted the work a WEEK EARLY!! EGAD!! Well last Friday, I delivered and helped her hang the paintings I brought, most of which were ocean-related ..(are we surprised??).
"San Simeon Sunset" is one of 32 paintings which will be on display in a show called "Precious Gems". I made a card for people to take with them and although I kept the Precious Gems title the curator wanted to use, I also kept my "One Lucky Artist" title that I gave myself based on my feeling about art and my own last name. I kept it because I think it might help people remember me and my work.
I think the show looks great and hope that the people who see it like my work.
(And yes, I also hope that I have some sales.) -- Wish me luck.
And if you are that "unknown person" who gave my card to the gallery, I'd love to thank you... Let me know who you are!!
by Marian Fortunati on 4/17/2013 8:51:43 PM5 Comments
Ready For The Spring Concert 10x10 oil/linen
While we were on our painting trip up the coast my friend, Kay Zetlmaier, asked me if I'd like to paint with her again in a few weeks at a beautiful spot during an evening outside concert in Ojai, CA. The place was called Euterpe Farms. They have a wonderful windmill which offers delicious water to passerbys on the honor system. They also sell native plants and play wonderful music. Of course I said, "Yes!".
When another painter scheduled to attend found out he wasn't able to make it, I was asked if I knew anyone else who might be interested in painting with us during the upcoming "Spring Concert". Right away I thought of my friend, Laura Wambsgans, who agreed with enthusiasm. She told me about the beautiful light in the evenings.
We really didn't know what to expect. There were several days of strong winds that led up to the day of the concert, so we were a bit concerned but as it turned out, the winds were mild, the weather was perfect and we all had a great time.
I struggled with my painting, but all in all managed to get the main feelings down before the light changed so totally I wasn't painting the same thing I started out painting. Here is "Ready For The Spring Concert".
What a beautiful evening!
The ranch was lovely -- filled with natural grasses and poppies. As we painted we talked to concert goers, we listened to wonderful music and we watched the sun set.
Then Kay, Laura and I went to share a meal -- to laugh and share ideas.
by Marian Fortunati on 4/11/2013 11:46:04 PM6 Comments
Silver Shimmer 10x8 Oil on RayMar linen panel
California beaches are often are full of atmosphere during the summers. The warmth of the inland area creates fog along the coast.
One of the gals from the Channel Islands boat trip lives in Tennessee. She is friends with another gal who was visiting her son here in SoCal. That friend gave me a call and off we went to paint. It was fun!
I rarely see the beauty on days like this -- I prefer color and light. However, the way the silver sunlight was coming through the fog and shimmering on the wet sand and water on the beach caught my imagination. I loved the way the light led to the sandpipers which were happily hunting for tasty sand crabs.
I will be publishing my newsletter soon. Sometimes I write about books or movies I've seen. Sometimes I write about adventures like the one I'll be on next month rafting down the Colorado River on a painting adventure with Kevin Macpherson and some other hearty plein air painters. I always include little bits about shows and paintings. If you'd like to receive this free monthly email letter, please sign up here:
by Marian Fortunati on 4/8/2013 8:08:38 PM4 Comments
Tidepool 10x10 Oil on Linen panel
Who doesn't love to look at all of the beautiful creatures hiding among the tidepools?
Every once in a while I like to paint something a bit "odd". I think if you paint the same kind of thing over and over... even though each really is unique... well, you may be getting better but you're repertoire is not expanding.
So this little tidepool scene came to mind. Click "Tidepool" for a larger view. I didn't paint this from life, although I should have. The trouble with most tidepools is that by the time you get out there where the tidepools are, find your spot, get your gear all set up, etc, then it's about time to turn around and get off those rocks before you find yourself with wet feet or worse.
My recent painting called Hoping For Spring was one of the "different" kind of paintings. I loved working on the textures and the subtle shifts of color within the whites. Another little painting I did a few years back called On The Wall remains one of my favorites because of the way I just picked up color with my brush to capture all the reflections you see in the water near the edge of the sea near low tide.
One of the lesser reasons but still important for painting outdoors over and over is to learn economy of strokes, thus capturing the light and the feeling of the scene in a relatively short amount of time. Therefore, at some point, I will check my tide charts and aim to get there so that I can stay as long as I can without getting washed off the rocks or submerging my Sauconys.
To Enter Or Not It's always a toss up whether or not to enter a juried show. First, for me at least, is the decision about whether to enter a show or not. This is based on any number of things including but not limited to:
Nothing else is scheduled and the "whimsy" strikes
A feeling of "obligation" to participate in some way with local groups to which you are associated
A friend is entering and is encouraging you to enter
It's the only show you've seen lately that will accept larger pieces and you'd like to get them out from under your bed
A show will be in a gallery which is a new area or it might be a new place to highlight your work
The group which is hosting the show is prestigious and might be "good for your resume"or you would be proud to be part of that group's show (if your work gets in)
You have a painting which matches a theme for a show
The juror is someone prestigious and you look up to him or her and would feel honored if your work was selected by him or her
I confess that I always have a debate with myself about whether or not to enter shows. The cost of entering shows more often than not outweighs the chance that your work might sell or that you will get a prize. Sometimes your work isn't juried in -- despite the fact that I know it's not a reflection on me or my worth, it never feels good to be rejected. And even when your work is juried in you then have to deal with framing and shipping or transporting issues.
The Pros Usually Outweigh The Cons But I do like to get my work "out there" as often as possible. I've found that there are often unexpected happy events and new opportunities that come from people seeing your work in addition to potential prizes and sales. I've had people call up out of the blue after seeing my work in one show and ask if I'd like to hang my work in their venue. I've had long-lost friends visit me from long ago and from far away using the art show as an excuse. So I keep plugging.
I confess that for this show my reasons were #2 and #5. This is a group with which I feel a bit like an "outsider". My work is fairly traditional realism and the vast majority of the artists in this group tend toward the abstract. But it is a good group and they were showing in a part of town that I had never had work before, so I decided to go with it.
Potential Disaster Then I looked at the work of the juror, Richard Bruland. ZOWIE.... His style couldn't be more different than mine. Oh well... return to reasons 2 and 5 and forget all else.
My second decision is trying to decide WHAT to enter... to paint something specifically for the show or to look through my work and find something suitable that is already ready. I had been working on a piece that I felt was a bit more subtle and fairly different than my main body of work, so I decided to finish it and enter it in the show. It is really almost white on white except for the dark-colored branches. I tried to add lots of color in the pale shadows as well as in the dark branches. It is called "Hoping For Spring". When I finished and was ready to submit, I had a heart attack because I finally really read the prospectus. (Shame on me for not doing so earlier.) The piece is 12x16 and the prospectus set 18" as the size limit INCLUDING THE FRAME. EEEEEK!!! Since it was two entries for the price of one, I also entered my painting that had recently been selected as a FASO FAV 15% painting, "Carrillo Cove". Then I thought about the juror again and decided he wouldn't jury my work in anyway, so as soon as I submitted, I forgot all about the show.
Happy Surprise Imagine my surprise when I received an email that both pieces were selected. Well, luckily my husband, Gastone, is very handy with wood, and happily he agreed to pull my toes out of the fire by creating a wonderful wooden floating frame that was under 1" on every size thus staying under the size limit. My husband came to my rescue once again.
Maybe you'd like to see the show. Here are the details:
by Marian Fortunati on 3/26/2013 12:49:19 AM1 Comment
I was on a wonderful road trip adventure with a friend last week. My friend, Kay, and I drove up the coast and painted on our way to a California Art Club paint out at Mission San Antonio de Padua. My favorite part of the trip was the drive up. The spring flowers were out and the weather was glorious. The Mission itself was so interesting and the people who were in charge were gracious and committed. It was terrific being with so many talented and fun artists.
I loved seeing and learning about a part of my state I hadn't been.
HOWEVER, there was no Internet. So for almost a week there was no way to blog or check Facebook or send out any art news. I couldn't post any new paintings. I knew that without doing these things, visitors to my website would diminish.
So imagine my surprise when shortly after I returned I suddenly noticed that my website stats were inexplicably skyrocketing. I was thrilled. Some of the visitors even became new commenters on my blog so I asked them WHY they visited.
March 20, 2013
1,350 pages viewed!
After several inquiries and some browsing through my OWN mail, it turns out that my website hosts, Fine Art Studio Online (FASO) was sending out information about one of their newest features on the websites which was available to their clientele. They used my sidebar as an example.
Obviously, FASO, has a lot of users! They are always working to improve and further develop the websites and to make it even easier for all of us to market our work.
It was great seeing that so many people were looking at my work. But, as the title suggests, everything is relative. The following four days would normally have been banner days as far as visitors or pages viewed, but compared to March 20, they were tiny. Today, I think the stats have settled down to normal. Ahh, well, it was a thrill for a while.
The Study And everything -- values, color, --- everything is relative. When doing this little figure study in and hour and a half at David's studio last week, we were trying to mix our colors (mostly mixed secondaries) into various pools of color with the same relative value. We used those pools which we created to paint the essence of the beautiful model who posed for us. An hour and a half sure does go by quickly!
by Marian Fortunati on 3/21/2013 11:10:10 PM10 Comments
Delight - Plein air oil on linen 9x12
My friend, Kay, and I were exploring along the coast before we arrived in Cambria. I climbed up the bluff from the beach and saw an egret. I tried to get closer, I saw another. They were beautiful! As we approached one flew off and sat on a rock sticking out of the water. I kept going around the bend...
I've written in the past about my aversion to painting large. I prefer the smaller work -- especially plein air. Plein air work allows me to go places I wouldn't normally go. I also see in a different way. Somehow I feel that through learning to paint, I've been given a gift -- something to treasure that I hope I will be able to enjoy for a long time.
However I also mentioned that my mentor, David Gallup, pretty much threw down the gauntlet. He expects a large painting (whatever that means to us) in our near future. But not just ANY large painting.... an AMBITIOUS large painting. Honestly, I just keep thinking about that word... ambitious. I know it means something different for each of us. It is meant as the ultimate teaser to help us stretch ourselves and not remain in the comfortable realm.
I've been working on another "large painting" for a while now. I'm trying to really make it special. It's a square format and not as big as "California Coast", but it is larger than most of the work I do. I've been working on it for a while now and right now I'm really liking it. Hopefully, I won't mess it up before I finish. Also hopefully, I'll stretch myself a bit as I try to move toward that "ambitious" status.
After doing this little plein air sketch of that delightful poppy field, I've decided that I will use it as the basis of my NEXT big painting. Perhaps while I'm painting it I can relive the wonderful excitement of the moment of discovery when we found that field. I think I may also try to put that wonderful egret in the larger piece. We'll see.
Each painting I do, I try to expand my skills and explore new ideas, so I'm not sure I'll actually ever be able to reach out and catch that golden "ambitious" ring as I ride around the merry-go-round. It may be forever just beyond my outstretched mind and hand.