In the Studio Today... Inverness Boat; Session #4

Friday, March 30, 2007

Final session on the "Inverness Grocery Boat". I have decided to leave out the writing on the boat that says, "Pt. Reyes". I think most people who see this will know where it is from. The biggest additions today have been the left side of the painting: I worked on the "right" side of the boat's bow, which was a previous swatch of yellow paint, and the grasses below this section of the boat are more detailed today.

In the Studio Today... Postcards for Show

Tuesday, March 27, 2007
(ABOVE: Postcard Announcement going out in April. Click to enlarge.) This evening, I put together and ordered my postcards for the show in May. They should arrive here on April 4th. Please email me if you would like one mailed to you. For more information on this show, see my "Exhibits" link.
(ABOVE: Postcard Back; Invitation to Reception. Click to enlarge.)

In the Studio... Inverness Boat; Session #3

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

This is actually a session from last Friday. Today, I spent my painting time doing yard work, so I am going to have to wait until Thursday to paint again. Although this painting is not quite finished, I am going to start a new painting on Thursday and Friday, and take a break from adding details to the boat. I have been wanting to paint a large landscape of Heart's Desire Beach, and I will start that one this week.

In the Studio Today... C.Proppé Card Design

Friday, March 23, 2007
This week has been a slow week for painting, as I had to work on Wednesday, and have been preparing for my twins 5th Bday party. I did paint for a little over an hour today on the Inverness boat painting, but I left my camera at a friend's house and will have to upload today's session later tonight. For fun, I thought I would upload the invitation I designed for my sons' Bday party.The boys love planets, and want a solar system cake. I designed the card using an old version of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. It made me realise how long it's been since I've used Flash and a wacom tablet. If my painting show goes well in May, I am going to upgrade some of my computer equipment.

In the Studio Today... Inverness Boat; Session #2

Monday, March 19, 2007

Another hour or so of detail today, especially focusing on the sand. A couple areas of the sky I see I do not like, but will work on.

In the Studio Today... Inverness Boat; Session #1

Friday, March 16, 2007

"The Old Boat at Inverness Grocery I"
An icon as you enter West Marin towards Pt. Reyes
30" x 30"
I love this boat. I'm sure I will paint it a hundred times or more and enjoy it every time. There are so many colors in the shadows, and reflections in the water surrounding the scene. This is after the first hour of painting, blocking in the colors.

In the Studio Today... Platform Bridge Rd.; Session #3

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Lime Hills before Black Mountain"
24" x 36"
Looking left as you turn onto Platform Bridge Road toward Pt. Reyes Station. As I mentioned in my previous session on this painting, the tops of the hills were glowing lime green where the sun was peeking through the clouds, but the rest of the land was in shadow. I wanted to capture this moment, and I am happy with the way it feels at this point. I will start a painting of the old boat at Inverness tomorrow.

Reading about Art Today...NYTimes Online

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

There is a story in the NYTimes today about a Stanford MFA student who wrote a book about a prisoner's dream house. At the end of the article, the man is quoted as saying,

"Once you build something in your mind, you are free".

I agree that the arts have the absolute ability to transform the mind in a therapeutic way, and this is a perfect example of how art and design can aid those in difficult situations.

I have a friend who has been designing her dream home for as long as I have known her, and she is getting closer and closer to actually making that dream a reality. I wonder what happens when you finally achieve this sort of life long design dream? What comes next? Is it really that you live happily ever after? I wonder sometimes, when I have seen my childhood neighborhood built up with monster houses that all look like inns that could house 20 people. I have a hard time understanding how people can want to use so many resources to build these homes, while we are in such need of conserving resources, and thinking of the impact on the environment. I hope there will be a change coming that brings us back to living simply, and with a bit less of an ecological footprint. In a way, I relate to the man in his prison cell; I rent a small home that often feels small for our family of four, but I have the freedom to get out of the box, both literally and figuratively; I can take a trip to the mountains or beaches, less than an hour from my home, or I can paint large spaces and scenes in my paintings. I don't need the space of a huge home to feel free. Freedom is created in our minds. I think the prisoner speaks the truth here. What a wonderful thing to know that our minds and art/design can set us free, even in the most difficult of situations.

In the Studio Today... Recycled Wood

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

This photo of an old barn door is directly from the website of Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, CA. This business reclaims/recycles wood from old farms, barns, buildings... I was turned on to this place by my recent meeting of the artist, Judith Selby Lang, who won a Fellowship Grant from the Marin Art's Council. Judith is a treasure trove of information for artists, and I am delighted to have met her. I had been trying to think of a way to display my paintings on a more "natural" form of material than a store bought canvas. I have a friend who decoupages her small watercolor paintings onto driftwood, but I was thinking I need something much larger that can accomodate a very large landscape painting. When I saw the barn doors at Heritage Salvage, I was amazed. I keep thinking how incredible it would be to paint a cow or a tree on an actual barn door. Something recycled, and also with the West Marin Agricultural history and theme in mind. I plan to make a trip out to visit Heritage Salvage this month, and hopefully, bring back some old barn wood, or even a barn door... Stay tuned.

Artist's Statement

Photo of Colleen Proppé taken by her 4 year old son, Aidan. 3/14/07

All painting is in some way an abstraction of reality; regardless of one's training and technique to capture a scene they are observing in nature, the result is never the same for any one person at any one time. Whether I paint plein air before the hills, or from a manipulated photo in my home studio, the result is never identical to that which I have derived it from. The act of painting is a moment in time event, every time. Before the canvas each new time, you surrender to the moment, knowing that it is a search and journey in itself; that each color, shape, stroke you lay down may lead to another one that you would not have made if you were at that same canvas the next day.

I honor the training I have had and know that with out my background in drawing and painting, I would not have the tools to create what I do. I have an absolute joy and love for composition, and will hesitate to paint a scene that I do not feel has a unique composition that draws the viewer into the depths of the painting. I have been contacted by cycling and landscape photographers who admire my work, and this is a compliment to me; that I may at times have a photographer's eye for composition.

I love the spontaneity of the situation in which you may only have one hour or two hours to capture what you are perceiving; I do not say "seeing" here, because I know that every individual given the same scene to paint will tend to focus on a different aspect of that landscape. One might pick up the golden glints on a cow in the forground, while another captures the immense and windswept loneliness of the scene, portraying all the mountains and huge sky. It is amazing to me that everyone who paints has their own unique style automatically; like a finger print... even with out trying to be different, we tend to create works that have our own mark.

I have been a resident of California for 15 years now, and of Marin for 12- most of my adult life. I have chosen to raise my twin boys here regardless of the cost of living because there is no place as magical, with access to open spaces that are diverse and grand. I like to tell people, "I have never had a bad day in West Marin; I always come back home feeling lighter in spirit and in a more peaceful state of mind". For this reason, I have wanted to give back to the land with my art, and will continue to donate a portion of my proceeds from landscape paintings to Malt or other non-profits that help preserve the land and the way of life in West Marin.- C.Proppé 2007

My fraternal twin boys, and my border collies in Inverness, March 2007

In the Studio Today... Session #2

Friday, March 9, 2007

"Lime Green Hills before Black Mt."
View towards Black Mt. when turning onto Platform Bridge Road
24" x 36"
I had a little more time to darken the sky. The brightest places in this image are just the lime green highlights on the top of the hills where the sun was peeking out of the grey sky.

In the Studio Today... Session #1

Friday, March 9, 2007

"Lime Green Hills before Black Mt."
View towards Black Mt. when turning onto Platform Bridge Road
24" x 36"
I just started this one today, and had about an hour to block out shapes and colors. The lighting this day gave the illusion that the hill tops were lime green velvet against a darker blue sky. This composition is simple, but the colors and shapes were fascinating to me and I imagined painting this as soon as I saw the scene.

In the Studio Today... Planning my Show

March 8, 2007

Today I had lunch at the Two Bird Cafe, and looked at the current artist's show of paintings. I was admiring how well she filled all the spaces there, with 24 paintings. I hope to be able to fill the walls as well as she has. Above is my sketch of the floorplan, and where I have been able to fit in my current paintings. The orange stars/squares represent paintings I am still working on that will fill in the gaps. It looks like I need to create at least 4 more large paintings, and there is the possibility for up to 9 smaller ones as well. It was a very good thing I got in there and measured the walls today, or I might have been making work that would not fit well in the spaces. Also, I wanted to keep specific works together on the same wall, so this was an important day for planning and preparing. It is also time to create and order postcards to send out to announce the show and reception.

While I was driving out through the valley, I saw the cows by Spirit Rock today, and wished I had time to stop and paint there. There was nice lighting, as it was partly cloudy. I took a few photos of the golf course today. I plan to include a couple paintings of the golf course in this show. I also saw another plein air painter packing up his car by Flander's Ranch.

In the Studio Today... Artist's that inspire

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Aidan with a recycled plastic boa that he helped sew.

Photo of Ryoan-ji Rock Garden in Japan

There are 15 rocks in the sand of white pebbles... but no matter where you sit, you can only see 14 rocks at any one time. They say that when you see the 15th rock, you are enlightened... I say, this is a comment on life's journey... no matter where you are, you can not see the future... so "yield to the present", as the buddhists say.

On Sunday, my son Aidan and I went to the Donna Seager gallery in San Rafael to meet Judith Selby Lang, and participate in the creation of her installation art piece, a replica of the stone garden Ryoan-ji made entirely out of recycled plastic grocery bags (for the sand), and black plastic that had washed up on our favorite dog beach in Pt. Reyes, Kehoe Beach. The Marin Arts Council awarded a grant to Judith to complete this project, and we were invited to go help out.

Aidan and I stayed but a 1/2 hour, as Aidan, now 4, was overly enthusiastic, and kept running up to Judith every time he sewed a short strip of plastic, saying, "I did it!" "Can I do another one?" He then proceeded to get tangled in the fishing wire, and ran a few laps around the gallery before we made a mad dash for the car.

I asked Judith if I could take a 50 ft garland in the works home to complete. Today, I finished the strand, which is made up of at least 100 white grocery bags cut into 4 inch wide strips. At least 3 of my neighbors donated bags to me, dropping them off in my mailbox. It was very relaxing and meditative work, both folding and cutting the bags(kind of like oragami) and then simple, repetitive sewing. Judith works as an art therapist and often does project's with seniors, and I was so excited to learn about her, and find out that we could participate too.

The final project will be on display in San Francisco, at the Civic Center Plaza, from April 14-24th to coincide with the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival.

I hope some of you will make it out there to see Judith's creation. I have thought of going there to paint the scene plein air. It is wonderful when other artist's inspire us to keep doing our own art, and remind us to take simple steps to recycle that will save the earth that we model our own art after.

In the Studio Today... Flander's Ranch; Session #3

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

"The Bobble Tree" Flander's Ranch, Woodacre, CA 18" x 24"
I added details to the grasses in the foreground, and modified the shading on the closest cow. See a detail of the round tree I like to call the "bobble tree", below...
Detail of the spherical "bobble tree".

On Location Today... Flander's Ranch; Session #2

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Plein air at Flander's Ranch for the second day in a row. Today's session was 2.5 hours, and I was able to watch the cows pass by me again today. I was there later in the day, so the shadows from the trees and fence posts were much longer.

My easel in front of the hills today.

On location Today... Flander's Ranch; Session #1

Friday, March 2, 2007

"Bobble tree in the Hills at Flander's Ranch" San Geronimo Valley, CA 18" x 24"
Plein air painting from the roadside today, from about 12:30- 2:30pm. It was breezy and warm in the sun. The cows were lying down when I arrived, and about 1/2 hour into the painting session, they all got up and started heading back towards the barn, passing by me on the way. Several came up to the fence to check me out. They are very furry up close. Some of the cows have long red hair that really catches the sunlight. The black cows had orange highlights in the sun. There is a single tree, on the left of the painting that always looks like a perfect sphere- "the bobble tree", I call it. I wanted to get this one in the scene. The clouds were changing very quickly today, and it was fun to try to capture a few of their shapes. I hope to return on the weekend to finish the painting.