In the Studio Today... 3 Tiny Cow Paintings; Day 2

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
"Solitude",  California Cow #4  6"x 6" o/c

 Finished 3 more of the "tiny cow painting" that was so loved at the Marin Arts Council, Small Wonders exhibit.  Two of these are promised to people.... one will be left over and available.  Notice how they are all different, even though I painted them from the same reference.  See- no two paintings are ever completely alike!

Tiny Cow Paintings, #4-#2.   All 6" x 6", o/c.
"Solitude",  California Cow #3  6"x 6" o/c

In the Studio Today... 3 More Tiny Cow Paintings

November 28, 2010

My tiniest cow painting ever, sold on "Black Friday" at the Marin Arts Gallery, "Small Wonders" show on 4th Street, in downtown San Rafael.  This show is ongoing, now through January 8th.  Meanwhile, another person had been telling me he was going to buy this painting, and a third person called yesterday, wanting to buy the same painting as well.  Now in progress... 3 more paintings, commissioned from the first.

Wow, 3 people wanting the same painting in one week!  Is this my lucky break?  Well, that's far from the truth.  These little paintings were priced to sell, at $125.  Hardly a fortune for me, and 30% goes back to the Marin Arts Council.  When you add in the cost of framing and materials, well... let's just say I probably come out with about have of the cost in my pocket.  It's not going to make you rich folks, but to have that pleasure from all these viewers, coming back to you; this is the real reward.

The call yesterday went something like this, "Hello, my partner and I went through the gallery twice, and decided that your tiny cow painting was our favorite, and we had to have it: It evoked the solitude of West Marin, and we just loved it".  Meanwhile, another buyer had expressed that it reminded the of their sister's wedding in Switzerland

A week before this, a woman from San Francisco called who had seen one of my cycling paintings and she instantly knew it had to be a gift for her sister, who loves to ride her bike on Lucas Valley Road.  She emailed later, after purchasing to tell me she loved it, and was getting lots of compliments.

You never know how your painting may touch another viewer, but you always hope to hear these comments, as it helps an artist to continue to move forward on new works.  Thank you to my supporters out there, who are giving me lots of love this holiday season.

In the Studio Today... Got Persimmons?

Updated Oct 23, 2013 - Originally posted 11/23/10
Have a happy, healthy and safe Halloween!

"Persimmons I" o/c, 5" x 5" unframed, 8" x 8" framed w/black and silver, wood frame.
Persimmons, Robson Harrington Park, San Anselmo.
Click the images to view larger... 

Persimmons Recipes: 

Please view the comments for some great Persimmon recipes by my friend, Sylvie!  Thank you, Sylvie.... Persimmon Cream Cheese Pie, and more!

In the Studio Today...Poster for Holiday Art Walk

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I've been working with the San Anselmo Art Commission to plan a Holiday Art Walk for the town.  We started planning this in September, as a way to fill in the empty storefronts, and it has evolved into a different kind of event.  Since we were unable to secure any empty storefronts at the time, we approached the San Anselmo Merchants to see if they would include a single piece of art in their front window as part of their Holiday displays.  It has gone very well.  At least 15 businesses will participate this year, and the hope is that we can continue the enthusiasm for next year and grow the event with further planning.  I will have one little plein air piece of Mt. Tam at Delectables Home and Garden.  I also have 3 tiny pieces in the Marin Arts Council, "Small Wonders" show that is just up in downtown 4th St. Gallery, San Rafael. Happy Holiday Shopping!

In the Studio Today... Draper's Greenhouse, Session 3 & 4

November 13-14, 2010
Draper's Greenhouse, Draper Family Farms, San Anselmo, CA 2010

 I've been super slow at getting back to my unfinished paintings, and even slower at starting new paintings lately.  Daylight savings is making me more tired than usual.  I forced myself to work on this tonight, and it's coming along.

In the Studio Today...Quick iPad Sketch of Mt. Tam

Wednesday, Nov 11, 2010
Quick sketch of Mt. Tam at 3pm from Sorich Park via Brushes App on Twitpic
Quick painting on the iPad today...

It's hard to believe that I have been unable to drive for an entire month, since my last post. It has been REALLY hard, and I've had to go through this kind of disability three times now in the last 2 years...(initial injury, ACL surgery, now meniscus surgery) but it never gets easier, really. There is something about not being able to leave your house, go for a hike, see the beauty of Marin that will drive you nuts if you are stuck with out this joy. Today, I managed to steal 20 minutes to drive my dog to Sorich Park. I sat at the picnic table there, after limping to the table from my car, and I couldn't believe how nice it was to see Mt. Tam once again, from a point I was able to get myself to, by myself. Freedom! Pheew... that was hard. Now, learning to bend my knee again, and not look like an idiot; that's step two. Physical therapy starts Friday. Here is the little quick stetch I did today on my iPad, from the table, while my dog looked longingly at me, happy to be out, but wondering, "Why aren't we going on our regular hike, Mom?" Poor dog. She is so loyal. I hope she was just happy to get out with me again.

In the Studio Today... Arts Meetings, Writing & Volunteering

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wow, what a busy and productive week!

It started with my being picked up in a bright red, Mini-Cooper convertible in balmy summer air... We are having the most beautiful "Indian Summer" weather here in Northern California, and I hope it doesn't end for a few more weeks.  The Mini is owned by a neighbor and friend, who drove me with my one crutch and immobilizer knee brace, to the San Anselmo Arts Commission.  Riding in the Mini is a highlight of a week when you are in a knee brace, let me tell you.  So, we drove off into the summer evening, towards the San Anselmo Town Hall... where I was headed to the Arts Commission's, monthly meeting.  I had been given an assignment to interview the Commission for an article in the SanAnselmo/Fairfax Patch news.  I really enjoyed meeting the members, and learned so much about my town.  Here is the link to the article, where you can learn more about the San Anselmo Arts Commission, and each of the volunteers: click here to read the article.

I also worked for the Marin Arts Council, in San Rafael this week.  They are always very busy, especially with a decreased staff due to California budget cuts.  They can always use extra help, so if you want to volunteer, give them a call.

I'm working on a couple of other, Arts related article's for Patch, and investigating arts programs and galleries I never knew about.  It's amazing that one can live in a town for 15 years and still not know about some of these programs.  There really is a lot to offer in Marin County.  I am grateful for all my friends, who have been driving me around this week, and driving my sons around!  It absolutely takes a village when you have kids... You need to have friends and parents to help you, especially if you don't have grandparents in town.  I called several cab companies in Marin, only to find that none of them had time to pick up my kids from school.  Finally, I stumbled upon "Kid Courier", a service in Ross, that shuttles kids to and from after school activities.  Kim, the owner of Kid Courier, drove out herself.  She was wonderful.  I think this is a great service, and I was so glad for her help last week.  Check her out online here.  A shout out to Kim, and all my friends this week who drove Miss Daisy and the Twinadoes.  Thank you!!!

In the Studio Today... Draper's Greenhouse Day #1

Sunday, October 10, 2010 "101010"
I had knee surgery on Friday, went to see Pilobolus at Marin Center on Saturday night, watched the SF Giants beat the Braves today with my family, and finally made it to the easel on Sunday afternoon.  The need to paint is great right now, as we have an upcoming, "Art on the Farm" annual show, and I need distraction from my healing knee.  This is an image I have wanted to tackle for some time- Bo Draper's Greenhouse in San Anselmo, a third generation, Marin Organic, family farm that is run as a co-operative farm.  You can pick your own veggies here, once you become a member.  They also have bees and honey.  Just down the road from Sorich Park, this is a beautiful, hidden piece of Marin that is much loved by the residents of San Anselmo.  Elementary students have been taking field trips to Draper's for years.
This painting is just the start- flushing out the bones... the shapes and colors that will add dimension to the final image.

In the Studio Today... Tiny Cow Painting 6" x 6"

September 26, 2010
"Black and White Cow in the Red, Yellow, Blue Sunset", Pt. Reyes, CA 6" x 6" o/c

This is a small painting I did tonight.  I am working on some affordable works for the "Art on the Farm" show at Pt. Reyes Winery, October 24th.  I am going to be selling my older works from previous farm paint outs 2008-2009, at very discounted prices for originals.  The goal here is to have some of the art purchased with 50% going back to Marin Organic Farmers Loan fund.  This little one will be priced around $150., with half going to the cause, half to the artist.

In the Studio Today... Marin Arts Council Gallery: Teamworks Exhibit

Sept. 24, 2010

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of Gallery Sitting at the new, Marin Arts Council Gallery and business location on 4th Street in Downtown San Rafael.  It is right next to Crepevine, and close to so many great local businesses.  Due to this move, they now get many more visitors to the gallery space, and the sales of the latest show have been very good.

The Teamworks exhibit is a 10 year retrospective of the work of Katya McCulloch and Patrick Maloney, who have been working with teenagers in the Juvenille Hall and alternate high schools for at risk teens.  This year, four artists were involved as teachers. The results are incredible.  This is something you have to see, and it is only up for 5 more days, ending on September 28th.  If you'd like to make a purchase to help the Teamworks program, all of the money goes back into the program itself.  There are still some wonderful pieces available, and some for as little as $10.- They have a collection of "Clothespin People" that would make adorable puppets for kids playing with a puppet theater.  I think my sons would love these.

In the Studio Today... San Anselmo
"Art on the Farm" Pre-show

"Preview" show at Marin Coffee Roasters, San Anselmo. Photo: K. Kingson

I helped hang this show in San Anselmo yesterday.  Tim Mock, owner of Marin Coffee Roasters, has always been truly supportive of me, and other San Anselmo artists who have wanted to share their art here.  When Brian Stubblefield and Ed Walls owned the Coffee Roasters, I began painting bicycles in Marin County, and this very shop hosted my first paintings I created in 2005.  The first was a painting of the original Roasters shop with the backyard garden, and later, several paintings of the Serpentine Trail at Camp Tamarancho; a popular single-track trail that is know by most mountain bikers in the Bay Area.  The town loved the old shop so much, that when the new shop opened in its current location, across the street, they raised money from town members to purchase my painting for Bryan Stubblefield to share in the new shop.  It still hangs in the shop today, along with a plaque we had made for those who helped purchase the painting.

The current owner, Tim, agreed to let our group hang a "mini" preview show of 12 paintings to promote our upcoming Art on the Farm fundraiser show, October 24th, at Pt. Reyes Winery; a benefit for Marin Organic Interest Free Loan Fund to Farmers.  San Anselmo show is a very small sampling of the 100 or so, Bay Area artists that participate in "Art on the Farm".  This show includes a dozen paintings, flanked by our October show posters.  More info here, on the group blog.
"Ride to the Roasters", original oil painting by Colleen Proppé

In the Studio Today...Historic L Ranch Paint-out

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I had the privilege to visit a private beach today on Tomales Bay; a spot that is right across from Marshall, CA.  The beach is owed by the Doughty family, who run Pt. Reyes Winery, where we will be having our October 24, group show.

What a lovely spot it was today! Some of their extended family were there, celebrating a Birthday today, just enjoying the warmth of the sun and the beach views.  Two of the toddlers came up to me and wanted to paint.  I had some small, 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 canvases, so I let them each take one and paint some strokes.  It was really great how enthusiastic they were.  The little boy even painted on my painting, and it was no problem, as I was just getting started.  He really wanted to help me out!  I think it is wonderful how children have no fear of painting, and just burst right into it.  Had my sons been there, I'm sure they would have wanted to paint too.  I overheard the family saying how nice the kids canvases were and how that was such a great Birthday present for their mom.  Too cute.
I also was lucky enough to be able to bring my dog today!  Mesa loved it.  This painting of me with Mesa is by Kathy Kingston, who is doing a great job with PR for our next show.  I took a photo of her with her whippet, "Lyric"... below.  I will post my painting when I have some more time to work on it, but here are some photos of the beautiful day on Tomales Bay.

In the Studio Today... Plein Air at Tomales Bay

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rocky Shore at Elephant Mt., originally uploaded by cproppe.

I will be painting with "Art on the Farm" today at Historic L Ranch on Tomales Bay. Hope to stop by the last day of the Box Show at Gallery Route One as well. Enjoy the day, folks!

In the Studio Today: Blog Design for WT Lapathon

September 8-9, 2010
I have been working on a fundraising blog for a local school this week.  Click the link, below to view the site.  Make a donation, if you'd like!

Wade Thomas Elementary School: Lapathon 2010
" The Wade Thomas Lapathon is the only school fundraiser just for Wade Thomas School. "

In the Studio Today... The Art of Moving On

September 9, 2010

I was married once, to my college sweetheart.  He was charming, adorable, spoke several languages, windsurfed, loved so many things that I loved too.  It's been 10 years now, since we parted in a horrible way that I wish on no one.  It didn't even make sense.  It was wild, crazy and unimaginable for both of us.  I think about this person at least once a week, if not more, to this day.  No matter how hard I try, he is still with me, as if he was a true family member that I think of from time to time, wondering how he is doing, just as I wonder how my friends and family are each day.  Via the bizarre world of social media, I have managed to find out where he lives, who he lives with and that he still windsurfs and eats chocolate.  I've even heard some of the music he has listened to.  Who knows if he has seen any of my paintings online, or my kids or anything I do now, but obviously if he was interested in knowing, it would be easy enough to find these things online.  I don't really seek him out anymore, but now I just wonder if we will ever bump into each other someday, and what in the world would I even say to him now.

Once in a while, I think we just want to share our true feelings about things with the world, whether it's right or not.  We want to be heard and acknowledged.  I want to let out the pain that I still feel from losing my friend, and just say how much it stinks.... How much I miss this friend.  I think of my childhood friend's mother, who lost her only son in an airplane crash.  I think of how much she must still hurt every day, and yet she has to go on.  She has many grandchildren now, and I know they keep her occupied.  I have wonderful children myself that give me so much to do, and love.  Yet I still miss my old friend so very much.  It is an impossible and frustrating pain to have to deal with.  Ten years of my life with someone that I really loved, and then it just went "poof", and he was gone.... never to be seen again, except in a few images online... a few blog posts.  A blog by his girlfriend, that I couldn't bear to read.

I have been working on moving on for a long time, and I do my best every day, but I am not immune to the pain of my past.  A simple picture or a song or even a word can bring me to tears once every few months.  This was the best friend I'd ever had, and I haven't had that closeness in my life since.  I haven't been able to let love into my life again yet in that capacity, except for in my painting.  When I paint something that I love, I give it my all.  I give it my care, and my time, and all my compassion.  My heart goes into my work now, and my kids, and my friends.  I miss my husband very much, but I am still hoping to grasp the art of moving on, and find the magic I once had with my old friend again, perhaps in a new place, or in a moment when my sons are giggling.... my dog is wagging, or my paintings are selling.  It's all good, but it's not the same as what I had, ten years ago.

Missing my old friend, and wishing him all the best.

In the Studio Today...
Red Hill Farm Sheep; Day #2

Red Hill Farm, "Mother & Child", originally uploaded by cproppe.
Updated painting of the Red Hill mommy sheep and her baby.  I added details in the sheep's wool and faces.

In the Studio Today... "Art on the Farm" Exhibit;
October 24, Pt. Reyes Winery

September 5, 2010

Red Hill Farm, "Mother & Child"

I am working on some new paintings to show at the October 24th, 2010 annual exhibit of "Art on the Farm".  This is a great group of Marin, and mostly Bay Area-Sonoma painters that love Marin Organic farms, and travel to the farms to paint during the year.  I was away most of the summer and unable to attend many of the paint outs, so I am now working from photos I have had from previous years that I never got around to working with in the studio.  Today's image is from a shot taken at Red Hill Farms.
Colleen with the painting in the background... photo by Aidan Costello, Age 8.

In the Studio Today... New Bike Painting, available

July 22, 2010
"Bike in the Butterfly Garden" 24" x 36", oil on canvas.  Tod's Point, Old Greenwich, Connecticut
My painting of the vintage Columbia bicycle in the Butterfly Garden at Tod's Point (Greenwich Point) in Old Greenwich, Connecticut is now available to purchase and as prints at Fine Art Amercia.  To read more about the location of this image, read my previous post, here.

Please click here to contact me to purchase the painting,

or click here to purchase a print at Fine Art America.

In the Studio Today...Bike in the Butterfly Garden, Old Greenwich; Session #3

Friday, July 16, 2010
"Vintage Bike at the Butterfly Garden", Tod's Point, Old Greenwich, CT

I'm adding color and fleshing out the lighting and details in this painting today. The Butterfly Garden is full of orange, purple and white flowers... they will be added as I complete the details of this painting. See my previous post for more about the location of this painting.

In the Studio Today...Bike in the Butterfly Garden, Old Greenwich; Session #2

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
"Bike in the Butterfly Garden, Greenwich Point" 24" x 36" o/c

I've been visiting my home town in Connecticut, where I grew up and lived until 1990. Now, I return here in the summer with my sons to visit the grandparents, and family. It's a great opportunity for me to paint landscapes I don't usually see in California.

This painting is of the Butterfly Garden at Tod's Point, in Old Greenwich, CT. The history of the property here is that all of this area was owned by the Tod family. The town of Greenwich purchased the property in 1945 and created what exists today as a 147-acre multi-use park, locally know as "Tod's", "The Beach", or "Greenwich Point". Greenwich Point offers a variety of both active and passive recreational areas, natural areas, conservation areas, and gardens and groves. The Tod family sprawling home is no longer there, but the stone walls that cascaded down to Long Island Sound still remain. Amongst the steps and walls facing out to the sea, the Old Greenwich Garden Club have planted and maintained a butterfly garden. The bike I am painting is an old Columbia from the 60's. The painting will be for sale in Old Greenwich when it is finished. I plan to leave it here with my family to sell, hoping someone local will purchase it due to the local image depicted.

In the Studio Today... Art on the Farm 2010

June 17, 2010
Paintings by Laura Williams

I just updated the Art on the Farm Blog. This is a great group of artist from around Marin County and the Bay Area that visit Marin Organic farms and paint, photograph and exhibit as a group annually. I am posting a few photos from our group show at the Pt. Reyes Vineyard here. Enjoy! For more info, visit the blog I maintain at We have started up the 2010 painting season, and the website has a schedule of farms we are visiting.

Three Cows, by Kanna Aoki

Paintings by Alfredo Tofanelli

Colleen Proppé and Artist/Animator, Christina Richard from BC Canada

Donna Solin and Catherine Moreno, two artists volunteering at the winery show

In the Studio Today... The Art of Spring Rolls

May 17-May 18th, 2010

More, Minty Fresh Spring Rolls!, originally uploaded by cproppe.
I don't know why, but the day before my 42nd Birthday, I had this intense desire to make my own Vietnamese style spring rolls, with rice paper wraps. I have devoured fresh spring rolls for over a decade in the Bay Area... My first and favorites having been from "Le Soliel" Vietnamese Restaurant on Clement Street near Arguello. I used to go with old friends for dinner, and then walk down to "The Toy Boat" for ice cream dessert. Those were great times, and wonderful memories. Since then, I have had a variety of fresh spring rolls from Thai Restaurants, The Good Earth in Fairfax, and Comforts in San Anselmo. Although good, none of these ever really gave me the original joy and amazing combination of fresh flavors that I first experienced with the Vietnamese rolls from "Le Soliel". There are many different types of Spring Rolls, and wikipedia does a decent job explaining all the different types, from fried to fresh, and with different types of fillings and sauces from different countries.

Perhaps the timely and true reason for my sudden desire to create Vietnamese style Spring Rolls, was the bursting abundance of fresh, healthy mint in our yard after more than our share of rain this Spring. The Vietnamese rolls always had lots of fresh, whole mint leaves, and they served extra, large sprigs of mint alongside almost all the dishes at Le Soliel. My 5th attempt at the rolls this week was the best, because I finally perfected the sauce, and added the rice vermicilli noodles. My ingredients were as follows:

• Spring Roll Skins (made in Viet Nam, sold dry in circular package at Andronico's, San Anselmo)
• Sunflower Sprouts(or other fresh, crunchy sprouts)
• Shredded Carrots (I peeled long strips with a peeler)
Wildwood Sprouted Tofu (Teriyaki style)
• Maifun Rice Vermicilli Noodles (Dry in package; cook for 2 minutes in boiling water, then run under cold water to cool)
• Green Onions (Scallions, cut in long, thin strips)
• Fresh Mint Leaves
• 1 orange
• "Spicy Vietnamese Sauce"*=combine the following:
• Vietnamese Chili and Garlic Sauce
• Light Sodium Soy Sauce
• Hoisin Sauce
• Fresh Lime Juice
(*Wikipedia states that the traditional, central Vietnamese sauce can be made as follows: Fish sauce, lime, garlic, sugar, small red and green peppers and water. Mince the garlic and peppers. Add the sugar into a bowl of hot water to help dissolve it quickly. Add fish sauce, lime, and the minced garlic and peppers into the sugar water.)
Ingredients for Great Spring Roll Sauce

To make the Spring Rolls:

Remove 2 dry skins from the package, and run them each under cool tap water until they are both wet on each side. (I found this much better than soaking them in a bowl of water. They really don't need to soak because they will stay wet on the parchment paper and become more and more pliable the longer they sit on the parchment, as you are putting ingredients on top). Place them each on parchment paper(I use one large piece and fold the edges around a cookie sheet to give me my working surface). Once wet, the skins will stick to almost anything, so parchment paper is your best bet to keep them from sticking like super glue to anything else.

Place sprouts, carrot strips, tofu slices, rice, mint... in the center of one of the skins. Fold bottom up, and wrap the two edges to seal the ingredients inside. Now, here's the trick... Don't worry if the skin breaks here, or if the roll isn't tightly sealed enough. Just close it up the best you can, and then pick this up and plop it down in the center of your 2nd, wet skin that's also on the parchment. Use that second skin to really wrap the roll tighly, and neatly. When you are done, you will not even be able to tell there are 2 skins rolled around it. The skins are so thin and translucent, that the 2nd skin adheres to the first one and like magic, it really tightens up and pulls the whole thing together... Almost like "Spanks"... I guess. : )

My favorite sauces are from "Le Soliel" on Clement in SF, and the spicy sauce that comes with the vegetarian pot stickers at Schechuan Chef aka"Rebecca's" in Fairfax, CA. I think I have managed to create a sauce, above, that is very close to these. Some people like to use a Thai Peanut Sauce on these, but I don't like the combination with the mint. I appreciate the spicy, "kick" the traditional Vietnamese sauces have, with the hot peppers and garlic. This recipe does not use fish sauce, so it is a vegetarian version, for the purists. Oh, and btw, the orange is just to slice and put on the plate for decoration, and I squeeze some into the sauce before I spoon sauce into the rolls. 1-2 rolls and I am super full, and I am pretty sure the calories are user friendly. : )

More, Stunning Spring Rolls, originally uploaded by cproppe.