In the Studio Today... Art on the Farm

Saturday, September 22, 2012

C.Proppé @Cow Track Ranch photo: ©Ann Brooks 2012
For five years, I have been volunteering for the Marin artists group, "Art on the Farm".  It was with great pleasure that I spent my award money, earned from the Wendy Gruber award in 2008, on my first, plein air backpacker's easel at Rileystreet in San Rafael, California. (This year marks the 5th anniversary of Rileystreet in San Rafael, by the way!)  Thank you to photographer, Ann Brooks, for taking this photo of me at Cow Track Ranch this summer.  Visit Ann Brook's website >

As I look back on the past five years with this group, I realize that it has provided a way for me to leave my busy family life and venture out into West Marin, and put brush to canvas, with no one but the cows and grasses to tell me what to do or how to live my life.  This group has provided me with solace and encouragement over the years.  Over the past 2 years, I have worked with the Marin Arts Council and Art Works Downtown; two non-profits in Marin County, California.  At Marin Arts, I was responsible for bringing the Art on the Farm group to the Marin County Civic Center for an exhibit, which sold ten paintings and raised funds for Marin Organic's Interest free loan fund for farmers.  This year, we will have an exhibit in the winter at Art Works Downtown, where I work as the Communications Coordinator for web, print and "pr"(social media, e-news, press releases, etc).

Bringing any exhibit to a non-profit is a lot of work.  Behind the scenes, I have had to write a proposal to AWD and submit 40 jpg images.  The proposal had to be approved by a show committee and considered amongst other requests to exhibit.  I have had to listen to the needs of the non-profit, and come to terms with losing a staff member, and gaining a pile of new work and new fundraising challenges.  I hear about "Art on the Farm" versus more contemporary art, and even erotic art shows, street art and more.  There are so many people that all have a different idea of what art means to them.  I have had less time to paint, and more politics and emotions to deal with.

To me, "Art on the Farm" is far more than just a place to create art.  It is about people who have a passion for Marin, it's lands, and the people that work here.  As artists who enjoy painting, or photo-journaling, we can visit and connect with producers that sell their goods to our local restaurants, stores and at the Farmer's Markets.  We are in touch with our food source, and we are giving back to the producers and Marin Organic with our own passion.  We can educate the community with our work.  We share our art with the public, from kids to adults.  To me, this group has been the perfect place for me to share my skills and passion for 5 years as a volunteer, and as an artist.  Although I don't only paint landscapes and farm animals, it is still a place to connect with my community and be something larger than just an artist, trying to make a few bucks or a name for myself.  It is the most real connection to my community that I have found for an artist.  When we give back, we are forever changed.  We are now a part of the whole puzzle.

Welcome me in promoting "Art on the Farm" at Art Works Downtown, this November 30 - January 17.  This exhibit will raise funds for Marin Organic's Farm Field Studies Program.  Art Works Downtown, a 40,000 square ft. art center in downtown San Rafael, seeks to create a fun and educational exhibit that will give back to the community.  It will allow for kids, families and schools to visit the Art Center, and for collectors to make a contribution to the fundraiser.  Many well known, Marin landscape artists will participate in the fundraiser.  Two receptions in December 2012 and January 2013 will coincide with 2nd Fridays Art Walk.  For more information, please visit the website for Art Works Downtown, or Art on the Farm.

In San Francisco Today...STUDIO Gallery SF

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yesterday, I had an opening reception to attend where my first "City Bike" painting(see my previous post) was a part of the exhibit "City Streets".  I wanted to get the family out to see the exhibit, but with three wild boys, it is almost impossible to convince them that leaving the house on the weekend, or going to anything moderately cultured is a good idea.  Boy, did the complaints fly free all of Saturday night and into the morning.

However, my plan involved all of us riding bikes in Golden Gate Park before the reception, which I thought would be fun and tire everyone out, so that by the end of the day, we could pop into the reception with little fuss.
Riding bikes in Golden Gate Park on Sunday: Conservatory of Flowers in Bkg.

It worked!  We started out parking on 25th and Fulton, and riding into the thick of the SF AIDS Walk 2012.  That was super fun to ride alongside thousands of people, dressed in matching t-shirts, cheering and happy.  We stopped at the Conservatory of Flowers (above photo) where the marigolds and lawn were orange and bright, SF Giants colors, blazing a fun path for us to visit.  We used the restrooms there and decided we would come back to see the dinosaurs and prehistoric plants another day.

Golden Gate Park: Pedal boats on Stow Lake
We heard the band playing near the DeYoung, stopped for hot dogs in front of the Japanese Tea Garden, and then rode to Stow Lake.  None of us had ever been out in the pedal boats before.  Brian and I were both surprised that in our almost 20 years here, neither of us had ever rode the pedal boats in Golden Gate Park.  We were even more surprised that the concession stand carries "Three Twins" ice cream in tons of flavors!  It was a match made in heaven.  We saw ducks, geese and turtles in the lake.  We saw the waterfalls, went through tunnels and did "donuts" in our boat for fun.  The boys were so happy to pedal some more, from bike to boat, we all pedaled until our legs were sore and we all were quite tuckered out.

Bikes on car: Polk St. near STUDIO Gallery SF
This is when we put the bikes back on our car, and headed for Polk Street, where we went to see the exhibit of city paintings at STUDIO Gallery SF, owned by Jennifer Farris and Rab Terry.  Blake and I got out while Brian drove around looking for parking.  We went through the entire gallery and did not see my painting.  There were some really great works.  Colorful scenes from all over the city, including the Golden Gate Bridge, were exciting to see up close.  There were puppets and a video that Blake really liked.  As we approached the front of the gallery, we ran into Jennifer, that said, "Did you see your painting?"... I responded, "No".  She turned us around to the window, and showed us the "sold" sticker.  She was delighted to share that a couple married in San Francisco who are cyclists had been looking for a bike painting, and had come back and purchased it before the reception.

What great news.  It was the cherry on top of a perfect day, biking in the city with my family.

Now, inspired by this progress, I will head off to paint at least four new/unique city bike paintings by September for the show at Café Ross.  Until then.... Keep pedaling!

In the Studio Today... City Bike: Day 4

Saturday, June 23, 2012
City Bike I:  The Crepe House on Polk and Washington © C.Proppé

the painting, drying outside on this gorgeous day!

Hooray!  What a beautiful day outside, and I have finished this painting to the point that I am happy with it.  It's outside in the sun, drying so I can take it to San Francisco to share with STUDIO gallery on Polk Street for their "City Streets" exhibit.  There will be a reception on July 15th.  Please come visit me in the city!

I will have a solo show of city-themed cycling paintings in September, 2012 at Café Ross in Ross, CA.  The new shop is owned by an old friend, Ross Barclay.  He is doing great things with the shop, including showing local art.  I am delighted to be on his list of upcoming artists!

In the Studio Today... City Bike: Day 3

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"City Bike: The Crepe House on Polk and Washington"(in progress) 18" x 24", oil on linen
Spent part of today adding details to the street signs, the awning and the bike rack.  Added the details on the people inside the shop.  Touched up a few windows.  Is it done?  Close, but not quite yet.

In the Studio Today... City Bike: Day 2

Tuesday pm:

"Nob Hill Bikes: The Crepe House"   Day 2/work in progress by C.Proppé
I took another couple hours to add details in front of the shop, including a bike rack with 7 "loops", and more reflections on the windows.  There is an ornate, metal gate in front of one of the businesses, which I tried to suggest as well.  Still lots more to come...

In the Studio Today... City Bike: Day 1

June 11, 2012

"Nob Hill Bikes at The Crepe House" work in progress 2012  C.Proppé©

Made a new goal to paint every Monday.  The start of this is a new bike painting, and I hope to continue with a Summer Series of "Bikes in the City".  This one is definitely in progress, with lots of details still to come.  The image is "The Crepe House" on Polk and Washington in San Francisco's Nob Hill area of the city.  The shop has bike racks outside, and they will be painted into the painting soon.  Here are a couple snapshots of the start of this one:
 This is an 18" x 24", oil on linen.

The linen is what I chose because I like to have a nice edge when I do not frame the canvas.  I have more recently been using gesso board, which has a wooden edge, but they were out of the size I wanted for this painting, so I selected the linen and gessoed it myself yesterday in preparation for painting today.

I like the way it is coming out so far, but there is a lot more detail to go.  Stay tuned!

In the Studio Today: The Meaning of a Painting

Tuesday, June 5:

With my latest painting, retitled: "Beauty in What's Left Behind"

I entered this painting (see my previous post) into the juried "Still Life" exhibit where I work.  It was not selected from the 200 entries... wow, 200 entries.  They could only pick about 40 pieces for the exhibit, so I don't feel too badly today.  You never know what will inspire each juror or the quality of the works entered.  There is no point in deliberating over a show rejection-- just move on to the next one!

I was thinking more about the meaning of this painting to me today, and how it highlights a place not that many people seem to know about from the Bay Area.  What should be so significant about Salt Point to San Franciscan's is that it is the place where they removed rock to use in the building of the streets of San Francisco in the 1800's.  I was also thinking about "emptiness", "cavities", "convex forms"....  Beauty in the hollowed out spaces that are left behind when something dies?  We love shells, which are shiny, colorful and beautiful remains of what once was.  These hollowed out tafoni rock formations look almost skull-like, mimicking the cavities in the eye-sockets of a skull we might see on Halloween or Day of the Dead.  The only thing here that is alive is the Rhododendron, but it's blossom is ephemeral, and it too will fade, leaving behind only the empty vase.

This piece speaks to the beauty in things that are left behind, empty and now transformed into something completely unique, for us humans to marvel at.  We go to the beach and hunt for treasures left behind by other creatures.  It is a very lovely and thoughtful thing to collect seashells by the seashore.  Imagine if there was nothing left behind for us to collect and marvel at?

In the Studio Today: Salt Point Still Life

May 29 - June 2, 2012
photo of tafoni and muscle shell at Salt Point State Park, CA
This still life painting was inspired by the geology, flora and fauna of Salt Point State Park, North of Jenner and South of Gualala, California. The oil painting is 24" x 24" and includes tafoni sandstone formations, red abalone, rhododendrons, a muscle and a snail.

Salt Point State Park includes the Kruse Rhododrendron Preserve, an underwater park where sea life is protected, Gerstle Cove, where divers and kayakers can be seen, hunting for abalone, and the tafoni rock formations. We had a wonderful camping trip here this Memorial Day weekend. View more photos from our trip here.   One of my sons wrote a 4th grade, "California Report" on the park.  Click here to read his report and learn more about the significant history of Salt Point State Park, and how it relates to the streets of San Francisco.

The painting on a wall(note the 2" thick gessoboard with natural edges):

Theater Art: San Rafael's Alter Theater +
Salvador Dali makes me Hot!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Today is Salvador Dali's Birthday  (May 11)

Win 2 tickets to Sat 5/12 performance of "Dali" show in San Rafael

Atavistic Vestiges After the Rain
He was born "Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dali I Domenech" at 8:45 on the morning of May 11, 1904 in Figueres, Spain in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  As a teenager and art student, I had the joy of visiting the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.  I was amazed with his dreamy and surreal creations, and the impressive size of many of the pieces.  We had used his iconic, melting clocks painting for our senior high school theme performance, "Time Warp".  I designed a t-shirt and painted a large banner that hung from the ceiling of my high school towards the end of my senior year.  I was definitely a graphic designer + marketing kid from a young age.

So, here were are now in 2012, a terrific independent theater company in San Rafael, "AlterTheater" is performing "References to Salvador Dali make me Hot", by two-time Obie Award winner and Oscar nominee Jose Rivera.  In honor of this great theater group and Dali's Birthday, I am giving away 2 tickets to this Saturday's show in San Rafael.  All you have to do is comment below what your favorite Dali painting is and why, and go ahead and "Like" AltherTheater on Facebook if you wish.  The winner will be selected at the end of the day Fri 5/11.

Purchase tickets

San Francisco Examiner raves:
"Very moving....communicated with grace and wit by a sexy, passionate cast of actors." --Read the full review
Four Stars from Marin Independent Journal:
"Steamy 'References' entertains with emotion"--Read the full review