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California Impressionism

California Impressionism

Although many artists have found inspiration in the Impressionist’s approach to painting, California has a rich history with this movement. Key features of this style include loose brushwork, rich color and a fascination with the effects of sunlight.

When asked to participate in the California Impressionists: The Masters & The Greats They Inspire exhibition in Paso Robles, CA, I was quick to respond. Sasha Irving, the Artistic Director at Studios On The Park, sent a list of masterworks by well known California Impressionists. I scanned the collection and found one of my favorite California painters, Colin Campbell Cooper. He also has a deep history in our Santa Barbara region as a local resident and Dean of Painting at the Santa Barbara Community School of Arts.

Best of all, his image included a bunch of women playing in our Pacific Ocean. That sealed the deal. Sasha let me know that painting was available as a “call and response”. Below, you can see my 2019 painting mirroring Cooper’s level of fun in “Women Playing In the Surf”.

I wanted to feature the athleticism and strength women have in our era. No petticoats or head wraps here. I had a lot of fun applying paint and cold wax with spatulas and knives, while striving to show the action of these surfers and their fluid terrain. Staying true to the impressionists, I used bold color and focused on the sunlight bouncing off these athletes.

W A T E R = L I F E

One Drop

One aesthetic in contemporary art is to to reduce form, dimension and line to its minimal essence.  Many artists set out to convey their thoughts and inspirations in as few strokes as possible, something like a visual haiku.

The River's Journey Project  is our artistic exploration of our water source.  If I were to reduce Rose Compass's quest to it's most minimal form, I would say "water =  life".  Water is our most basic resource for survival.   Without it, life doesn't exist.

 Even in our grandest space explorations, we use it to find new life.  It makes sense that NASA uses a "follow the water" strategy to locate other life in the universe, says astrobiologist, Lynn Rothschild.

Light at the Low Point , 4x6

Light at the Low Point, 4x6

It seems our search for water is wired into our DNA.  During a 2010 TED talk, Denis Dutton proposed "A Darwinian Theory of Beauty".  When people were asked to describe a beautiful landscape, they universally identified these elements- ". open spaces, covered with low grass, interspersed with trees. And if you add water to the scene—either directly in view, or as a distant bluish cast that the eye takes as an indication of water—the desirability of that landscape skyrockets". He theorized these were the elements necessary for human survival: grasses and trees for food (and to attract edible animal life); the ability to see approaching danger (human or animal) before it arrives; trees to climb if you need to escape predators; and the presence of an accessible source of water nearby. 

Considering our brains are 80% water and our bodies are 60% water, we are deeply connected to this resource.  I love this description by science writer Loren Eisely.  

"Human beings are a way that water has of going about, beyond the reach of the river."


Follow the journey at www.rose-compass.com.


Excerpts From: Wallace J. Nichols & Céline Cousteau. “Blue Mind.” Little, Brown and Company, 2014-07-22



Turkey Day Cometh

We have launched a new website for a new project...ROSE COMPASS. We are a group of gouache lovin' painters who will be documenting our watershed in Santa Barbara County over the next year.  Check out our project at www.rose-compass.com

Here is a recent blog post from that site with some extra pictures.  I am wishing all of you the best for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Feast. 

Thanksgiving is next week and it still feels like summer.  Over the course of the Rivers Journey project (see Rose-Compass.com) , we have travelled to a number of sights along the watershed.  One of the joys of being outside is there are always birds as companions.

Turkey Day, 4x6 Gouache

Turkey Day, 4x6 Gouache

We had a jaw-dropping trip on Lake Cachuma with the wonderful Naturalist, Rosie Bishop, at the end of August.  Of course, we saw all kinds of winged creatures, from waterfowl to birds of prey, as well as helicopters that were filling these enormous buckets to drop on the Rey fire.  The assortment of birds was abundant. We plan to return for another tour at the end of November.  I highly recommend this adventure. (Nature Cruises Lake Cachuma)

Lake Cachuma August 26,2016

Lake Cachuma August 26,2016

Ibony and Evory, 4x6 gouache  (Egret and Comorant, Lake Cachuma)

Ibony and Evory, 4x6 gouache (Egret and Comorant, Lake Cachuma)

CA Magpie, 2x2 gouache

CA Magpie, 2x2 gouache

We were informed that they would stop releasing water into the Santa Ynez river in the next day or so(this was at the end of August).  So, we made another road trip to see the river with some water still flowing.  The roads that meander through the valley are as beautiful as the river. The California Magpie greeted us.  I think they are a cheerful bird and always stand out with the high contrast of black and white with the yellow beak.

Magpie Flight, 3x5 gouache

Magpie Flight, 3x5 gouache

On our way home, we saw a flock of turkeys.  And they are really a flock, because they are wild.  Although these turkeys are not native, they are wild. 

 A group of domesticated turkeys is known as a rafter or gang.  Those are the ones most of us will have at the table on Thanksgiving Day….one of the gang.  I hope your holiday will be filled with friends, family and a grateful heart.

As timed transitioned from summer to fall, our explorations led us down Paradise road, past the burned area were the helicopters from Cachuma had dropped their buckets of water to drown the Rey Fire.  As we drove further down the road we crossed passages that are often covered by water when the river is full.  The day was full of fall colors.  We do have autumn splendor in Santa Barbara, you just need to know where you can find it.

Red Rock

Red Rock