Ventura Adventures {Plein Air Invitational Recap}

In the middle of October I spent a full week painting in and around the beautiful city of Ventura. It took me a little while to recover after seven days of non-stop plein air fun and work! I spent the lead up to the Invitational packing up frames and canvases and making sure everything I needed would be easily accessible in my car. Scott and the kids wished me well and sent me off with lots of encouragement–“You’ll do great, Mom!” I was pretty nervous myself, but excited to get the opportunity to devote a full week to painting on location.


The week began with record heat–temps over 100 degrees! The seventeen plein air painters schlepped our gear from the tops of the hills to the coast, back inland to farms and orchards, and around the beachy town of Ventura. It was great to share the camaraderie of painting with other enthusiastic plein air artists, and also wonderful for me to have many hours of uninterrupted focus all on my own.

“California Coda” painted from Emma Woods State Beach.

The weather returned to more normal 70s and 80s by the end of the week as we worked on finishing up and framing our paintings. Juror David Gallup awarded honors for the work we submitted from our Ventura adventures. Big congratulations to Anette Powers for her grand prize winning piece, “Sneaky Pete”! She also received the third place award. Pam D’Ambrosi was given the first place award, and (whoa!) I was awarded second place!

“Channel Islands View” was painted on one of those hot, clear days at the beginning of the week.


“The Red Bag” was painted during the quick draw.

On Saturday morning we participated in a “Quick Draw” event. We had two hours to complete a painting, frame it, and submit it for judging by the general public who streamed through Very Ventura’s Gallery V during Artwalk on Saturday and Sunday. Ray Harris’s quick draw painting was the winner!


The final award given at the Ventura Invitational was the “Artist’s Choice” in which all the painters vote for one painter’s entire body of work being shown at the gallery as most deserving of recognition. I was shocked and incredibly honored to receive this award from my peers!


Thank you to all the participants and supporters and collectors who made this week so amazing. And huge thanks to Kay Zetlmaier and Chris Beirne (and also Gereld Zwers) who planned and executed a wonderful plein air invitational!

Evening Etude

 “Evening Etude”


oil on linen

I live in a beautiful place that often feels overrun by people and cars and freeways.

It can be difficult to find undeveloped spaces. I think this challenge speaks to one of the gifts that art can be to all of us who have to fight for time and space, for peace and reflection.

Painting these places and moments encourages me to seek out and appreciate the beauty around me, take the time to notice and give thanks for this land and light.

This painting is one of several studies I’ve done recently of Crystal Cove State Park, a strip of wild land between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar that looks much the same now as it did a hundred years ago when William Wendt and his contemporaries painted here.

“Evening Etude” is available now at Forest and Ocean Gallery in Laguna Beach as a part of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association’s exhibit – Inspired by Van Gogh.

A Disruption of Distraction {Painting up the California Coast}

I recently returned from a beautiful trip up the California coast to Cambria, a quaint town just off Highway 1. Beautiful rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, and wonderful light provided plenty of inspiration for painting. Here are a few of my sketches from the trip.

 {North side of Morro Rock}


oil on linen

{Evening Light at Fiscalini Ranch Preserve, Cambria}


oil on linen


I’m still working (as I suppose I always will) to get better, to practice, practice, practice, and thinking about why I paint. There is something crucial about capturing the world truthfully, about communicating that arresting moment of seeing something that causes one

to stop,

to focus,

and to appreciate the beauty of the world.

Some scenes are more naturally picturesque than others, but it’s not about recording the postcard views. I’m trying to share my experience of the feeling of a place, to bring that home and into my life and hopefully others’ lives too.

Painting as a disruption of our distraction.

Beauty to counteract our busyness.

Grand Canyon Views

 Over Spring Break, our family took a trip out to Arizona. We spent a few days exploring the beautiful landscapes of Northern California from the Grand Canyon and Slide Rock in Sedona to the Cliff Dwellings called Motezuma’s Castle.

 And I had the chance to set up my gear and paint a few of the glorious views.

{View from my easel.}

I could spend months painting the light and shadow on those red rocks–so beautiful.

{The finished painting.}

Summer’s almost here and I’m looking forward to more painting adventures up and down the coast. I’m so thankful to live so near to wide open spaces–the atmospheric light of the the West is so inspiring!