Grizzly Peak

I was perched on a ledge overlooking the city. The light kept changing and I changed with it and did a lot of scraping and revising without too much concern with a finished image. Karen

Briones Road

Larry and I were painting close to the same spot. Larry caught the stripes, I faltered. It seemed I spent a long time fishing for colors. The sparce leaves were this odd shade of dull pinky orange. The trunks of the trees hung from the foliage like black sticks on a very green background. My version kept looking like blossoming trees in the spring so I ended up experimenting by just using grey and black paint — usually a no-no in some camps — so ok break rules. Also adding compliments in the detail to grey down. The feeling of the day was cold. I now have an appreciation of just using black paint.

Marilyn Hill

Briones Regional Park Winter Oaks

Only 2 lonely painters today. Marilyn Hill and I painted not far from the parking at the top of Briones Rd. It was a lot dryer today, but still some mud. We haven't figured out what kind of oaks these are, but they had an appealing orange leaf canopy. The leaves look like Blue Oak, but I didn't think Blue Oaks dropped their leaves. I will get out my field guides and try to figure this out. It was overcast with a little sun now and then. I was not happy with the painting when I left the park, but after seeing it from a distance, I think I'll keep it. I might carry on the dark behind the middle ground trees up to the left some more.

Larry Hatfield

Monday December 28

The forecast for the Martinez area says it will be overcast but that there will be no showers near Briones Road/Drive, so we will meet there today. Be careful that you do not go into the Alhambra Staging Area entrance by mistake, and bring a cell phone with our numbers just in case. The Briones Rd entrance has no Briones Park signs. This trail map cannot be enlarged, but you can compare it with the google map below. Larry says: "It is a very narrow winding road, in places it is a one-lane road that will take you up to over 1000 feet elevation. There are some great views, in fact you can see Mt. Diablo on the way up. There are some trails but it may be too muddy to go on them. There is water and a bathroom at the top, and lots of oak trees there too."

If you're in Oakland or Berkeley: Take 24 as if you were going to 680. Pleasant Hill Rd is the last exit before the 680 junction. Go north on Pleasant Hill Rd. At the fork, take the left which is Reliez Valley Rd. Continue on it until it turns into Alhambra Valley Rd or you pass Alhambra Valley Rd to your right. Almost immediately after, you will see the Briones Road/Drive entrance to your left. Go in and pass an area with rural homes. We will meet at intersection of Briones Rd and Orchard Tree.

Directions for El Sobrante, El Cerrito, Richmond: From 80, take Highway 4 and get off on the Alhambra exit. Turn right at the light onto Alhambra Ave, and soon you will be at a fork. Stay yo your right to get into Alhambra Valley Rd. You will arrive at a T intersection: to the left will be Reliez, to the right Alhambra Valley Rd. Turn right (west) onto Alhambra Valley Rd, then left onto Briones Road/Drive. Go in and pass an area with rural homes. We will meet at intersection of Briones Rd and Orchard Tree.

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Point San Pablo

This little floating town reeked with small town gossip and personal intrigues. On the first visit I felt a little like a tourist looking in. The second time, I felt I knew the dogs and was getting acquainted with the people. This was an old dredge that was no longer being used for its original purpose but made a beautiful model to paint. My original idea was to make the front of the building, facing the water, a dramatic dark with the dark shadow swooshing off to the left. Other things began to happen as the light changed and the painting spoke for itself. So I ended up leaving the front a medium value instead.

Briones Park

My concentration in this painting was to explore negative shapes in watercolor. For instance, the tree in the foreground was light against a medium to dark background. In watercolor, painting white or light detail over a dark is generally not an option. So the exercise was to see and paint the spaces between objects. Although I didn't in this painting— I occasionally cheat and use white gauche to create an opaque light. This practice is frowned on by many purists. However John Singer Sargeant expertly used gauche when it suited him so.......The tree was frail, dead and complex with lacy branching. So conveying this with interest and some conviction was my other challenge.

Lake Anza

Finally I have some time to post a few paintings. This was the second painting done on East Side of Lake Anza. I was determined not to bore myself with another likeness of such a beautiful day and such a beautiful place—My concentration was to be on the painting itself, not the object of the painting. So I focused on composition, color and rhythm.


Painting by the Grizzly Peak Overlook

I returned to the overlook and decided last week's painting was not going to happen and had to be painted over. The light was totally different and I was not going to return to Grizzly Peak to finish it because of how cold it is up there. So I set up on a ledge below the overlook, took some dark blue acrylic and covered the canvas completely. I could hear people describing the view to out-of-town visitors, and Latino dads telling their kids to be quiet. While I was waiting for the canvas to dry, I started to meditate on the composition problems in front of me. Everything was far away, and if I looked to the side the hills were too steep for the shape of my canvas. After a couple of minutes of this, I was startled by the rustling of bushes behind me and turned around to find a cyclist taking a video of me painting. After letting him know a hello would have been nice, I pulled my hoodie over my head and looked straight ahead. The only solution was to change things a bit. I manipulated some bushes and trees to add a bit of interest, but the colors are the same. The painting ended up being on the dark end of the value range because of how dark the day was. As I was finishing up, I heard the bushes getting trampled on. A family of twelve was approaching. They froze when I turned around and I felt bad for them. So I smiled and said, "Ok, come closer and I'll tell you the story..." Rebeca

SF from Grizzly Peak

I was very cold when I first got there, but it seemed to warm up a little soon after. The colors were very muted. Occasionally the sun would warm up the color of the water and I tried to catch that. I felt that I overworked the sky. It rained on the way home, so we had just enough of a dry window to paint. I was glad to get out after not painting for so long.

Saturday, Dec 26

We return to the Grizzly Peak Overlook. Directions: Pass the Grizzly/Centennial intersection and continue south on Grizzly Peak. Watch for the end of the residential area and the beginning of a twisty section of Grissly Peak. Watch for parking areas overlooking the bay. After some twists and turns, you'll pass the following in quick succession: a small parking area to your right, with trees blocking the view. Then, immediately to your left, a trailhead. Then, to your right, you'll pass a small parking area without trees. The last parking area is bigger, has no trees, and has an unobstructed view. This is where you'll meet us. There are bathrooms at the trailhead, but bring your own water. This map shows the three parking areas described above:

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Water Birds at Meeker Slough

This is a painting I did at Meeker Slough when we went there in November. I was drawn to the birds again. They all flew away as I settled in to paint but they came back in awhile. Suddenly a man started yelled " There is a red billed clam catcher". He continued to yell and people gathered to see what I guess was a very rare sighting. I was able to get it into my painting before it flew away.

Since it was too wet to paint, I decided to go anyway and take some pictures. So here are some of the views. I would like to go down the road on the second from top right, but it was very muddy. You can see the turn-around at the end of the road. Parking is on the gravel shoulders. Mount Diablo was in the clouds, so I couldn't see it.

Grizzly Peak Rd Overlook - December 19, 2009

Grizzly Peak View (pastel on paper12"x18") -Artist Janice L-H

This is a part of the overlook view that aims toward Berkeley and Albany with Mt. Tam floating in the clouds. Gloomier at 1PM, the clouds were very ethereal and only a hint of the golden shimmer was beginning to show.

This was a particularly interesting challenge for me last Saturday. After almost by-passing the meeting point (!), I was able to join the group and caravan in search of The View. It was pretty cloudy over the bay, but the hills in Berkeley were fairly sunny. The photo above was taken after I finished and walked back to the parking area (the sun was illuminating below the clouds by then).

The view from the little lot to the north of Lawrence Hall of Science has a ledge that would be easy to set up for painting. There is a charge for parking all day ($3.50). I was able to use the restrooms and buy lunch at the cafe on the lower floor and peruse the bookstore without paying admission (I asked first). The glare from the sun lighting up the Bridge(especially near the end of the session) makes me want to go back and try and catch that golden light better.

I found a Japanese website that can convert photos to looking like old fashioned silver-nitrate images:
Take a look: Cool, huh?

Monday, December 19

This session has been cancelled. It will be too wet and rainy to go into Briones Rd. Last week we went into the Alhambra staging area in similar conditions (it was even sunny) and it was very difficult to find an area that was not pitch dark and muddy.

Monday, December 14

No rain, wind or cold weather has been forecast for tomorrow, so we're going to Golden Hills Park, located in Martinez between Reliez Valley Rd and Pleasant Hill Rd., off Blue Ridge Drive. Leslie says, "It is a charming little park with good views of trees, hills and Mt. Diablo from its Sterling Drive entrance. There are also parking areas off Bernice from Blue Ridge Drive, and other streets near Reliez Valley Rd."

If you live north of El Cerrito, your best bet is to take San Pablo Dam Rd. to 24, and follow the directions below. Or, take 80 to highway 4, get off on Alhambra (south), make a left at the light, and make a left on Blue Ridge Dr., which turns into Reliez Valley Rd. You should see the park to your right almost as soon as the road becomes Reliez.

If you're in Oakland or Berkeley, take 24 as if you were going to 680. Pleasant Hill Rd is the last exit before the 680 junction. Go north on Pleasant Hill Rd. At the fork, take the left which is Reliez Valley Rd. Continue on it and pass Grayson Rd. Right after Blue Ridge Dr, you should see the park to your right.

Saturday, Dec 19

Cancelled because of rain. We won't go the Grissly Peak Overlook this Saturday. We also conducted a poll by e-mail to see how much interest there was in painting this Saturday, and all but one will not be able to go, either because it is too cold or rainly and we are sick, or because we are unable on this day. The Grissly Peak Overlook is a beautiful area, but high up on the Berkeley hills. There is a 90% chance of rain predicted for this weekend, but even if it doesn't rain, if will be too cold to paint. We will keep trying! In the meantime, let us know what you are working on during the rainy weather, we might talk about it on this blog.

Shelter at Roberts Recreational Area

I was so cold and miserable, I felt the same about this painting. Not the cold, but the miserable part. I touched up some areas this last few days after letting it sit awhile. I still don't like it much, but its better than before. There was a picnic table on the square part of the sidewalk that I decided to eliminate, it was just blocking my view of what I wanted to paint. The vines on the shelter were quite eye-catching. I didn't get as much depth there as there was.

Larry Hatfield

The Story at Point Molate

A big challenge for me is how to make the work I do with the landscape a painting. I love the discipline of going outside to paint. But I am happiest with the work when it conveys a story about the places we painted. Point Molate was easier than most place to grapple with for me. The place was enigmatic and mysterious and I think I got some of that in both paintings I did there. Karen

Monday, December 7

This session has been cancelled because of rain. Weather reports say there will be showers until the afternoon. Even if there was a break in the clouds, it would be too cold and wet to paint. We will go to Golden Hills Park next Monday.

Grand View of Mount Hamilton

The weather was cold to start with, and we were up high at the Roberts Recreational Area. Some of us wore long underwear, turtlenecks and wool hats, but it didn't matter. By 3:15 we were frozen. I walked up a short path to a lookout named Grand View. You could see Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton. I was mostly concerned with not painting the exact same spot Karen had painted the week before, so I descended a bit down the hill and looked straight ahead. This was not a high energy day, and I just painted what was in front of me. Surprisingly, I ended up moving some trees in this composition, and not painting the oaks that were closest. This enabled me to spend more time on color and on the mood. Rebeca

Saturday, December 5

We return to Roberts Regional Recreation Area, a part of Redwood Regional Park. Bring warm drinks, a scarf, and a warm hat. Those who went reported it was cold there! The best views are past the paying area, therefore, please bring $5 for the vehicle fee charged by the regional park system.

Directions from the northeast bay:
Take Hwy. 13 South from Berkeley toward Hayward. Exit Joaquin Miller & Lincoln which is where the Mormon temple is. Turn Left to cross over the Freeway and stay on Joaquin Miller. Follow the Blue signs to Chabot Space & Science Center. You will turn left onto Skyline Blvd. The Roberts Rec. Area entrance will be about a half mile before the Chabot Space and Science Center. The entrance is on the right. Let's meet in the lower parking area that overlooks a playing field. There are some short walks to vista points from there.

Garden at Point San Pablo

I had noticed that during the previous week at Point Molate, a Chevron guard had parked his vehicle at some distance of our meeting point, and that he had never stopped watching our group. But, he never got off his truck to say anything, and we left for point San Pablo. This week, the same thing happened as soon as I got there, but this time the guard told us his supervisor was coming, and he did. We did tell the supe we were painters, but the issue was our proximity to the fence that divides the road from Chevron property. Ten minutes and three patrols later we left, not without Vicki's valiant efforts to befriend the supervisor (they were successful).

When I got to the yatch harbor, I was calmer but had a hard time finding something to paint. Everything seemed too complicated, or was in a location that would have required me to face the cold wind. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood. So I settled for facing the sun, and for the cheerfulness of the little garden I found at the end of the harbor's parking lot. Rebeca