Happy Anniversary and Happy New Year!


The Artists from Giant Creative on Vimeo.
On January 8, our group turns four years old! For new readers and group members, here's a bit of history:

Susan Brand, Susan Newman, Karen Zullo Sherr, Barbara Maricle, Mike Warner and Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez met at the figure drawing class that the Richmond Art Center then offered. Their first session was inspired by an invitation from Mike Warner to continue drawing and painting during the Richmond Art Center's winter break. He offered his shop in El Sobrante as our first location. Rebeca created the listserv, a Google group then called West Contra Costa Figure Drawing, on November 15, 2007. It was meant to keep everyone in the loop as they figured out how to keep the sessions going. Back then, the group was primarily interested in painting the figure, so on November 28, 2007, they met to draw each other - they had no model! The second session took place at Rebeca's studio, and the third, at Karen's. The group hired amateurs until it was able to secure an account with the Bay Area Models' Guild. But the guild booking person at the time thought that sending models to rotating locations would be confusing, so Rebeca offered her studio as the primary location until the start of RAC classes. Soon after, Karen and Rebeca decided a three hour pose was not such a bad idea, so they began scheduling models with this in mind (as opposed to the 20 min poses at the RAC).

After a few weeks of this, they began discussing ways to make the volunteer-run environment welcoming and supportive, and settled for a few principles that are still part of both groups: Membership involved neither fees nor a portfolio review, just a commitment to painting, because they wanted members to have diverse approaches and levels of experience. Through a non-teaching environment, they wanted to encourage and support the development of members’ individual styles, believing this diversity contributes to a developing critical dialogue. And they encouraged members to share their knowledge of online communication, digital image processing, and the art market through free member workshops and joint projects.

At the same time, Karen and Rebeca began painting outdoors together. Their first session took place in 2007 on a very cold Tuesday. On January 8, 2008 they went to Inspiration Point in Berkeley, and they almost froze! They returned there the following week, but did not develop a steady routine until later. For a few months, it was mostly just them and a schedule that moved between Tuesdays and Mondays. From the beginning, they thought about painting on weekends but a busy family schedule made this difficult.

Ever so slowly, they began meeting painters who had these days available, and who were very committed to painting outdoors. Mike found Larry Hatfield painting near his house in El Sobrante, and Karen brought Vicki Salzman. They were added to the proto-listserv, which was then open to anyone who wanted to join and held the names of those interested in figure or outdoor painting.

On February 2009 (fourteen months after its start) the listserv was vandalized for the second time and Rebeca was forced to close it, delete it, and start a new one with a new name: East Bay Plein Air. This list continued to include people from both groups until August 2009. The first blog was devoted to plein air painting, and made its debut in May 4, 2009. Rebeca wanted to have a public space in which to announce locations, since the listserv was no longer open to the public. She also envisioned it as a collaborative space where members could post work done during the group's painting sessions. It quickly gained a big readership. The group also began advertising on Craigslist and on Facebook. Because of this its listserv has also grown. It now sends updates to 100 local artists, and sessions now take place twice a week, with anywhere from six to nine painters attending at any one time. Later that year, the group changed its name from East Bay Plein Air to East Bay Landscape Painters, once it realized that another, much older group was also named East Bay Plein Air but did not have a web presence. Rebeca and Karen organized the first EBLP group exhibit for a few long-time members during the summer of 2010 at the San Pablo Gallery.

For more than a year since its beginning, the figure drawing group continued meeting in Rebeca's small studio, which held a maximum of five painters. Karen and Rebeca shared the booking and coordination, and quickly discovered that a small group of drop-ins cannot always afford the model's fees, so they decided to seek a more spacious location in the spring of 2009. This was the Richmond Art Center at first, but because the center was undergoing a renovation, it was very difficult to stay. This prompted Karen to broker an arrangement with the members of Berkeley's Firehouse Collective during that summer, and to think up a new name. By August, Rebeca introduced a blog and a separate listserv for this group, and Karen took over the booking and coordination. The group, now named East Bay Figure Painting, began advertising almost immediately on Craiglist and other venues, to ensure they could cover the model's fees in the new location. The Berkeley location has attracted a steady group of painters, and they have maintained a supportive environment respectful of diversity in artistic approaches.

Karen and Rebeca held discussions on the direction in which these two groups should go, and they decided to keep the two groups together as a collaborative network, Re-Emerging Artists. Because its mission is to facilitate the re-entry of mature artists into the art world, the groups' interactions are centered on supporting re-emerging artists.

Carol and Lisa on Clark Trail

Not sure exactly how big is this canvas, perhaps 24 x 30." What I do know is that this is my first oil outdoors after several months. Without the figures, this would have been a terrible composition. So I finished Carol and Lisa first, because I knew they would leave or move. I completed the hills and sky on a second visit, and did not revise it at all once it got to my studio. However, now that I see it here, I might work on the sky, which looks quite anemic.

Anderson Park

There were just a few of us that day in early December and I had a tiny 20 x 16" canvas. I worked with acrylic pretty close to the sidewalk. Just like in Richmond, passersby stopped to chat, wondering what we saw in the busy intersection. I was interested in the sycamores against the cathedral and the other downtown Oakland buildings. I did not finish there, but continued at the studio mainly from memory. It was a great location that I would like to return to.

Hoffman Marsh Canal

We will go out on Wednesday, December 28. This date is not part of our regular sessions, which take place on Monday and Saturday. This is an extra session we've scheduled taking advantage that there is a coordinator available, the weather is good, and that we will not be painting on Saturday December 31.

We will meet at the Point Isabel parking lot. On 80, take the central exit west toward Costco, and cross the 580 overpass, don't turn right on the exit. Once you've crossed the overpass, turn right on Ridyn Rd. If the Point Izzie lot is full, park along Rydin. You won't get a ticket. Once there, we will be walking a few yards outside of the dog park to the point where the canal turns into the Hoffman Marsh. This particular spot of the marsh looks quite lovely at high tide, with herons, grebes and assorted migratory birds witnessing your painting efforts. As luck would have it, 1:30 pm is when the tide will be highest on Dec 28. Please consult your e-mail for the time. There are bathrooms and running water at the dog park, but you must bring something in which to take your dirty water back home as it is forbidden to dump toxic water into the marsh.

Cummings Skyway


Sharon's Set-up for Watercolor


Betsy Painting
On Monday, December 26, we will be returning to Cummings Skyway.  Take 80 east and exit at Cummings Skyway.  Go right and stop at the turnout.  We will caravan to the spot past the traffic light, that has a pathway where we can walk away from the road to set up our easels.

Clark Road

This Friday, December 23, we will return to Clark Rd in El Sobrante, but because it is not Saturday, we will meet an hour earlier (please check your e-mail for the time). Please take into account that we will not meet on December 24, Christmas Eve. Remember that the Monday group will be going out on Monday, December 26.

The landscape includes a mix of pastoral views (there might be cows or horses) with a bit of suburban sprawl and the remains of El Sobrante's rural era. You are welcome to search this blog with the Clark search term to find examples of work done in that area. Take the San Pablo Dam Rd exit and go east. After passing Walgreen's and a couple of thrift stores, pass Hillcrest Dr, La Colina and Milton to your right. Clark Rd will be next, to your right. Go all the way to the end of the road where the trailhead is. There is limited parking, so arrive early for best selection. We will leave the parking lot and start walking up the fireroad promptly. It is likely to be cold. There are no bathrooms or running water.

Cummings Skyway

We will meet on Monday, Dec 19 at the turnout just off Cummings Skyway.  From 80 east take the Cummings Skyway exit and go right and stop at the turnout to wait for the others.  We will caravan to the spot.  See the last post to view work done at the location.

Cummings Skyway

Open Land off Cummings Skyway 30" x 36" 2011
We have been trying to get to this location for the last several Monday sessions. I started this painting a couple years ago, during the hottest time of summer, when there had been an electrical fire under one of the power towers. (You can see it toward the right hand side of the painting.) This summer I went back and finally was able to finish it!
When I last drove past, little bits of green were starting to poke through the golden turf, and there was little wind.



 Betsy Kendall

Meeker Slough


Here is one of the ones I did at Meeker Slough, this one at low tide. I had planned to work on a smaller piece, canvas all ready, but was surprised by low tide. I had an old dud painting in the car, so I slathered paint over what was there, and finally it worked out! Betsy K

Clark Road

On Saturday, December 17 we will meet at the end of historic Clark Rd, El Sobrante. The landscape includes a mix of pastoral views (there might be cows or horses) with a bit of suburban sprawl and the remains of El Sobrante's rural era. You are welcome to search this blog with the Clark search term to find examples of work done in that area. Take the San Pablo Dam Rd exit and go east. After passing Walgreen's and a couple of thrift stores, pass Hillcrest Dr and La Colina to your right. Clark Rd will be next, to your right. Go all the way to the end of the road where the trailhead is. There is limited parking, so arrive early for best selection. We will leave the parking lot and start walking on the fireroad at 1:10 pm. It is likely to be cold. There are no bathrooms or running water. Here is a map:
View Larger Map

Cancelled: Cummings Skyway

 We are cancelling this session and we will try again next week.

If the weather holds we will go to Ccummings Skyway. If it is too windy Cummings Skyway will not be a good place and we will go to Lake Anza.  Check the blog in the morning to see the status.

Directions to Cummings Skyway.
Take 80 east and exit at Cummings Skyway. Go right and stop at the first  turnout and wait for the others. We will caravan to the location.

Painting Occupy Berkeley





Occupy Berkeley
  chalk pastel on paper  16.5 by 22.5

 not every day is a master piece:
Occupy Berkeley at Martin Luther King between Allston and Center is quiet and the occupiers were friendly even offering to share their limited breakfast.  All around a good day - chilly early and then comfortable, painted from 10 am to 2 pm. Will go back again.  Kelly Hammargren




Cancelled: Cummings Skyway


Monday, December 5 will be cancelled because we do not have a coordinator available  Our next session will be Monday, December 12 and we will go to a locations just off Cummings Skyway where there are rolling hills  that are usually golden yellow  in the summer.  Betsy says the green of winter is starting to show giving the hills unusual color.  To get there you take 80 east and get off at the Cummings Skyway exit. Go right onto Cumming Skyway and stop almost right away at the turnout and wait for the others.  We will caravan to the location.   I will repost these directions next week.

Karen

Cancelled: Saturday Dec 3

This session has been cancelled because of the winds gusts we've been experiencing. Adams Park is a busy, small park wedged between Harrison and West Grand Ave. We had a lovely time there last Sunday. Passersby were curious but respectful and courteous. It is still possible to park less than a block away. There are wonderful views of the very modern cathedral and surrounding skyscrapers coupled with the lovely Lake Merrit. All of it punctuated by fluorescent green lawns, black evergreens, leafless sycamores and other trees in various states of yellow decay. We will meet there again next Saturday. There are no bathrooms. Bring warm clothes, water, and a cell phone.
View Larger Map

Painting at Lake Anza


Lake Anza #
2   acrylic on 22 by 28
I almost cancelled todays session because of the heavy fog but decided to go after all. It was foggy all the way to the park but once inside the fog was gone and there was even sun.  The lake was glistening.  I did this painting last week  at the lake and have been working on it in the studio.   Karen

Sunday, November 27

We will meet on Sunday at Adams Park in downtown Oakland, by Lake Merrit. We will not meet on Saturday, November 27. Please see the mailing list message for an explanation. There are no bathrooms and there is no water available. We will meet at Adams Park and walk towards the lake together. Here is a map:
View Larger Map

Monday Nov 28







We will return to Lake Anza in Tilden Park.   On our trip there this week we all were impressed with how romantic it looked with the painters all around the lake.  It was a very quiet day without the  barking dogs of the previous week and few walkers.  Carol Sutton took these beautiful pictures.

Fall Day at Meeker Slough


Meeker Slough #2
  watercolor
Sharon Hind-Smith did this one on our second visit to Meeker Slough this fall. It was a beautiful crisp day, warm in the sun.

Monday, November 21


We return to Lake Anza. The only change to the directions is that the parking lot closest to the lake is closed and we had to park in the lower lot. There is a set of stairs up to the other lot and then a paved flat path to the lake. There is also a short cut from the parking lot to the paved path to the lake

It is  hard to give really good directions because there are many entrances to Tilden park. I usually go in at Spruce street.  So I am giving you the Google map link to get directions to  Lake Anza   Just type in Lake Anza, Tilden Park and then you can get directions from you house.  Once you are in the park there are a lot of signs that will help you find the lake.



You can also get a map from Google to Tilden Regional Park.

Godzilla Shows Up In EL Sobrante

Godzilla Shows Up In El Sobrante, Acrylic on Canvas, 20 x 24"
As a child I watched the Japanese series Ultraman on TV. There was no Godzilla in it, but there was a character, Dada, which struck fear in my six year old self. I decided I would include one of these characters in a painting after watching another painter, Julie, do something similar during a figure painting session. While researching these characters, I saw a picture of the old Godzilla and thought he would be perfect for this El Sobrante landscape, painted with our landscape group while on the hill at the end of Hidden Springs Court. After a few studies, I ended up placing him behind the hill that shows some of the homes on Painted Pony Rd.  

Monday, November 14

We will take the Lake Anza challenge again.  I say that because it is wonderful to paint at the lake but it is difficult painting, at least for me ,with all the shades of green and the reflection of the trees in the water.

It is also hard to give really good directions because there are many entrances to Tilden park. I usually go in at Spruce street.  So I am giving you the Google map link to get directions to  Lake Anza   Just type in Lake Anza, Tilden Park and then you can get directions from you house.  Once you are in the park there are a lot of signs that will help you find the lake.



You can also get a map from Google to Tilden Regional Park.

Meeker Slough


Meeker Slough #2
 acrylic on canvas 20  by 30
We have been back to Meeker Slough a few times.  I did this on one of our recent visits. The weather was wonderful.  I  hope we have a few more days like that one.

Karen

Cancelled: Saturday, November 11

No one was able to make it today, so we will not meet in Adams Park, which is at the corner of Harrison and Grand Lake, in Oakland. We'll try again on November 26 if enough people are interested. If you can come, please reply to the message we sent out today. Leave your home early as traffic may delay your arrival. If coming from 580, take the Broadway exit and turn left on 27th and right on Harrison. You can also take 980 and get off on 27th, then turn right on Harrison. Bring a cell phone. No bathrooms and possibly no water. Here's a map:
View Larger Map

Monday, November 7

If the weather is good and it is not too windy we will meet at Meekers Slough in Richmond. If necessary as the weather changes I might change the location to get away from the bay where it might be less windy. So check the blog on the weekend.

Directions:


From Berkeley, take hwy 80, then hwy 580 toward the Richmond Bridge.

Take the South 23rd St/Marina Bay Pkwy exit off hwy 580.
Turn left (over hwy) on Marina Bay (1st traffic light).
Continue on Marina Bay across Regatta (4th traffic light).
Turn left on Bayside Drive off Marina Bay (about 0.4 miles from Marina Bay/Regatta intersection).
From the parking area, it’s approximately 1 block to the Meeker Slough.
Continue to end of Bayside Drive.  There is a small area to park (10 spaces or so + sign for public access). 
If the parking lot is full, you can park on nearby Shimada Park and walk approximately two block to the same slough.

Cancelled: Saturday, November 5

The Saturday coordinator is not well enough to go out on Saturday, so the Saturday session has been cancelled. Please see your e-mail for more details, if you are subscribed to our list. We will try again next week!

Western Stege Marsh

This big acrylic (30 x 40") was the result of three visits. I tried a different approach, with an underpainting that was very desaturated. The buildings caught my attention, they looked so boxy and bright against this marsh environment. Then I went home and found out they were part of a turn-of-the-century explosive manufacturing plant. Unfortunately this is also what made Western Stege Marsh one of the ten most toxic places in the Bay Area. The land has been owned by UC Berkeley since the 1950's and the cleanup has been going on for the last few years. It is almost complete, yet there are signs warning passersby to stay on the bay trail because of "hazardous substances."

Painting at Meeker Slough


Meeker Slough with Duck
  acrylic  20 by 30
A few weeks ago I did this one at Meeker Slough on a linen canvas.  It was a warm day and the paint dried quickly on my pallete so I was working faster and faster towards the end with pretty thick paint.  Karen

Monday, Oct 31

We will meet at Meekers Slough in Richmond.

Directions:

From Berkeley, take hwy 80, then hwy 580 toward the Richmond Bridge.

Take the South 23rd St/Marina Bay Pkwy exit off hwy 580.
Turn left (over hwy) on Marina Bay (1st traffic light).
Continue on Marina Bay across Regatta (4th traffic light).
Turn left on Bayside Drive off Marina Bay (about 0.4 miles from Marina Bay/Regatta intersection).
From the parking area, it’s approximately 1 block to the Meeker Slough.
Continue to end of Bayside Drive.  There is a small area to park (10 spaces or so + sign for public access). 
If the parking lot is full, you can park on nearby Shimada Park and walk approximately two block to the same slough.

Saturday, October 29

Pinole Park can be very pleasant once the hot summer days are over. This park is next to a suburban development, but there is a nice combination of hills, trees and open grassy areas. We will meet at the Morningside trail gate. Directions: From 80, take Appian way to the east. Continue on Valley View Rd. Make a left on Morningside Dr. Make a right on Rocky Rd. and a left on Hidden Springs. Park near the cul-de-sac and wait for the others. Some of you might want to hike up the hill, but if you don't want to go up where the trees are, bring something for the sun. There are no bathrooms or water. Please bring a cell phone.

Monday, Oct 24


We will meet at the Vista Point just before Crockett.  There are wonderful views of the strait and hills beyond. And there is beautiful color and in the ground cover all around.

From 80 take the Cummings Skyway exit and go left onto Commings Skyway then right on San Pablo. The parking lot for the Vista Point will be on your left.

Saturday, October 22

We'll return to the Meeker Slough. Kendall recommends it because "There are wonderful views of marshland and hills in the background, or in another direction you can find some industrial, or you can zero in on a small marsh creek with herons, geese, and ducks. You might want to do a bit of exploring first before deciding where you want to paint. There are amazing views of the shoreline a bit further along, the trail." These are her directions:

From Berkeley, take hwy 80, then hwy 580 toward the Richmond Bridge.
Take the South 23rd St/Marina Bay Pkwy exit off hwy 580.
Turn left (over hwy) on Marina Bay (1st traffic light).
Continue on Marina Bay across Regatta (4th traffic light).
Turn left on Bayside Drive off Marina Bay (about 0.4 miles from Marina Bay/Regatta intersection).
From the parking area, it’s approximately 1 block to the Meeker Slough.
Continue to end of Bayside Drive.  There is a small area to park (10 spaces or so + sign for public access). 
If the parking lot is full, you can park on nearby Shimada Park and walk approximately two block to the same slough.

Cows at Carquinez Regional Park


Cows Overlooking the Strai
t  acrylic and oil stick 16 by 20
I have been working over some of my old paintings that had not come together yet.  This one I worked on with oil sticks over the original acrylic.  When the painting was done there were cows grazing in the park. I haven't seen them on our recent visits.

Karen

Saturday, October 15

This Saturday, Kendall proposed a location we visited last October, Meeker Slough. It's on the Bayside Trail, and you can type the marsh's name in the search box and find all the wonderful paintings that have come out of such a spot. She says "There are wonderful views of marshland and hills in the background, or in another direction you can find some industrial, or you can zero in on a small marsh creek with herons, geese, and ducks. You might want to do a bit of exploring first before deciding where you want to paint. There are amazing views of the shoreline a bit further along, the trail." These are her directions:

From Berkeley, take hwy 80, then hwy 580 toward the Richmond Bridge.
Take the South 23rd St/Marina Bay Pkwy exit off hwy 580.
Turn left (over hwy) on Marina Bay (1st traffic light).
Continue on Marina Bay across Regatta (4th traffic light).
Turn left on Bayside Drive off Marina Bay (about 0.4 miles from Marina Bay/Regatta intersection).
From the parking area, it’s approximately 1 block to the Meeker Slough.
Continue to end of Bayside Drive.  There is a small area to park (10 spaces or so + sign for public access). 
If the parking lot is full, you can park on nearby Shimada Park and walk approximately two block to the same slough.

See you there!

Monday, October 17

We will meet at the Vista Point just before Crockett.  There are wonderful views of the strait and hills beyond. And there is beautiful color and in the ground cover all around.

From 80 take the Cummings Skyway exit and go left onto Commings Skyway then right on San Pablo. The parking lot for the Vista Point will be on your left.

Hillside Natural Area From End of Portola Dr.

You learn the most interesting things by doing a Google search with the names of a city's streets. The historical societies websites pop up, and also, the minutes from city council meetings past. And that's how I learned that I painted a former quarry by the name of Hutchinson. The story is fascinating, given that the entire street still shows traces of its past.

In any case...this was a difficult acrylic to finish. I devoted a total of seven hours to it. Somehow, it demanded a more thorough treatment than others I do in half the time. I also used a much larger canvas than I normally use, 24 x 36". I had fun painting in the company of Milada, Ling and Kendall.

Monday, October 10

We will return to Tormey.  From 80 East take the Cummings Skyway extit (26). Go left on Cummings Skyway and left on San Pablo and you will see a row of houses on the left on Old County Road. Take a left on Old County Road. We will meet at the end of the block.   

Saturday, October 8

We will return to the open area on Navallier and Portola streets, in El Cerrito. No bathrooms. Bring a cell phone, your own water. Please park along Navellier and wait for the others. There is a variety of views, among them, of the Nature Area hills, of streets that stretch across the hills, and of a lonely white house up Moeser. It may be foggy, but it could also be warm and dry. Dress accordingly. Please reply to the listserv message if you are coming. 
View Larger Map

Tormey in October


Tormey October  acrylic,  20 by 30
We went back to Tormey. It was a wonderful fall day with wild turkeys, goats, sheep and horses.  We made it until 12:30 when the rain started.  I did this looking looking west.  Karen

Tormey, Skyline & Corral

This was the first painting I did at Tormey, a town at the west end of the Cummings Skyway. I finished it from photos this spring. It's kind of austere, but I felt pretty good about being able to convey the sense of all those bars to the pasture. It's oil on canvas and 30" x 40." I feel the reddish toned canvas added to the depth of color, at least in the original.
A second piece I started soon after, facing the other way. Karen was set up right at the base of the telephone pole.
Betsy

Dusk, King Ranch


This is one of two paintings I made for a show at the Vallejo Maritime Museum, called Seeing Solano: Solano Land Trust through the eyes of artists, running through December. It's of a low, rocky tree-covered ridge in one of the windiest places I've ever painted. Started pleinaire, finished in the studio, it's 30" x 40" oil on canvas.

Monday, October 3

We will return to Tormey.  From 80 East take the Cummings Skyway extit (26). Go left on Cummings Skyway and left on San Pablo and you will see a row of houses on the left on Old County Road. We will meet at the end of the block.   

I found some interesting material about Tormey




The Rise and Fall of Tormey, California


by Michael Tormey, May 7, 2006
(Note: Readers may find it helpful to first read the narrative, A History of Rodeo, California and the Role Patrick Tormey Played in its Early Development.)

Lost to the annals of history is the small town of Tormey that once existed in the upper northwest corner of Contra Costa County, California, near both San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait, barely two miles from the town of Rodeo and 28 miles from downtown San Francisco. While the name Tormey still appears on maps of the San Francisco Bay Area, today it is for the most part long abandoned, vacant land. It was at one time, however, a cozy company town that was home to hundreds of families over the course of nearly a century. Read More


Karen