Happy Anniversary and Happy New Year!

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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:
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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.


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.
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