Welcome to the Pleasanton Art League
PAL President’s Message
Is There Something in Nothing? With all this free time, I must admit that I’ve been enjoying doing nothing. In fact, I haven’t done nothing like this in years. Maybe decades! It feels both luxurious and unnerving at the same time. One day blurs into the next. My days are filled with small, mundane tasks as it is hard to do any real planning. I’ve also been introspective and feel very fortunate at the most fundamental level. We are healthy, so far. We have a warm house. We have enough food. We are doing okay, when so many others are not. The most pressing issue for me has been the inertia surrounding my ability to get any real work done. I could be working on my website, or getting that filing done, or taking advantage of this gift of time in some meaningful way. This quarantine has made me terribly lazy!
As much as I lament this lack of creative zeal, I am taking comfort in a couple of things. I know that when this pandemic is over and the anxiety abates, creativity will return. Also, there is actually ‘something’ in our ‘nothing’. Our creativity, like every other thing in nature, comes in ebbs and flows. Like the tides, the ebb is when the water is drained from the shore. The flow is when it returns like a wave, nourished by deep waters. The recouping (nothing) phase is as important as the active phase. The cycles could last days, weeks, or even years. Sometimes it can be roused by actively feeding it, sometimes it is banished by a global pandemic.
How has this Shelter-In-Place affected your creativity? Are you experiencing a creative flow? Is this a time of artistic risk-taking? Or, are you finding comfort in familiar techniques? Maybe your responsibilities have increased at home and creativity seems like an unaffordable luxury. Has your energy shifted to other things? Are you asking yourself, “what energy?” If you’d like to share your insights for the September Portfolio, please write a short article and send to Norma Webb (firstname.lastname@example.org) before August 15th. Pictures are always great too. There have been many submissions so far. Check out How Do You Stay Creative in Stressful Time section below.
Have You Visited PAL’s Updated Facebook Page Recently?
If not, you’re in for an adventure.
See PAL President Beth Okurowski’s video discussing her personal painting style. Or check out four award winning artists discussing how they prep for their plein air adventures in various outdoor spots. Don’t miss key posts from our guest artists’ workshops. Oil painter, Eric Jacobsen, demonstrates his personal plein air style while on location with his class at a PAL workshop. Well known artist, Nancy Roberts, participated in PAL’s second Annual Plein Air event. See her beautiful acrylic paintings. She’ll be presenting a workshop in September. Watch for this announcement.
Local artists, Usha Shukla, Pat Smith, Chris Bourg and Meghana Mitragotri’s beautiful paintings were entered into the 2020 PAL Museum on Main Exhibit. See their posts. Our PAL Facebook page shares “artist of the week” posts, interviews, demonstrations and many wonderful posts you don’t want to miss. We may be in a “Shelter in Place” mode, but we’re all creating art in the era of COVID-19. Please share what you’ve been creating. You may see your work posted on our Facebook page.
Linda Beach: When I received the question about staying on the creative path in stressful times, I had spent some of the morning attending to art business then updated my website. Since I found out that the LAA art show had also been cancelled, I organized my painting records which I keep of each painting. In the top corner I paste an image of each piece and the date finished.
Teaching interrupts my work and I find it easier to return to a painting in progress than to begin a new one. Soon I was listening to my Pandora stations and immersed in the painting. But, not all days will be like this. I find that if I don’t feel like painting right away, sometimes just going in the studio and tidying up by organizing and cleaning my pastel sticks will often lead to getting back the creative spirit. I paint landscapes and have a stack of images ready and waiting to be my next painting.
For those who are looking for inspiration during our time at home, there is a wealth of inspiration in the kitchen (whisks, corkscrews, tea kettle etc.) I have a friend who used different corners of her home as a still life and created beautiful pastels of her pillows, dining room chairs etc. Now that those of us above a certain age have to self-isolate, I may be looking around the house for my muse as well. Happy Painting.
This has been my big project while sheltering in place. I had the idea of painting this triptych before the lockdown occurred, so I had all of the supplies that I needed to begin. It was a wonderful project to keep my mind off of the current events and have a focus to my days. I selected three photos that I took while in Giverny in 2018….and tried to have them flow together…. they were three separate areas of Monet’s garden. As it progressed, I needed to have a space where they could be side by side, so we moved the kitchen table out of the eating area, and I took over that area for about a week to finish them up….. very sweet husband to roll with all of that! They are painted in oil on linen, 10”x 30” each.
Rolleen Carcioppolo: I have been very busy continuing to learn an art skill using my photographs and Photoshop to create art prints on canvas that look like oil paintings or watercolors. I display all of my artwork on my Facebook Art by Rolleen page: http://facebook.com/artbyrolleen. Also I display them on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s my latest that I just did. It’s called Yellow Purple Iris. I am selling my artwork as limited art prints on canvas. I also have 3 of my canvas prints now hanging in the side room of the Terra Mia Restaurant in Livermore. Hopefully soon the COVID-19 virus will end, restaurants and art shows will open up again and I can show my work.
Rhonda Chase: I’ve been making a lot of masks and having fun with creating some pretty special designs. One really cool mask is an outer space galaxy design, which has been dyed and beaded. I’ve written a tutorial for creating the artwork and posted it for free. Here’s the space mask tutorial link: https://www.instructables.com/id/ The-Great-Space-Face-Mask/. And if you don’t want to make your own masks, I have a listing just for the Tri Valley which discounts all regular handmade masks: https://www.rhondachasedesign.com/products/handmade-fabric-face-mask-pleasanton-residents-only-pick-up-only?_pos=1&_ sid=560328a02&_ss=r
My artwork has been chosen as one of this year’s Utility Box Art Projects for the City of Dublin! My chosen design was inspired by driving down Tassajara and seeing colorful kites being flown at the park and soaring over the hills. My artwork showcases a variety of cheerful kites, each one depicting a different image associated with Dublin life and culture. Painting will be scheduled for this summer and I’ll get Ashley and Adam to help out.
Karen Fleschler: Phil and I are hunkering in and not going out to eat. But we have enjoyed having a couple of friends over for dinner for warmth and conversation. We try to stay optimistic and positive and finding joy in just being alive, knowing our family and friends are safe and well and staying connected. Of course then there’s always alcohol.
Linda Garbarino: “My latest artistic challenge takes me back to my mother’s early days when young ladies were introduced to local society requiring a formal studio photo in a gorgeous gown to be printed in their local paper. I have that lovely framed, original studio photograph. It’s a tough challenge because I have to get the likeness perfectly rendered of her when she was younger than I ever knew her. It’s a lovely challenge and one that you might consider, yourself.”
Marge Haggin: Georgia, Joyce and Christine and I meet for art play days—but we won’t be doing that for awhile. But I challenged them each to produce a piece of art with a flower on a pink background. Then next week we will send a photo of our piece of art piece to each other.
I am still working on the art to enter in the Spring Show, but since the date is now moved to November, I hope to still be able to add a new piece to it. Collage is a great way to get involved in a piece of art that is relaxing. Find colors, shapes, themes in junk mail, magazines, old love letters–use your imagination. (You don’t have glue? There is always flour and water.) One of the best ideas is to call another artist and just chat. Maybe someone you haven’t had time to visit in awhile. Art has opened so many doors for all of us–now is a good time to explore and find ways to expand for ourselves and I hope to pass on to others.
Kathy Hill: I found this quote in my travels and it spoke to me. “Only by dealing with the difficulty does the creativity come forth.” Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry. It reminded me to have patience when I am working because painting is problem solving. There usually is a place in a painting that is what we refer to as the “ugly” stage when we would like to take it and throw it in the garbage. Charles Sovek wrote that he got so mad at his painting one day that he threw his whole easel into the Saugatuck River…the whole thing, painting and all! But if we put the painting away for awhile, even a few hours or over night, or look at in reverse in the mirror, we see it with fresh eyes and can usually identify the problem and work on correcting it. We have all been there!!
Linda Hopwood: Over the years I have worked in many mediums. Most of you are familiar with my work which has been realistic images in colored pencil. Recently I decided to go back to one of my favorite styles and that is doing abstracts in acrylic. Attached you will see one of my latest paintings. They are acrylic on canvas. “Red Rose in a White Pail” is 36 x 24”. Since it’s been over 10 years since I’ve done an acrylic painting, it’s been challenging for me to create a something that reflects the image I see in my mind.
Jennifer Huber: The 2020 Promotion committee at John Green elementary in Dublin wanted to do something with the money they had collected for the 5th grader this year. Since there was no gathering, party, or ceremony, they decided to buy the school a shed. Hanh Vo San contacted me and asked if I could paint the doors. They wanted the John Green Logo, “Class of 2020” and the phrase “Don’t stop believing”.
I came up with three designs and they picked my favorite: the sea turtles & bat rays. I only charged materials and spent a week prepping, painting, and sealing the doors. I tell you with all the change and upheaval going on in the world right now, it is great to give back to the community so directly. I hope to help out schools and businesses more in the future. (The angle of the photo is awkward because it is in a gated corner of the school: not much room to shoot.)
Georgia Jacobs: 12 Museums From Around the World That You Can Visit Virtually | Travel + Leisure
Christine McCall: As for staying on the creative path, my path is stunted the last few months from the SAS and work at Walter’s company. I am hoping that this breather will let me do some of the ideas I’ve had in my head for awhile. Being stuck at home like this could be the perfect time to do a project. Right now I’m just catching up on email and bills and paperwork!
Mark Mertens: Attached is a picture of me being busy. It was taken by a photographer and was in the newspaper. As you know we now live in Arroyo Grande on the central coast and also have a condo in Danville. The dry January and February have given me the opportunity to get out and do plein air paintings in oil along the coast. I’ve also been busy working in the studio. My philosophy has always been, “life is short, so why waste any of it not painting.” I work regardless of how I feel about it at the time and magically get lost in the process after about 15 to 30 minutes. It is like exercise. Many of us do not feel like getting regular exercise, but when we do, the good feeling about exercise falls into place.
Meghana Mitragotri: It’s been many days of lockdown, and still counting! I get bored very easily and feel the need to constantly create something new. So what’s the latest craze?? Fairy Gardens! Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Fairy Gardens. I have been reading a lot about them, and have taken inspiration from a number of You Tube videos. That’s also been a good excuse to shop for different shades of plants, containers and fairy garden accessories at the nursery. At first, I was a little skeptical about the general health of these plants while in close proximity to each other in a container. But then I learnt they just know! Plants know how much to spread based on their root systems. They respect their fellow flora and “give them their space” while thriving beautifully. And you know what’s even more exciting? I’ve been successful in incorporating a working water feature or water fountain in some of these, using a 40GPH mini water pump. What a delight!! It’s been a couple of weeks since I made these Fairy Gardens, and I am so thrilled to see these miniature gardens with new leaves and flowers despite the limited space. I used a combination of crotons, flowering plants, succulents and ground cover, along with rocks, pebbles and pine cones. This channel on You Tube has been especially helpful www.youtube.com/gardenanswer. It’s a fun project with kids and grand kids. Try it if you like it. PS: I have entered some of these Fairy Gardens in Alameda’s county’s virtual fair!
Beth Okurowski: Many famous artists throughout history werealso gardeners. Monet comes to my mind first, but there are many others. I recently came across this interesting article: From Frida Kahlo to Claude Monet, 8 Artists Who Designed Enchanting Gardens. Take a look!
Lisa Rigge: I’ve been taking a lot of hikes and walks since SIP started. We are so fortunate to have the East Bay Regional Parks to explore, and these many hikes are keeping me feeling sane. At this time of year, the birds have been nesting and the little ones are out and about – mallard and wood duck ducklings swimming in the arroyos, cormorant babies and young red tails in their nests, swallows and their chicks under the freeway passes, and the great blues and egrets gracing Shadow Cliffs. I take photographs of them because that’s what I do, but I also love watching them through the binoculars. I feel as sheltered as the birds these days. See Lisa’s Quail on page 1.
Ron Rigge: It was a wonderful spring, at least for our local flora and fauna. Oakhill park in Alamo was a wonderful place to view several ancient valley oaks as they broke out in their new growth in late March. I finished a small body of work including about 8 photographs of our resident oaks.
Helene Marie Roylance: A few weeks ago I was struggling to get back in my ceramics studio after a busy holiday season. I had finally shed my winter burnout and felt the pressure to start filling the kiln. Post holiday, I always plan on making January “Watercolor January,” since I love painting, but I always feel like I run out of time. Now that my ceramics show dance card is unexpectedly free…I’m going to take advantage and use my studio time for those things I never have enough time to do!
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a stack of art books we always meant to crack open. “One of these days I’ll set aside a day to just follow along some tutorials!” “I’ll get myself to do some color studies!” We all have a project we put off because we didn’t have time…right? For me, I have a wonderful stack of watercolor books that I have been wanting to savor. You know, that mythical time where you put away the other noise and just dig in, painting to explore and experiment, not with such purpose? Now is the perfect time!
Just because we need to restrict our travel doesn’t mean we can’t have inspiration from around the world! I thought I would share a resource that I love for those artists looking for inspiration. I discovered an incredible website, PaintMyPhoto (https://pmp-art.com/). According to their website, “Paint My Photo (PMP) is a social networking site dedicated to sharing photos for artistic inspiration without fear of infringing copyright.” Once you register an account, and agree to the terms (not to make unauthorized prints of others’ photos), you gain access to a gigantic online resource of photographs you can legally use as reference photos without fear of copyright infringement. This is an amazing group of people that share their photos – from Copenhagen to Japan, New Mexico to Brazil. These wonderful photographers from all over the world submit their photos so that registered users of the website can use them as reference for their own original artwork. You are free to make copies of the resulting works you create and sell them. They have helpful guides to help you learn how to search using key words, and how to add photos. I have found the users on the site to be extremely warm, gracious and supportive. What more could you ask for!
Lynne Shephard: Things I like to do were taken away from me all of a sudden. I have no more classes. The shows I had gotten into were cancelled. My only solace is my studio away from home. I can go there, because I’m the only one there at the moment. I haven’t recovered enough, yet, to begin creating some art. Slowly, I’m feeling more joyful at the chance to start a new painting. Those thoughts turned into wanting to go for a new medium. I want to go back to my printmaking for awhile. I have a new process of using solar plates to create block prints, intaglio, or relief printing. So, when the sun comes out again, I will be fully prepared to start that process.
Usha Shukla is part of the Global Art Project Organization comprising of 30 international female artists from 16 countries. Their all-women exhibit “Gender Gap” is installed at Gallerie Renee Marie in Benicia, and can be viewed online by appointment only at email@example.com.
Usha also was recently interviewed by artist Katie Korotzer for her series In the Artists’s Studio published in the Piedmont Extra Magazine. Here is the link. https://piedmontexedra.com/2020/05/in-the-artists-studio-usha-shukla.
Pat Smith: “I have had to isolate myself, so no stores etc. for me. But I am not bored yet. Thank goodness for the new technology. Sometimes I get frustrated but I have learned to like FaceTime, Zoom and real phone calls. However, my time to paint was suffering. Something had to be done! Thank you Meg Mitagotri for showing us your cards. I went into my supplies and found a box of watercolor paper cards and envelopes, then I went out into my garden full of flowers that I had planted for Easter and began to paint. No hiding eggs for the great grandsons but now I can send cards to them. I was more than surprised at how rusty I had become. Serious brush hours now for me.”
Barbara Stanton: I consider most of the news as nonsense. You have to ask yourself “Is there anything I can do about it?” Most likely not. Get back to work! Besides, painting is my escape from the “real” world.
Our vulnerability has been highlighted in no uncertain terms in the current pandemic and rapid and complex changes have placed us in extraordinarily stressful times. Yet in the midst of it I am recalling quotes that have inspired and motivated me and I hope that by sharing them they can lighten your load a bit as well.
Quote 1: The first was shared by my artist friend, Sawsan, who was making some jewelry and found an inscription on a piece of metal which read: “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” (Richard Bach) When I set aside my anxiety and looked for a gift in this unprecedented situation I came to realize that there were indeed gifts – closeness of family that I don’t usually get to enjoy, stepping off the hamster- wheel of meetings and events and finding quiet spaces to connect with my passions of writing and floral photography.
Quote 2: “You have to find what sparks a light in you so that your own way can illuminate the world” (Oprah Winfrey). There are few things that excite me as much as discovering a beautiful bloom. It has no expectations of the world but revels in the elements whether it be sunshine, wind or rain. When it is at its peak the glorious light of living shines forth spreading beauty where it finds itself. In this trying time I am still able to enjoy walks and admire the beauty of Spring’s arrival (and we know there are always flowers for those who want to see them!). This photo was taken in my neighborhood.
Quote 3: “Each new day is an opportunity to try again! Embrace it!” (Vanessa) I never realized how often I touch my face until I was told not to! I don’t always succeed and I don’t always feel that I am in tune with my muse when editing a floral photograph and on those days the images never quite seem to look the way I intended them to – but that’s ok – the joy is in the process and each day that we are granted is chance for us to try again.
Quote 4: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). The joy that artists bring to the world are seldom deemed essential but we can see the vitality that an engaging creation brings when there is a deluge of negativity and unhappiness. More and more people have been asking me to please post my floral images to add an uplifting moment to their sheltered days. Museums have made virtual tours available and artists have been sharing stay-at- home creative projects. If your work can brighten the day of just one person (even if it’s you) then it’s all been worthwhile.
Quote 5: “Bloom with all the enthusiasm you can muster!” (Vanessa) Some buds never flower, if we are fortunate enough to bloom – we should do so with all the enthusiasm we can muster! Persist in your creative journey – it will fuel you and create new opportunities to connect.
Dianne Varden: I get creative by looking through my collection of art books and personal photos. It stimulates my imagination. I also like to look at various photos of paintings on line. I Figure out what attracts me to that particular painting and try to do something similar but using my own subject. Once started, the painting somehow develops and I might end up with something different but satisfying. I also like to watch various artists on YouTube who do interesting work. i.e. I tried acrylic pour painting for the first time and had fun. I probably won’t continue for long, but learned some helpful painting tips. Most important though is getting into your studio even if you just tidy up and clean brushes etc. Being amongst your “tools” tends to put you in a painting mood!
Craig Varden: For artists and photographers …Travel vicariously…to Italy, Wuhan anywhere in the world. Go to Google photos or a major photostock agency (mine is superstock.com) and enjoy the travel photos, plan future trips and get art ideas.
Christine Watters: 1. Look for art project ideas on Pinterest. 2. Join the 25 Million Stitches project, it’s not too late – They will take entries until April 30. Easy to do when sitting binge watching Netflix or listening to audiobooks. The requirements are very flexible, you can even use your own scrap fabric. At minimum, peruse their website. The panel images are wonderful and community blog is a feel-good read. www.25millionstitches.com.
Jan Watling: Jan submitted several pictures of her process for cutting paper strips for her curling art. She doesn’t have a website but you can go to her Facebook page, or email her at watling@ comcast.net to see the other photos.
Norma Webb: The Portfolio is creative in its own way, but not as fulfilling as a painting when it is going well. Then there is gardening which I enjoy a lot, even though bending is getting harder all the time! Beautiful music is always inspiring. And I have a stack of beautifully written books from over the years that I loved and saved to read again “later.” Well guess what?– “Later” is here!
One quote: “I don’t understand why I have all this uninterrupted time on my hands but I don’t see the pile of finished projects stacking up!”
Upcoming General Meetings
PAL & LAA Potluck & Social: September 14, Charles R Winery
October 12, 2020, 7:30 pm PAL Program, Theresa Muley, Infrared Photography
General Meeting Locations
Regardless of location, all General Meetings of PAL & LAA are intended for members of both groups! Please take the short drive between Livermore and Pleasanton. The more the merrier!
Bothwell Arts Center
2466 8th Street
Cultural Arts Building
4455 Black Avenue, Pleasanton
Our Meetings are Always Open & Free to the Public. Bring a Friend.