Friday, July 30, 2010

Journaling, Delicious Journaling . . .

Some of you may have been wondering if I've given up my journal since there's not been mention in weeks of it. But, don't be deluded . . . I'm dedicated to my journal and the time I spend in it. So, finally, after the time away in California, I've caught up my journal.

Mainly, the content is of my days down in the Bay Area. This first double spread of my images finishes up our stay up on the North Fork of the Butte Creek, one of my favorite lil' camping spots. And then, the start of my trip. These erratic and sculptural pepper trees were set in front of me after we'd hung the "Traveling Conversations" show (see the image here of the grid we set up to hang all 69 of our 5x7 inch pieces) and I just wanted some quiet time gazing into a park. Grief, I couldn't leave my paint brush down - those pepper trees were just calling me to paint them.

Wednesday of that week, my dear friend and her hubby had invited me to join them traveling up to San Francisco to see the Impressionist show at the de Young Museum. I was so jazzed . . . not only had I not see the new museum, but I loved the Impressionist period. Having the ear phone tour was invaluable. I learned even more about the period and added two new favorites, Sisley and Degas. The museum was savory too, wide sweeping spans bordered with sunlight and greenery amidst the formality of the museum and signage. But we had a little extra time and decided to hit the Legion of Honor Museum too which had an Impressionist show going. It's focus was more on the print media of the day and some of the etching were incredibly detailed and impressive. In the back seat driving home from the city, I pulled out my pen for a lil' contour drawing. Seemed every time I got a subject I wanted to sketch, they'd drive off out of my view. Guess I need to sketch more quickly!! A full and fun day!

The next pages in my journal are eventful. They cover the Reception of the "Traveling Conversations" show (see previous entry) and also, a very serendipitous meeting. It's been over, oh my, it must be nearly 20 years since I graduated from San Jose State's Graphic Design Program. That was where I last say most of my Illustration Instructors. So, one evening, late, I was heading into Trader Joes to pick up some items . . . when in front of me were two people. A couple, I thought, but as I looked closer, darn if the lady didn't resemble the Head of the Department, Bunny Carter. Now I didn't know her husband, could that be him, I'm thinking? The more I examined him . . . darned if he didn't look an awful lot like Courtney Granner, another instructor I'd had at SJSU. I took a deep breath and inquired, "So, could that be Bunny Carter and Courtney Granner?" They both turn around and, yes, it's them. We catch up a bit and I hear about all the changes in the Art Department.
Then, off we all go with well wishings, etc. WHAT a coincidence, eh? Middle of the Bay Area, me living in Oregon and P-O-O-F, in the parking lot of Trader Joes, a meeting happens.

Believe in unplanned twists of fate or testing sagacity? Well, to me, this falls under that serendipity. Hey, follow me, as long as one keeps participating in life fully, pushing envelopes, we can just keep being amazed together. Isn't life fascinating?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

IceCream, Jackson Brown & Full Moons

It was just such a magical evening . . . I just had to share it with you dear readers.

Now, if you've known me for any length of time, you know I'm not a big fan of ice cream. Now don't get me wrong, I love ice cream and my husband talks me into it once in awhile. But after I do eat it, I'm not happy with how I feel. So I'm learning to just say "no, thanks". But in the Summer, I have a lil' decadent pleasure in the ice cream world, Dairy Queen cones. So we went tonight for a treat after dinner and I ordered my splurge size, the "Medium"! So we park backward in the DQ lot and usually gaze out over this vacant field where we always catch the antics of some neighbor cat. But tonight, since we've been having at least the "threat" of thunderstorms - the clouds have been fantastic!! And this night we caught ~ just at sunset. So you artists in the audience know where this is going, right? The colors were just stunning, from one moment to another, they changed from fantastic to even more amazing. I'm moaning 'cause I've forgotten the camera. I mean even the green field with drying grass was taking on magical colors. So, finally we leave the scene once the light and the ice cream is gone and head home for our evening walk with Cody, our Golden Retriever.

I've been aching to go up and watch from the "locals free spot" at the Britt Festival especially since August is fast approaching and the music changes to classical. Roland says he's not up for it, and finally I'm just going to do what I gotta DO. I go up past all the cars and the big RV motor homes that our entertainer for the evening has arrived in . . . and sit down to enjoy one of my favorites, Jackson Browne. Some of my memories flood in with the ole' songs and I'm swaying (you can't dance, the ground is uneven and dirt with lil rocks), lovin' the night air. I gobble up most of the set and eventually decide, it's time to head home. Little did I realize that the moon was nearly full, I think beginning to wane, but, there I go, dancing to "Runnin' on Empty" down the streets leading me home on this fine night. Smiles . . .

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Introduction to Plein Air Painting ~ A New Duo

One of the heavenly benefits to renting a studio space upstairs at the Ashland Art Center is - that you get to know your peer artists and they furnish a wealth of wisdom and talent.

One such artist is my studio neighbor, Silvia Trujillo. She's kind, sincere, warm and, as our Art Center Executive Director says, "the artists artist"! Silvia Trujillo is a well known artist and art instructor from the Sacramento region of California. She has won numerous awards for her paintings. “To constantly produce paintings that are original and unique” is one of her foremost goals. With Silvia just to my right, day in and day out, a gentle friendship has grown. and she's a devout instructor of, well, pick a media . . . oil, acrylics and even watercolor. Her life totally is painting and graciously, in forming this new duo, she has given me the "watercolor" arena.

She'd suggested we do a class together . . . and we'd tossed around painting on location. We considered a beach venue, too far to drive and consider lodging too. We considered a vineyard venue, THAT we will do for the fall workshop. Well, finally we decided and will be meeting at the lovely Lithia Springs Resort ( offering the "Silvia Trujillo and Elaine Frenett Plein Air Painting Workshop"!

We'll offer a two day series, August 14th & 15th, meeting from 8:30am to 12:30pm both days. With a lovely pond, charming sheds, lush flowers, a fountain and mountain backdrops, we'll find a variety of images from which to paint. A couple of years ago I did a sketch in my journal there, isn't it just the cutest building? And here's a plein air piece Silvia did on location there too. There will be a "Sharing or Critique" time when we break for lunch. On the preceding Thursday we will have an optional "Introduction" Hour, 6:30-7:30pm at the Ashland Art Center (, where we'll discuss materials, composition, color and light. Both Silvia (who will work exclusively with Oil and Acrylic students) and I (who will focus on watercolor) will limit the class to 7 students each.

I'm excited about this new adventure with a new artist friend. Isn't being an artist just the best? Well, perhaps being an enlightened Buddhist monk exceeds that, but I'm closer to being an artist. So, I'll stick with what I'm doing better and strive for the other. Thanks for joining me along this happy life's trek!

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Traveling Conversations" Workshop

Early the next morn around 9am, following the Reception, our trio, Jean Warren, Floy Zittin and myself, gathered at the McClellan Ranch to teach our "Traveling Conversations" Workshop. We'd warned most of the participants that in addition to this whole collaborative process being unpredictable, that they were going to be part of an experiment in teaching. Since the three of us had, as far as we knew, vaguely followed ideas we'd picked up somewhere in the Universe, imparting that process to others was truly going to be new to us too. They were all great sports and very willing.

Once we got the tables arranged so as to be in the shade, Floy began with an introduction to the process we'd following and the sequence of that plan. First we'd work on gathering visuals via sketchbooks or cameras, from around us. We trekked to the creek, back past the native garden and over to the animal area. So with images dancing in our heads . . . we start the first exercise.

This process will replicate the 5 x 7 inch group of sketches we mailed which required individual entries, responding to previous artists individual entries. We took twenty minute intervals to paint and then, pass on your piece to the next artist. They in turn, paint a response to the initial piece . . . then, repeat the process. We laid the 5 x 7 inch pieces all out on the table in sequence with the pieces to which each was responding. It was fascinating to see what triggers or ideas resulted from previous artists pieces (starting of sequence goes from top down to bottom). Sometimes you could visually see the connection,
others were entirely emotional.

After we broke for lunch, we moved onto the collaborative work within one sheet of watercolor. Using an 11 x 15 inch size, everyone started with an image taking up one quarter of the paper. After twenty minutes, we passed the pieces to new owners. We repeated this twice, and on the third "pass" the paper was returned to the original artist and they were given the assignment of attempting to pull the piece to a "successful" completion. When I got my "start" back, I was shaken, "how in the world can I bring this into balance with a focal area and unite all the stray elements?" Mine, shown here went before "critique" receiving the suggestion of adding more green/foliage to bottom right corner and perhaps add more of the "mystery bubbles". But everyone made a dramatic effort and several of the pieces were very good.

Overall, we assessed that most of the artists who participated garnered some sense of response and/or collaborative process. It was like "head-scratching" efforts at the beginning of the Workshop but, by the end of the second exercise, many participants seemed to grasp how to lasso the elements they had been "given" and direct the painting towards success.

What we'd hoped to open up to those in the workshop was, how to take on that "dog" of a painting, with awful elements and numerous problems, and with fresh eyes launch into solving challenges.

For me, it was invigorating actually seeing the process that Jean and Floy and I had been doing for five years, extremely condensed yet bringing about the same learnings and creativity. Who is to say who grew more from this class, the participants or the instructors? I'll never tell :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The "Traveling Conversations" Reception

Months, actually a year or so, in the planning, but the "Traveling Conversations" Show was a success. For those of you unfamiliar with what this show was about . . . we three friends/artists were separated by family moves. For five years to keep in touch, we have carried on visual conversations, without words, in painting forms. The forms included 5 x 7 inch individual paintings which were responses to the previous entries, several full sheet watercolor pieces where each of us painted, integrating our 6 x 6 comparable space into the design and even one book piece. These "image conversations" between Jean Warren, Floy Zittin and myself went on public display with this show at "Viewpoints Gallery" in Los Altos.

I arrived in San Jose about a week before. I'd met with Floy and we sat on the floor, debating and testing out the grid pattern for hanging the sixty-nine, 5 x 7 pieces to go on one big panel. But once we got the grid measurements figured out, within two hours we had the entire panel up. And we were pretty happy with how it looked. We got the big pieces hung the next day and place our "spin off" 8x8 paintings in the front display window. With previous skill at self-publishing, Floy took to designing an 8 1/2 x 11 book documenting both image and text, which we had added just for the show, of all sixty-nine 5 x 7 pieces. You may sample the beautiful book at: with free shipping for Summer orders. We were all ready for the show.

Finally, Friday evening of the Reception came. Floy's generous daughter had spent the day baking scrumptious h'devours and the Mexican Restaurant with whom we shared the back patio had festive Mariachi music in the background. Soon the people poured in, many friends dropped in to visit but consistently it seemed the aspect that most touched the audience was the friendship evident in this project. We actually sold out of our small "Traveling Conversations" book and began taking special orders for more of the books and in addition to individual prints for the 5x7 pieces.

The end of the evening found me weary but wound up. I'd proposed going for 'tea' after we got things all packed up. A little time to unwind and chat on a more personal level released some energy ... I was content to head homeward to my friends home, where I was staying. They had just left for New York that evening and I was comfortable to collapse into quietude. A soft smile came across my face . . . we three artists had done a good job, presented our show of quality in a professional way and felt that in the translation from image to image, our audience had heard our hearts.

Quickly to bed . . . in preparation for our 9:30am "Traveling Coversations" Workshop the following morn at the McClellan Ranch . . . ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz