landscape painting

Seeing Color in the Desert - International Artist Magazine

My article Seeing Color in the Desert (originally posted on CaliforniaDesertArt.com) has been reprinted in the August/September 2014 issue of International Artist magazine. It originally started with notes from my sketchbook about what I was observing while out painting, and what to do about certain problems that color posed or provided a solution to.

Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational

I'm making frames and double-checking all of my tubes of paint, getting geared up to head out to Colorado next month for the Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational in Crested Butte, Colorado. I'll be painting on location in Colorado for about two weeks prior to the exhibition opening, which will be July 11-13. If you plan to be in the area please stop by and say hi!

I'll also be teaching a 1-day painting workshop on July 3 in conjunction with the Crested Butte Center for the Arts - check it out!

On Seeing Color in the Desert

By Eric Merrell

(Originally published on CaliforniaDesertArt.com)

I really began to develop some of the color ideas during my Joshua Tree residency in 2009. In the desert in summer, especially in JT, there are strong shadows early in the morning and late in the afternoon, but for 5-6 hours when the sun is overhead there is hardly a shadow for miles.

Caravan of the Moon, 22" x 24", © Eric Merrell

Caravan of the Moon, 22" x 24", © Eric Merrell

After struggling with it for awhile, I realized that when the shadows disappeared I lost artistically the ability to use value contrast (lights and darks) in a painting, but I still had color contrast. During the middle of the day (as in moonlight), we can still perceive distance, the masses and forms of boulders and trees, and the world continues to exist in three dimensions without the help of shadows (value), so I began to see that color was the way to try to convey that sense of light. One begins to mix all sorts of interesting colors to try and solve the problem. Painting is really problem solving.

These color ideas apply to any situation and any location. But the particular brightness of the desert, where everything exists in such a high-key situation – sand, mountains, sky, brush – it provides a wonderful problem for exploring the richness of color. Just as a white tablecloth reflects the ‘truest’ colors of outdoor light (when we look at something ‘white’, we are seeing the full spectrum of visible light), the desert reflects a great deal of light back to our eyes, back into shadows.

Students in my workshops often comment to me that they see color afterwards that they didn’t see before the workshop. When we study our visual world and what we see in terms of color and paint it is like exercising a muscle: the more often you use it, the stronger it becomes. In the scheme of art history, it also makes sense that our use of color continues to become more and more sophisticated.

Color is a way we interpret our perceptions – truthfully, painting is another language, and not at all related to photography (which is itself another genuine art form). I think it is a language that almost everyone in the world understands, with its ability to bridge cultural barriers, because we all live in a color-filled, three-dimensional world, but most people are not very fluent in it (for many reasons).

In her fascinating book Color, Victoria Finlay remarks that the section of wavelengths that we can see, visible light, includes about ten million variations of color. So the more colors I have on my palette, the more variations I can mix, and the more subtle my vision can become. As well as being descriptive, I can also use those colors to provide an emotional element.

Finlay’s book is about the history and cultures surrounding actual paint pigments. The part I like most, though, is the idea that objects don’t have a static ‘color’ – they’re constantly changing throughout the different light of the day and over time. An orange carrot in the dark isn’t orange.

Molten Universe (View of the Salton Sea), 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Molten Universe (View of the Salton Sea), 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

As Finlay writes: “The best way I’ve found of understanding this is to think not so much of something ‘being’ a color but of it ‘doing’ a color. The atoms in a ripe tomato are busy shivering – or dancing or singing; the metaphors can be as joyful as the colors they describe – in such a way that when white light falls on them they absorb most of the blue and yellow light and they reject the red – meaning paradoxically that the ‘red’ tomato is actually one that contains every wavelength except red. A week before, those atoms would have been doing a slightly different dance – absorbing the red light and rejecting the rest, to give the appearance of a green tomato instead.”

I’ve been compiling some thoughts as a way for me to better understand color myself, because it’s so multi-faceted. Cezanne was spot-on with his observation that “Painting from nature is not copying the object, it is realizing one’s sensations.” Here are a few notes:

  • Painting involves all the senses, not just sight. Sound plays a big role: One of my favorite parts of painting in the desert is crunching through the sand to my location. Also, when painting at night where our visual perceptions are reduced, audio increases and even small noises are very noticeable, like a lizard scooting by.
  • There is no such thing as “local color.”
  • Society today is so heavily bombarded by photography, film and other mechanical forms of art that we accept it as unbiased truth and don’t look any further or deeper (an individual camera lens doesn’t ‘see’ the same way our eyes do, in stereo, and a photograph can be incredibly biased. Painting in many forms has become a sub-category of photography, aimed at technical prowess, not in its own realm.
  • ‘Color’ is a man-made invention, as is the concept of value. These terms are helpful to us in understanding what we’re seeing, but it becomes very hard to get away from names (i.e., a tree is brown and green, the sky is blue, rocks are gray) – what color is a ‘green’ tree in moonlight?
  • Artists rely too heavily on science to ‘explain’ what they’re seeing instead of developing an eye for color. Art shouldn’t need an explanation. It’s interesting to know, but the scientific reason for why mountains appear bluer as they recede into the distance isn’t necessary to artists. The relationships between the colors however is very important – because, in other words, artists shouldn’t be painting a solely objective scientific vision of the world but should include their own subjective vision with all of the variables that entails.
  • Have confidence in your opinion.
  • We don’t have many historically-based examples of artists using rich color because stronger pigments weren’t available until fairly recently, so artists like Rembrandt had to rely much more on value. Aside from the recent history of Impressionism, when stronger color is used it tends to move away from perceived light in the natural world towards Expressionism or Fauvism, where color is ‘liberated’ from its role (i.e. when AndréDerain paints a bridge, he might paint it bright Cadmium Yellow.) If Rembrandt were alive today, I’m pretty sure he would take advantage of as many contemporary colors as he could, but his earthy palette was a result of the time he lived in.
  • When someone looks at a painting with color, they tend to single out one spot of color – especially if they can name it, say a blue shadow – and look for that individual color in the landscape. Color doesn’t exist in a vacuum like that – that spot of blue is very purposefully placed next to whatever colors surround it, just like in the landscape.

Merrell Looks at Color in his Own Paintings

A couple of these paintings are very dependent on color contrasts – The Heat Lingers at Dusk was done after sunset.

The Heat Lingers at Dusk, 12" x 18", © Eric Merrell

The Heat Lingers at Dusk, 12" x 18", © Eric Merrell

The rocky hill is silhouetted strongly against the sky in terms of value, but the greens of the Joshua Trees were visible in front of that and help create more atmosphere. There is space and depth between the Joshua Trees nearest us and the further hill. We can see the color shifts, but we really can’t see any defining features of the spiky Joshua Trees. Also, the hill is still 3-dimensional, so I needed subtle color shifts to convey the idea that the hill recedes away from us as we look up towards its peaks, angling in space.

The Face in the Sand was a challenge – I could see SO many colors shifts in the shadow, but in the painting those colors have to exist in the shadow realm for it to work.

The Face in the Sand, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

The Face in the Sand, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

It’s counter-intuitive to think that yellow can be a shadow, and ‘dark,’ because we think of yellow as a light ‘warm’ color. All that matters are getting the relationships correct. I try to ask myself what the light is doing, and find some of the color solutions that way. If the yellows were to get too light in value, they would begin to read as part of the sunlit sand on the ground.

Snow Creek Canyon, 22" x 24", © Eric Merrell

Snow Creek Canyon, 22" x 24", © Eric Merrell

Snow Creek Canyon was done on a somewhat overcast morning, but this also needed to show a shift as we visually climb the mountain. The warmer salmony colors towards the base shift towards violets and greens as it gains elevation, shifting and turning away from us.

Shadow of Where a River Once Was, a nocturne, also relies heavily on color contrast. The first impact is value-based with the brightly lit boulders in the foreground alongside a dark shadow, but then our eyes wander up and back into the canyon.

Shadow of Where a River Once Was, 20" x 24", © Eric Merrell

Shadow of Where a River Once Was, 20" x 24", © Eric Merrell

It gets softer and softer, but our eyes can still perceive these little shifts, and value is unable to help us in that arena where it becomes incredibly soft. I’m trying to convey this softness by shifting and playing the colors off of each other while staying in the same value. The sky here is made up of bluish- and reddish-violets, violet-greens, and colors that go beyond naming, but are all relative to the other colors of the painting. Many people including artists think I’m a little nuts for painting in the dark, but if you stand in the moonlight for awhile, your eyes will adjust and you’ll see all sorts of things.

The other pieces have some value contrast in them, but I’ll often use those areas as anchors in a painting to explore other color contrasts. The central Joshua Tree in Echoes and Silence is grounded by its shadow, but I wanted to use that to get to the hill behind it, the bright orange-ochre with shifts towards red and violet, against the sky. It really looked like that, and could have been done without the tree, but that value contrast kept it from getting too abstract in this instance.

Echoes and Silence, 14" x 14", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Echoes and Silence, 14" x 14", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language. –Aldo Leopold

I like this quote by Aldo Leopold, which to me is encouraging us to dig deeper artistically. Sunsets, flowers, late afternoon sunlight are all beautiful subjects for painting, but there’s more. Artists have more tools today than artists working 50 or 100 years ago. I think we can go beyond what our artistic forefathers did, in terms of color, composition, and impact. We need to expand our color beyond the predictable and into those areas “as yet uncaptured by language.”

Eric Merrell is a Signature Artist Member of the California Art Club, and a historian for the club. For more on his work see:http://www.ericmerrell.com

Parched Air, 16" x 16", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Parched Air, 16" x 16", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Painting Nocturnes

I'll be teaching a workshop next weekend, Oct. 12-13, 2013, focusing on painting nocturnes. If you're interested in signing up for this unique experience, you can find more info here.

Moonwashed Desert, 21" x 24", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Moonwashed Desert, 21" x 24", Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

Ever since I began painting at night it's been a deep interest for me. It's not something that a lot of artists have attempted, and can be endlessly rewarding. Painting a moon rising over the horizon is great, but standing outdoors in the light of the full moon is magical, and it's not just black and white: the value range is reduced, but there is much more color than most would think. Try it sometime: just stand in the moonlight, and look at the color of say, the sidewalk versus the grass. Look at the trees and the sky. I'll bet you will start to see subtle differences that manifest themselves in color.

Nocturnes provide great situations to work with mood and quiet emotion, and the softness of shapes is infinitely fascinating: while individual shapes are distinguishable, it's hard to say where one thing stops and another begins. Therein lies the challenge of painting what you see, not what you know.

Painting at night is very similar to painting during the day as far as the approach to painting it and the materials required, with one crucial exception - a light. You need a source that provides enough balanced light to see what you're doing without being so bright that you can't see the landscape you're painting. I've come up with a solution that allows me to get very subtle color on location and is not a big surprise when I bring it indoors to a normally lighted room. Lighting and color will be discussed along with other issues one encounters at night in greater detail during the workshop.

Sign up here.

Master Workshops: Pasadena, Carmel and More

Why should an artist paint on location? How do I know what to paint? How do I create personal work that stands out?

I hope you'll join me for a few workshops that I'll be teaching this October in the Pasadena area, and we'll work on answering those questions. I'm especially looking forward to the Seeing at Night class, as we'll be focused on how to paint on location at night. I think this will be unique, as not many artists work on location to paint nocturnes - I'll show my approach that allows you to see REAL subtlety and color, not invented color.

The Water That Is Entirely Jewels 11" x 14", © Eric Merrell

The Water That Is Entirely Jewels 11" x 14", © Eric Merrell

LANDSCAPE PAINTING, October 4-6, 2013 (3 days)

SEEING AT NIGHT, October 12-13, 2013 (2 days)

I've also partnered with Carmel Visual Arts to do a 3-day workshop in Carmel:

PLEIN AIR ALONG THE SEA, November 9-11, 2013 (3 days) Register here

And if you've been following my California desert workshops, I've just scheduled the 3rd Annual workshops for both Anza-Borrego and Joshua Tree. There aren't many workshops taught in either place, and my experience painting on location in the desert will help to bring the classes to great locations and have a great experience.

3RD ANNUAL ANZA-BORREGO LANDSCAPE PAINTING WORKSHOP, March 14-16, 2014 (3 days)

3RD ANNUAL JOSHUA TREE LANDSCAPE PAINTING WORKSHOP, April 11-13, 2014 (3 days)

Painting Workshop in Joshua Tree

I held my second landscape painting workshop of the year in Joshua Tree during April, a beautiful time to be in the desert. Rain has been pretty sparse the last couple of years, so the annual wildflower bloom was pretty much nil in both the high and low deserts, but the cacti and Joshua Tree are pretty dependable for producing some showy flowers. I've been to the JT area numerous times, but there are always new places to explore and paint. Once you become familiar with different areas, you start to notice differences in elevation, plant life, and color.

We began the workshop at Hidden Valley. I chose a few different locations throughout the high-desert section of the park that would provide different landscapes to paint - open vistas full of Joshua trees, areas packed with huge monzogranite boulders, and mountaintop views of the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea. Even the color of the soil varies from place to place. After painting all morning, the class would take a 3-4 hour lunch break to relax, heading back to hotels or into town for a sandwich. Though we didn't encounter too much wind or heat, the intense light really tires out your eyes, so a siesta is crucial. When we returned in the afternoon after a good rest, everyone was ready to jump back into painting. I began each afternoon session with another demo, same as the morning, and we would paint until sunset. The town of Joshua Tree is not that far off the beaten track (much more established than the sleepy town of Borrego Springs), so we would gather in the evening to eat at one of the good restaurants in town, chat about art, check email, or do a little grocery shopping for a BBQ.

During Day 2 we painted in Lost Horse Valley in the morning and spent the afternoon at Quail Springs. I had initially planned for us to paint at Key's View, a spectacular lookout with views over the Coachella Valley including the San Andreas Fault, the Salton Sea, and San Jacinto, but after we arrived the wind nearly blew us off the precipice. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes before we retreated back down to lower elevations to paint.

Our timing was perfect for nocturnes - the full moon was due to rise just a few days after the workshop ended, so during the workshop weekend a bright moon would already be in the night sky by the time it was dark. I had arrived in the desert a few days before the start of the workshop so I was able to paint a few nocturnes, but after painting all day during the class we just never had enough energy. There was quite an interest in trying to paint the moonlight though, so I'm going to be planning a nocturne-only workshop in the near future. Bookmark this page on my website for upcoming workshop news.

After a very productive workshop and informal critique, we headed out for dinner at Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a must if you're going anywhere near Joshua Tree. They feature live music most nights and the food is awesome. The Santa Maria tri-tip BBQ is always hot, and the bowl of chili is amazing. A good evening to wrap up a solid couple of days painting in the Joshua Tree desert.

Painting Workshop in the Anza-Borrego Desert

I've just returned from a week of painting and teaching in California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This was the second 3-day workshop I've taught there, and was excited to return. I love this part of the desert, and this trip afforded me a little more time to explore and paint a few new locations. I also painted a few more nocturnes on location, something that has to be experienced. Even with less than a quarter moon, color temperatures and shapes are apparent, and there is also starlight to see by. NOTE: If you missed this trip, I'll be teaching another 3-day workshop in Joshua Tree next month, April 19-21, 2013.

Each day began with the importance of using your sketchbook - finding what your piece will be about, drawing thumbnail sketches and writing about them. I'm not interested in copying the landscape, but rather finding what it is that excites me about the location. I see painting as a way to dig a little deeper, to try a little harder.

I began with a demo in the morning and did another after lunch. I want everyone in the workshop to come away with a structure or process that they can use to interpret the landscape when they're working on their own. We talked about color, value, shapes, materials, umbrellas, and many other items of concern to artists working outdoors.

We started early each morning while it was still cool, painting until 1 pm or so, and then took a 2-hour lunch and siesta. After the rest, we'd get back out on location for the afternoon. For most folks who haven't painted on location before, one thing they don't realize is how physically and mentally demanding it is. This trip also sprouted a new tradition of starting the afternoon session with ice cream. At the end of a full day of painting, we'd gather for a good dinner at a local restaurant to relax and discuss painting.

I selected three different locations around the park that provided three different types of landscape, with a variety of underbrush, cacti, and change in elevation.

On the last day we created a little shade and held a critique to talk about the work everyone had produced. I'm always glad when I see such a sharp improvement over a short period of time, and there was a notable jump in seeing and painting color in each student's work over the three days. Though we were pretty tired when we departed at the end of the workshop, I think everyone seemed pleased with their efforts and had a sketchbook full of new ideas to put into practice in their own future work.

If you're interested in learning to see and paint color on location, I'll be teaching another 3-day workshop in Joshua Tree next month, April 19-21, 2013. Sign up here: http://ericmerrell.com/workshops.html

Eclectic L.A. - Four Perspectives

These paintings will be exhibited along with a few more of mine at American Legacy Fine Arts (ALFA) in Pasadena, CA, as part of the exhibit "Eclectic L.A. - Four Perspectives." One of the fascinating parts of Los Angeles is it's history, which it always seems to be trying to sweep under the rug as the city tries to reinvent itself daily or weekly with shinynewfacades and such. The truth is, L.A. has a great amount of history: colorful, storied, and widely varied to suit any interest, but Hollywood and it's parade of celebrities make all the noise and so receives all the attention. Swing by the Artists' Reception on November 10, 2012 from 4 – 6 P.M. and see another side of Los Angeles.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

In "Eclectic L.A." you'll also find work by these three fellers: Scott W. Prior, Tony Peters, and Alexander Orlov. The exhibition runs from November 10 - December 8, 2012.

Hollywood Reservoir, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Hollywood Reservoir, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Striking a Note: Sunset on the San Gabriel Mission Campanario , 12" x 12", © Eric Merrell

Striking a Note: Sunset on the San Gabriel Mission Campanario, 12" x 12", © Eric Merrell

CSU Summer Arts Workshop

July 11-15, 2011 - Representing the Figure: Drawing and Painting
I'll be one of four instructors this summer at CSU Fresno Summer Arts program presenting painting workshops along with F. Scott Hess, Yu Ji, and Samantha Minear.

Though the title focuses on the figure as a subject, we'll also be focusing on still life and landscape in my class. These workshops are open to anyone - you don't need to be enrolled in the CSU system to participate, and there are many opportunities for scholarships available.

For more info, click the image above for a larger version or click here.

Painting Workshops

I'm currently teaching ongoing Saturday morning workshops, usually in the San Gabriel Valley area (with some excursions to other areas nearby). You're welcome to join us from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Each four hour session is $100. Let me know when you can paint with us and I'll get you the location where we'll be that weekend.

As seen in my February 2011 eNewsletter. To make sure you receive the eNewsletter with the latest info, send me an email.

Color for Painters: A Guide to Traditions and Practice

A new book on color by Al Gury was just published by Watson-Guptill this last year. Al was one of my most influential teachers when I was studying back in Philadephia; he is currently the chair of the painting department at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts there. Titled "Color for Painters: A Guide to Traditions and Practice," this is a very thorough book that should prove helpful for students and those artists just beginning their voyage into color exploration as well as interesting and thought-provoking for many who have been painting for years. (Here is another book that Al wrote a few years ago, this one on alla prima painting.)

This book covers a great range of topics including the history of color usage in art, how artists organize and conceptualize their color, and a whole lot more. I wouldn't be surprised at all is this became a staple in art classrooms.

The California Art Club's 99th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition

Spaceship Landing, 30" x 30", Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

Out Over the Desert (Key's View), 10" x 10", Oil on board, © Eric Merrell

These two paintings from the Salton Sea and Joshua Tree National Park will be included in the upcoming 99th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition of the California Art Club at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, June 13 - July 3, 2010.  You'll be able to buy tickets to the June 12 Gala Reception (Sat., 6-9 p.m.) and preview the artwork online here when they become available.

Pasadena Museum of California Art 490 East Union Street Pasadena, CA 91101 626/568-3665

Christmas in the Air

Christmas in the Air (The Arroyo Seco), 14" x 14", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! Wishing you a peaceful holiday season with all the enjoyment it brings and none of the stress that tends to accompany. I'm looking forward to plenty of good things in the new year for everyone out there. I was able to get outdoors briefly last week to paint amidst all the bustle of the season, and found this great spot along the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena. You can see all the colorful trees in the distance - of course, no comparison to Maine! - but see, California does have seasons, also evidenced in the multitudinous vineyards up and down the state.

Since this time of year lends itself to reflection, I thought this would be a good time to quote one of my favorite prose poems by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008).

REFLECTIONS

On the surface of a swift-flowing stream the reflections of things far are always indistinct; even if the the water is clear and has no foam, reflections in the constant stream of ripples, the restless kaleidoscope of water, are still uncertain, vague, incomprehensible.

Only when the water has flowed down river after river and reaches a broad, calm estuary or comes to rest in some backwater or a small, still lake - only then can we see in its mirror-like smoothness every leaf of a tree on the bank, every wisp of a cloud and the deep blue expanse of the sky.

It is the same with our lives. If so far we have been unable to see clearly or to reflect the eternal lineaments of truth, is it not because we too are still moving towards some end - because we are still alive?

[Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Stories & Prose Poems, Translated by Michael Glenny, The Bodley Head, 1971, p.232]

Since I didn't have a photo of a partridge in a pear tree, I'm substituting a cat in a persimmon tree. Merry Christmas!

The New Year @ LAAFA

The winter semester at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, California starts next month, and the Landscape Painting Class will be in full swing again beginning Saturday, January 16th, 2010. The class runs for eight consecutive Saturdays, and class size is kept small so students will receive plenty of individual instruction. LAAFA is offering an Early Bird Special if you sign up before January 4, 2010.

In these classes you will learn how to paint what you see, not what you think you see. Learn how to interpret in terms of paint, using light and color to create form. Color relationships, design/composition, simplifying, and the benefits of painting on location will be discussed, as well as how to design and build a painting that carries an emotional impact. Make an investment in your art – gain confidence and knowledge that will inspire all areas of your creativity.

At the Edge (The San Gabriels), 16" x 16", Oil on panel, Private Collection, © Eric Merrell

As artists, we need to be able to interpret what we see and understand what we paint. Ample time is given to demos by the instructor as well as individual painting time. All experience levels are welcome. Limited space is available – call 818/708-9232 or visit www.laafa.org to register your space today!

For more information, please visit www.ericmerrell.com and click on Workshops.

Happy 100th Birthday CAC!

One Hundred Years! It's an amazing feat for any group, let alone an art club where the demands of the career as well as individual temperaments generally keep members working in isolation. Today marks the Centennial of the California Art Club. The founding of the club was first reported by Antony E. Anderson in the Los Angeles Times on December 12, 1909, one hundred years ago to the day. The early meetings took place along the banks of the Arroyo Seco in South Pasadena and throughout greater Los Angeles, and included artists like Franz Bischoff, Aaron Kilpatrick, and William and Julia Wendt. The CAC's predecessor, The Painters' Club of Los Angeles (1906-1909), had limited its members to male painters in the L.A. area. With the founding of the new club, the rules were widened to allow women, sculptors, and others living as far away as New York City to join. Throughout the CAC's storied history it has embraced time-honored techniques found in the grand traditions of painting and sculpture, molding them into contemporary relevance; at the same time it helped to present such progressive events as the first black American art exhibition in Los Angeles (1929) and the first G.I. Arts & Crafts exhibit (1946, also in L.A.), and maintained a venue to present exhibits of diverse themes and backgrounds.

Over the past century, the club has counted among its members Sir Winston Churchill, architect Richard Neutra, illustrator Dean Cornwell, artists Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Sergei Bongart, Nicolai Fechin and Theodore N. Lukits, as well as many distinguished guests and speakers: the Mexican muralists David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, conductor Leopold Stokowski, violinist Xavier Cugat, architects Frank Lloyd Wright and his son, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. (And of course, most of the well-known Southern California artists throughout the years, too numerous to mention in this post but listed online here).

In recognition of this milestone, I thought I'd link to my article on the Birth of the California Art Club, originally published this past spring. Here's to the next hundred years!

The California Art Club will be publishing a large coffee table art book (due out in early 2011) with Rizzoli Publishers to commemorate the Centennial, and will be full of paintings by historic and contemporary members of the CAC. Purchase your copy here.

The new logo above was designed for the Centennial by CAC Associate Artist Member Stan Prokopenko.

Big Sur

The Edge of the Sea_s The Edge of the Sea, Big Sur, 11" x 10", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

I recently sneaked away for a week of painting up in Big Sur, the absolutely amazing coastline between Monterey and San Luis Obispo. After a hasty packing and evening departure, I arrived in darkness and heavy fog just before midnight and set up my tent at the Kirk Creek Campground amidst a number of curious raccoons. I met artists Andrew Dickson and Joe Forkan at the campsite there, as they had arrived a few hours earlier and were already settled in. We painted up and down the coast, often just walking down to the water from the campground. I love the atmosphere there; it can go from a sunny afternoon to cloudy in minutes, with heavy fog banks rolling in off the coast. These are a few of the sketches from the trip.

Pacific_Valley_s

Windswept, 11" x 10", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Kirk_Creek_s

The Sun's Mirror (Big Sur from Kirk Creek), 11" x 10", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Upcoming Workshops and Paint-Outs

thewindowsglow_s The Windows Glow, 18" x 24", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

VAGlogo

On Sunday, October 25, I'll be painting with the Valley Artists Guild at Topanga Canyon State Park from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. The Valley Artists Guild was founded in 1948 by the sculptor Henry Van Wolf (1898–1982). If you're in the area please stop by and join us. Check out their October Newsletter.

LAAFA

The new Fall schedule begins soon at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art (LAAFA). If you've been wanting to sign up for the landscape class, this is your chance. It runs for 8 consecutive Saturdays beginning this weekend on October 3 from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Visit their website or call 818/708-9232. More class info here.

These classes will show you how to paint what you see, not what you think you see. Learn how to interpret nature in terms of paint, using light and color to create form. Become more proficient at mixing and painting color relationships, design/composition, simplifying, gain from painting on location, as well as creating a painting that has something to say. Make an investment in your art – gain confidence and knowledge that will inspire all areas of your creativity. All levels of experience are welcome.