Color Flickers and Vibrates

“Invocation with Nature” by Rita Alvarez

Intimacy with Nature exhibit is on display now at Luna’s Cafe. From June 26th thru September 2nd, 2017 nine selected paintings, featuring California’s Central Valley foothill and mountain regions will adorn the quaint cafe in downtown Sacramento.

This show marks my return to art and life. What a journey this process has been! For a year and a half  I was ill and the healing process has been long. Today I am so grateful to my restored good health and more determined than ever to give 110% to living a healthy, happy and artful life. I won’t go into my new healthy and balanced artist lifestyle here, but I promise to write on it later. For now I really want to focus on the exhilarating and inspiring feeling of painting again.

All of a sudden I see everyday surroundings full of movement and atmosphere, and my eyes become super sensitive to color. Colors flicker and vibrate, vying for my attention. The present moment becomes the most heavenly place ever. The trees swaying in the wind saying “look at me, look at me I’m singing”. The water sparkling, dancing. The rocks say, “do I have a story to tell you”! I begin to wonder, why do I get to see and experience all this glory? Those awesome experiences always leave me wanting people to see what I have seen. The action itself, of trying to paint what I feel, cannot be shared; but I always hope, as the viewer traces my brushstroke across the canvas, they will somehow share my experiences and see things as I have.

I invite you to please come help me celebrate this new body of artwork inspired by the unique and artful California Foothills!

~ Rita Alvarez, Artist

Intimacy with Nature exhibit, at Luna’s Cafe

June 26th – September 2nd 2017

1414 16th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Save the date! Artist Reception: July 15th, 4 – 7 pm

Plein Air Painting

This video was the result of a short but fun painting trip to Winters California. The 12 x16 oil on canvas titled “Putah Creek” was created over several days. Each morning as I approach my painting sight I was always surprised by the symphony   of bird songs. By the last day even a family of river otters came out to play! It was a special joy to create this painting knowing half of the proceeds go to the Putah Creek Council for public education and creek maintenance! Utilizing my art to promote the stewardship of mother earth gives me so much joy and inspires me to paint more. If you’d like to be part of this art and environmental movement and have an original painting created for you, email me at 

Working on Values

The fall season in California is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy a little bit of nature while working on your art.

As much as I wanted to take the paints out and smear some color on a fresh new canvas, I decided to be a good artist and study “values” today. What do I mean by values you say? While describing art, “value” is how you describe the light and dark qualities. Mastering the values is one of the most important skills you need as an artist. Not only for painters but sculptors as well. It’s as just important as the form!

Some of the things value can do, is give a 3-D effect. It illustrates the presence of atmosphere and like other composition factors, can guide the viewers eye around your artwork, landing right where you want it. So if you want to bump up the level of your work, study those values and I’m sure you will be pleased.

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Looking back at today’s exercise I wish I had used a simpler composition for studying the values, it would have narrowed down my focus. By the time I had all the forms drawn in, the sun had moved so much it left me little time to refine the values. Next time I’ll make sure not to have more that three objects, in my composition, and work on perfecting that.

On the right is a tool commonly used which makes you look at everything in one color. This forces your brain to focus on the values to differentiate one object from another. Notice the 9 squares around the red film, each with it’s own value. It’s a way you can assign each value in the composition a number. So when looking throught the “Value viewfinder” if a tree is a number 5 in the landscape, the tree in your drawing needs to be a number 5 also! Easy peasy.. right? Ha ha

In any case it all worked out, and I learned a lot, even though I didn’t get it perfect. The important thing here, is begin seeing and learning what values your really looking at and not be fooled by the variety of color, texture and detail. My drawing was off here and there, by just one step (one number). Soon you’ll be on your way to identifying the value scale at a glance!

If you’d like to learn more please follow me and leave a comment. If you have any questions please leave it in the comments and I will answer.

Good luck, have fun and work hard!


Review Is Always Good

A little study, a little review. Today I copied and learned from a drawing by William Walker. He created this in 1880! I wanted to sharpen my drafting skills so I choose this art piece to learn from. As I went over the different areas of rocks, leaves, branches and even a small creek in the background I could feel how he handled each area slightly different. It was a pleasure to imitate his beautiful marks. Whew!

Which Putah Creek Composition?

This morning I had the pleasure of searching for a new composition to paint along Putah Creek in Winters, California. Originally, the area was the territory of the Patwin people, a large complex society mostly wiped out by disease upon contact with the first explorers, and later by settlers, discrimination and oppression. It was a sad time in American history to say the least.  As I walk the banks I can only imagine the paradise it must have been. I’ve been told the wetlands was as wide as 5 miles across in some areas!

Today the tightly controlled stream in Northern California is 85-miles long, and you could easily throw a rock across it, at most any point. It’s headwaters are in the Mayacamas Mountains, a part of the Coastal Range, continues thru a couple of lakes, diversions and dams eventually fading somewhere along the Yolo County bypass.

So why am I painting this area..  because of the restoration efforts along the banks by the Putah Creek Council based in Winters. As I strolled along a well beaten path, I noticed native plants being added, like cottonwoods, mug wort, wild grape, oaks, willows, wild rose, redbud, bunch grasses and more. (I also noticed some really bad invasive plants that are not native to the area, but we’ll leave that for another day).

Native flora is very important to this landscape for so many reasons. The reasons that are obvious is their adaptation to California’s hot dry climate and then there are a few reasons, not so obvious.  Some plants depend on California’s fire season, for seed germination, a natural adaptation.  Another not so obvious reason that could surprise you, is the fact, that local wildlife, has evolved over thousands of years eating certain foods. They utilize certain plants for building nests and constructing homes. And when those plants are not available, what may appear to be a healthy environment to you and I, could be a complete desert to local wildlife!

Here’s where I would like your help. Below are two images I find exciting. The left image illustrates some gorgeous bunch grasses in the foreground, and the image on the right, of course, has the sparkly water. Also, I would be standing in the creek while painting the scene on the right, and that is pretty fun.

Please let me know in the comments below which you would prefer to see in tomorrow’s plein air painting?

Left or right? There is no wrong answer, so feel free pick which ever calls to you the most.


“Bioswale and Live Oak”



“Bioswale with Live Oak”, 9 x 12 oil on panel by Rita Alvarez

Here is my newest, hot off the easel painting. I created this painting on site, over several visits, and refined it later in my studio.

I selected this scene because of it’s unique beauty and ecological importance. It’s a Bioswale, and according to the University of California’s Arboretum in Davis, it  provides some of the same benefits as natural wetlands. It creates habitat for wildlife, recharges ground water, filters pollutants and reduces runoff. It was pure joy standing in the middle of such a unique environment while painting..  I will certainly be back.

Happy Mothers Day !!

This video was taken from my backyard in the California Sierra Nevada foothills. This is a place that brings me so much joy and inspiration. Hopefully it will also inspire you to visit the outdoors today. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mama’s in the world.

Morning in the California Foothills

Here is a bit of mother nature’s beauty and blessings from the Central California Foothills. It’s part of what inspires me and drives me to paint with all of my heart and mind. If you listen you’ll hear Quails having a morning conversation, the Acorn Woodpecker and more. The colors that lay across the landscape describing it’s curves and depth, whisper to my spirit. As some artist sing or write about what they feel, and what’s important to them, I paint what’s important to me. It is my idea that by sharing paintings of the beauty in nature it will help us reconnect and want to protect what we have. I hope you enjoy this video and let a little bit of nature in your life today.

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Thank you