UC Davis, Arboretum

drawingoneasel5Web Version

“Live Oak and Soft Rush Grass”

Today, I happily share with you my finished 9 x 12 graphite drawing. This drawing, “Live Oak and Soft Rush Grass” focuses on the historical beauty of the California Landscape.


Protect Your Fruit Trees From Sunburn During The WINTER!

Turns out it is very important to protect your fruit trees from sunburn during the winter! One reason is the trees have no leaves or very few to protect it’s trunk from the sun. Secondly, California’s foothills are approximately 1,500 feet in elevation making it that much closer to the sun’s rays.

This is the mixture I use on the trees at the Rita Alvarez Artist Retreat.

50/50 mixture of water and white latex paint. Super easy to do!


This is how most of my trees looked before I started. They still had some paint left from when I painted them last year. You can see another year without fresh paint and the trunk would most likely suffer at least some cracking allowing insects and disease to penetrate the trees outer defense system.

.  Before

This is after I painted the tree with the 50/50 water, latex paint mixture.


Here is an example of a fruit tree that has not been protected from the winter sun. The damage to the trees outer layer, it’s protective layer, makes it vulnerable to insects and disease. The best cure for disease is PREVENTION. So protect your trees and prevent or reduce the need for insecticides on your trees and eventually on your table!


I would also like to mention the above process protects a tree from sunburn but not from rodents or rabbits that could eat around the tree’s root ball also causing a lot of damage to your tree. Therefore, adding a tree guard could also be very useful in raising healthy trees.

Overall it was an exceptionally beautiful winter day hanging out in the orchard. The wildlife was busy, squawking, chirping, ravens zooming about in the sky… I’m so glad I didn’t miss it. What a day!

I hope this post provides information and inspiration to anyone in need. If you would like to know more on how you can help this and other projects at the artist retreat please go to Retreat tab above or contact the artist.  Thank you!

Hugelkultur: In the Sierra Nevada Foothills?

HugelkulturThis common sense and brilliant technique can save you money, and when practiced will improve your communities environmental health. Click on the Rita Alvarez Learning Center tab and go to the Garden section to learn more about this important water, tree and air quality saving tip!

Quail Study in Graphite

Quail Study in graphite on toned paper, 9 x 12 by Rita Alvarez , after photograph by Kim Cabrera
Quail Study in graphite on toned paper, 9 x 12 by Rita Alvarez , after photograph by Kim Cabrera

This is my first study of a quail. I learned a lot already and can’t wait until drawing these gorgeous little birds becomes second nature. They will embellish my future paintings of the Sierra Foothills along with poppies and granite rock outcroppings. I love the California landscape!

More work on evening painting

This view from one of my favorite sitting spots faces west where the sun disappears every evening. Since each sunset is a little different, at this point I am picking and choosing which subtle differences I want to keep and which to change. These choices are based on the overall tone I wish to communicate.

Plain air painting in the Sierra Foothills by Rita Alvarez
Plain air painting in the Sierra Foothills by Rita Alvarez