Color Flickers and Vibrates

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“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

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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.

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“Bioswale and Live Oak”

 

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“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.

UC Davis, Arboretum

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“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.

 

The Figure in the Landscape, UCD Arboretum

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Today I practiced sketching the figure in the landscape at the UC Davis Arboretum in Davis CA, in hopes of finding inspiration and a good composition.

The Arboretum was in spectacular form this warm February day. People, shrubs, trees, grasses, texture and color at an almost overwhelming rate! After a few warm-up sketches I began to see and understand what the sun’s rays had to show me. My hands were warmed up and my graphite pencil moved quickly over my page to capture the gesture of the forms in front of me.  You can still see the lines underneath my “sketch”. Unless I making a “drawing” I leave the gesture lines alone. I feel they add life and motion.

I’d like to thank my wonderful models that allowed me to study the relationship of the figure in the landscape. UCD students Josie & Lizzie, History and Environmental Science majors respectively, your awesome!

Drawing the Bobcat

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This is a study in graphite of a gorgeous creature that lives here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. The Bobcat, Lynx rufus never ceases to amaze me when it pops out of a bush or strolls across my front yard. I love so many of it’s physical attributes like it’s tufted ears and bob tail as well as it’s hunting adaptability and just plain coolness.

While looking at the Bobcat I realized how intelligently designed it’s fur is, from the speckled pattern that breaks up it’s outline, to longer hairs under it’s belly, and behind it’s legs to wick away moisture. I also noticed thicker hairs on different parts of the body for temperature control. The entire shoulder, arm and paw including the hind haunches are built for the pounce and subduing it’s prey. These may seem like observations that a biologist would make but this is also how an artist sees and thinks when making art.

Here is how I started my drawing. I went from a quick gesture drawing to a precise line drawing that accurately described the form before I allowed myself to even begin rendering the hair and the easily identifiable characteristics. I also check and correct the outline drawing using Unit and Angle measuring techniques until the form can no longer be corrected. “The longer you stay in this stage the more convincing your drawing will be.” This is a first and important step in all of my studies. I hope this has added a little art to your life, helped inspire you to look at and appreciate nature and love the bobcat!

I plan to share more drawing tips in future posts.

This drawing was made from the photography by: DeBold, Don. Calero Creek Bobcat. Digital image. https://www.flickr.com/people/28156071@N00. Don DeBold, 1 Dec. 2007. Web. 20 Dec. 2015.

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