The Plein Air Season Kickoff: Winters Plein Air 2012

This year I am participating in a number of new events for me. The first one is the Winters Plein Festival in Winters, California.

“Winters is a city in Yolo County, California. The population was 6,624 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is near Lake Berryessa. It is noted as the one-time residence of cartoonist R. Crumb and former baseball player Frank Demaree. Located at 38°31?30?N 121°58?15?W,[2] Winters is a small city located 11 miles (18 km) from Vacaville. Winters is nearly 30 miles (50 km) from Sacramento and about 60 miles (100 km) from San Francisco, California. Winters post office was established in 1875.[4] Winters incorporated in 1898.[4] The name is in honor of Theodore Winters, who provided half of the town’s land.[4]“

It was a good time. Shaunie Briggs, the coordinator, was extremely generous, and very eager to promote the event. I would say she has some of the most hustle I’ve seen out of a plein air event organizer that I’ve seen firsthand, and that a lot of other events would do much better if they had her spirit.

*note: I will update these pictures with better photos as soon as I am able to.

PREGAME:
This painting was actually done before the event kickoff. I went right after checking out the Edgar Payne show. I dare any landscape painter not to wanna paint like him after seeing 80 of his paintings! I went to the river in West Sacramento to catch the sunset.
DAY 1:
I checked in to get my paintings stamped, then went out toward the creek. This is actually my second time trying to paint this scene. This one is more successful, but it’s a seriously tough scene to paint.
I explored the area and went to Lake Solano, which isn’t really a lake to me, it’s more like the wide part of a river. The river is really still here, which makes it seem more like a lake though. I liked this painting more as I was doing it, but there are a lot of design issues that wish I worked out more.
This one I set up on the sidewalk and painted as part of the “Downtown At Dusk” event. It was an interesting way to make us all visible to the general public. A lot of people seemed to already know about the event which was cool, but it was cool because that almost never happens with these small events. Another one that I liked a lot more as I was doing it. It’s hard to pull off these paintings with big dark areas, and you have to be really careful with ivory black. They always dry more matte than you want them to.
DAY 2:
I went out to Putah Creek to find some great views along the Blue Ridge Trail. It’s basically a 3.5 mile hike up the side of this big hill that goes up about 2000 feet. Super-exhausting but so worth it.
I took a short video at the top of the hill that shows you what the views I painted look like in real life.

There are a couple of white blotches at the top right corner of the painting that represent Sacramento.
Lake Berryessa looks really interesting from above. Lake Berryessa has an interesting history, even without the Zodiac Killer doin’ stuff there. An entire town was evacuated and demolished just so they could create this reservoir. I would recommend just for kicks to read about it.

DAY 3:

For this day I went all over the place to paint. This was about 15 miles north of Winters. I’m not really sure what drew me to this scene other than trying to find a different view of the range. The red roofs of the barns stood out amongst the blues and greens.

Return to Putah Creek! This view felt like some place I would normally have to drive 2 hours into the mountains to find, much like Alpine Lake in Marin County. I really tried to channel Payne in this one especially in the tree shapes.

This one is a really quick study, done in 1 hour. I feel like every alla prima painting is a quick study. It’s really a toss-up if they are going to come out great or not. The only thing you can do is paint as well as you can and hope for the best.
This painting was done between 7 and 8 PM. The light was changing rapidly, and by the time I finished, the long shadows were long gone, and the cows had changed their position many times. I painted what I knew would change quickly and came back in to refine those initial marks afterwards.

DAY 4:
After turning my paintings in, I went out to work on my Quick Draw painting. Even though I rarely spend more than 2 hours on a single plein air painting, there’s something about having the time limit spelled out for you that puts extra pressure on it. This view was found behind the alleyway of Main Street. I always find it easier to paint these more intimate scenes because they feel like still-lifes less than landscapes, but I like the challenge of painting vistas.
Opening night! Here is a video of the show coming together with a walkthrough of the entire show!

I found the way my work stood among the other paintings was a bit eye-opening for me. I felt as though they were a bit too subtle in terms of overall impact. There were a lot of people who told me they liked the paintings, but I didn’t see a whole lot of people turning their heads or stopping to look at them for that long. That important piece of feedback tells me to turn up the drama and flash for next time. I can work in a variety of different styles in methods, and I find that certain approaches are best suited for learning and exploring, and other ones are better for grabbing attention. If I plan on standing out in Carmel next week, I might want to lean more on the flashier side.
DAY 5:

There was a little festival at the park that featured wine, music, and of course art. A few of us painted Beth Winfield, who is a friend and fellow plein air painter herself. Doing these live demos always seems to get more people interested in what we do. I think it’s easier to identify with the skill involved in painting portraits as opposed to landscapes, so it’s a good introduction into what we do as plein air painters.

Wanna check the paintings out in person? Briggs and Co. is at 314 Railroad Avenue in Winters, California. The show will be up until May 31st. Support the events that make the paintings happen!





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About Sergio Lopez

North Bay Area based Fine Artist Sergio Lopez. Oil paintings, gouache paintings, plein air paintings, and charcoal drawings. http://www.themainloop.com

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  1. shawn says:

    Stunningly beautiful paintings! I love the atmosphere and light you captured.

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