Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Trip Through The Archives

  Janelle writing here...

  Many of you have followed Johnny's career for decades, watching as his style has morphed through the years. Back in the early days Johnny was known for his small landscapes, capturing both the local coastal scenes as well as the beauty of the oak covered hills, and especially his take on trees.
  We recently got the wonderful news that he will be featured in a "Monterey Now" show at the  Monterey Museum of Art opening in February 2013. With this in mind, I have been going back through the archives, taking time to see what we have on file, photo wise. 
  I believe the show will feature much more recent works, some not even created yet, but it just got me thinking about all his vintage paintings out there. We both wish we had taken more photos of his earlier plein air paintings, but at least we have some. 
  While culling through for this post, I am amazed at the amount of pieces that have found homes all over the world.  I love seeing some of these older paintings, and thought it would be fun to pick out a few and try to show how Johnny has changed his work over time. 
  We would also love for you to take the time (about 12 minutes...) to watch this great video of Johnny , when you have a moment or 12. It was produced locally as part of The 100 Story Project. The project features artists, historians, poets, etc. from our local area, telling their stories. Johnny tells his story much better than I can, and I really enjoyed seeing it.
What I am doing here is sort of my take on the progression I have been so fortunate to watch....I've seen all sides of the "Artist's Life", up times and down times. It's a great adventure, and I am happy to be a part of it.

  These paintings below are some of my favorites, and I have tried to group them together in a way that makes sense, at least to me. Like I've mentioned, I just wish we had decent photos of more of the older pieces. Anyway....

  Johnny has a great way with trees. So many of our collectors have loved his trees over the years....
I want to show how Johnny's tree paintings have evolved from the more traditional to those with a contemporary feel:

Classic. I'm thinking Elkhorn Slough, 12X9 inch size..

I love the cypress tree paintings. A little looser here.

A nice small painting, showing Johnny's color play.
He gets looser here, too.

Looser still...

Quite loose and now the tree is isolated. High drama, in my opinion.

Very moody and drippy...

Here he has jumped to a very large format, 60X60, maybe, and he is getting
very drippy, with layers of paint. This will become his style for some time.

Juicy, simplified and lots of color.

  There are lots of Johnny's "tree" paintings out there. You are very lucky to have one, if you do!

  The triptych, below, is now in the permanent collection of The Monterey Museum of Art. It's a big size, 36X108 if I remember. Though hard to make out here, there are some nice drips, nice over laying of paint, and I love the unusual color of the sky. It is a great transitional piece, as it has a traditional feel, but with the drips and hyper-color, it also seems contemporary to me. 
  Johnny loves to paint these oak studded hills...Carmel Valley, Old Coast Road, Corral di Tierra..Even near Cambria and up in Sonoma. This is a view out Carmel Valley.

  Below is the same idea, a grove of Eucalyptus trees in this case, but with everything blurred, and a nice low horizon line. To me, it's like he has taken the hills and trees and just pushed them to the edge of recognition. Color and shape.

  Some of my very favorite of the older "hills and trees" paintings are the few below. They have a common thread, which is the lone tree...very much a story being told. There is the feeling of isolation, vulnerability and loneliness, which adds a poignancy I love. 
  Again, these are my thoughts on the paintings. I bet it's all about composition and color to Johnny!

I really wish we still had this one at home.

This is a small, super sweet painting...just lovely.

An absolute gem. See how loose and simple? It's very difficult to pull this off.

Same idea, updated. This is a very large painting, with lots of layers and drips. Very nice play of color.
Promised to the Crocker Museum by a collector.

Simplified to the limit. But not simple! We have this one still, and I love it.
A nod to Gottardo Piazzoni, the "Grandfather of California Painting".

  I've included this photo of Johnny from several years ago because it captures a time when he would go out painting as often as he could. This is just how he would look, either along the coast or out in the hills...

Wonderful photo of Johnny by Peter McArthur. It looks like
Sobrantes Point....

  With the photo above in mind, The paintings below are coastal scenes, some painted long ago, and again, showing the development and change in style over the years.

This is one of Johnny's favorites, done at Point Lobos way back when...

Another early Point Lobos scene.

I just adore this one. Looking south towards Rocky Creek Bridge.
It's much looser and juicier.

Then he gets all jiggy. Color, looseness and lots of paint. Love it.

  So, keeping the above coastal paintings in mind, it's not so hard to see how he gets to here:

  Then we see the total simplification of it in these next two paintings, both large scale, both me, anyway...

I happen to know that this beauty really is one of Johnny's favorites. The sea is there, the foggy feeling, but it is so streamlined...the paint wiped across the canvas just works so well.

Another super-simplified seascape, but with silver paint for a lovely, reflective quality in the sky.

 This last painting was done very recently. It is very much what Johnny has been doing lately. He still captures the idea of the Monterey Bay, with a subtle sweep of a curve, and the colors are all about the sandy dunes, with the native dune plants in fall color. That's what I see, anyway...
  I hope you can see it. I try to explain to clients where Johnny has come from in his paintings over time. Sometimes I think I should just let them see what they want to see. Other times, the client really wants to know what the painting is about. Either way seems to be fine, and I can't talk about the work like Johnny can, anyway. I'm always learning something new, so I just enjoy sharing...

"Monterey Dunes" 48X60   SOLD

Friday, September 21, 2012

In The Studio

  It's been some time since there has been a new post here... 

  Back on the home front, things are moving right along. The show of all the paintings Johnny did in Umbria has gone very well, thanks to all of our wonderful, supportive collectors. Now, it's back to work in the studio. 

  I've watched Johnny go through this routine many times, and am now used to it. He will spend several days, sometimes a week or two just "gestating"- reading books or magazines on art, watching Youtube videos of various art lectures, visiting the local museums. Then he cleans the studio. He will put everything in order, just the way he likes it. He will clean all the paint surfaces, and put down new protective paper here and there. He likes to change it up, move his things around to new places, and just get juiced up to paint.

The music corner.... along with the working clothes.

Favorite things, arranged just so.

  I like to see the studio before and after the big clean out. I will see things in corners that have either not been there before, or have gone un-noticed in the mayhem. This studio is a smaller one than some in the past, but it works, and has an outdoor painting area as well. Plus, here he has a garden, which gets fantastic warm sun in the morning. Perfect for that second cup-o-joe, while sitting for a moment.
  I'll visit, sometimes, just to see what's new, and maybe bring along something to eat or drink.
  But really, I like all the colors going on inside the studio...

One of the rooms in the studio, with just a fraction of his library here.

Tools of this trade.
   I used to roll my eyes every time Johnny would buy yet another wooden box at some antique store or garage sale. Now I see that each one has found its home, and is doing its job quite fine, thank you very much. I don't say a word anymore when I see a wooden crate or box in the back of the car...
  Boys love boxes.

Every little thing has a place.

  I don't spend much time at the studio, it really is Johnny's domain. But I'll stop by when he has new work to show me. So this week, on one visit, I could tell it was clean up time, new work time. The palette surfaces were clean, all the tubes of paint were layer out in rows of particular colors, and there were big canvases on the easels. Spic and span, so to speak.
  I just had to go back with the camera.

Boxes and cans living a new life in the studio.

Like a still life, only painty-er.

  Johnny has an amazing book collection back at home, but there is always a rotating library at his studio. He will spend hours reading and re-reading his various books. And when we have a sale, that's his self appointed reward. A new book, or three. I love this. Well, a book and a special bottle of wine, most times. 
  Always learning more and more, Johnny never tires of seeing what is new in the Art world...

Just a tiny portion of the library back at home...

  While I sit here, at the gallery....I know what he is up to most days.
  I can see him sitting with coffee in hand, and a book in his lap, staring at a new painting while thinking how it could be better.
  Or wondering if he should just scrape it down and start over.
  Or sitting with a nice glass of wine, satisfied with a job very well done, congratulating he should. When it's good, it is so good.
  I imagine these scenarios have gone on in studios all over the globe, through out time. The battles being fought....

Canvases just waiting for their day.

Early stages.

  The work. The frustration. The letdowns. The dark days.
  Then those moments of bliss, when it all comes perfectly together on one canvas. When the artist knows it's all worth it, no matter the stress, anxiety, and pressure....

  This is what makes the studio something like a sacred space, I suppose. Where artists can allow themselves to dream those dreams, while the music plays and the paint happens. The hours going by in a dream state.
  Where an artist can just be.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Painting On Site In Umbria

  I think it must be every artist's dream to be able to have the opportunity to paint in Italy. I find the light and landscape so inspiring around our favorite areas in Umbria. 
  Having the time to explore the region, to look for different possibilities for small paintings, is half the fun. Some days the weather doesn't cooperate, but I can still find a few hours in the day to set up my easel and give it a try. I have painted in all sorts of weather, but I must admit, a nice day in Umbria is hard to beat, especially in early Spring.
  When I paint in town, or any populated area, I try to find some place to set up that is tucked away, out of the frey. I would rather not have people watch, or come by to ask questions. They always do, and that's fine, but mostly I try to hide away in a corner. For me, painting is private experience.

Painting the piazza in Panicale, off the main drag, sort of.
The artist trying to blend in.

  It's fun to be painting in a town that's hundreds of years old, especially since I love art history. Panicale is known for the early Renaissance painter, Perugino, who was the teacher of young Raphael.        Masolino da Panicale, possibly the first artist to create oil paintings,(?) was also from Panicale.
  Humbly, I feel I am standing on the shoulders of Giants.

Painting in my Italian apron in Piazza Umberto 1
Panicale, Umbria.

  Here's my view of the piazza. I wanted to try to capture the gentle feel of a moment in the piazza. To the left, the shop that sells tabbaco, newspapers, bus tickets and day to day needs of the locals. At the bottom , near the main gate into town, is Bar Gallo, our cafe/bar and home away from home. 
  I remember the day started sunny, and then became overcast. We were picking up a friend at the train station later in the afternoon, so I set up early.

The local scene.

  Janelle caught me painting on her way for groceries, so here is a video from that morning:

  Below are more images of me working throughout the area. Doing some of the work that an artist has to do. Believe it or not, I am actually working at my trade, doing what I love to do, passion.
  People may think that it's easy to paint a good painting, something an art lover may want to spend their hard earned money on, but I have a serious commitment to what I do, whether I'm working in California or Italy, or wherever. 
  History is what binds serious artists together. It is a loving embrace of all the artists, the art and the history that has come before me. I consider it a real privilege.

Working in the shade in La Mura, near Panicale.

I loved painting the small gouaches, above, and below...

  Back at the house in Panicale (below), I am going over the group of gouaches I've done, and preparing paper for more. Here, I am adding a colored pencil line around each piece in this series. 
  I would often work at home at this big table while Janelle was fixing lunch or dinner. It was part of my temporary studio. Also, it gave me a chance to see the works as a whole.

  I also enjoyed taking beautiful hikes in the area to find a spot to paint. The shots below are taken from way above town, about a twenty minute walk. In the distance is Panicale, with Lago Trasimeno  off beyond the hills. What a sky. What a day. What a lucky life.

A bench with a view. Painting at the old cemetary above town.

Easy to soak in the beauty.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Painting in San Casciano dei Bagni

  It's always a pleasure and a joy to have the opportunity to watch Johnny paint while we are in Italy. He takes it seriously, and considers it his job. Me, well I just try to capture what I can without being a bother to him. I like to take the little videos and photos. I have my own blog Live Pronto, which gives me a fabulous creative outlet.
  I bugged him to start this blog, and he has been enjoying it, and enjoying seeing all the "hits" it has been getting. Many from Italy, actually, as well as here in the states. Today, I've decided to write a post on his site. Johnny is busy these days, back in the studio after getting so inspired on our trip. But, hey, I still have photos and videos to share.

  While staying in Umbria, we took a day trip into nearby Tuscany to visit San Casciano dei Bagni, a town we had heard about. My folks stayed there a few years ago, and it sounded beautiful. It was so close, too. We stopped along the way a couple of times, enjoying the countryside. 
  The town itself is small and perfect, like so many of the hill towns in this area seem to be.

San Casciano dei Bagni, from just outside the walls.

Near one of the main entrances into town. Beautiful Spring color.

Banksia Rose in full glory.

  I keep being asked "Janelle, what do you do while Johnny is painting?"
  For the most part, I take walks around the area, enjoying the loveliness...or I find a market and grab a little treat to bring back to Johnny to share. I often bring a book to just sit and read.
  But I really like going out on my own and taking pictures.

I love these light fixtures.

San Casciano has several steep streets. Good for walking off
the wonderful baked goods I found.

    So, before taking off on my little walk-about, I took time to get some shots of Johnny setting up to do one of his gouache paintings. We had found this great little spot away from everything, but with a bench and a view. Perfect!

Getting it together to paint.

Adding color to the palette.

   Before taking off, I shot a short video. The weather was overcast that day, and even sprinkled a little.

  After a visit to the really good bakery, the fruit and veg market and a fantastic little clothing store, I wandered back to see where Johnny was in his painting.

Still working.

A nice view over the hills.

Not done yet.

  Glad he hadn't finished, because I wanted to get another video shot. I'm not certain he enjoys this, but he is always patient with me while I shoot these little videos.

Adding the last touches. 

  I really thought this one turned out nice, and it's fun to have it documented, too. I will pop in here through the next several months, adding more to Johnny's blog. I'm sure he will, too. 
  We'll let everyone know when we are ready to have this year's show of the Italian paintings. Look for it later this summer, I think. We are working on another little book to have of the show, and taking time to get things framed, etc. All worth the wait! 

The inspiration, and the final painting, below.

  I love this series of gouache paintings he has done this year, and we can't wait to see them framed and on the walls here at the gallery. Stay tuned.....