Sergio Lopez - North SF Bay Area Fine Artist

Upcoming Shows and Events

•Open Studio: November 7-8, 2015 3840 Finley Ave. Building 32. Santa Rosa, CA. 95407

•Mt. Tam Plein Air Plus: November 11-15, 2015. Mill Valley, CA.

•Smash Gallery: November 21st, 2015. Group Show. San Francisco, CA.

•Abend Gallery: December 4th, 2015. Miniatures Show. Denver, CO.

•Hashimoto Contemporary: January 9th, 2016. Supersonic Invitational Show. San Francisco, CA.

•Modern Eden Gallery: September 17th, 2016. Beautiful Bizzare Invitational Show. San Francisco, CA.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Lucid Color: Finding My Way Through A New Series

This is a new series for me called "Lucid Color," which deal with figures as the inspiration to anchor the explorations of color and design to. I am excited about the directions that this series can go and I am already thinking of ways to go with it, but for now I am going to offer up these as evidence of where I am with it at the moment.

I don't always do miniature studies before I dive into finished paintings, but since this is a new series I want to give myself the chance to experiment with different approaches before I decide on the best method to paint the final images for this series. I also like having the opportunity to create collectible versions of studies that I would normally work out in my sketchbooks.

"Red Is The Night" 4.5x12 oil on linen mounted on board. Link To The Gallery Show.

"Ocean of Blue And Lace" 5x10 oil on linen mounted on board. Link To The Gallery Show.

"It Could Turn To Ashes" 8x5 oil on linen mounted on board. Link To The Gallery Show.

"Madness For Red" 8x5 oil on linen mounted on board. Link To The Gallery Show

These two 6x6 inch paintings I did my best to render as completely as I can for the show. I learned from doing them at this size that it's impossible to create the surface/mark-making effects that I want to use in this series. I want to take them in a different direction and feel than the Painted Roses series, they are too similar in feel right now than what I want to do.

"Organized Commotion" 6x6 in. oil on linen mounted on board. Link To The Gallery Show.

"Silk Night" 6x6 oil on linen mounted on board. Link To The Gallery Show.

You will have an opportunity to view these in person if you are in Southern California and Denver. 

If you are in the Denver area, you can go to Abend Gallery to see the first 4 paintings in person. It's at 2260 E Colfax Avenue if you are not yet familiar. They will be part of the 25th Annual Miniatures Show. It's going to be a who's who of artists from around the country. I wish I could be there but if you can, you need to go! About 700 paintings, many of them will be top notch. More information by clicking HERE. (

In Costa Mesa, California, I will have the two square paintings at Randy Higbee's 6 Inch Squared show. Artist Gala Opening Reception, Saturday, December 5th, 6:00 to 9:00 pm. The Randy Higbee Gallery is located at 102 Kalmus Dr. Costa Mesa, California 92626. You can view the paintings from the other artists by clicking on THIS LINK.

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Plein Air Plus! A Show In Marin

Before I forget! I'm heading to Marin Thursday to paint around the Mount Tamalpais area. Look at the lineup! Make sure to drop by Saturday if you are in the area. Here is the info provided by the event staff:

A Celebration of Outdoor Painting

Come join us on Friday, November 13 for a special art Preview Party benefiting One Tam at the Ralston White Retreat—an extraordinary location right on the mountain in Mill Valley. This unique, little-known historic mansion is situated on 43 pristine acres on Mt. Tamalpais. The 14,000-square-foot Willis Polk-designed home was built in 1915 by Ralston White, the president of the Tamalpais Land and Water Company, as a wedding gift for his bride. The grounds include a heart-shaped lawn, orchards, wooded trails, meadows, and a natural creek-fed swimming pool.
The event will feature live jazz, cocktails, light dinner, and lively conversation with friends and some of the leading Plein Air artists in Northern California. There will also be a sale of select pieces completed by these artists.
On Saturday, November 14, come to the Sweetwater for the public art sale of selected works by these celebrated Plein Air artists.
Keith Wicks

NOV. 13

Preview Party with Artists 
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

NOV. 14

Public Show And Sale >
10 a.m.-3 p.m.




Ralston White Retreat
2 El Capitan Ave in Mill Valley
Purchase Tickets $250.00



Sweetwater Music Hall
19 Corte Madera Avenue in Mill Valley
Free Admission

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

Monday, November 02, 2015

How I Gained 10,000 Fans On Instagram

This was originally posted at Lori Putnam's blog. If you found me through her website, welcome! If you are not familiar with her yet, go check out her blog, she had 30 guest artists write for her last month. There are some gems!

I love Instagram. I personally use it all the time for business and pleasure. It ranks right up there with Facebook as my favorite social network. I think every artist who is on Facebook should be on Instagram as well.

Why Is Instagram Important?

First of all, let’s talk about what Instagram is. I’m surprised at how many people still don’t know what it is, or how to use it. In the beginning, people considered it only to be where you post pictures of your coffee cup that look like you shot it with an expired polaroid. Well, much like how people now use Twitter for much more than just saying what they had for breakfast, artists all over the world are using it to promote and sell their art, including myself.
Instagram is just an app where you take any picture from your phone and upload it to your account. Other people can follow your account, and your photos show up in their “feed,” just like Facebook. The main difference with Instagram as opposed to Facebook is that you can ONLY post photos. Another big difference is that the feed is completely chronological, instead of Facebook’s feed which prioritizes what you see with an algorithm. That algorithm may or may not show your post to those who follow you. Instagram, however, will always show your picture as long as that person is following your feed, and happens to be browsing Instagram within a few hours of when you posted it. This is the main advantage over Facebook. Plus as artists, seeing a feed full of pretty pictures is its own pleasure!

What Did I Do To Get So Many Followers?

A lot of things that I used and continue to use to gain followers I learned from observing other people with big followings, or reading/listening to Instagram experts and are completely legitimate. This is all white-hat stuff. No paying or begging for followers, no spam, no manipulation. Just some smart tips that you can use today to get more eyeballs on your art.

#1. Create Your Account

If you haven’t yet done so, start today. You know the deal, download it on your phone, fire it up, and set up your account. Takes almost no time. My account, @mainloop, can be found by following this link: You can edit your profile, which is where you can do some extra self-promotion. You can link to your website (or your email list signup as I did) to try and get some extra traffic to where you want.

#2. Post Your First Picture

Don’t just create your account then leave it be to get around to it later. Get in the habit of posting to it immediately! I recommend starting with a good photo of a finished painting. Even if you don’t have a picture of something on your phone, it shouldn’t be hard to download from your website or wherever else you have pictures of your paintings online. If you have a picture of something that you have on your computer/tablet that you want to post online without posting it anywhere else yet(as I often do), I have Dropbox installed on all my computer devices so I can throw a file into it and just wait until it’s in the cloud and can download it to my phone from there.
One thing you should know before posting pictures
Using Square Instapic (Android)
Instagram limits the format of pictures you post to a square. I think it’s to keep a uniform look to everyone’s feed. It usually makes for a cleaner look for a feed, but it limits us as painters since we don’t all paint square paintings all the time. There is an easy workaround that takes an app. Download Squaready(Apple) or Square Instapic(Android) from the app store(both are free). What this does is put white space around the picture you load into it to make it fit the square format. You can even change the color from white if you want. Export it and it will be in your phone where you can load it like any photo you took with your camera.

#3. Tag Your Photo

Tagging your photo is the way you can get people outside of your followers to see your pictures. This is where the magic happens. They are commonly called “hashtags.” They are always the # symbol followed by any alphanumeric characters, words, phrases etc. For example, #pleinair is one I use all the time. What do they do? In Instagram you can search photos by hashtags. If you go into the search function in the app (magnifying glass button at the bottom of the screen) and search “pleinair” there are about 70,000 pictures there. Theoretically you can be found that way if someone is looking for new plein air paintings. There are two sections, “top posts” or “most recent.” This is a pretty popular hashtag, so it’s a bit of a crapshoot, so I recommend you use different types of hashtags. I will give you examples.

Descriptive Hashtag:

These are the most obvious ones to use. These are the tags like #painting, #oilpainting, #figurative, #pleinair, #blue, #trees, #clouds, #nature, etc. You can brainstorm some good ones for yourself.

Unique Hashtag:

Use this as a unique identifier as your art. For example, the name of the series of the piece of art you are posting, or your name, or website etc. Basically something you don’t expect a lot of other people to use. You can make it whatever you want, but the point is to have a tag that is identifiable as your own, so they can find you if your tag is searched.


This is a tag that is the opposite of a unique tag. Using the most popular tags will get you in front of new eyes. This is the key to gaining many new followers quickly and consistently. But how do you find these?
Open an account on iconosquare. This is a cool site with many functions which will show you analytical data for your profile as well as popular tags used by other members. In Iconosquare, go to There are a lot of other cool stats on this page but let’s look at tag impact for now.
On the right side, it will say “Top Tags On Instagram”. Create a new note on your phone where you can easily access it. Call it “instagram tags” or something. Go through and copy/paste about 15-20 of your favorite “Top Tags” to the note page and add hashtags to the beginning of them. I like some of the less specific ones like the ones that start with insta—. Save this note. Now, next time you post a piece of art, copy some of these hashtags from the note and paste them into the caption of the picture you are about to post. I don’t always use them, but I find that using popular “art” tags gain me lots of likes, comments, and new followers.

A screenshot of the memo pad I keep on my phone.


Using location to your advantage can be very effective in finding both local followers and new followers if you travel and Instagram on the go. Tagging your photo with your location takes a few steps.
1. Make sure location services is turned on and you have enough data signal to be able to upload a photo to your account.
2. Search for your location in the area. Sometimes it will show up, other times you will have to write it in yourself.
3. When you post your photo, it will be able to be seen by people who search for photos in that area. This is great for getting new people to look at your paintings that might not have found it otherwise. For example, plein air painting in Carmel? Tag it with your location! Who knows who might see it.
Searching for posts in Carmel. Maybe your painting can show up?

#4. Let other people know you posted

The @ symbol is your main form of communication on Instagram aside from direct comments on other people’s pictures. It’s an effective way to tag other Instagrammers. For example, in the caption of a photo I just posted, aside from hashtags, I will use it if one of the models I used for a painting is on Instagram and I want to tag them in it. In comments, I will use it to communicate with the Instagrammer I tag. Tagging a user will make the picture/comment show up in their notifications. There are accounts on Instagram that are solely art aggregators, many with over 100k followers. Being reposted by one of them will instantly boost your follower count just because of the volume of IG’ers they send your way. I’ve gained close to 500 followers in 24 hours before because of one of these. In order to gain their attention tag them every so often in your posts. BE VERY SELECTIVE WITH THIS. Don’t be a pest. Make sure the photo is relevant to their account. If it’s not then you’re just being spammy. My friend @mjlindo has over 40,000 followers. One of her ways was by doing portraits of very famous models, then tagging them in her posts. Very often these models will repost the portraits to their accounts, exposing her to thousands of potential new followers.

#5. Share your Instagram photos to other social networks.

Use the Share button to post from Instagram into other social networks of yours. You can post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. This is good for getting people who are already fans of your work into your Instagram network. There are other ways to share more specifically, such as to your Facebook Business Page, but I will save it for a follow-up post because it’s very technical and this is already a lot to digest.
In order for this to become a habit, you really have to enjoy the part of Instagram that is “work.” Fortunately, this stuff is way less complicated than the amount of words it took to write this post. It will become second nature after a while. There are other things I do, but I will save them for a follow-up. If you found this post from somewhere besides my blog, follow me here:
My website:
My blog:
RSS Feed(paste into your favorite reader):

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Starting a Figure Painting In The Studio (Video) + More Open Studio Info

I've got this sort of love-hate thing going with shooting video. I'd do it more often if it were a little easier to set up, if I had more to document didn't take so long to render, and it didn't take so long to upload. But I like watching videos of artists who I like in order to learn how they paint, hopefully stealing a little bit to use in my own process.

This about an hour and a half compressed into about 8 minutes. You can see that I mostly used a small bristle brush to put the paint on the canvas, but I will also smudge with a gloved finger. This a first try with shooting my process with the 70D. Next time I will shoot in a higher resolution, and I will upload a longer video.

One more reminder about my upcoming open studio. This is the press release for the event. I think it's a pretty interesting story. Check out the map below if you are interested in coming out. I'm in building 32, room 215.

36 artists in one location in beautiful west Sonoma County. Built in 1943, the naval barracks and neighboring structures were part of the historic Naval Auxiliary Santa Rosa Air Station, an outlying airfield for the Alameda Air Station. The original site included 498 acres with two 7,000 foot concrete runways. Twenty-one squadrons were trained at the base to fight in WWII, but the war ended soon after the facility was built. Home to unmarried reserve officers, the base became a source of renewed activity during the Korean War but was decommissioned afterward. Local radio station KSRO was housed near the runways on Finley Ave., and had to replace or repair its radio tower more than once, due to naval aircraft clipping the tower. The runways were reopened in 1966 as a civilian airport called the Santa Rosa Air Ctr. Two movies have been filmed at the air station: Die Hard 2 in 1990 and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot in 1992. The last flights in and out of the Santa Rosa Air Ctr. were in 1991. Some of the old runways are still visible, but others have been demolished to make room for housing and business development. Today, the old barracks have been renovated by proprietor, Greg Brown (Bldg. 32) who has operated the Studios for 30 years, and more recently, Julian Billotte (Bldg. 33). The Studios give local (North Bay) artists a cooperative venue for their creativity.

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Proud Birds: Of a Different Feather

I have been having fun with the new reference that I have shot for the Proud Birds series. There are a lot of paintings on my drying racks right now including others in this series. For now here are the paintings I have finished. I borrowed my friend Pat Mathew's stuffed pheasant. I made a study of it.

"Study of a Pheasant" 12x15 in. oil on linen mounted on board. (Available at Christopher Queen Gallery)

That study helped inform me about the other paintings in terms of lighting and color.
"Feather's Fate" 16x12 in. oil on linen mounted on board.

"Of Down And Onyx" 10x10 in. oil on linen mounted on cradled panel.

These will both be showing at Smash Gallery's upcoming show opening on October 17! This group show will feature seven immensely talented artists, and will run through November 14. Featuring work by Jason Avery, Delfin Finley, Chris Hopkins, Mara Light, Zin Lim, myself, and Daniel Segrove. I promise it will be a really good show to be missed! Here is the info for the Facebook invite:

And if you're anti-Zuckerberg here is the necessary info.

Smash Gallery
Saturday, October 17 at 6:00pm - 10:00pm
210 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, California 94102

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Open Studio November 7-8

Hey guys! My first open studio is coming next month. I am planning on having all sorts of art to browse. Charcoal sketches, plein air sketches, fnished studio paintings, and whatever else I am working on at the time. I also want to have some swag to give away or at least sell for cheap! 

Studio Santa Rosa
3840 Finley Ave, Bldg. 32. Santa Rosa CA 95407 (google will get you close, follow the signs to get here)
Room #215

I'll try and have some wine.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

2015 Pacific Northwest Plein Air

Folks, I had a fun time last week in Oregon. It was my fourth time participating in the Pacific Northwest Plein Air event in Hood River but it was my traveling partner Carole Gray-Weihman's first time. We caravanned up together and spent a couple of days making the trek. On our way there, we joined Brenda Boylan, who took us out to Kat Sowa's farm on Sauvie Island. Sauvie Island is one of my favorite places to paint, and I knew it'd be up Carole's alley as well, so I was glad to have the chance. Za Vue and Don Bishop also joined us.
We had a great time painting and laughing together, and even had a nice little barbecue at the end of the day. Such a good way to start the event.
This was the first painting I did on Sauvie Island. It was a fun little study of the trees that are so indicative of the landscape on the island. It's less pines and more cottonwoods, ash, etc. I did another one but it didn't come out at all. It's hard to do anything well when you're tired from driving so much.

We kicked off the event with the obligatory orientation, but the nice thing about them is that you get to see and chat with all the people you know who are also participating in the show. We met up with Thomas Kitts and Scott Gelatly who took us out to Parkdale to scope around for our first painting of the area. We found a spot just outside of town that had a great view of Mount Hood, but the lighting situation was less than ideal. It made for a lot of  "blah" paintings. I ended up close to wiping mine away, but I wasn't sure if I'd need to keep it for the show.

After lunching and then driving around a while, we scoped out a few places. "The Hook" had a lot of good views and windsurfers, but it also had a lot of wind. So then we went outside of town to a place on the river known as "Powerdale." It's an area that I had always been curious about painting around. Though most of them stayed around the parking spot, I chose to look around and find a spot that was more to my liking. I walked way down the rocky shore and set up on a spot near a river bend. I like this painting but I think I can really flesh it out into something nice, so I decided to take it home instead.
Don't know why this picture looks so low-res on here, but click on it to see a better version of it.

The next day was my return to Sakura Ridge on the west side of Hood River. I've painted this vista before, about 3 years ago, so I knew I'd like to paint there again. It's one of my favorite views of the valley.
This was 11x14, and is on display at the Columbia Center For The Arts this month.

After that painting, I went across the river to White Salmon, which also has a lot of great views of the river. I set up next to some train tracks right along the river to do this one. I was interrupted a couple of times with some trains going in front of me but it was cool.
I ended up winning an honorable mention for this painting. It is also on display at the Columbia Center For The Arts this month.

We woke up early a couple of mornings to catch the sunrise at the Rowena Crest near where we were staying. I did two "ok" studies of the sunrise, but I also painted this one over two mornings. I had to work fast to capture this effect.
This was 9x12, and is on display at the Columbia Center For The Arts this month.
Here is Carole painting the one that I believe she won the "Best Sky" award for.

This is one of the few areas I explored which were brand new for me. Thomas and Carole told me about how they had gone up the Klickitat River a little bit to find this view. Carole did an awesome painting of the river from a different view, and I hiked a little to find an opposite view of what Thomas and Carole painted.
This is 8x6 inches, and is on display at the Columbia Center For The Arts this month.

We turned our work this day. We both felt sooo exhausted by the end of that day for some reason. I ended up sleeping almost twelve hours! Our duties weren't over yet. We scoped around for the quick draw. I don't know how effective that is, really. Only thing it helped with was finding a subject I could fall back on if I didn't love the lighting situation during the quick draw event. Jason Sacran made some great points about the value (or lack of) of scoping out quick draw locations on the latest AHA podcast. You should look it up, it's a really good interview.
Here is one of the many scenic views of the town.

This is my quick draw. Excuse the lack of a better photo.
This is 6x8 inches, and is on display at the Columbia Center For The Arts this month.
Here is Carole next to some of our paintings, including her sweet piece of the Klickitat River.

Now with almost all of our responsibilities over with, we got to play tourist a little on Friday. I had gone out to the Maryhill Museum my first year I came out here, but Carole had never been out there. After a beautiful drive down the gorge, we made it to the museum which had a handful of solid paintings, including this one:
There are a bunch of awesome Rodin sculptures in the basement. We also had a fun time learning about Sam Hill, the founder of the museum and the main reason there was a road along the gorge in the first place.
Here is a fantastic view of the gorge from the museum ground.

We had time to taste some wine at Cathedral Ridge where our new friend Laurel Bushman treated us. It was now time for the opening reception of the event, where we learned who won the awards.

Here I am geting congratulated for my award.
It was all over! Was glad to be free of obligation, but it was gonna be sad not to see all of our Oregon friends until next year (probably). After our goodbye dinner we prepared to make our trip down the Oregon Coast.

Carole's in-law has a nice little place on the Oregon Coast that we were able to spend the day at. She has access to what is basically a private beach. The conditions are so varied here, making for a very fascinating day of just staring off of the deck for most of the day. This is the view:
The conditions really did change rapidly. I did these quick 20-minute studies in a row during the evening. The fog rolled in quickly, then started retreating almost as quickly.

We were then treated to this sunset.

This was our last day in Oregon, so other than a quick tour of Carole's awesome little cabin outside of Willits, it was time to go home and get some much needed rest.

Overall we had a great time. The Columbia Gorge is one of my favorite places to travel to. Carole really enjoyed her time there and since we have a lot of mutual painter friends up there, it felt like a mini-reunion going up there. Sales are never great up there unfortunately, but it's a lot of fun to paint up there so I put it in the category of a "working vacation" trip. I have some good reference for future paintings.

The paintings for the show are currently

Here are links to some of the painters referenced in this post:
Carole Gray-Weihman
Brenda Boylan
Za Vue
Thomas Kitts

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Studio Landscape Oil Paintings: Moving To Bigger

I have been moving to working on larger paintings in the studio over the last few months. There are a few reasons for this. The Christopher Queen Gallery where I sell the majority of my landscapes requested that I don't bring in so many small works. It makes sense. As long as the paintings are good, she is able to sell them quickly. Paintings at this size make me more money, money I need to keep the business going. I love the studio but it's a good chunk of money that I have to spend every month on it. The artistic merits of working larger are not to be missed, either. I'm getting quicker at doing these larger pieces, but they do take more time regardless. I am learning different techniques that I started to learn in the field but am able to finesse in the studio. Having all this time to work on these paintings makes me really think about what I'm doing instead of letting so many happy accidents happen with that limited amount of time to work from life in one shot.

"Discovered Beach" Salt Point State Park, Sonoma County California. 28x30 inches.

I worked this one up from a study from life that I made a couple of years ago. Go to my Instagram feed to see some work-in-progress shots.

"Morning At Tejon Ranch" 28x30 inches.

This painting I worked up from some photos that I took at Tejon Ranch. It's a relatively exclusive view on account of it being a private ranch. There was painting of a tree that I did during Kern County Plein Air that served as reference for the tree and some of the haziest mountains in the back.

"Sunset Grove" Santa Rosa, California. 16x24 inches.

This painting was done from a mixture of life and studio photographs. Working completely from life has its disadvantages, it's a little harder to spend time on the drawing because time is of the essence out there. If you're trying to draw with color, you have to make sure it's the right color as you put it down. You can see some shots of this one in progress on my IG feed as well.

"Cacophony of Greens" Point Lobos State Reserve, Monterey County California. 16x24 inches.

This one was also started as a study from life during a plein air event. I took the study and sized it up(different format). It was a tough subject not only with the complication of the forest grove, but the relatively flat light that I worked on this with. I cheated a little bit with some faint sunlight on some of the trunks. I learned a lot while painting this one. I think the trees on the left have some of my best edge work to this date.

All of these paintings (minus the Tejon Ranch painting) are on display at Christopher Queen Gallery in Duncans Mills, California.

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