Sergio Lopez - North SF Bay Area Fine Artist

Upcoming Shows and Events

•Spoke Art: April 7, 2016. "The 5th Annual Moleskine Show." San Francisco, CA.

•Bakersfield Museum of Art: April 9th, 2016. "Kern County Plein Air." Bakersfield, CA.

•Christopher Queen Gallery: May 1st, 2016. "The Golden Hour." Duncans Mills, CA.

•Abend Gallery: May 13th, 2016. "Contemporary Figuration." Denver, CO.

•Paso Arts Fest: May 26th, 2016. "Signature Exhibition." Paso Robles, CA.

•Los Gatos: June 18th, 2016. "Los Gatos Plein Air." Los Gatos, CA.

Sonoma Plein Air: September 10th, 2016 "Sonoma Plein Air." Sonoma, CA.

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

•Christopher Queen Gallery: October 2nd, 2016. "A Splendid Journey: 40th Anniversary Show." Duncans Mills, CA.

Friday, September 30, 2011

California Art Club: Limamtour Retreat + Sneak Peek

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Califonia Art Club North Bay Chapter's annual Limantour Retreat in the heart of Pt. Reyes. It was a good time. I wasn't crazy about the hostel-sleeping situation but otherwise it was a good time. If you love fog you can't go wrong in Point Reyes. It was pretty gray the entire time, but the companionship was really nice. I met some interesting painters and caught up with friends.

One thing I think is really tough to paint but never seem to practice enough are waves. Especially from life.  This is the first time I've actually set up to specifically paint a wave. I've put the seashore in a lot of plein air paintings, but this is basically a "portrait" of a wave. Waves are tough because you basically are painting from life and memory at the same time. Meaning, you have to choose a specific point in the cycle of a wave, wait for it, paint as much as you can, memorize what you can of it, then wait for it again. It was fun to see so much color inside of the wave on even a gray day like this.

This was my second painting. The fog was starting to come in fast at this point. I'm not as happy with this painting because I dont think I established enough of an interesting focal point.  I should have also added more variety in texture and paint thickness.

The last painting I did was along the side of the road back to the hostel. There are these great rows of cypress trees. It was getting close to evening and we caught a beautiful subdued pinkish light along the horizon. I enjoyed painting the silhouettes of the trees of the quiet cloudy backdrop. This one was one that I touched up slightly in the studio. I threw some glazes on top of it and made the light sliver a bit lighter.

 I wish I had another day to paint there but it started to rain on Sunday. I knew that a few people stayed to tough it out through the rain, but I had enough of the gray.

I am working on a new figurative painting series. I don't have any of them finished but I at least have them started pretty far along. I'll just give you these to look at for now. In the next couple of weeks I hope to have some of these done to show. I will be anticipating your feedback!

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Figure Drawing: Switching Surfaces

I've been using rough newsprint for the last few months. It's ok for certain techniques, but it has qualities that make it not the most ideal surface for drawing. I finally finished the pad and am now on to 1 of 3 of my Canson Biggie sketch pads.  I like them, but they have a completely different feel compared to newsprint. There are techniques which you can and can't do with either paper. I shouldn't say "can't" but it's a lot harder to use some tools on one surface compared to the other.

I do this every so often where I switch from newsprint to sketch paper and vice versa. It's always a period of adjustment for the next few sessions. I tend to use a lot of different tools for the sketch paper, whereas I tend to have a set method for newsprint. With yesterday's drawing night, each session I used something different or approached it a different way.

For these 5 minute sketches I used Derwent Onyx graphite pencils. Pencils kind of get me to be more precise and rely on accuracy of drawing to make it pleasing.

This ten-minute drawing used a Conte pencil. Conte pencil feels great on anything.

This 20-minute drawing was all graphite as well. It's not very efficient to use a pencil to try and do a tonal drawing, but I can't help to use some hatching for shading.

This one was a mix of Derwent Drawing Pencils and Conte Pencil. This one was fun to do because I was able to get my idea across, which was to suggest the values using edges and not having to rely on filling in everything.

This one was a mix of vine charcoal, graphite and Derwent pencil. I rarely if ever use vine charcoal so heavily on newsprint. The sketch paper grips it much better, which lets you do more with it. If I tried to use vine charcoal and blending stump like this on newsprint, it would become a mess. 

My last drawing of the night was this 15-minute study in graphite. I enjoyed drawing this one because of her pose and the lighting across her ribs.

I plan for next time to explore more tonal approaches. Maybe some compressed charcoal? We'll see.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oil Painting - Sugarloaf State Park - The Lost Vista

Hello everyone,

I am happy to share my latest painting. This landscape is of Sugarloaf State Park. It's one of my favorite hikes, and unfortunately because of state budget cuts, it will most likely be closed soon. I found it to be especially important to give the area some honor by recording it for posterity. I also pushed myself to do a painting that is more along the lines of the painters of the past. I am a big fan of Hudson River School Painters, but I never received such type of training, thus here is my best approximation mixed with what I've learned from so much plein air paintings. I would like to pursue this vein of painting more, but it is quite the labor of love to paint in such manner. I have learned a lot from doing this painting.

"The Lost Vista" 24x34" Oil on Canvas Mounted on Board.

I started off with doing small plein air paintings of what I sort of thought I might like to do. I did a few of these.

I also did some studies of various elements in the scene.

After having a better idea of what I might want to do, I went back to do another plein air study of the area. This is starting to get closer to what I want the picture to be.

After doing the plein air studies, I gathered all of my references, collected inspiration of paintings that were closest to what I wanted my paintings to be, and had everything in order, I did this preliminary study. As you can see, it's pretty close to what I ended up with as a finished painting. From here I went on to do the finished painting.

This painting will be available to see in person at the Christopher Queen Gallery in Duncans Mills, California. It is for the 35th Anniversary show.

I put up a video that has a preview of the show in catalog format.

I have a bunch of catalogs to give away. I'm sending out some to my mailing list next time I go to the post office.  If you would like one, follow this link and enter your info, and I'll send one out at no cost to you.

If you'd like to help spread the word, here is a link to the Facebook invite page. 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2011 Awards


I am pleased to announce that I won an award this year for my painting of The Clock Tower building in The Dalles, Oregon. You can check out the other paintings that won awards as well. My new friend and "roommate" for the time William Hook won Second Place for his skillfully drawn paintings as well. Check them out at the link below:

The plein air season is still well upon us. I am planning on participating in many local plein air events in the northern California area. Here are some you may want to check out yourself if you are close by.

The Great Petaluma Paintout - Sep. 18th
Limantour Retreat (hosted by the California Art Club - exclusive to members) - Sep. 25th
California Watercolor Club Paintout at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross, CA. - Oct. 1st.
1st Annual Calistoga Paintout - Oct. 9th
Valona Paintout - Crockett, CA. - Oct. 15th-22nd.
Paint Allied Arts in Menlo Park, CA. - Nov. 5th.

If you Google any of these, all of their info should show up.

I also have a few new exciting shows coming up next month.

The Christopher Queen Gallery's 35th Anniversary show opens the 5th of October. I will be unveiling 3 new major landscape pieces. One of which is the painting of Sierra Buttes. I am really excited to be part of such a pivotal show for this gallery. It's a great honor.

I will be showing a few of my remaning pieces from the Painted Roses show at the Katie Gingrass Gallery in Milwaukee, WI. I will post more info once the show is more near, but here is their website if you want to follow them:


In order to comfortably finance all of these paint-outs, I am urging you to check out my Zatista store and pick up an original drawing if you can. If you buy something, I'll throw in an extra drawing or two for no extra cost, as a thank you (and to give myself some room in my already-too-small studio, heh). I know I don't have international shipping listed in my store, but if you contact me, I'll work something out with you. Just let me know where you want me to ship it to, and I'll calculate the rest of it.


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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2011 - My Return to the Columbia Gorge

I am back in California after spending a week in the Great Northwest of the U S of A. I went up to Hood River, Oregon last year to participate in the Pacific Northwest Plein Air event. I had so much fun last year that I decided to return again. I went to a few places that I went to last time to paint, but I also went to a few new areas I had not yet painted at.

Getting my obligatory painting of Mt. Hood out of the way, this was my first painting I did of the year. This was done in the morning. Like 7:30 am. This is a really popular area called Panorama Point, which overlooks much of the Hood River basin and its many wineries. This was a warm-up 6x8 quickie that took about 35 minutes.

After the orientation, I went down the highway to go down to Lost Lake, which is a very scenic river. Think mini-Tahoe, only with an iconic view of the mountain. I did two 9x12"s here to spend the day in the forest. A perfect day if you ask me.

Day 2:  One of the "official" locations we painted at was Stevenson, Washington. It was a decent spot, but it  felt too "easy." I'm not a big fan of popular tourist locations, because everything is laid out for you and every attempt to deviate from it feels forced. I still liked this painting because I feel like I got the impression of clouds breaking pretty successfully.

I skipped over the river to the Oneonta Gorge. It makes a very dramatic light/dark shape especially when photographed in black and white. To get to the waterfall after a 1-mile hike though, you have to climb this huge treacherous logjam. I consider myself somewhat adventurous, but I value my safety over such things. If I wasnt lugging a heavy backpack with valuable painting gear, I would chance it. Instead I stood in the creek and painted the ravine. I'm not sure if the sense of scale totally translates, but I didn't want to try faking some people for scale, and I didn't have my camera to shoot reference. Still, it's one of my favorite paintings of the week.

I finished the day at Eagle Creek. It's too narrow of a trail to paint from the trail itself, but I veered off into the creek to find this scene. The reflection of the evening light in the water turns it an orange-gold. Very dramatic. Absolutely lovely.

Day 3:  I started out at the Mosier Plateau to find this view. Compositionally I like it but overall I feel it's lacking in an interesting focal point.

Ok. This one was a complete struggle the entire time. It was out-of-hand compositionally from the start, plus the values and colors were all wrong. After a while I decided to radically change my approach and mix gray into all of my colors. It sort of helped, but overall I wasn't too happy with it. I did like the trees on the left and some of the reflections in the foreground.

After the heat of the midday subsided I went out towards the Dalles and crossed the bridge to Horsethief Lake, one of my favorite places from last year. I like this painting as a study, but overall it's slightly simplistic. I am going to hold on to this one to do a larger more involved painting in the future. It's quite a fascinating place that deserves proper homage....

Day 4:  The next day started off at the Gorge Crest Vineyards in Underwood, Washington. I wasn't too jazzed about painting the area. First of all, it has a lot of vineyards. I HATE painting vineyards, they are monotonous and a pain to paint. Also, the area is too "postcard", if you get what I mean. Sort of the same problem that Stevenson had. There was a cool bunch of trees cropping out from the hill that caught my attention. So I did a super-zoom into the view and composed it in a sort of typically-photographic way. I made it work.

I went down the road and found this view which was much more my style. This is a view of the town of Hood River. I changed the composition a bit to give a bit of "swing" into it to make sure you're kept in the picture. This is actually the unfinished version of the painting. I touched it up before bringing it to the gallery.

......and I finished it up with a bang! This one is by far my most impressive one of the week. I went back out to The Dalles, which has a great historic downtown with lots of cool architecture. One of the most iconic buildings is the home of Clock Tower Ales. I spent about 2.5 hours on this one. I made sure the perspective was working in the drawing before laying down the color. Had I known this one was gonna work, I would have took some progress shots. I actually did less under-drawing than you may expect. I did the usual jump into blocking in everything as quick as I could. Most of the drawing occurred after the block-in. I purposely kept it somewhat loose and sketchy because I knew if I tried to get tight, any mistake would be hugely apparent. I'm racing against time in everything I do outdoors, so in order to get everything to an acceptable degree of finish, sacrifices need to be made.

If you are in the area and want to see the paintings in person, the Columbia Arts Council in Hood River is hosting the show.

Gallery Show & Opening Reception

September 2 - 25
"The gallery show opens on September 2 at the Columbia Art Gallery in Hood River and extends through September 25. Artworks created during the five-day Paint-Out will be available for purchase and selections of the writers’ works will be on display.  
Opening reception on First Friday, September 2nd from 6 - 8pm. All are invited!
  • Meet the artists and writers who participated in the event
  • See art from the Plein Air for Children painting event on display in the studio."

Columbia Center
for the Arts

215 Cascade Street
PO Box 1543
Hood River, OR 97031

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