Sergio Lopez - North SF Bay Area Fine Artist

Upcoming Shows and Events

-May: "California Light" - Landscapes. Christopher Queen Gallery, Duncans Mills, CA.
May 21-June 29: Paso Robles Art Festival
•June 18-21: Paint San Clemente, Southern California.
-June 29-July 5th: Telluride Plein Air.
-September 2014: Sergio Lopez/Mia Bergeron - Robert Lange Studios, Charleston, SC.
-October 2014: "The Traveling Painters," 3-Person Show - Christopher Queen Gallery, Duncans Mills, CA.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Holiday Cheer!

Due to the response I have gotten from the weekend sale, I am permanently lowering prices on all of my available drawings. I would like to sell them to make room for new drawings in 2012. Check them out. Happy shopping!
https://www.zatista.com/store/index/The-Main-Loop


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Figure Drawing - Going Tonal

This week I used only vine charcoal with hints of 4B General charcoal pencil and compressed charcoal to add some darks.

These were 3-minute sketches each. I basically strove to capture the silhouettes in the first minute or so, then used the rest of the time to work on refining that silhouette.


These next drawings were 5 minutes each. The further down you go, the more of the original strokes you can see. You can see how loose I start with these drawings.



This next drawing was 10-minutes long. I get the overall proportions and light/dark patterns down by this time. If I'm doing well, that is.


All of the following drawings are 20-minutes each.


This one was probably my favorite drawing. I like the foreshortening of the leg on this one.



In most of these drawings I use a blending stump. I use my fingers as well. This last one probably used the most layers of vine charcoal. I would probably advise against this if you can't spray-fix the drawing. It gets smudged up too easily.


I love the feeling of vine charcoal over the sketch paper. It's too bad that it's so fragile. If you don't take care of the drawings they will get smudged around too easily.

I have a non-utilized Etsy shop. How many of you are on there? I've been reluctant to start using it. One, because I have a Zatista store, and two, I am not sure how effective it is in comparison to the other stores. I do want to try it out though. Let me know if you are interested in any of these drawings or other drawings from my recent posts. Email me and I will create a listing on Etsy.



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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Plein Air Events: 2011 in Review + Rankings

Last year I made a post about the plein air events I did in 2010. I thought I would do the same thing for this year since not only did I participate in some events for the 2nd time but I did some new events as well. This year I kept it pretty local for the most part. I didn't have the chance to apply for most of the out-of-town events so I kept up appearances by doing so many local events.

Marin Fair Plein Air 2011



I started off this year a little later than usual with the first event being early July. The plein-air-circuit season actually starts back in May with the Carmel Art Festival. Since I've yet to participate in these events I started a bit later, with a lot more local events.

I did this one last year as well. It's a fun little event, if you don't mind painting amongst crowds in the middle of July heat. It's a cheap event, unjuried at $12 per panel. You get a good 4 hours or so to paint anywhere in the fairgrounds. I won first place again this year. If I keep this up, it's a good way to win 250 bucks a year for not a whole lot of effort.

Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2011


I returned to Northern Oregon this year to participate in this year's Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2011. I had such a great time last year and was highly anticipating my return to the Gorge. I made friends last year that I was looking forward to seeing again. A few things changed this year, a bit to the detriment of the event.
Last year they put us up in a condo, about 5 or 6 of us in the same house. It was fun because we all could get together at the end of the day and comment on each other's paintings, share drinks and stories, and generally have a good time.  This year they had us a bit spread out amongst separate generous hosts. It was still nice, and we managed to hang out a lot with some effort, but that aspect of the event was noticeably missing.
I didn't get to attend this year's reception but from what I heard, sales were not nearly as good as last year's. I didn't sell any paintings, but I still had such a good time painting there. I would love to come back next year but it's tough to justify such a big travelling expense without any guarantee of compensation. I would have to consider this event more of a "vacation" than a viable method of generating sales. 
The event itself is consistently well-organized. Being the premier event in the area, they do get good prizes donated to them by the big art supply companies. They have pretty good events for the artists and they do a decent job of picking "suggested areas" if you care to paint with fellow artists. Most artists however, go find their own favorite spots.
Without being an established artist in the area, sales are tough in that part of the country. This event still gets a high recommendation from me for the same reason it got high marks last year: a gorgeous varied locale with no shortage of amazing scenery, well-organized events and great camraderie with the other artists.

The Great Petaluma Paintout


This is a local one-day event in Petaluma. It's a small event, open to anyone who wants to participate. You are confined to a small section of Petaluma with about 3 hours to do what you want. I chose to paint something I knew the other artists wouldn't be compelled to paint. I don't know if it backfired or what, but I didn't get any prize or sale. At 20 dollars to apply, it didn't seem that worth it for most people unless they won something or managed to make a sale. I am a bit leery of outdoor exhibitions nowadays. They don't seem all that conducive for sales and networking.


CWA Paintout: Marin Art and Garden Center


I participated in the California Watercolor Association's paint-out at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross, California. It's a place I've painted at for fun a bunch of times, which is the reason I applied to this one. It was open to oil painters, but something doesn't feel right about painting in oils at an event focused on watercolors. This was the first time I have painted in gouache for an event like this. It was a bit tricky painting here on such an overcast day. There was a decent mix of professionals and hobbyists who painted at this event. I squeaked by with a third place award. The reception was really short, and it was pretty much attended only by friends of the artists. It was a decent event, but I'd put it in the "do-for-fun" category instead of the "must-do".


Calistoga Plein Air Paint Out 2011


This event has a lot of potential. It's the first year for this event, and for first-timers, they did a pretty good job. It was a 2-day event with a 1-day reception/sale. The cool part about it is that a lot of the local wineries opened their property to us artists who might not normally be welcome. It was fun because it's really close to home. The participants were a mix of amateurs and local semi-pro's. I may have been a bit out-classed by them, so I feel like if higher-caliber artists applied it could grow into a pretty cool event. It's tough to sell in my range when everyone else sells so low.

Clunie Festival: East Sacramento


This is another first-time event, but it's actually a morphing of a different event from a few years ago called Capitol Plein Air. A few of the people I've painted with and since became friends in Sacramento helped run this show. It's another 1-day event which means opportunities to sell are  limited. McKinley Park is in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Sacramento so one would hope that the big spenders come out. Truth is, a lot hangs on the reputation of the event. It's really hard to establish credibility in the first year of any event. The organizers did a great job of trying to do so, though. The event was extremely well-attended, and some big sales were had, but they were either by well-established artists or inexpensive art. If they keep expanding the event and attract art organizations to donate good prizes, they will get great publicity. They are doing everything else right. This is what happens when veterans of plein air events learn from what works and what doesn't and try to establish a new event with the hopes of getting something good going.

Valona Plein Air Paint Out 2011


This was my second time participating in this event. It's put on by the Epperson Gallery in Crockett(North East SF Bay). I like this event because so many friends of mine participate and the receptions are pretty well-attended. I tend to focus on different things there because it's so unique of an area to paint. The town is very industrial and there is an interesting muted tone to everything in the area. The prizes are different at this event as well because instead of cash prizes, this year I won another Pam Glover painting (much bigger than last year's) and a weekend workshop with Randy Sexton. I am not sure if they are doing it next year, but I hope they do. I do well at this show and it is helping me to establish my credibility in the area.

3rd Annual Paint Allied Arts


The final event in the season. It's a bit far-out in the season so the weather is gonna be hit-or-miss. The Allied Arts Guild buildings and park is in a great neighborhood in Menlo Park and is a beautiful place to paint. I think I would much prefer painting here in spring when everything is in bloom. It's got to look amazing. It's another one-day event and sale. To me I find it a bit weird to have an outdoor show when they have a gallery. For some reason it kind of works here, though. The gallery is a bit too small to be comfortable with lots of crowds anyway. The reception was well-attended despite the gloomy weather. People were somewhat willing to buy if you had the right price. A couple of people sold but the paintings were $300 and under. I got a lot of people interested in my work, but I may be out of their range. I did give out a lot of cards, though. Word did spread. It was nice to see some familiar painters there as well.


So here are this year's order of plein air events, from least-likely to want to do again to most-likely.

#8 CWA Paintout: Marin Art and Garden Center
#7 The Great Petaluma Paintout
#6 3rd Annual Paint Allied Arts
#5 Marin Fair Plein Air 2011
#4 Calistoga Plein Air Paint Out 2011
#3 Clunie Festival: East Sacramento
#2 Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2011
#1 Valona Plein Air Paint Out 2011




Closing Thoughts:

In the 2+ years I have done just about every local event in the area. I've only done 1 of the larger events in California, and only one out-of-state event. I think I have a pretty good idea of which events are good and which aren't quite as good. Next year I plan on cutting back on the smaller events and go instead for the better-recognized events. I feel like the money I spend on applying for local events for negligible benefits could be much better applied to going for national events. I don't know if I have the reputation or accolades to make it to the big leagues yet, but I feel like I am ready to start trying. There are some events in California that I still need to try out, as well. It's not gotten to the point that I can rely on these events for steady income. At best they are like paid vacations, but at worst they can be really expensive busts.
Next year I am trying out a lot of new (to me) events, and if I don't get juried in, I will cut way back in participation in local plein air events.



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Monday, November 14, 2011

Figure Drawing - Shorthand

This week my weapons of choice were primarily these woodless colored pencils by Koh-I-Noor called Progresso's. I also use Cretacolor Nero leads (not the pencil). I sharpen them to a long point just like a charcoal pencil, but they glide better than traditional charcoals.

These first drawings were 3 minutes each. I didn't plan on getting so tonal so quickly but it just happened to work out that way.


These next 5 minute drawings were done with General charcoal pencils. They look a bit more like my  10-minute drawings usually do.



This 10-minute drawing looks a lot more like my 20-minute drawing.



What I realized was that I am really sharpening my shorthand for the time I am allowed. Even the model commented on this.


When everything is going right, I can get a lot in because I get the little shapes right on the first pass. I don't have to slow down as much because I put down the right info in less strokes.


I find when things start to feel too effortless, I have to switch it up to feel like I'm not cheating anymore. Weird, I know.


I think next week I'm gonna use a lot of vine charcoal. I'm feeling a very tonal mood coming along...



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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Video: Building My Own Canvas Panels

I've upgraded my computer after so many years, which means I can finally play with video. This is something  I made a while back but I've never been able to publish it until now. If you were ever curious about how to make your own canvas panels, I hope this is informative.


Here is a good question I am answering from Facebook:

  • Q: how thick are those boards? and what's the biggest you've tried with veneer plywood before warping becomes an issue (obviously the panels are nice and flat right after pressing but do they stay that way if you go to let's say 12x16 or 14x18) ?
    btw i really like birchwood but it's quite a bit more expensive.

  • Sergio Lopez  Thats a good question. They are about 3/16". I would say you can probably get up to 18x24" before you should start thinking about reinforcing them. I like birchwood too, but I think they are even more susceptible to warping than the veneer panels.


I will try to make some more painting and drawing videos soon.


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Monday, November 07, 2011

Paint Allied Arts - Results (Mister Walk Down Me I'm The Walkway)

Hey everyone, Just letting you know that I won 3rd place for this painting I did at the Paint Allied Arts paint-out in Menlo Park.

"Down The Walkway" 9x12 Oil on Canvas. SOLD

I spent close to 3 hours on this one which is more than I usually spend on a plein air painting, but since it was  so consistently overcast the whole time, the lighting situation didn't change much, affording me the time to really make sense of the complex scene.  I started off with a thumbnail sketch to figure out how I was going to group the lights and darks together.

I've also been trying to get into using thicker paint. One of the best ways to do it is to shovel on a bunch of paint with a palette knife, then take a brush and spread it out. You get the best of both approaches. I'm not usually a fan of the "palette knife"-look for the most part, so it's a good way to get a lot of paint on your canvas efficiently.

The way they did the awards were the top 3 people's choice votes get the prizes. They gave ballots for the public to cast before the stated deadline, so by the time I got mine up, half the people got their votes in. A lot of people told me that they wanted to change their votes after seeing mine! Not a big deal, but more prize money woulda' been nice... Oh well.

This pretty much concludes the year's plein-air event schedule for me. I will do another write-up with my thoughts on the year's events soon. (Link to last year's review: http://themainloop.blogspot.com/2010/12/this-is-article-i-have-been-meaning-to.html)


In other news, fellow artist Terry Miura has a show at the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in SF. I checked it out and it was outstanding! I really like the direction his new cityscapes are taking. I ended up in a bunch of photos from the opening(wish I brought a change of clothes). 

The paintings look great in the gallery. They are very well-presented in the space. Would love to show there... (hint, hint)


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Friday, November 04, 2011

Paint Allied Arts 2011

This Saturday, November 5th, I am participating for the second time in the Paint Allied Arts plein air paint-out in Menlo Park. We will be painting at the beautiful Allied Arts Guild building. I don't know how well I'll do there, but it's such a cool place to paint. The place was designed at the turn of the 19th century back when architects knew what they were doing. It's a real treat to paint there, regardless of the outcome. If you want to check it out, I will be painting there from 10 AM to about 1:30.  We will be exhibiting the paintings from 2 PM to 4 PM. It's a cool place to check out if you've never been there. Hope to see you there!






Paint Allied Arts 2011
Location: Portola Art Gallery, Allied Arts GuildEvent Dates: 11/5/2011 - 11/5/2011
Reception: 11/5/2011 • 10 a.m. -- 4 p.m.






Come join us for the

Plein Air Allied Arts 2011 Paint Out



November 5, 2011
10:00 a.m. -- 4:00 p.m.

25 Artists will be creating beautiful works of the lovely gardens
of the Allied Arts Guild

Pack a picnic or enjoy lunch at the wonderful Cafe Primavera
Mention our show for a 10% discount at the restaurant

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Figure Drawing - A Lonely Pencil


This time I almost exclusively used the fat black Lyra Color-Giant pencil. I am still using the Canson Biggie sketch pad. The hard pencils feel fairly close to what Conte pencils feel like on smooth newsprint. Conte is still nice and waxier whereas the Lyra feels more like graphite, but the Lyra lead is sturdier. You can press down a bit harder. That's one thing I hate about Conte pencils: they tend to be delicate. They break a lot more than the other ones seem to.

This first one is 5 minutes. It's a bit blockier than I usually do these quicker poses. For some reason I draw with more straight lines with a pencil than with a compressed stick.


The next two drawings are 10 minutes each. They were fun. I felt warmed up quicker than I normally do by this time. I'm not totally sure why.



This was the girl I drew instead of the model, totally stalked her with my eyeballs... CREEPYYYY


I felt like I was pretty good with the lighting today. More so than usual.


This is a tough position to draw. It's harder than it looks. Trying to draw it as I saw it didn't look quite right. I had to "lipo" some areas of her figure.


A ten minute drawing to finish off the night. I used the Ritmo charcoal pencil this time. The hair was the most successful area in my opinion.


So I've been using a lot of different tools and approaches on this sketch paper surface. Would love to know what you think of where your preferences are leaning towards. I always enjoy feedback!

If you want a handy way to look at the other posts I've made about drawing, check out the label "charcoal":


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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

How To Get The Largest Images From Blogspot

This isn't really about art in particular but it might be useful to some people. I don't know how obvious this may be to some people because it took me a while to figure this out on my own.

If you're like me, you save a lot of images for your own reference. I have a lot of blogs in my RSS feed and I save a lot of images from them as well, but not everyone posts the images in the highest resolution that they uploaded them, even. I've found a way to reveal and download them.

Note: this only works on "blogspot" blogs. Wordpress? Tumblr? On your own. (Actually I do know how to grab those from Tumblr but it's a bit hit-or-miss.)

Sometimes when you click on an image in a Blogspot blog, the image won't be full-size, it will be something like 400 pixels wide.

If you right-click to open the image in a new tab, it will open it to whatever the original poster set it to show up as.


In this case, it shows up as a 400-pixel-wide image. This is represented in the URL of the image.


All you have to do to get the largest image is change where it says "s400" in the URL to "s1600" and it will automatically switch to the largest size.*

*Sometimes it will be a number other than 400. Doesn't matter. Change it to 1600 anyways.

If it shows up less than 1600 pixels wide, then that's the original size of the image and there's nothing you can do about it.

That's really all there is to it. It took me a while to realize that's all I needed to do.

Next time I will show you how to grab an image from a Flickr account even when the owner has disabled downloading of their images using Firefox.


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