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.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pressure in Paradise: Carmel Art Festival 2012

I have returned from an exhausting week in Carmel. I participated in the Carmel Art Festival, one of the most prestigious plein air events in Northern California. This event attracts some of the best plein air artists from around the country, as far as Maryland and Florida even. From what I understand, it is very competitive and tough to get into, so I was delighted when I found out I had been accepted after my first time applying. Knowing what the competition is like, I came into it a little nervous. I must admit I am never nervous before these plein air events because I feel equal amongst my peers in most every event I've participated in. In this event, however, many of the painters I look up to and follow their work avidly, like Thomas Kitts, Larry Moore, and Paul Kratter. To be participating in an event with painters of this caliber is quite the honor. Nevertheless I arrived in Carmel psyched up and ready to paint landscapes harder than I have before.

DAY 1:

I started off the day by checking in to the event. There are a lot of rumours and input from artists and onlookers about this event. I guess it can't be helped given the prestigious nature of the event. I won't delve into all of that, but I will say that I knew what to expect. Therefore, the impersonal way they treated the participating artists didn't much phase me.

I arrived to a fair amount of fog on the peninsula, so to escape it, I drove down to Garland Ranch Park down in the valley.  This is actually a composite of two different views. I liked the light I was able to evoke in this painting, but I still have yet to satisfactorily depict middle-ground forests. I like parts of this painting but most of it is a dud to me.

DAY 2:

I woke up bright and early to journey down to Big Sur. So many amazing views of the coast makes it hard to chose something that hasn't been done a million times. I tried to choose a point of view that isn't too typical. The fog started off quite dramatic, but by the end it had mostly burned off. I think the most successful part of this painting is the sense of atmospheric distance I was able to pull off in the seacliffs.

This part of Big Sur is so incredibly dramatic and scenic that I knew I would have to choose something that wasn't obvious or else I would end up doing a painting that would look like 3 other ones in the show. I picked a view that was possible the least dramatic, yet most simple compositionally, giving me a chance to play with texture and everything else. I really like how the texture in the foreground came out(doesn't read as well on the computer screen unfortunately). Had I spent more time finessing the shapes of the trees into a more pleasing design, I would have put this one in the show for sure. Also, I would have unified the color of the ground with the color of the sky better. I took reference shots, so I will revisit this painting in the future.

This is a painting that just barely didn't make the cut. It was an awesome view, and I think I captured the color of the scene pretty accurately. I also had fun with the palette knife work in the grass. It can be argued that I should have put it in, instead of the next one, but I think I am going to keep this one around as a study until I do a large painting of this scene.

It was about 3 pm by the time I finished these paintings, and I had pretty much out-painted myself by this point. I did a couple of wipers afterwards then called it a day.

DAY 3:

It was a beauuuutiful day at Point Lobos on Friday. Today was the day to make sure I painted something that really went for the gusto, so I purposely chose something ridiculously tough to paint. This was at the end of the North Point trail looking southward at the trail. There were a lot of painters at Point Lobos at this time, and I chose this view because I didn't see anyone else painting something like this. I spent a good 3 hours, with my ass on some rock, hunched over, painting this scene. Between the hiking, the concentration, and the physical/mental demand of painting this scene, it drained me of my ability to paint for the rest of the day. I attempted to do another one later on in the day, but it wasn't happenin'.

We had to bring our paintings in between 6 and 8 pm. Now it was the chance to see what everyone else had done and determine where this young upstart-noob stood among these seasoned veteran painters. There were some amazing paintings turned in! Some eye-poppers. Now was the chance to simultaneously relax and pick up whatever ego I had off the floor. I found it overall to be a very strong show. I went afterwards to have some food and beers at Clint Eastwood's restaurant with Paul Kratter and Timon Sloane.

DAY 4:

I took a bunch of photos of the show in the morning. I put them together in this little video:

If you want to check them out individually, you can also check out this album here: Carmel Art Festival Exhibited Paintings on Facebook

Once I saw everyone else's work, I went and painted at the beach to get myself a new painting to exhibit for the next day in case anything sold in the silent auction that evening. I tried to pull together all the motivation and inspiration I could put together from the last few days. I found this awesome little semi-secluded cove in Pebble Beach that had a shallow pool. The shallowness of the water turned the sand underneath a neat green-blue color that I tried to capture. So many different colors in the sand! I had a blast painting this one. I think it's my best painting of the event. Almost sold it, even.

I went back to the exhibition to mingle with the artists and check out who won what awards. My favorite painting of the event, This painting by Stacey Barter was my favorite of the event, and it won two awards: Mayor's choice, and Best Oil Painting. Rightfully so! There was also a nice little bidding war on the piece. Thomas Kitts stunningly painted this tree. He was able to sell this one, but the buyer got a great deal on it. Newcomer Gretha Lindwood was a hit in the Silent Auction! There was a patron determined to own both paintings. Wish we all could be so lucky! Speaking of fortune, my friend Carole Gray-Weihmann sold both of her paintings and snagged an honorable mention! Nice job!

DAY 5:

The event was not quite over. To end the event, we participated in the famous (and intimidating) quick draw.  Most events have 3 hour "quick draws" which is the amount of time most painters spend on a painting anyways. With two hours to pick a spot, paint a finished piece, frame it, and put it up, it is truly a quick-draw!  I quickly found this intimate little spot lit up beautifully in the morning. I was going to try to add the people, but they wouldn't stick around long enough to paint them. Still, I am fairly satisfied with this painting, given it was about 1.5 hrs. worth of work.

Here's a short video walkthrough of the quick draw display:

The weather was unbelievable during the weekend! I was really anxious to find out if the weather would be good or as miserable as it had been during the last few years. The sun shined most of the time we spent painting there, luckily.

I'd say this event is only for the dedicated professionals. The pressure of the event would make most casual plein air painters fall on their brush-handles. I found the competition to be extremely motivating. It's really set the bar in terms of skill to strive for, so I am determined to take that energy into the rest of the plein air season to reach a new level. And now... time for some sleep!

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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.


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!

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Human Nature: Christopher Queen Gallery Show

The exploration of fabric continues! This time I am exhibiting my efforts at the Christopher Queen Gallery for the Human Nature show(May 6 to July 8). I feel like I am really getting a handle on these series, especially the Sacred Spring one. I personally feel like these are some of the best paintings of the series, and I am hoping the audience agrees. 

"Sabellia" 24x12" Oil on Linen board.
This painting has the frame on it from the "Camellia Roses" painting. 
It looks much better on this painting.

"Diva" 16x12" Oil on Linen Board.

"Lucia" 16x12" Oil on Linen Board.

"Lucid Awakening" 24x12 in. oil on linen panel.

"Maiden of the Mist" 24x12 in. oil on linen panel.

If you want to check out the show it's going to be up starting Sunday, May 6th and will be up until July 8th. Here is the map to see where the gallery is.

View Larger Map

Join the fun!

Drawings For Sale
Prints For Sale

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