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.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sonoma Plein Air 2013: The Triumphant Newcomer

Literally the day after getting home from Mendocino, I started the Sonoma Plein Air event. The idea was to use Mendocino as a warm-up.

Day 1

Canvases are stamped early in Sonoma. Once I checked in, it was time to decide where to go. Indecision is the hidden enemy of the plein air event. If you can plan out where to go beforehand, you can save a lot of time driving around that you should be using for painting. I ended up on Lakeville Road just outside of Petaluma to do this painting.


"Lakeville Summer" 11x14 in oil on linen board. SOLD

"The Old Commute" 9x12 in oil on linen.
Got some lunch in downtown Petaluma(Mi Rancho, one of my fave cheap lunch spots) then drove down Highway 101 out to the edge of Sonoma County's south side. I found a large pullout to paint a scene I've been wanting to do for the longest time. I pass it every time I go to San Francisco, so most locals know where it was.


"The Petaluma Fishing Spot" 8x10 in oil on linen board. $500

It was a warm day, and dehydration is another hidden enemy of the plein air event. I went back into to town to get a huge pink lemonade at In-N-Out with lots of ice... ahhh, much better. Ready to paint another. I ventured a half-mile over to Shollenberger Park where I painted this view across the river. The 101 is just beyond the oak.

From here I went over to the Ramekins in Sonoma to meet and greet the rest of the artists, some of the hosts, and some of the best-tasting finger food I've had in a while.

Day 2

Crashed and burned on a painting I did in Spring Lake before getting lunch with other artists at the Quarryhill Botanical Gardens. It's a place I've wanted to visit for months now, so it was nice to get a free preview on behalf of the event organizers. Gorgeous gardens with much variety and some solid views if you go far enough up the hill.

"Quarryhill Color" 6.5x9.5 oil on linen board.


"Return To Autumn" 6.5x9.5 oil on linen board.
Quick Draw: We started our paintings at 4:30 and had to have them framed and up for display by 6:00, so it was a quick draw indeed. I think I handled the light decently well, but my cropping of the scene may have made it too obscure to be recognizably Sonoma. Might just have to do the clock tower next year.

Day 3

"Bodega Harbor Haze" 14x18 in oil on linen.
I went to the coast on Wednesday which turned out to be a perfect day to do it. A perfectly clear day of sunshine with almost no wind. I stopped at the harbor on my way to Bodega Head and painted the misty morning before the fog completely dissipated. 

"A Rare Day In Bodega Bay" 16x20 in oil on linen. SOLD.
The day was still warm, the wind still hadn't come in yet, so that meant it was time to paint the most ambitious piece of the week. This was a large complex piece where so many things could have gone wrong. Fortunately I kept up the juggling act which is plein air painting for the required 2.5 hours it took to complete this painting.


"Coastal Jade" 6x8 in oil on linen.
I drove north up the 1 and stopped at Gleason Beach to paint this little scene. I had fun playing with the colors I saw. 


"Harvest Moon In The East" 8x10 in oil on linen.
Came back into town to escape the wind that had started to kick up at the coast. I painted a scene near the Laguna De Santa Rosa, which is a favorite place of mine to paint. The moon was gorgeous as was the sky. This is the only painting I did over 2 days, because I came back the next day to work on it some more.

Day 4


"A Need For Sure Footing" 6x8 in oil on linen.
I had planned on spending the day in Sugarloaf so that's what I did. Started in the morning near the dried-up waterfall(bet it's raging now after yesterday's downpour...) I enjoy painting creeks but they are more fun when the water is flowing through them.


"Anticipating Exploration" 11x14 in oil on linen.
It took me a little while of hiking around the meadows near the parking lot to find a view that spoke to me. I can probably come back and repaint this scene to tweak the design into something stronger, but hey, decent study.

"Lion Rock" 6.5x9.5 oil on linen board. 
The hike up to this scene was long and arduous, but worth it in my opinion. There is a plethora of views up there, but this was one I had wanted to paint for a while. I like this piece on its own, but I may do a larger piece of it sometime.

Day 5

"Barely Holding On" 9x12 in oil on linen.

For my last painting of the week I drove down Stony Point to paint a scene I have wanted to do for years and never got around to. These barns have been crooked for years. Very surprised they're still around considering all the stuff they are fighting to tear down. #localpolitics

Time to finish framing in time to get everything ready for tomorrow. 4:00 clock rolls around and it's time for the Opening Gala. To get a detailed recap about how that night went, please go to my previous blog post:

Sales Day

My wet, wet booth.

I already knew earlier that it was going to rain on the day of the sale, so I was prepared for the worst. Being prepared did not make me any happier of a camper. There were still a decent amount of people who checked the art out, despite the weather. Bless their hearts. I managed to squeak another sale in at the final hour, but for the most part it was slim pickings for a lot of artists. Being a Sonoma County native I am confident that I can sell plenty of these in my local gallery, so I am not that bummed out about it yet. Besides, the prize money and two sales made it the most financially successful plein air event of the year for me. Being the big winner can mean all sorts of great new opportunities for me in the future, so I am excited to see what this will lead to.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thoughts On Winning The Grand Prize

I have just come back from winning the top award at the Sonoma Plein Air festival. I am feeling all sorts of different things right now, and I feel like the best way to get it off my chest right now is to put it down in written word. This is just what I am feeling in the moment, so bear with me.

As those of you who follow me on Instagram and Facebook have seen, I have been posting just about everything I've done in the last week for the Sonoma Plein Air event. A little background for those who don't know: Sonoma Plein Air is one of the most prestigious plein air events in California, and maybe the nation. As a Sonoma County native and plein air painter who admired the work as an outsider for years, it was a big deal for me even be juried in. I know a handful of people who haven't been able to participate despite multiple years of applying. Point is, it's not easy to get in.

I arrived a little late to the hanging for the evening gala. So when I got there, most of the work was up already. Let me tell you, the work was STUNNING. So much great work was there on display. The judging was done by anonymous ballot by the fellow artists. We obviously couldn't vote for ourselves, so began the tough task of choosing one favorite amongst the bunch of amazing pieces. Time was up, and so I was almost undecided, and practically had to eeny-meeny-miny-mo to choose my favorite.

When the time to announce the winners came up, we all gathered around the announcer. Start with honorable mention #1: Anton Pavlenko. One of the paintings I went back and forth between. Honorable mention #2: Greg La Rock. The OTHER person I went back and forth with and eventually settled on. So with my two favorites down, who was left??

"And the Artist Choice Award goes to...

Sergio Lopez."

What?? Are you kidding me?? First time participant? Second-youngest artist?? Among this caliber of artists? I was stunned. Ecstatic. Overwhelmed. All I could do was take my prize, shake hands, and thank everyone who voted for me, because it was going to take a while to process. And the awards! The only recipient of awards! $1000 cash! My painting on next year's promo material! An ad in Plein Air Magazine! Wow! Unbelievable. Let me collect my thoughts and roam around for a while, as I take this all in...

Now for the silent auction. I haven't been a fan of silent auctions for a while now. They create bad habits in collectors and don't usually do what they are supposed to do, which is drive the price of the painting up. What tends to happen is that everyone waits for the last minute to bid, creating the "Ebay effect" of trying to get the lowest price possible. All the artists sell their paintings on this night in a silent auction, except the winner, whose painting goes to live auction, complete with auctioneer and everything. When it was my turn, I was invited to say something about my painting. I was so rattled with emotion, I forgot the name of my own painting! Blanked out. Had to peek at the auctioneer's cue card to remember. I had it all in my head how I was going to make a little speech thanking everyone who voted for me, and all this other stuff hyping up the crowd, etc etc. But I'm such a shy creature that it all went out the window once I got up there and froze up. Would it have helped? I dunno. I sell 16x20" pieces for $1975 normally. My "Buy Now" price tonight was $2500 (award winner's premium). My stupid opening bid was $1200, so that's what they started the auction at. "$1200, do I hear $1300?" It took way too long to get to $1300. Oh no! 1300 going on 1400? Even longer... shit. $1400, going once, twice, sold! Great, so not only did I fail at getting even what it was worth, but everyone in the entire place knew... Ugh, leave it to a silent auction to bring you back down to Earth.

How did everyone else do? Well the good news is that most of the work sold. The bad news is that most of the sold work went for or just about minimum bid price. Is this a good or bad thing? Depends on how you look at it. I've done many events. A lot of them have had silent auctions. If  20% of the work sells at all, that's a decent sale. Here, most of it sold. Theoretically people should be happy. So why is everyone kind of bummed out? Did they expect too much? Is it because the organizers said it was an OK auction? If this was the result of every event I've done, I'd be pretty darn happy. Attitude is everything.

Aftermath: What does this all mean? So many questions keep flooding my head over and over again. Does this mean I "arrived" in the plein air world, finally? What does it mean to "arrive?" Will I be invited to all the prestigious plein air events? Am I making a bigger deal out of it than it is in actuality? Where does this put me in the grand scheme of the art world... it is a small world. Will they know my name out there, and will it matter? Where do I go from here? Do I pursue plein air even harder or do I keep on going back and forth between figurative and landscape painting... big picture stuff. Let's zoom in on the rest of the weekend. Tomorrow is the main sale day. Will my prize translate into many sales tomorrow? Is the silent auction result a harbinger of disappointment? No answers tonight. I'm tired. The forecast says rain. Fingers crossed. I hope for sleep.
"A Rare Day In Bodega Bay" 16x20 in. oil on linen board. SOLD.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Mendocino Open Paint Out 2013 Recap

It's literally the night I got home from Mendocino after painting. I am about to go to bed and wake up to start painting in Sonoma in the morning. I want to do this quick recap before I spend the whole week painting my butt off with no time to write this before I finish the event in Sonoma.

Since it was an "open paintout," artists came in to town to start painting anytime during the week they wanted to. I started painting on Thursday, which seemed a little late compared to everyone else. Since I had to bring in my paintings the next day at 5:00 for judging, I really didn't give myself time to hit my stride. The 3 paintings I did were all I was able to do in that time.

Done at Van Damme State Park. The only time I had sunshine during the event.

"Standing on Glass" 9x12 in. oil on linen board.

The next morning I started this painting at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, right next to where I was staying. It's called Glass Beach because the glass bottles that used to litter the beach were sculpted into "gems" by the ocean waves.

"Whispers of Sunshine" 16x20 in. oil on linen board.
This painting was done over 2 days. I started it at 6pm Thursday night, and finished it at 3pm the next day. The one nice thing about painting on gray days is that the light is constant, so as long as both days are gray, you can start a painting at whatever time you want and finish whenever as well.

We were only allowed to pick one painting for judging. This was the Best Of Show award winner by artist Macario Pascual. His work was new to me but he is a fine painter and really nice guy. I went back and forth between choosing whether I should have went with "Standing On Glass" or "Whispers of Sunshine." I went with Whispers of Sunshine, but based on the feedback I should have probably gone with Standing on Glass. I still feel like Whisper of Sunshine is a better painting than Standing on Glass, but I could just be suffering from "artist's blindness." What do you think? Which one should I have went with?

Sold.
This was my 9x12" quick draw. I spent the whole two hours on it. Some said it was ambitious to paint something like this for a quick draw, but with the cropping the way it is, I really didn't have to spend that much time on the complex parts.

Sold.
 After the quick draw, there was time to kill before the reception. I went exploring so I went to the Point Cabrillo Light Station park. There is plenty to see along the cliffs here. Here was a pretty quick study.
 I only had this format for a painting, but I think I found an interesting crop for this scene. Interesting thing happened to me on my way back to the parking lot. I was stopped by a couple of park rangers who asked me, "gone fishing?" Fishing?? No... I was painting, and I told them so. Apparently, from where they stood, my setup resembled some sort of fishing apparatus. They had to come by and make sure I wasn't pulling any shenanigans.

 The next morning was time for me to head back home. I was going to go down the 1 and stop at some places that I wanted to paint. One of them was the Jug Handle State Natural Reserve. It was a gloriously sunny day today, the type that makes you want to paint way better than on a gray day. The colors of the coast really come alive.

 It took me a little while to fine Bowling Ball Beach (located in Schooner Gulch State Park) but the journey was worth it. The entire beach has really interesting sheer cliffs, but the namesake comes from the boulders that have been shaped over the years to resemble bowling balls. I was drawn to paint this location because of the great colors of the warm shadows in the cliffs.

My last painting was done in a really remote beach on the very northern part of Salt Point State Park. Salt Point is one of my favorite places in Sonoma County. It's so rugged and unique. I almost finished this painting before the fog finally crept back in and killed the light. At this point I feel good about starting Sonoma.

I think the event is fairly well-run for a first time event. There were over seventy participants! The event ran very well for the amount of people who participated. The quality of painter was a bit uneven as to be expect in a non-juried show. There were some sales but mostly under $500. The prizes were modest but fun. Not sure why Mendocino doesn't attract more collectors of plein air, but I am sure it's because the Mendocino Art Center is really the only art venue in town, and plein air paintings aren't their only focus. I hope that next year they can attract more serious patrons. I would give the event another shot, but I will make sure to start earlier. Hoping for less gray skies.

Additional photos and videos can be found at my Instagram account.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Artist DIY: How To Save Your Paint Tubes From Puncturing

Do you keep your paints in a bag when you travel? Do they puncture each other?
Argh! The worst! Here is a solution:

This simple trick might seem obvious to a lot of people, but for others it might come as a revelation. Either way, I hope it makes your paint tubes last longer. Feel free to share...

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