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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Plein Air Convention Recap: Part 3

Day 4

Marketing Bootcamp: Day 3

For the conclusion of the marketing bootcamp, Eric Rhoads talked about how to generate leads, the importance of consistent advertising, and lead capturing strategies such as offering free information in exchange for customers' info. You know his strategies work, because it dawned on me by the end of the presentation that he was using all of these strategies on us the attendees... and they were working! Even I was like, "man, I gotta get some more of this good stuff!" Even though it came off as pretty sales-y at the end of it, it wasn't too offensive to me. One can either grumble about it, or use it as a learning opportunity by looking at the "Matrix" of it and analyzing what he was able to do and adapting it to your strategy. I'm considering getting the other Bootcamp DVDs, so that's as good an endorsement as any.

After a cool demo by kick-ass painter and friend Thomas Kitts (who uses Pthalo Blue as well as anyone you'll see out there) about painting solvent-free, the "indoor" portion of the convention concluded and we all went out to Point Lobos to paint.

Point Lobos

The sun was quickly getting covered by fog, so time was of the essence when it came to getting any sort of sunlight to work with. The problem with going to such a beautiful place is that you think an even better view around the corner. I ended up with going with such a complicated view on such a small canvas that I struggled with this. It started ok, went to hell, then I rescued it as much as I can. I still don't think it's that great, but I got enough compliments from passerby's to keep it. I may use it as a color study for something larger. We'll see.

A study of a cave near Hidden Beach in Point Lobos. 6x8 inches.

A lot of people commented on the bravery of the choice in subject matter. I just paint what I find interesting, then find a way to compose it in an interesting way.

The sun was gone. No more painting tonight. Now that we didn't have to wake up early, it was time to let loose! We took over the Crown And Anchor as we tended to do, and it was fun to watch all of your favorite plein air painters let loose...

...like Kevin Macpherson.

There were plenty of others, and plenty more shenanigans. Just go next year if you want to know.

Day 5

Monterey Fisherman's Wharf

The last "official" day of painting... I saw about a hundred painters set up around the wharf. I set up across from the Wharf's General Store and painted this one. I decided to keep it vignetted, as the brushwork in the initial block-in was appealing enough. I used a plastic putty knife as a straight-edge to do the architecture, a tip learned from Joseph McGurl. This was also a rare instance of using Phtalo Blue on my palette. Can be a fun color, but man is it overpowering.
After finishing that painting, I went and checked out what else was going on with the other artists. Eric Rhoads, Jonny Luczycki and a few other artists set up to paint a couple of street kids. They were fun to draw on account of their well-worn digs, and probably even a pretty good-looking couple underneath the grime... It was a lot of fun to draw in the ol' sketchbook, and I'm going to make the effort to do it more often.
Lori Putnam finishing up a sweet painting of the pier.
I concluded the event by having dinner with friends and getting together at the bonfire at Carmel Beach. It was nice to see so many painter friends without the pressure to sell paintings like a plein air paintout normally would have. If you're into the whole plein air scene, and make friends easily, I recommend checking out.

Bonus: Mountainsong Gallery

On Saturday I hung out in Carmel for another day to check out some painters at Mountainsong Gallery. They invited some of the stars of the Palette & Chisel Academy in Chicago. Here is a start of a painting by William Schneider. I found the drybrush block-in pretty interesting.

Clayton Beck

Very solid draftsmanship and surefire brushwork is seen in this painting by Clayton Beck. I was glad to watch him for a little while.
Clayton's amazing painting and beautiful model.
Clayton's palette.
Clayton's brushes.

Mary Qian

It was a treat to watch Mary Qian paint. It's very different from how most people I've seen paint. She seems to prefer to dab on paint with short strokes, and builds up a texture to her work. I think she puts the paint on paper plates to get some of the oil out of the painting. The less oil, the easier to build up, and I think she is trying to get more layers into an alla prima painting.

The result, coupled with her skills, makes for a very interesting painting.

A word about conventions, the "Plein Air Movement", and integrity.

Right around, during, and especially after the convention, I saw a little bit of backlash on Facebook about the convention, and especially about the branding of "plein air." This blog post was shared a lot in particular. I followed a lot of the discussion but never put my 2 cents in about it until now. There is definitely a certain track you can follow if you choose to. There is a "mainstream" (as mainstream as such a small industry can be) component to what I do. You know, the magazines, the organizations, the large art suppliers sponsoring certain painters, etc. It gets a lot of attention because they spend a lot of marketing time and money to put themselves in front of our eyes all the time. To me it seems that this industry has been around for way longer than people care to remember. It does seem a little bit "pay-to-play" sometimes, because we are led to believe that the only real way to make it as an artist is by getting our paintings into magazines, or winning gold medals, or having a signature line of brushes, or whatever. In reality, that's putting the cart before the horse. Those should be the rewards and not the goal. That much I agree with.

However, this idea that painting outdoors should be this solitary pursuit completely devoid of a motive beyond the activity of painting in the moment is a little too over-romanticized and short-sighted. It is one way to live as an artist, and certainly a noble one, but far from the only way. As professional artists, we all have to find a way to make it. Why is one version considered more valid than another? I don't see what these companies do as tainting the "movement," whatever it's supposed to be. To me, calling it a movement is for people who want to be part of a larger collective. If people don't want to be a part of it, that's fine, but there's no reason to look down on those who do. I think what the Plein Air Magazine, California Art Club, and others do is by-and-large extremely positive. The sales-y part of it is pretty easy to avoid if you're a smart person, and shouldn't discount all the good parts of it. For those of us trying to make a career of this painting business, we need all the help we can get, and this is one of the most visible avenues we can pursue. To take the most visible route doesn't necessarily mean trading your integrity, as long as you stay true to your artistic vision.

I welcome your thoughts!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Painting California

This show features all scenes of California and are a mix of plein air paintings, studio paintings and plein air paintings touched up in the studio. I've been working hard this past month and a half to produce these paintings. Please enjoy.

 "Moonscape" 15x30 in. oil on linen board.

 "Carquinez Gold" 16x20 in. oil on linen board.

 "Sunbaked" 18x24 in. oil on linen board.
See the little figures? If you want to get a good gander at them, and much better sense of the textures in this painting, go over to my website and check out a high-res photo.

 "A Kiss Of Seabreeze" 18x18 in. oil on linen board.
Location: Timber Cove.

"Little Sur" 9x10 in. oil on linen board.
See the little figures? If you want to get a good gander at them, and much better sense of the textures in this painting, go over to my website and check out a high-res photo.

 "Among The Tourists" 12x16 in. oil on linen board.
This painting was done amongst hundreds of painters set up along the wharf. I decided to keep it vignetted, as the brushwork in the initial block-in was appealing enough. I used a plastic putty knife as a straight-edge to do the architecture, a tip learned from Joseph McGurl. This was also a rare instance of using Phtalo Blue on my palette. Can be a fun color, but man is it overpowering.

 "Chalk Hill Vista" 12x16 in. oil on linen board.
Done at the Chalk Hill Residency in Healdsburg with the North Bay Plein Air Painters meetup group.

"Clouded Beauty" 11x14 oil on linen board.
This was done alongside all the painters at the Plein Air Convention. Michael Orwick Arts was painting next to me. I don't mind grey days like this, in fact, I like trying to find the color within the seeming grays.

 "Misty Overlook" 4x6in oil on linen board. SOLD
This is life-size. I just love painting atmospheric distance, and I feel like I live in one of the best places ever for it. This sold immediately once I brought it into the gallery.

 "Tomales Peace" 5x7 in. oil on linen mounted on board. 
Played with not using Ultramarine Blue at all in this painting. It results in a warmer painting overall.

The show opens this Sunday, May 4th. 2014. 

"Come and Enjoy a new collection of paintings by the gallery artists depicting our beautiful California
Sunday May 4th 1 to 3 in the afternoon
A mix of art, champagne, and music await your pleasure
Jack Cassinetto, Allen Figone, Ronald Goldfinger, Paul Kratter, Sergio Lopez, Kyle Paliotto, Dave Sellers, Bart Walker, Wanda Westberg, and F. Michael Wood.
Show continues through June."

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Plein Air Convention Recap: Part 2

Day 3

Marketing Bootcamp Day 2

This day, Eric Rhoads talked about the importance of being an expert in whatever you choose your area of expertise to be. He also talked about building your "celebrity status" and how you need other people to talk you up like you really are that expert you want to be. I'm soooo oversimplifying it, but it's actually good stuff. Other marketing buzzwords were bandied about, such as "Sizzle Plan," and "Elevator Pitch" but he did a good job of breaking it down for us hippie artists to understand. The inside joke afterwards was us talking about which reporter we were going to take out to lunch(you had to be there). More good stuff about selling, and how to research. He teased us with how to create sales funnels for day 3... Good info, but by this point we're all waiting for Daniel Gerhartz's demo....

Daniel Gerhartz

His demo did not disappoint! I've been a fan of his work for years (who hasn't, right?) so it was a treat to watch him paint from life for the first time. If you watch the video at the end of this post, you will see a decent progression of his painting he made. He spent close to an hour and a half on it.

I've been into brushwork lately. I'm into trying to improve my calligraphy in my brushwork, so it was a treat to see Dan paint, because I admire the calligraphy in his strokes a lot. I tried to take as many photos of his brush in action as I could.
 His setup. I don't remember his colors on his palette, sorry.
 Here he is signing his name on the finished piece. Super nice guy, by the way.

Charlie Hunter

Charlie did a pretty cool demo of a monochromatic painting in water-mixable oils. I like his work, I think it's pretty unique. It's very different than most plein air painters. It harkens back to the illustrators of the 70's and 80's. It has echoes of Bernie Fuchs, David Grove, and the like. He was also a really funny guy! His sense of humor was a bit of cranky East Coast cynicism/sarcasm, but still warm and gentle. Something that stuck in my head was when he referred to the "Publisher's Invitational Paintout" as the "Publisher's Whoever-has-enough-money-to-make-it-to-Upstate-New-York" because, hey, it's not really an invitational is it? I picked up some tricks from his demo, because he likes to use unorthodox tools like squeegees, cotton swabs, toothpicks, ratty hake brushes and whatever else will make an interesting mark.

Bill Davidson

Bill Davidson was the coolest. One of my favorite people I met at the convention. Just a fun dude to hang out with. A great painter too. He was attempting a very ambitious demo and I was quite surprised with how much he was able to finish. I think his canvas was 20x30". He had an interesting way of starting. He tones his canvas with Gamblin Flesh tone, made darker with burnt umber and lights pulled out with a clean rag. He had some good tips that usually work, like sea water usually gets darker and warmer as it gets closer to you. He spent a good portion of his demo time talking (I think most instructors misjudged their time available) so he didn't get super far into it in front of us, as you can see here:
...but for about 40 minutes worth of work? Not bad, wouldn't you say??

I didn't get great photos of Jim McVicker's demo, but I encourage you to look up his work if you've never seen it. He's a great painter, awesome brushwork. If anyone out there has a good photo of it, let me know.
Lori Putnam did a cool demo that was fun to listen to. Kevin Macpherson was watching, so she had to step it up.

Lecture and demo time was over. Now it was painting time! We went out to Carmel Beach, which is quintessential California seascape. A classic beach that begs to be painted, and painted it does get. Especially with the hundred-or-so artists who peppered its white sands. I couldn't resist the light effect created by the silvery fog, so as quick as I can I painted this study. The composition is pretty awful, but I like the light effect. I may or may not do something with this later on.

I almost didn't paint this one. I was just hanging around the other painters, knowing it was going to get dark pretty soon. Another irresistable scene showed up before me and so I set back up as quick as possible. I knocked this out in about 45 minutes. The key to this painting to me was getting the color temperature differences between the beach and the water. Value does a little bit of the job, but the feel of actually being there is done with the color temperature shift.
"The Last Light" 6x10 in. oil on linen mounted on board.
I finished right at beer o'clock. Time to hit up one of our favorite haunts: The Jack London Bar and Grill. No one has to know what we scribbled on our paper tablecloths. You just have to be there next year.

Coming up next: Day 4 - The Conclusion of the event. Also, bonus demos from the Palette & Chisel Academy from Chicago at the Mountainsong Gallery.

If you missed part 1, I posted a video recap of the event with demos.Enjoy.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Plein Air Convention 2014 Recap: Part 1


Hey so I'm still recovering from the whirlwind event that is the Plein Air Convention. For those who don't know what the convention is(somehow escaped the aggressive marketing?), it's a convention where once a year 700 artists go to the Crown and Anchor bar in Monterey and drink a lot before they remember they have to wake up early to hear Eric Rhoads teach them how to sell their paintings. Hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Before that happens, those 700 painters go to the convention center in Monterey where they watch demos of (almost)all of their favorite plein air painters, listen to lectures and presentations by artists, marketers, gallery owners, etc. and shop for supplies to fuel their inspirations to paint outdoors. It's put on by Eric Rhoads and the rest of the Plein Air Magazine team. For the low low sum of $995 you get a ticket to 5 days and nights of hardcore immersion in all things plein air.

I had been hearing for a couple of years about how awesome the event is from all my friends who had attended before. This was the 3rd year, and some had attended all 3 years, which is a pretty solid endorsement in of itself. Not being able to afford it in past years kept me from going to it before, but I bit the bullet this year and payed for a ticket. I had to make sure I could afford not only the ticket, but a hotel room in Monterey, and enough money to join in the festivities and debauchery. Please handle my wallet carefully, it's still sore... Anyhoo, I was very excited for it once I knew it was a reality, and I was looking forward to seeing old friends, making new ones, and checking out what they had in store for us.

Day 1

Bear with me because I didn't take a ton of photos of everything, so there will be gaps in some parts as far as the visuals go. I got there a little late on Monday the first day because the early schedule started off with sort of a "plein air basic" track to get some of the amateurs up to speed. I was definitely too advanced for it so I didn't watch it. I waited until 4PM for the real opening to begin.

The opening keynote was by Kevin Macpherson. That dude is FUNNY. He kept us all pretty well-entertained with his constant stream of self-deprecating jokes, slideshow of his paintings, and some inspirational quotes sprinkled in here and there. I had forgotten how good of a painter he is. Actually, I didn't forget, but I needed a reminder. It's hard to notice in this photo, but there is so much good painting in this piece that it really makes you stop and pause to look at everything going on it it. Great abstraction working to building a reasonably realistic painting. Quite inspiring, actually.
Kevin Macpherson, "Catalina Playground."

Next up was last year's $15,000 prize winner Shelby Keefe with a speed painting demo to her own music. There was a lot of speed painting going on in this event, which I can take or leave. Where I'm at, it has to be really really good for me to be impressed with a large painting done in 30 minutes. I'd much rather see a well-executed painting done patiently.

There was a Lifetime Achievement Award given in absentia to Richard Schmid. I don't blame him, if I was 70 years old, I probably wouldn't feel like flying across the country just to pick up a trophy. Still, it would have been nice to meet the man/myth/legend. There was a great slideshow of his work with some rarely-seen paintings that spanned his entire career. They actually uploaded part of the presentation to Youtube; check it out:
I wish I'd taken photos of the slideshow, there was some dynamite work. His early landscapes were so so good. As much as I like all of his work, his pre-1980 landscape work has so much thick texture and dazzling interplay of light and dark that I miss in his later more-quiet landscapes. Still, very inspiring. His Maine seascapes depict a quality of grays and fog that are reminiscent of what you find on the North Coast of California and the Pacific Northwest.

Next up were the award winners of the Plein Air Salon. Who would win the $15,000 award?? I appreciate you hoping it was me, but alas 'twas not I. A watercolorist named Stewart White took home the bacon.
" St Johns Church, Richmond" by Stewart White. Watercolor, 11x14.

Day 1 concluded with the cocktail/mingling party where we all reconnected and also put faces to familiar Facebook names. We cashed in our free drink tickets, ate the free food, then escaped to what passes for nightlife on a Monterey weekday. Hey I'm not complaining; I'm a homebody.

Day 2

Day 2 begins bright and early in the morning. 6:30 AM to be exact. Master marketer Eric Rhoads begins his 3 day presentation on how to better market our art. He starts the presentation by saying, "some of this information will offend you." What he was saying was essentially to put our artist's berets and copies of The Art Spirit down for a second and listen to what he has to say about selling art. One of the more unsettling nuggets he gave us included "Improving your craft won't necessarily improve your sales." Ugh, talk about a gut punch to everything you were told... I don't 100% agree with that actually, but I was still willing to hear him out. He went on to give us a lot of useful tips, and some of the exercises (like imagining your ideal customer and a few simple tricks to put us in that person's shoes) immediately worked to jog my imagination about coming up with strategies. Part 1 finishes and I'm digging it so far. We break for breakfast and wait for Joseph McGurl's demo.

A quick sketch of Shelby Keefe + some notes.

Joseph McGurl

Joseph did a demo where I did a quick-ish painting from a finished piece of his. It was pretty cool and fairly unique as far as the convention goes. Joseph is a painter in pursuit of the light, and is more influenced by the early painters of the Hudson River School much more so than by the California Impressionists/Sorolla that much of the rest of us consider influences. I was struck by his preference for ratty brushes and quick-drying whites to build up texture rather than laying brushstrokes on top of each other as most of the other instructors do. I took away plenty from this demo, and even picked up a new tool: a plastic putty knife that you can use for straight edges, making horizon lines, and measuring angles. Very useful for any painter who relies on straight lines for anything they do in a painting.

Randy Sexton and Larry Moore did a demo, which I kinda regret missing most of because I heard it was a good one. I was too jazzed up and ready to paint to sit through another 1.5 hour demo. Here is the only photo I have of it.
Instead I went and painted a really quick study of the rocks near the wharf a block away from the convention.
Monterey Fisherman's Wharf. 3x5 in
I caught the tail end of a Bryan Mark Taylor demo before settling in for John Burton.

John Burton

John Burton started an ambitious demo where he tried to paint a 30x40" canvas in 2 hours. Now, John Burton is a really good painter, local to Carmel who is really good at landscapes. It was pretty interesting to watch him do his thing up there, but I wonder if we would have gotten more out of watching him work a smaller painting further. Still, some take-aways were his use of Kings Blue (a light blue that is based on a mixture of ultramarine blue and white) and azure blue. They seem like good time-saver colors. A good quote of his was, "Plein air painting is an open book test. Studio painting is a closed book test." Meaning, if you are looking to study nature, go to the source instead of relying on a photo's interpretation of the scene. He did a good job and was sufficiently inspiring.

It was time to go out and paint! We went out to Asilomar to paint as a group. It was cool to see so many painters basically take over a spot on the beach and apply our new tricks to our paintings.
Asilomar Beach, 11x14, 2014.
I don't mind gray days like this, in fact, I like trying to find the color within the seeming grays.

Another fun thing to do during these paint-outs was to walk around and see what everyone else was doing. I caught a bit of Daniel Gerhartz painting en plein air...
...speaking of Dan Gerhartz, this is a good place to end today's installment. Coming up next is his demo from the model and much more...

For those who can't wait any longer to see more, I put together a slideshow of photos I took of some instructors doing demos. Looking back at it, I wish I took some more photos than just the essential demo stuff, but now I know for next time. Anyways, enjoy.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Painted Roses in the Midwest

Hey everyone, I have been falling behind on blogging lately... The truth is, it's so much easier just to post photos to Instagram on the go, and blurt thoughts out on Facebook as they occur to me. But I realize I have a handful of dedicated readers on here so I try not to neglect this.

Would you rather see more small frequent updates or do you like less frequent but more in-depth updates on here as I have been doing for a while? Please let me know. I try to make all of my outlets different enough to be followed individually and get a worthwhile experience even if you follow each of them.

The newest painting from the Painted Roses series was done for Aunia Kahn's gallery Alexi Era. I was invited to take part in the gallery's "Indelible" show. What are more indelible than tattoos? It's nice to once-again work with a model who actually has a lot of tattoos, and not have to "fake" it. Tattoos were part of the original concept for the series, anyways. This is a special exhibit for me, as I'm planning on cutting way back on group shows after this year (way too busy with my own things, which is a blessing in of itself) and it's one of the few times I have anything showing in the Midwest anytime in the foreseeable future. If you live anywhere near St. Louis and want to see my paintings in person, please make the trip!

"Lady Eve" 11x14 in. oil on linen mounted on cradled panel. $900 inquire here for purchase.


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