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 02, 2016

Pacific Northwest Plein Air 2016: A New Perspective

I had a great time in Oregon this year participating in this year's Pacific Northwest Plein Air event. I spent most of my time painting the arid high desert of north central Oregon/south central Washington. It is such a dramatic difference from one side of the Columbia Gorge to the other. For whatever reason, east of Hood River becomes a completely different climate than the pine-filled hills and lush waterfall-rich areas west of the river. I have always found that shift fascinating.

The Maryhill Museum is an interesting place, way out in the middle of seemingly nowhere, It has a lot of history and is a bit of a "niche" museum, but its patrons are dedicated. After the Columbia Center For The Arts changed administration and decided to nix it from their schedule, we were temporarily without an event this year. However, thanks to the people at Maryhill and some of the artist members of the Columbia Arts Center, they were able to host it at the new wing of the Museum this year! It is a gorgeous space, in a gorgeous spot of land, as I hope you will see from my painting.

I camped out there with a handful of fellow artists, including Anton Pavlenko, Za Vue and Michael Lindstrom, all great people and unique artists with highly recognizable styles. We stayed at a campground that had its issues, but the good outweighed the bad. More about that later; let's talk about the art!

The first day I spent checking in to the campsite and getting settled in. Although I wanted to paint that day, I just couldn't get it together. I was exhausted from the 12 hour drive the day before, and wasn't especially inspired by the Deschutes River that day. I have learned not to force a painting in these events. It's better to conserve energy to use where it counts. 

Day two had a much better start. We camped right under the Maryhill Museum, which has amazing views. This painting was from the grounds of the museum. I painted it over a couple of mornings. Even though, as the security guard remarked, I had it pretty well blocked-in on day one, having the extra day to finesse certain edges paid off, as I nabbed an award for this one.

"A Gorgeous View" 12x24 in. oil on canvas mounted on board. $1800

I wanted to go back and paint at Mt. Hood Meadows as I did a few years back. I still want to paint there, but I didn't want to waste too much time looking for that spot again, plus there was a spot that really caught my eye as drove down the 35. Had I followed my instincts I could have saved myself a little gas, but no matter. Sometimes you have to satisfy your curiosity. I have to feed that beast or else it will nag me. There is a balance between seizing the opportunity presented from that flash of inspiration versus really thinking and planning out your painting. I do a mix of both during events.

"Bountiful Land" 8x10 in. oil on linen mounted on board. $500

The end of day two was spent at the Griffin House, a popular wedding destination in Hood River. Claire, the house's owner, hosted us for a small event on her property. Many people painted the stunning vista looking west from the gorge, but I didn't really want to do the same view that everyone else did. In fact, it got so late that I didn't even end up painting there. Rather, I came back the next day to paint this little 6x8 that Claire actually ended up buying, so that was my only sale from the show. If there was an Artist Choice award for this show, this one actually would actually be a strong contender despite its size.

"The Love Tree" 6x8 in. oil on canvas mounted on board. Sold.

This was the last painting I did for the show. It's not bad, but I didn't quite capture what I was after. This was painted in the late evening light, but the values and colors are just not right for the situation. I have found that you really have to pump certain colors to capture that mood of fleeting evening light. The trees are my favorite part of this painting.

The Show

The show was well-attended and it looked great on the walls. Even though it was partly on panels it still looked good. Terry Miura was the judge, and I think his picks for awards were some of the most spot-on judging I can remember. Here are the picks as best as I can remember:

Carole Gray-Weihman, Gamblin Purchase Award.

Sergio Lopez, Maryhill Museum Award.

Cathleen Rehfeld, Scenic Area Award.

Bill Elston,  Best Mountain.

Aimee Erickson, Best Water.

Scott Gelatly, Best Sky.

Michael Lindstrom, Honorable Mention.

Sergio Lopez, Honorable Mention.

Za Vue, Third Place.

Aimee Erickson, 2nd Place

Thomas Kitts, 1st Place.

The show was overall a success for the museum so I believe they will expand the show next year and put more resources into it. I know that they will plan on making the show last a month to accomodate everyone who wants to see it. I hope that translates into more sales. Even though I only made one sale, that is all I usually sell in this show anyway. I think my strategy of taking it slower absolutely paid off, since I nabbed two awards this time. I usually do quite well with awards up there, come to think of it. It felt better to win the awards this year for some reason. I think it's because I hold the venue in high regard, and I felt the awards were pretty fair and balanced.

I am glad to see the new approach to plein air events working so far.

Extra Thoughts

The Maryhill State Park we camped at was pretty nice, but there was almost no privacy from one campsite to another. In most places I've ever camped at, there is usually some greenery of some sort to shield you from your neighbors.


Here is our campsite. It is very green. You know why it's green? Because the sprinklers go off every day. Every part that the ground has green grass is where the water drenches. But don't be fooled, water spray isn't a totally exact science. If you were one of the unlucky folks who were camping on either side of us, your car/picnic table/tent might have gotten sprayed sometime during the day. And if you were REALLY unlucky like our poor neighbors who got to their site late, they spray late at night when you are trying to set up your tent... So if you are going to camp at Maryhill State Park, be wary.

The Columbia River was lovely to swim inside of when it got hot. There were a few days where the combination of no wind and a hot desert day made for perfect swim opportunities.

Have you ever painted on a 6x8 panel, then realized that you brought a 5x7 panel with you? Because that is what happened to me. Fortunately, I found a little frame shop in The Dalles called Westwind. I didn't see too many ready-mades, but this cool-looking punk-rockish lady with wild hair greeted me. I told her what I needed, and how soon I needed it, and she whipped up a simple little frame for me for 10 dollars in like 10 minutes! Great service. It's a good place to find in a pinch like that, and maybe I'll get some more frames from there in the future.

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