I've continued working on Mustard and Mt. St. Helena some more tonight – it's developing! Each successive layer brings a little more fine tuning.
You can see here how, besides the evolution of the sky, there's more development of the details of mustard flowers in the foreground and the purpley winter vines behind them. But I'm not done yet. The joy is in the process... it's as much a process of discovery as anything else.
Mt. St. Helena rises above the Napa Valley floor just north of Calistoga. This field is part of an old farm called The Yellow Rose, on the upper edge of town. Every year the field is filled with mustard flowers, and the winter vines of the vineyard behind them looks vaguely purpley. I've painted it before, in a different, cooler, palette, and a very different size - 36"x48", in contrast to this small 8"x10" painting on panel.
Mustard and Mt. St. Helena is another one of the small paintings on panels I'm working on for my show at Taste of Yountville in three weeks. I begin with the basic composition, then with blocking in the large areas of color.
It's a process of painting successive layers of color, with each layer underneath influencing what's on top of it, and breaking down the large areas into smaller and smaller levels of detail with each layer.
One of the things I appreciate about painting with acrylics is that its quicker drying process makes layering so wonderful, and enables me to leave bits and pieces of the painting underneath, as I continue painting new layers.
There's still more to come!
Time is flying by – and the Napa Valley Open Studios show at Taste of Yountville is only a few weeks away. I have so much work to finish! I have somewhere between half a dozen and ten pieces in process. To mis-paraphrase Samuel Johnson*, deadlines do concentrate the mind wonderfully....
Ridgetop Vineyard is painted of a view just down the road from my home, where vineyards line either side of the road down to Calistoga.
* As Samuel Johnson actually said, "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." Preparing for a show is quite a different sort of hanging altogether!
I think I've finished this painting... but you never know. I just finished it today, and I'll have to see what it's telling me tomorrow.
On Wednesday, I brought my giclee canvases of The Red Tree to the Napa River Inn, so the good folks at the inn could hang them Thursday morning, just in time for Valentine's Day. When I emerged, it was just that magical twilight time when the sky is not yet dark – still a little apricot-colored above the horizon – but deepening up above. I thought, what a perfect time it would be to walk around to the river, and see the view.
Walking along the north side of the building, towards the river, the walkway to the courtyard was lit and looked enchanting. The Inn is in a complex of buildings at the site of Napa's historical mill - you can see the mill's silos above.
It's just a short stroll past the courtyard to the Napa River... looking north towards the bridge and the last remnants of the sunset, I was enchanted – and ever so glad I had brought my camera in the car. The Napa Artwalk is back here – a series of sculptures sited near the buildings, and facing the river. It's a lovely place to stroll and enjoy the artwork.
Turning south, I passed along the back side of the inn – see the balconies above, lit ever so captivatingly? There's a little garden with a fountain tucked in between the walkway and the building, too. My artwork may be in some of those rooms now....
Past the back of the inn, and the little garden with the fountain, is the courtyard behind the mill. With palm trees! Palm trees have such engaging silhouettes....
Continuing along the walk by the river, I came to the back of the Napa General Store. The tall metal spirals, lit up, are grape destemmers used at the beginning of the winemaking process. Bins of grapes are poured in troughs where the destemmers are turning. I like them as lights, too, though they do look wickedly sharp.
Here's the view of the river heading south of Napa. Far off (you can't really tell here) there were a couple of folks in a little boat, slowly rowing. It was actually quiet enough for me to hear their oars splashing in the water as they drew closer. I thought it seemed like a wonderful time for a boat ride (especially if there'd be enough moonlight to get home by).
I wasn't the only person out for a stroll. Spring has come early (let's hope it holds!), and the weather was lovely and balmy. This view looks back towards the back of the mill, from where I'd come. I like the sign on the side of the restaurant, and the appealing little lights across the tops of the building.
Then it was around the corner, back to where I started my delightful twilight stroll. I'm so glad my artwork has gone to such a lovely home!
Last spring, when I was first contacted by a designer who'd been looking at my artwork on the internet, I had no idea where it would lead. The design project was for the Napa River Inn, in the historic Napa Mill, on the river right in the old, and wonderfully revitalized, section of downtown Napa.
Ultimately, I was one of four local artists whose paintings were chosen for four newly redesigned luxury suites. And for the first time I was reproducing my work – four giclees on canvas, one for each of the four rooms.
What's a giclee (pronounced ZHEE-clay - it's French), you might ask? It's basically a reproduction printed on a very large, specialized inkjet printer, with multiple colors of archival (very long-lasting) inks, able to print on large, heavy papers or canvas.
For these, my printer, Dave Courtney of Dacor Imaging, builds stretcher bars and stretches the canvas over them, then sprays them multiple times with his own special mixture of an archival, protective spray.
Last weekend I learned that Napa River Inn wanted six more giclees in time for Valentine's Day! Dave worked hard to get them done, along with giclees for one of my favorite local painters, Beverly Wilson, and Gail Toland, whom I haven't yet met. All three of us were chosen!
So, the day before Valentine's Day, I drove to Napa to collect them - six big (30"x40") reproductions on canvas, all looking absolutely gorgeous, in protective bags for the journey. I signed each one, and we loaded them carefully in my car. The Inn has promised us painters a tour soon, so we can see how these look in the rooms - I can hardly wait!
Karen Lynn Ingalls
I am an artist in Napa and Sonoma Counties, in California. I paint colorist landscapes of rural California, teach art classes and lessons, and live in Calistoga, California. I also teach private, group, and corporate art workshops in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and other parts of Northern California.