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Home from Croatia!Monday, October 06, 2014 by Steve Hill
We have been home from Croatia for a few days now and I'd like to share some images of live demo paintings I did for the Croatia Art Experience Workshop. These are 3 of my 9 demo pieces now finished for framing. They are for sale at our Windswept Fine Art Gallery on Lopez, inquiries welcome.

Tending the Nets
Tending the Nets
I will be finishing the other paintings over the next couple of weeks and have all of them ready for a collective exhibit with two other Lopez Island Artists, Ralph Bladt and Anne Whirledge Karp, who also travelled to Croatia for this experience. We will announce the time (probably Thanks giving weekend) and venue through blogs, ads in the Islands Weekly and Lopez Rocks, soon.

Hauled Out
Hauled Out
In the meantime, we are enjoying nice autumn weather on Lopez Island, very similar to what we had in Croatia . . . minus @ 20 degrees Fahrenheit and warm swims in the Adriatic Sea every evening, much welcomed after a hard days painting in southern Croatia.



Three in a Row
Three in a Row
Stay tuned for a very unique exhibit coming up!










Croatian FishermanWednesday, September 24, 2014 by Steve Hill
Croatian Fisherman
Croatian Fisherman
We are in Croatia, where I am leading a plein air painting experience with 10 students on the island of Korcula, near Dubrovnik. The light around the Adriatic Sea this time of year, gives everything a warm glow and seems to intensify the turquoise waters.

A fisherman tending his boat and nets at Lumbarda (the village where we are all staying) provided an ideal “live” model as I had chosen his boat to demonstrate water reflections for the group, just before he hopped aboard. The russet colored fishing net and small white floats, all carefully wrapped for his next trip out on the water begged my attention as a painter.

He stayed aboard just long enough to strike an interesting pose and gave me a wonderful opportunity to capture a fleeting moment in time.




Yeah, Mon!Monday, November 12, 2012 by Steve Hill
We are in Jamaica, where “Hurricane Sandy” spun winds over 100 mph, resulting in the high seas that took-out whole sections of coastal beaches, docks and breakwaters, like this one, near Ocho Rios, on the north side of the island.

Fixing Sandy II
Fixing Sandy II
These workers labored for nearly 2 weeks, just re-arranging piles of large stones, to begin the new concrete forms that will become foundation for the next break water. I say “next” as everything has a half-life, wherever broad reaches of water meet land in the Caribbean.




Fixing Sandy I
Fixing Sandy I
Still, the beauty of the light and very colorful reflected images, set-in-motion by the workers, who still say “Yeah Mon” to all within earshot, have provided me with a good supply of subject matter for some serious studio work this winter. These are 2 studies done on-site, that will become a part of that new work.




Stanley CreekWednesday, October 06, 2010 by Steve Hill
The Stanley Basin of central Idaho is surrounded by the infamous Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness, the largest primitive wilderness area in the continental United States (@754,000 acres). This waterway flowing through the valley and aptly named “Stanley Creek” made a sinuous journey towards its namesake lake, about 6 miles downstream from here.

Stanley Creek October Afternoon
Stanley Creek October Afternoon
If there's a signature logo for the farmlands in this paradise, it's the log rail fences that make perfect harmonic divisions of space across grand expanses of meadows, now illuminated in the orange/yellow colors of autumn grasses and olive green sages. The quiet here is deafening and I could hear the water running in the creek about a half mile away, far below my perch.




Crooked River flows through Smith Rock State Park
Crooked River flows through Smith Rock State Park
A beautiful sunny day gave the distant hillside and cliffs a warm contrast above the Crooked River, wrapped around the base of this state park, near Redmond. I'm always fascinated by surpentine compositions like this, especially with the geologic color make-up of rocks like rhyolite (reddish) and basalt (grayish) plying for attention. Really, it's the river that binds everything together, both physically and visually . . . always creating harmonious rhythms within the landscape.




A New DirectionFriday, October 01, 2010 by Steve Hill
Warm Springs River Canyon in north central Oregon provided a very dramatic cliff and rock formation in late afternoon light. I am at the beginning of a one month plein air painting trip that will encompass many Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana wildernss areas. This piece was done 5 days ago at Kah Nee Tah, on the Warm Springs Indian Resercation.

Warm Springs Creek
Warm Springs Creek
My plan is to re-connect with subject matter involving water, rocks, motion and colors, in transient light, as studies to begin a new series of paintings involving those elements.

Growing-up in Idaho around creeks, rivers and lakes, plus living on the water in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, since 1974, has affected how I interpret and present my subject matter a great deal.




Croatia Art Experience 2009/2010Sunday, November 08, 2009 by Steve Hill
The Croatia Art Experience ended with a flurry of activity from all involved. The last outdoor painting day was spent at the old walled city of Korcula, with everyone working hard to pick-off the last rays of sun, as storm clouds finally headed our way. But after nothing less than totally warm and sunny weather from day one, it was rather theatrical and nearly perfect timing to have a storm come-in off the Adriatic the afternoon of the last painting day. Even the dark clouds provided a good back-drop to the ancient walls and buildings, and the water still remains turquoise (although a bit darker shade) during storms. It was a good time for reference photos, and I am sure many fine paintings from this group will be made over the coming winter . . . except Tania, painter extraordinaire, who lives and works in Australia, where summer is the next season. Alas, the rest of our group (Canada and the U.S.) are experiencing short days, long nights, perfect for reflection upon the beautiful time spent painting in Croatia.


The group photo here is from the village of Rascice, a deep water port filled with old wooden boats, one of the stunning painting locations on Korcula Island. I have already heard from Lynda Milina, workshop/art experience coordinator, that she has also posted some group/action photos, as we both plan for the next Croatia Art Experience, October 3-12, 2010.

We will be advertising through some international art magazines, as well as an article or two in the “Zadjednicar” (Croatian newspaper printed in north America) for the next plein air painting experience, as well as web blogs, etc. Now is a good time to think seriously about coming with us next October. All mediums are encouraged, the food is simply superb and the accommodations are totally comfortable and perfectly located within 250 feet of the water.

Go to the web-site www.slikamilina.ca and click on “events” to see more photos and “testimonials” to read what others have to say, “pricing” for that info, then forward to any friends or sign-up yourself for the 2010 tour! All levels, from beginners to experienced are welcome and all art mediums (including photography) are encouraged.

P.S. British Airways has a new Visa Credit Card promo going that even I signed-up for. 50,000 air miles (enough for a RT fare to Europe) just for signing-on and another 50,000 bonus miles if you charge over $2000 in 3 months. That's airfare (RT) for 2 people for just using that Visa Card. Plus upgrades for business class (like 1st class on most carriers) just using air miles, good offers for companion passes, etc. Their promo only goes through November 30th but is well worth using whether you go to Croatia or anywhere else in Europe.




Aix en ProvenceMonday, October 05, 2009 by Steve Hill
September 23 2009


Cezanne's atelier, which I visited today, had a similar although loftier view over the city of Mont Sainte Victoire, which he painted several times with mid-range color values and a muted palette.

Perhaps the transient effects of light affects my own palette in a much different way. I tend towards expressing light on objects with stronger color temperatures and a very large range of lights and darks, because it is how I see and choose to interpret the landscape.

Same mountain, different painting techniques and styles. Interesting to note: Picasso is buried on this mountain, as his family purchased a huge piece of Mt. Ste Victoire when he died. A well curated exhibit of Cezanne and Picasso's work at the museum in Aix provided excellent examples of the 2 artists mutual admiration and influence, especially of Cezanne for Picasso. (Cezanne died 1906, Picasso 1973). We are all part of this ongoing visual dialogue and the best is yet to come.




Rural FranceThursday, October 01, 2009 by Steve Hill

The painting here was done en plein air near Jegun, France, in the Gers region of southwest France, looking up at a chateau from just in front of a field of sunflowers. The spent russet flowers were all pointing characteristically east, but the backsides of the heads (facing me) still provided a color statement of fairly bright, warm golds & yellows, set against the earthier tones above.

Summer gives way to the fall harvest here, with busy vineyards, the last of tomatoes and many fresh farm products showing there own colors with the season. This is the most rural farm region in France, with hardy people who manage the land taking in harvests and celebrating “the good life”.

It is also the site where I am planning to teach another art workshop next September (2010), just prior to the scheduled painting workshop I will teach in Croatia in October of next year, as well.




Basque LandscapeSaturday, September 19, 2009 by Steve Hill
Painted from a hilltop overlooking Gernika with a distance church.
Painted from a hilltop overlooking Gernika with a distance church.
Painting in the Basque countryside of Spain brings many visual opportunities, as the steep, rugged countryside allows the perception of peaceful, nearly poetic contemplation for those who would listen. I hear it speak through the buildings that cling to hillsides and centuries old family dwellings, churches and villages along the coast and in the mountains.

We are here on this first leg of a 7 week European painting trip, with our Basque family connection, Carlos Mendiola, (my sister, Deanna's husband) from Boise, Idaho, together with his cousin, Inaki, who lives here and has been guiding a fascinating, multi lingual journey through the last 500 years of recorded family history for Carlos.

Painted above an old farmhouse overlooking the Bay of Bisque
Painted above an old farmhouse overlooking the Bay of Bisque
This church on the hillside north of Gernika, as well as this beautiful country villa near EA on the Bay of Biscay were both bathed in warm light yesterday, when I worked from a sunny perch. Today, torrential, thunderous rains have limited visibility to less than 200 meters – as our hosts at this seaside villa say “It's very good for the grapes, peaches and figs growing just around the house”.


For me, right now, the rain makes a good opportunity to think about what adventures lie ahead, as I paint my way across the continent.






Seeing with new eyesThursday, July 17, 2008 by Steve Hill
July 17, 2008

The end of our 3 month trip to paint in Europe was made perfect by a 3 night stay at a wonderful B&B “I Castagni” (the chestnut trees) only 5 km from Milan's Malpensa Airport, but nestled in the village of Casarati Sempione, a world completely apart from the busy airport activity. We got to know Carlo and Anna Colombo, owners and their wonderful Italian family, all of whom share a great appreciation for art, music and especially good food . . . we had great dinners with them and even painted at a favorite family site on a gorgeous nearby river, the night before we left. (www.icastagni-bb.it highly recommended!). What we thought might be a laid-back “catch our breath” time really underscored the whole essence of this trip – to do a lot of painting and absorb as much culture as humanly possible, in 3 short months. Every minute seemed filled with the joy of discovery and the comfort of living in true European manner, with gracious style and character always present.

The paintings from this trip are headed for finishing touch-ups in the studio and the framers soon. They will be available at my studio/gallery on Lopez, especially the annual Lopez Island Labor Day Studio Tour as well as other gallery venues, which will be announced as they come-up.

When we arrived home on Lopez Island, we were both basking in a warm feeling from the trip, as well as another for this fabulous place where we live in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. I immediately set-out to paint for 2 consecutive weeks and did the four pieces here. Jet lag and all, I feel very motivated to work and quite energized!

A favorite Lopez spot
A favorite Lopez spot
Harvest time
Harvest time


I know my eyes are opened wider because of this marathon painting experience (50 paintings completed in Europe) and I plan to take that to the “studio”. What I have really confirmed is that my “studio” exists outdoors wherever and whenever I get the opportunity to paint. Being more able to see the familiar landscape with new eyes is the gift from this trip abroad and there really is no place quite like home.

The San Juan Islands paintings pictured here will be part of a larger show at Crow Valley Pottery Gallery, on Orcas Island, opening reception on Friday, July 18th (4-7) - see their web site: www.crowvalley.com for details.

Low Tides reveal wonderful surprises
Low Tides reveal wonderful surprises
Summer Fields ready to harvest
Summer Fields ready to harvest


I will also have some local pieces for a big event to benefit The San Juan Preservation Trust - a paint-out and ‘quick draw' with the Plein Air Painters of Washington on San Juan Island, August 2nd. More details on that event and new gallery showings later. We will also announce a grand opening for our Windswept Studio Gallery here at 783 Port Stanley Rd., very soon!

Per adesso
Uno buono viaggio!!!

Stefano e Giuditta




Tuscan Mountain VillaMonday, June 23, 2008 by Steve Hill
San Giovanni, Italy, June 10

This painting is an old farmhouse where we stayed, part of a twelfth century estate perched high above the valley near San Giovanni, just 40 km east of Lucca. The house has a history that incudes the most recent incursions involving the Fascists when British troops occupied the little village a few kilometers away and sent a few mortar rounds into these buildings occupied by Fascists during WWII.

Italy Tuscan Mountain Villa
Italy Tuscan Mountain Villa


The roofs have been replaced and the serenity of the Tuscan countryside prevails. The walls were reflecting the warm tones cast by the sun and set a quiet glow across the landscape.




Korcula Island, CroatiaTuesday, June 03, 2008 by Steve Hill
Korcula Island, Croatia

Each island we visit becomes even more beautiful than the last. Since Krk(Kirk) we have been to the medieval ccoastal city of Zadar for two days then off to Dubrovnik, where we stayed nearby in a little village called Slano, nested on a fantastic small bay of the Adriatic. I didn't paint for those 5 days as we were simply awestruck by the visual impact of both cities, as well as the war (1992-96, when they were attacked by the Serbs and Monte Negro forces). Even Dubrovnik, which was heavily hit and is still re-building - although the casual visitor wouldn't really notice - as they are doing such a marvelous job of restoration. That city has a very long history of seiges, inflicted by both man and nature (huge earthquake in 1665 wiped-out most of the city, as well as another in the 1970's). It is the wars, though, that underscore the resilience of these people and their innate ability to always adjust. Hundreds of residents of Dubrovnik hid-out for weeks in an old fortress of the city wall (several feet thick, built of stone) in the 90's war while hundreds more were killed and thousands wounded. Hundrds of buildings were completely destroyed - one notable stat is they have replaced 490,000 roof tiles since 1996 and are still working.


Croatia Korcula old town
Croatia Korcula old town
The most poignant moment for me came when I discovered that the small village of Slano, where we rented an “apartmani” had been completely fire-bombed by the Serbs. Every building in the village, including the only resort hotel was fire bombed. The older buildings survived, structurely, as stone doesn't readily burn and roof tiles and interior walls can be replaced, which they have been doing for 12 years now. Even the church tower survived, which was a prime target all over Croatia for other villages, as we have observed. This comment made by the owner of our apartment (which was likewise nearly completely destroyed, but has been re-built to fine standards with more modern conveniences) that he is Croatian and his wife of 40 years is Serbian “You know, because we are who we are, (serb and Croatian) it is not good for us now in either country. We have these damned wars every 50 years and maybe this one will be the last.” He looked fifteen years older than his age and is obviously weary of the processes involved in “these damned wars”. While we see it on TV and read about it in the news, these small countries get a hands-on experience in real-time and it is ugly. Roadside signs here and there, still warn of land mines, with a skull and cross bones image.

It's very beautiful in Croatia again, most everything has been restored to it's former glory and it is all because of the strong spirit prevailing in these people. While they are a little trepiditous about joining the EU, which will happen in just months, they are also willing to look at a new union that might help to preclude “a damned war every 50 years” or so.

Croatia Korcula village
Croatia Korcula village
We have now taken thousands of photos (at least 400 just in Dubrovnik) for painting references and I am looking forward to using those in the studio. I am back to painting on-site again and have a couple of images here from the islands of Murter and now Korcula, where we are staying for one week. Today, it's off to Vela Luka, a town on the far west side of this island, ironically, the sister city of Anacortes, Washington, near where we live. The “Vela Luka” dancers of Anacortes, share a cultural weave through their native costumed dances and language preservation.


OK, I know I said these blogs would be only about the paintings, especially after the opus from Spain, but a lot of the painting process for me includes an added dimension, beyond just form, color and light and has much to do with human elements as well.




Krk island, Croatia

Three days of painting around the old city (3000 years old) with walls built between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries has been a fabulous experience!

We lucked into the best apartmnent rental in Croatia (at least to date) which has a balcony perfectly aligned for great compositions of the old walled city and especially the cathedral, with a bronze “weather angel” atop who swings with the prevailing wind.



The owners of ths apartment are artists, Dagmar (German born) and her husband Cedo (Croatian), who has designed and built this great home. Dagmar paints in watercolor and owns a gallery in the old city, while Cedo (Chay dough) expertly frames her work. We have become friends and painted together on the harbor.

We have the whole upstairs for 5 days, but could easily and readily spend 5 weeks painting here. Unbelievable colors, especially in the water and dozens of narrow passages within the city to set-up my easel. This is defnitley a keeper for painting locations and we will return here within 2 years to spend more time. The island is magical (aren't they all?!) and just takes your breath away.

The paintings/studies here have all been done in 4 days and some will require extra studio time when we return. As usual, several drawings (studies) and hundreds of photos will keep me very busy for months to come.



Speaking of months to come, we just hit the halfway point of our 3 month painting trip to Europe, with two more weeks in Croatia and then 4 more weeks in Italy. The work I am doing here will be available in mid-July, framed and ready to hang at Crow Valley Gallery in Eastsound, Orcas Island, Washington, Gottlieb gallery in Portland, Oregon and later this fall at Scott Milo gallery in Anacortes, Washington and Woman of Steel Gallery in Boise, Idaho..

Please watch the web site for show dates.

Many more paintings have been produced on this trip than I have had time to “blog”. Travelling like this is not conducive to regular communications and I feel lucky to fire-off one per week.




Steve follows footsteps!Tuesday, May 13, 2008 by Steve Hill
Venice, Italy April 28, 2008

Steve follows footsteps!

I had exactly one good weather day to set-up to paint in Venezia and took advantage by starting a plein air piece at one of the many Pontes - out of the wind and with sunlight streaming through. Rain and nasty weather had prevailed throughout our entire trip during March and April, making any outdoor painting a challenge.

As I reflect back to having the opportunity to actually paint in what is, without question, the most unique city in the world, (we are presently in Croatia, nearly 2 weeks later) I have to say it was simply humbling. Tintorettos from 400 years ago were being shown in the museum, together with many other master painters from Venice. I took the time to carefully observe how they applied paint and how they translated within their own time, and really, how little the city has changed since.


Venice Ponte
Venice Ponte
I am thankful for the opportunity and picked-up some good reviews from the throngs of people passing by . . . . for me, the biggest thing was to simply paint on-site in Venice. As usual, several sketches were done the 2 days we visited the city and a huge amount of phototography for studio work was accomplished. it's all about the light here and I hope to nail it down from my field work and as time allows when we return home.




Spain - surprises through artMonday, April 28, 2008 by Steve Hill
Wednesday April 16 2008

After driving through “virtual eye candy” for one whole day without actually stopping to paint, (from Porto, Portugal to Gijon, Spain on the north coast), I finally settled on a spot overloking a tidal area just 25km east of Gijon. Off road for a few km, we tried for parking at a spot where the hillside overlooked sea and the light was glowing, even at mid-day! The parking problem is perpetual over here, even in small rural areas - after three passes back and forth over a narrow roadway, we nearly gave-up. However, a house just uphill, with a small driveway access (and under remodel construction - probably about 300 years old) had a few people on-site, so we stopped to see about permission to paint near there,

This is what always delights me about the common dialogue of art - it transcends language barriers and makes instant communication possible. The woman who came to meet us at the bottom of her driveway, was at first, very cautious about any conversation (she spoke no English, likewise us in Spanish), until I showed her a few samples of my artwork (business card images) and pantomimed setting-up to paint.

Her husband and several stone masons, arms folded on chests, were also very askance about a stranger in their midst, especially when they were busy with a huge project.

I don't want to go off about this, but it is the essence of my travels and to do art wherever I go. Before I knew it, and once the language barrier was partly resolved, I was being ushered to a prime painting spot on their roof, with a 360 view and enthusiastic gestures about which way to paint, from everyone! This, my friend, is what it means for me to be at home in a strange land!

I finished the painting 2 hours later - it's ALWAYS scarey to show your work to a new crowd - and was met with great reviews plus an invitation indoors for coffee (which got spiked with something really good by Justino) and a “conversation” in Spanish, Italian and English for nearly an hour . . . all with arms waving wildly and gestures that were made with great passion.

We made life-long frinds with the Guitterexz family – they are Basque, (like so many of my old friends in Boise, Idaho, especially my brother-in-law, Carlos Mendiola) and even knew much about HIS heritage over here, telling us of his name-sake!! We have exchanged invitaions to meet again as guests of one another in either country and I sincerely hope that happens!

Tidal flats, Gijon, Spain
Tidal flats, Gijon, Spain
What a place and I hope my painting here gives you a small visual idea of this countryside, filled with beautiful people, and with a history beyond description.

O.K, after this, no more epic opus from ol' Steve, just the straight stuff from the easel. What a trip this has been and we're barely started!




Ponte de LimaFriday, April 25, 2008 by Steve Hill
Ponte de Lima, Portugal April 15,2008

This bridge in northern Portugal is home to a local bi-weekly market day that has been going, without stop, since 1125. After 900 years, these vendors have it down cold and you can find everything you might ever need here!

I found the bridge with small cathedral and a beautiful river to paint.

Afterwards, I simply turned around, walked out on the bridge to paint these distant buildings reflected in the water. A lot of quick strokes, as the light was rapidly changing.

Ponte de Lima, Portugal
Ponte de Lima, Portugal
Up river from Ponte de Lima bridge
Up river from Ponte de Lima bridge




Ventimiglia, ItalyFriday, April 25, 2008 by Steve Hill
Ventimiglia, Italy

4/24/08

The village from the mouth of the river flowing down from the alps. Spring has arrived (o.k., it was 78 degrees that afternoon) and the colors were out. This is just across the border from France, the “rivieras” of both countries. Many studies done for future paintigs from the studio when we get back home!

Ventimiglia, Italian Riviera
Ventimiglia, Italian Riviera




Ponte at AuchFriday, April 25, 2008 by Steve Hill
Ponte at Auch, France 4/19/08

Ponte at Auch
Ponte at Auch
Painted during a weather transition (meaning wind, with sun, then rain) I was lucky to get the basic color and composition notes before the rain. We arrived at Auch during their weekly farmers market and have dozens of reference photos and sketches from that very colorful market that I can't wait to paint from later. (Pronounced Ouw-sh). Another bridge piece from the other side, with the village cathedral in the background) will come from this site when we get home.




After the StormTuesday, April 15, 2008 by Steve Hill
April 8, 2008

This storm painting was done from a different angle yesterday evening, looking out from our balcony in Albufeira, Portugal. The seas built-up to about an 18 foot surf crashing the beaches, making for very dramatic light and wind conditions.

This morning, however, it is raining feircely, the sun has disappeared and the wind is still howling across the Atlantic. In the Pacific Northwest, I refer to this as “Rain air” painting, done from an indoor perch, looking outside. I will be working today from photos taken yesterday in a sweet little fishing town, Farragudo, near Portiamo, just 40 km west of here. I remain hopeful for better weather conditions to get outside with easel and painting materials, as we will be here through Saturday.

After the storm
After the storm




AlgarveTuesday, April 15, 2008 by Steve Hill
Albufeira, Portugal, April 6, 2008

First complete plein air painting from our balcony overlooking the southwest coast of Portugal. It has taken me nearly one week to adjust to the light and colors over here. This late afternoon sun and pending storm front made the water and horizon both appear liquid, yet provided a soft warm glow to the sunlit foreground.

There are some interesting rocks, where locals fish with long casting rods that I plan to explore when the wind lays down. The surf here is very active and makes wonderful patterns along the expansive stretches of beach. All in all, I'd say this is a superb place to explore and paint!

We are finding that daily blogs are next to impossible and will try to do at least one or two per week, with images from paintings, as well. “Wireless” is not easily found in Portugal, especially when our travel itinerary requires more necessary stops just to paint and for food, etc.
Algarve view
Algarve view




Badgering Marmot in MaineTuesday, December 05, 2006 by Steve Hill
Badgering Marmot
Badgering Marmot
Now that I'm out from under the critical scrutiny of a badgering marmot "pun intended" and the wilds of New England... where I painted several pieces... a new series of plein air work will soon appear on the website. This little guy kept a wary eye on my progress at the Portland Maine Audubon Society Preserve & Headquarters. I'll update with new work soon.






 
© Steven Hill - Windswept Studios