CAP & LPAPA exhibit “Unexpected Places” through May 29

By M Charlie Ferrazzi 

“Unexpected Places” is an exhibit of juried works by Signature and Artist Members of Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA). 

LPAPA Artists Val Carson, Toni Danchik, and Brandon Gonzales participated in the Artists’ Conversation that was recently held at The CAP Gallery. CAP President Laura Mayo was the moderator. The title is the general theme of the works. The works are the personal glimpses of the artists and what has caught their eye. It’s on exhibit through May 29.

When asked to explain “the process” each Artist used in creating their work, it was interesting to note some of the common elements. For all it was the initial impact and response to the site: the light, colour, shapes, and atmosphere. Being able to capture that and present it to the viewer was a driving force for each.

Sketches done on site, whether pencil lines or color samples, were key to the start of the process. Line sketches are good for placement and composition of the scenes and elements of the scene. Colour sketches become colour keys, or reference, for the colours seen at the particular time the Artists are at the site. These sketches can be completed works for later sale or can become part of a reference library, similar to an Artist’s sketchbook, and never be offered for sale or viewing.

CAP and LPAPA artist conveersation

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Laura Mayo (President of CAP), Toni Danchik, Val Carson, Brandon Gonzales (LPAPA Artists), and Rosemary Swimm (Executive Director of LPAPA)

The “Conversation” was then opened up to the audience for a lively and informative question and answer session. Here are some of the questions and responses.

Do you stand or sit when you are painting?

All three Artists answered “stand.” The reason being that when working in impressionistic style, stepping back from the work allows the Artist to see the overall work and see if it is coming together compositionally and making sense. Working up close only makes the details obvious to the eye.

Carson’s reply revealed that she did more to this ‘easel exercise routine’ by keeping her turpentine on the floor so as not to knock it off the easel. This meant she also did quite a bit of the up and down along with the back and forth!

Do you take the painting home to touch up or finish in the studio?

Carson answered “sometimes” for touch-up. If the painting is a sketch for a larger piece or to block in the scene, then it is a reference piece.

Danchik answered no, since she uses the original small sketches for reference for pieces done in the studio. She frequently will have a small value sketch in an upper corner as a reminder of any detail that is important to the piece.

Gonzales said that it depended on whether it is a competition piece, which means no. Otherwise he will revisit the site if he feels the need for more information for the finished piece.

Do you take photographs of the site?

All three artists stated they do as a form of reference of what was at the scene and the placement of the elements. They don’t use the photos for the creation of their works. Since pretty much everyone carries a cell phone, it is handy to snap a quick pic for reference.

Is there any beauty of the mountains that drives you to head up there and paint, away from the local beauty of Laguna Beach and surrounds?

Carson has painted in the mountains and spent quite a bit of time there in the 1980s at the family’s Mammoth cabin, but not any longer. The views are tempting but when the temperature is below 39 degrees it is a no.

Danchik calls herself a “fair weather painter” and has never tried.

Gonzales loves the mountains and has been doing quite a bit of it lately. He has a special pair of gloves he has cut the fingertips off of so that he “can feel the brush against the canvas” while painting.

What do you feel about working with kids and painting?

Danchik replied it was “Amazing. It’s wonderful to see plein air Artists working with children. It is interesting to see the different personalities of the kids come out from the exposure. Kids learn so quickly!”

Carson got her teaching credentials after her Art degree and has taught for 20+ years. She “loves working with kids. They learn so fast and are decisive of what they want to do. They aren’t scared to try.” Her students range from 3 to 73-years-old.

Gonzales currently teaches at LCAD. He has created a plein air curriculum for the Game Art division students. To introduce them to working in the open air and outdoors: completely different from the digital world they are studying.

What Artists do you look up to?

For Danchik it is the early California painters.

Carson was “raised on Mozart and Manet and later learned about the California Impressionists when she moved to California from Arizona. John Asaro is another, but I am in awe of Art and Artists.”

Gonzales chooses “Richard Schmidt and Sargent, but also others as he discovers them, their Art and approach.”

A last question: For inspiration while creating, do you listen to music or something else?

Gonzales listens to music in the studio, but outdoors it is the smells, breeze, light and atmosphere: the desire to absorb all the sensory elements of the site.

Carson is similar to Gonzales. On the rare occasion she will play classical music in the studio.

Danchik prefers being alert to her surroundings outdoors. She tells of the time she was out painting alone at Niguel Lake, listening to music and having a great time. Suddenly she realized it was dark! She packed her car to leave and found she had a dead battery. She only had enough cell battery to call her husband and Auto Club. All turned out well, but it was a lesson learned.

The “Unexpected Placesexhibit runs through May 29 at The CAP Gallery at 260 Ocean Ave, Second floor, Wells Fargo Bank. The free event is open to the public.

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