Category Archives: Conservation

Almost Famous

The PBS program America’s Heartland has aired an episode about the Yolo Art and Agriculture program (It aired October 17 and October 21, 2012, on my local station, but the air dates might be different on your PBS affiliate.) It’s pretty cool that this program has received this kind of attention—and, according to the episode, it’s also been noticed by arts organizations around the country. I know I very much appreciate being able to go out to private property to paint with them, and then sharing the vistas and open space with people through my paintings.

I wasn’t there the day the film crew showed up, so they didn’t interview me. But I AM in it—very briefly! Toward the end, they show a couple of still photos. The artist in the gray jacket with her back to the camera is me. Don’t blink. You’ll miss me.

This is the painting I was working on the day Janice Purnell of Yolo Art & Ag snapped the photo PBS used.

Terra Firma Study ©2011 Stephanie Benedict oil 8 x 10 inches
Terra Firma Study ©2011 Stephanie Benedict oil 8 x 10 inches. I later did a larger version as well.

Into the Blue

Here’s a new painting I’ll be showing at High Hand Gallery in Loomis, California, starting in September. It’s called “Into the Blue.” I had the opportunity to paint last spring at Oest-Clementine Preserve, one of the nature preserves in the Sierra Nevada foothills owned and maintained by Placer Land Trust. PLT sponsored a series of plein air events at their preserves. This one is outside of Auburn, California, near the American River. (If you know the area, Lake Clementine is in the gap between the second and third ridge in the painting, and the Foresthill Bridge is offstage right about, oh, maybe half a mile.)

Into the Blue ©2012 Stephanie Benedict
Into the Blue ©2012 Stephanie Benedict. Oil on canvas. 400 mm x 1000 mm.

One of the things I like to try to portray in my work is distance. Where I live in Sacramento, we like to say that on clear days you can see the Sierras. Montana may call itself Big Sky Country, but the vistas here are huge as well. So when I saw this view at Oest-Clementine, I had to paint it. Ridge after ridge after ridge disappearing into the atmospheric perspective.

I look forward to going back next year to Oest-Clementine, and trying again with some other composition.

Into the Blue will be on display at Artstock 2012 at High Hand Gallery through October 21. As always, I will donate a percentage of the sale price to Placer Land Trust.


Russian Gulch State Park to remain open!

My email recently delivered some great news: thanks in large part to the Mendocino Area Parks Association, Russian Gulch State Park will remain open!

Russian Gulch ©2011 Stephanie Benedict. Oil on board, 6" x 8"
Russian Gulch ©2011 Stephanie Benedict. Oil on board, 6″ x 8″

Russian Gulch is one of my favorite state parks along the Mendocino coast. It’s located just north of the village of Caspar, and south of Fort Bragg. I’ve painted there a number of times, mostly without much success—the colors are subtle and, at the time, were beyond my grasp.

Why live in California if you can’t visit the parks?

The closure of California’s state parks is, to my mind, a travesty. I think people here don’t appreciate what they have—open space where they can visit, camp, walk (even paint!), get away from the city’s noise and concrete. I lived in Massachusetts for several years and, while I love New England, I also realized that there are very few parks there. Even the coast there is typically private property. California’s parks, by contrast, may be crowded on holiday weekends, but they also offer places where nature can thrive and people can remember what the land was like before the asphalt took it over.

I know we have budget problems in this state. I welcome a discussion of the role of government. But do we have to pit parks against support for the frail elderly or against schools? We need them all. When parks started charging entrance fees under the name of “user fees,” I didn’t like them because, if you can’t afford the user fee, you are also excluded from that public space. But compared to permanent closure, that $5 or $10 entrance fee seems like a small price to pay. For once the parks are closed, the next step is selling the property.

Hurray for the people saving some of the parks!

So I’m really glad that several of the parks have been removed from the closure list, to be operated by non-profits or other groups. Here’s what you can do to help:

Stockton Art League National Juried Show

I’m very excited that one of my paintings, The Lighthousekeeper’s House, has been accepted into the 57th Stockton Art League National Juried Show. As a special treat, the show will hang at the Haggin Museum in Stockton. The Haggin is one of Northern California’s hidden treasures, and I’m honored to have a piece shown there. The show runs from July 5 to September 2, 2012.  The opening reception is July 5, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  I hope you can join me there.

The Lighthousekeeper's House by Stephanie Benedict
The Lighthousekeeper’s House ©2011 Stephanie Benedict. Oil on canvas, 400 mm by 1000 mm

The Lighthousekeeper’s House is one of a series of works I’m doing at California’s endangered State Parks.  This one is Pt. Cabrillo Lighthouse State Park, in Mendocino. I will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this painting to keep California state parks open.

The Haggin Museum is located at 1201 N. Pershing Ave. Stockton. Their phone number is (209) 940-6300.  The museum is typically open in the afternoons until 5:00, and first and third Thursdays until 9:00. Admission is $8. For directions, and to see the show online (after July 5), please visit the Haggin Museum’s website.