Category Archives: Stephanie’s Paintings

Bragging Monday

My painting, The Lighthousekeeper’s House, won 3rd Place at the 16th Annual Ironstone Spring Obsession Show over the weekend. A big thank you to the judges and to Ironstone Vineyards (especially to Chris Gomez), and congratulations to all of the prize winners and artists. They said at the reception that they had over 250 applicants (I’m not sure if that’s paintings or artists), of which 100 were accepted.

At Ironstone Vineyards, the Lighthousekeeper's House
Here’s the painting with the 3rd place ribbon. The Lighthousekeeper’s House, 400 mm x 1000 mm, oil on canvas. ©2011 Stephanie Benedict

Ironstone had invited artists in the show to give demonstrations, set up booths, or paint on the grounds during the day. A handful of artists accepted, including me. I spent most of the afternoon out by their lake, listening to a flock of Canada geese squabble and painting. That one, though, turned out rather poorly (and that’s being kind).

I kept wondering why they were holding this “Spring Obsession” reception in March, when the vines haven’t even leafed out yet. The answer, it seems, is that this is the traditional time for the banks of daffodils at the winery to be in bloom. But we’ve had such a weird year again that the flowers haven’t really bloomed yet. I fear this weather is the new normal. There were some banks of daffodils in bloom, but most of them were in pots by the entrance to the winery.

Ironstone Vineyards Entrance
The entrance to the winery tasting room and museum. Not too many flowers were in bloom yet in March.

The show is a very nice one. I’m honored to have been given a prize among the high caliber of company. You can see a sampling of the work at Ironstone’s blog.

Spring Obsession will be on display through Mother’s Day. I hope that, if you’re in the area, you’ll stop by to see it.

And, by the way, I recommend their sparkling wine (California champagne). According to their website, it’s made with French Colombard grapes, rather than the more traditional chardonnay grapes. So it’s a little bit fruity, but it’s complex and refreshing. I give it five on the “yum” scale: yum yum yum yum yum.


Ironstone Vineyards Spring Obsession 2013

I’m delighted to say I’ve been accepted into the Ironstone Vineyards Spring Obsession 2013 exhibition! I’ll be at Ironstone, in Murphys, California, on March 2, painting at the winery in the afternoon and attending the reception from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the event are $25, and are available by calling (209) 728-1251 ext#11/reservations. They’ve even posted my bio on their blog!

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

The show runs through May 12, 2013, 3:00 p.m. I hope you can make it!

When you go wine tasting, do you think about purchasing artwork from a winery?

Paintings from Colusa NWR

Now that they’re dry and photographed (and signed), here are the two paintings I did at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge two weeks ago. The first one, Snow on Snow Mountain, was done in late morning, with the sun over my left shoulder.

Stephanie Benedict, Snow on Snow Mountain
The marsh in the morning was clear and cold, with a north wind blowing. To the west, in the Coast Range, Snow Mountain had a fresh dusting of snow. Snow on Snow Mountain ©2013 Stephanie Benedict. 8″ x 6″ oil on board.

The second, Light on the Water, was done mid- to late-afternoon. The light that day just kept getting better and better—except that, as the sun moved west, it reflected more and more off the water. Eventually, I couldn’t look at the scene without getting blinded by the glare. Surely a small price to pay for getting to spend the afternoon listening to ross’ geese, greater white-fronted geese, several kinds of ducks.

Light on the Water, ©2013 Stephanie Benedict
The afternoon sun reflected gold on the marsh waters. Light on the Water, ©2013 Stephanie Benedict. OIl on board, 8″ x 6″.

I even got a new bird for my life list: white-faced ibis. How cool is that?

White-faced Ibis ©2013 Stephanie Benedict.
These guys are fairly common in the Central Valley in the winter–I’d just never seen one before.

Painting at Colusa NWR

I recently had the chance to paint with friends at the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, thanks to a Plein Air Painting day sponsored by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Linda Merchant en plein air at Colusa NWR
Wildlife artist Linda Merchant painting at Colusa NWR.
Stephanie Benedict painting at Colusa NWR
Here’s me painting at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. I’d left my hat in the car–silly me. Photo by Linda Merchant.

The refuge, located about an hour north of Sacramento, is one of a complex of refuges in the north valley that are the winter home of thousands of migrating waterfowl. In my humble opinion, these refuges are the jewels of the Valley—and, therefore, one of the best places to spend a sunny February Saturday.

The group was limited to about 12 painters, most of who stayed close to the parking lot and the viewing platform. My friends Linda Merchant, Rhonda Egan, and I ventured a bit farther afield: perhaps a quarter-mile down a hiking path near a second viewing platform, where we could stand out of the wind and see the marshes and the Coast Range to the west.

Here’s the deal with plein air painting that many non-painters don’t realize: just like photographers, painters like early morning and late afternoon light. Mid-day light, with the sun high overhead, is the harshest and, for painters, the flattest, because the shadows offer their least contrast at that time. It’s not impossible to paint mid-day: it’s just better earlier or later.

So the three of us painted both morning and afternoon pieces: the first, done late morning; and a second later in the afternoon, after the official ending time of the event—but with light that just got better and better. The two photos above show two paintings done from almost the exact same spot, looking in different directions, at different times of day. The first shows the snow on Snow Mountain, almost directly west, in late morning. The second is late-ish afternoon, looking southwest. This one is a kind of contra jour (“against the day”) because I was looking almost directly into the sun.

Thank you to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for having this plein air painting event!

Delta Eucalyptus

A few weeks ago I wrote about a plein air trip to the Sacramento River Delta. I finally had a chance to touch up the painting I did that day. Usually when you bring a painting indoors, you see things in it that need to be fixed:  edges not right, some area too bright—something.  This one had a shadow across that tree that was too much of a stripe, and the sky showed too many streaky brushstrokes.  (I like the sky to be smooth, unless I’m painting clouds.)  Here’s what I think is the final piece.

On the easel:  Delta Eucalyptus, ©2013 Stephanie Benedict
Delta Eucalyptus, 8 x 10 in, oil on board, by Stephanie Benedict

Do you prefer finished-looking pieces, or the more raw look of a painting done in one outdoor session, with no touch-ups?