Above the fruited plain

"Waves" acrylic landscape on woodblock

Day 336: “Waves”, a landscape on woodblock

I recently discovered my local Trader Joe’s. It’s got a smaller selection than Whole Foods, but it also has smaller prices. So I went by today to pick up a few things and as I was hunting for the bread with the farthest out expiration date, I had to make my way around a few people. It’s a pretty crowded store. Normally I see all of them only as obstacles to be avoided, a skill I first picked up during Jr. High afternoons of playing Tetris and later perfected as a cocktail waitress- if you can walk in and around crowds of dancing people with martinis on a tray and not spill them, you can navigate around cranky hippies.

But this time I was caught off guard when a voice in my head stopped me and said, “hey… are those pockets on the back of that hoodie? Yes. Yes they are! On the BACK! Ugh. Hipster alert!” and while I was engaging in this moment of perplexity/ fashion outrage, I angered an old lady by blocking the bagels, who let me know by “accidentally” bumping into me with her cart. Which was just as well. Who knows how long I would have stood transfixed by the insanity of pockets intentionally placed in the lumbar area of a garment.

From the side

So when I got home, I decided to give myself a little bit of mental peace by making a mini landscape. This is one of the last square-edged, white-sided blocks from the first batch my dad cut up for me. It has a very tight grain pattern. I decided to use it for a farm scene from the Tracy, California area with this huge antenna tower smack in the middle of it. I asked Rob for some help with the title and he said “Waves. You know, like ‘amber waves of grain’ and the radio waves from the cellular base tower”. “Perfect!” I replied. And that’s why I love him.

Only 29 days left! 🙂

Hello studio, my old friend

"Industrial Oasis", acrylic on 12" x 16" canvas

Day 307: “Industrial Oasis”, acrylic painting on 12″ x 16″ canvas

I’m on the mend! My throat feels a good deal better, though my voice still has some recuperating to do. I had enough energy to head into the studio for several hours, working on a commission project, the cityscape I started before I got ill, and even a new painting today. This one is from one of my photographs I took on the road somewhere. I enjoy compositions with a smattering of geometric manmade items in a landscape setting, and decided to scale up and start doing some larger pieces to loosen up my painting style again.

In other news, the following woodblocks are still available:

Tower Meadow, Angels Camp, Horse Fence, Rumble, Green, Honey Corn, River House, Pumpkin Patch, Wild Lilac, Grove House and Palm Meadow

I’ll be putting these up for sale on my Etsy shop soon, but want to make sure you guys get first crack at them. They’re $60 each with discounts for purchases of 2, 3 or 4 at a time. If you’re interested, send me an email at marianne.bland@gmail.com or leave a comment here. Thanks!

California Farming

"Palm Meadow", acrylic painting on woodblock

Day 295: Palm Meadow

Today’s piece is a scene capturing a few palm trees standing sentinel over a farmhouse and meadow. I always find it interesting how California’s landscape has an equal chance of sprouting redwoods, palms, cypress, pines, maples, oaks, elms and almost any tree you can think of. For me, the palms are at much at home here in the farm fields as they are on the streets of Malibu. I’m heading into the bay area again this weekend to help photograph a wedding in Half Moon Bay, so the next couple of days will most likely be photographs as I’ll be out of the studio. Hope you’re gearing up for a great weekend yourself!

Honey…aww Sugar Sugar

"Honey Corn", acrylic landscape on woodblock

Day 291: Honey Corn

Today’s piece is a landscape on woodblock. This scene is from the Tracy, CA area and shows a cluster of bee boxes in front of a corn field. It kind of made my inner cynic cackle because I had to think of the stupid “corn sugar” PR campaign for high-fructose corn syrup going on right now, but anything with bee boxes always makes me smile in the end. I just got a fresh crop of woodblocks (thanks dad!) so more of these will be on the way in time for the Dec/Jan affordable art show I’m participating in, and of course for YOU GUYS to get your hands on too. 😉

To everything there is a season…

The wood grain radiates down from a knot in the sky in this piece.

Day 287: Pumpkin Patch

Ah, pumpkin. You can be a jolly jack-o-lantern, tasty pumpkin pie and toasted seed snack all in one. You jazz up the farmlands with little festive dots of my favorite color, and your squash cousins are so brave with their warts-and-all attitudes. I still remember my mom’s if-you-can-carry-it-yourself-you-can-carve-it-rule from our childhood trips to Ardenwood, our local pumpkin farm. And today, my brother-in-law sent me this photo of my sister with baby Emmett practicing for Halloween:

"I like toitles"

It made me remember all the things I loved about the coming holiday before it meant not purchasing the compulsory childhood-diabetes-fodder and posting a note on my door that I refuse to buy GMO “corn sugar” candy because I really do care about your brats-in-drag. 🙂 That’s right. I’m the Halloween Grinch. I might as well throw “We’re hippies, egg our house” in there while I’m at it with that sign, huh? Sigh. (Seriously though, 90% of Halloween candy this year will have genetically modified high fructose corn syrup. Make caramel apples and organic cider instead. 🙂 )

So although it’s still darn hot and not very autumnal out here, I painted this pumpkin patch scene on one of my few remaining woodblocks to get into the spirit of fall.

"Pumpkin Patch", acrylic painting on woodblock

If you’re going to San Francisco…

Side view; wood grain radiates upwards in this piece.

Day 282: Docile

It’s back to the woodblocks today with another pastoral scene from the Angels Camp area. This one features an oasis-like strip of green and trees between the meadow and hills with a tiny little orange building and windmill.

Detail shot

Hey you! Do you live in the bay area? What are you doing tomorrow? Unless you have a really cool answer like “crepes and horseback riding”, you need to get your butt to the city! San Francisco Artists’ Open Studios are on! Hundreds of amazing artists have spent months planning and prepping to put together great shows, wine, food, demonstrations and generally welcoming parties for art lovers like you! I recommend 1890 Bryant Street Studios, where 25 artists have gathered to make life easier on you (i.e. parking/driving) including three of my favorites, Trish Tunney, DK Haas and Catherine Mackey. Read more about this month-long event and get maps here: http://www.artspan.org/sf-open-studios

"Docile" acrylic on woodblock, 3.5"x3.5"x1.5"

In case you’re wondering, I’m not participating as I live out here in Sacramento. Sacramento’s recent Capitol Artists’ Open Studios only included artists within 4 miles of the Contemporary Art Center, which excluded me. So we’ll see about next year. I mean, I’m not moving or anything, but perhaps some industrious organizer will expand that radius. 🙂

While Frank Sinatra sings stormy weather…

This woodblock has a battle scar

Day 280: Rumble

Today’s piece is another mini landscape on woodblock (I am almost out of them, so I’ll be borrowing my uncle’s mitre saw pretty soon). This particular block has some extra character- two knot marks in the face and some kind of groovy “bullet-hole” mark in the corner. That plus the scenery made me think back to this wonderful road trip Grandma & Grandpa took my sister & I on when we were teenagers.

We traveled all the way out to the Midwest. I brought my sketchbook and thoroughly enjoyed the rocks, bluffs, fields, hills and dirt. It was one of the first times I voluntarily drew a landscape, now that I think about it. I’d always thought landscapes were boring. And a useless subject, at that- nature itself is already so lovely, why try to compete? But something about the thunderstorms in Wyoming and the Badlands of South Dakota was truly inspiring. Now I enjoy the quiet effortlessness of nature in a spiritual way I didn’t as a punk kid. But I’m thankful for that experience and think of it often. 🙂

"Rumble" acrylic on woodblock (sliced fence post)

“Rumble” shows telephone poles wading through dead grass into blue-tree-speckled hills under a sea of rolling clouds. Is the storm really coming or just making idle threats?

P.S. I’m considering using song references for all of my post titles from now on. I’ve been doing it for a couple of days. Today’s is from the song “Frank Sinatra” by local-to-me greats Cake! I might just start including these bits of trivia in some kind of art giveaway game. Hmmm….stay tuned!