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Weekly Paintings By National Award Winning Artist Terry d. Chacon

Monday, June 22, 2009

Napa Valley Plein Air Workshop 2009

"Rutherford Winery Garden"

Last week I spent the week in Napa Valley at a workshop with my all time favorite instructor of plein air Susan Sarback. I was drawn to Susan's technique of using the palate knife to get beautiful light and color in her paintings when looking for someone to teach me to paint en plein air. She had studied under Henry Hensche The Henry Hensche Foundation who was highly influenced by Charles Hawthorne. Any artist who has studied under Henry Hensche has always grabbed my attention so I felt this must be what I am attracted to and the way I wanted to go with my painting. Five years ago I attended 2 workshops with Susan in Laguna Beach, Ca. One of the workshops was Plein Air and the other was a color study at the studio of Ken Auster. Since then I have taken several workshops and classes with noted plein air artists to continue growing in this wonderful way of painting.

Before this most recent workshop I felt I had grown a lot in my painting skills and technique and decided to go back to Susan for a refresher course. It took just one demo of her fabulous way of painting and I knew I had made the right decision. The first painting on the upper left of this blog was my first painting of the workshop and just by listening and watching her that morning, I felt so much more secure in what I was doing and the little tid bits that I was missing were now making more and more sense.

On Sat. June 13, Louise Smith and I started out driving to Monterey to meet my son Matthew. We had lunch and I gave him his birthday present (a painting that is in a previous blog). After a very nice lunch we were on our way to Windsor to meet up with Ada M. Passaro and Luz Perez. Luz was gracious enough to invite us to stay at her time share condo. On Sunday we took a tour of Napa Valley to find our first painting location which was Rutherford. The group, Ada, Louise and Luz, I am sitting in the front. This is the view from Beringer Winery Beringer Vineyards Winery, Napa Valley and at the time we did not know this would be one of our painting locations. We had hoped it would be after seeing the beautiful grounds and tasting the wonderful wine. My favorite wine was the 2007 Chardonnay which I was told I could only buy there. It is considered their in house wine. So I bought 4 bottles to bring home. On Tuesday we arrived at Berringer for the second day of our workshop. We were restricted to an area in the back of the property but there were plenty of places to paint with beautiful views, just not the front where we had been the day before.
"Beringer Morning Light"

This was my first painting in the morning and I was not happy with the turn out, but learned by my mistakes I felt I had made. You always have to get an ugly painting out of the way..... During lunch we decided to go to the winery for some wine tasting. This always makes for a better afternoon of painting. :-) And it worked. The painting below is my afternoon painting.


On the third day we were treated to a winery which had distant views of the valley and the vineyards. "Diamond Oaks Winery" Diamond Oaks Winery In the morning we had another demo by our instructor Susan Sarback founder of the school "Color and Light" in Sacramento, Ca. Susan Sarback

"Susan Sarback"

After a wonderful lunch and wine tasting with friends we had met from the workshop, I decided to paint the following view. The florals in the foreground were beautiful at this time of day and the distant mountains showing atmosphere drew me to this location.

"View at Diamond Oaks"

On the way home from the winery and painting we stopped at the Castello di Amorosa winery. This beautiful castle was breathtaking. You cannot see it from the main road and you literally drive straight up the driveway to the top of the mountain. Luz asked to see if it would be possible for us to come back and paint on Friday and they said yes. We were very excited and could not wait.

The last day of the workshop was off of the Silverado Trail. Pine Ridge Winery Welcome to Pine Ridge Winery - Napa Valley We had a chance to paint in the morning, have another nice lunch and meet for wine tasting.

"Pine Ridge Morning View"

After wine tasting I had time to complete a small 6 x 8, a row of grapevines before our afternoon critique session with Susan.


Susan asked us to line up some paintings that we had done during the week and she went through the group and made remarks about the paintings. Her remarks about my paintings made me feel very good and that I had accomplished what I had come to do.

On Friday we were back and on our own. No Susan to work out the difficulties, just to see what we had learned. My first painting was a view from the castle looking down into Napa Valley. I really loved the little prayer cottage and how the beautiful light this time of day was making it just glisten in the middle of the grapevines. The florals in the foreground I felt just made the painting.

"The Cottage"

It began to get very hot after I finished this painting. I think this was the hottest day of the week and on top of this mountain it seemed unbearable. We had seen the views from the bottom of the mountain and so we went down to the bottom to paint our late afternoon paintings. This was about 4 pm. I had this painting in mind, I think from the very first day. I was so glad to get the chance to paint the view.

"Grapevines Up the Hill" 6 x 12 on canvas board

I enjoyed the freedom of being able to pick my place to paint and to paint what I was attracted to. I think that was the hardest part of the workshop. I know there are painting scenes everywhere, but there are certain scenes that I am attracted to. I hope you enjoy the paintings. All of these paintings are available to the first person who contacts me, they are all 9 x 12 on canvas board unless otherwise noted. Note cards and giclee prints are also available. Please contact me for information and be sure to share my blog with your family and friends. Until next time, ENJOY THE ART! Terry d. Chacon

On a final note, this was the way to the bathroom at the Rutherford Vineyard. Even the way to the potties are beautiful in Napa Valley......

Update from emails:

Hi Terry, Glad to see that you're back safely. It sounds like the Napa experience was a wonderful one and I love your are a remarkable woman and watching your work develop has been fascinating. Thanks for sharing all that you do. Lynda Snyder

"Beautiful Terry! You are sooooo talented" Karen Irazabal

Jeff Simpson writes: "Wow. That's it. Just wow."

Carol B. Wright writes: "wow! nice"

Lovely to read all about what you did in Napa Valley. Lovely paintings. I don't agree about the"ugly" painting you had to get out of the way. It is beautiful.
Geeta Pattanaik

1 comment:

  1. Hi Terry,
    I just moved to Napa and am looking to do some plein air painting. I don't know anyone here. Could you give me some info: groups, interesting workshops, just someone to paint with? Love your paintings. I'm from Northern Michigan which is beautiful but in a much starker way. Am eager to paint some of the beautiful landscapes of this region. E-mail me at if you have the time or inclination.
    Gail Burke


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