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Artist Ann Rea
Ever Changing Russian River Art
RussianRiver Standing in my San Francisco Pacific beach art studio with my patron and her painting draped behind black velvet, I could feel her anticipation. I unveiled the large canvas and she stood silent. I wondered.  “Uh oh. Does she like it?” So I had to ask, “So, what do you think?” She paused, her eyes then welling with tears, she said, “I love it.  I love it so so much.” Which to my delight, she repeated several more times. She also said, “I’m so glad that we had a private unveiling.  I don’t understand why I am so emotional.” But I knew why. This is the power of art. I crafted this series of the Russian River in Healdsburg, California, with the full intention of celebrating a place that holds her dearest family memories. She has many memories that have floated down this ever changing Russian River and I wanted to capture the essence of this in her oil painting. When something is made by hand it feels different. It carries the artist’s energy and personal attention, that is what ignites a response in the viewer. One who pauses long enough to look, to really look. Because there is only one original she has ordered several copies of the Creative Diary to share with her family and friends.  My hope is that this storybook will rekindle their memories and deepen their appreciation for this very special place. The river is symbolic for our ever-changing lives and it reflects the seasons with color. When I witness a patron’s deep emotional response from an Experience of Art, I receive the ultimate reward for the hard work I dedicate to making art.  And it makes the sacrifices all worth it.
The Color of Water-New Russian River Art Series
[caption id="attachment_1722" align="alignnone" width="300" caption=""Still Water" Ann Rea, under painting, 36" x 48""]"Still Water" Ann Rea, underpainting, 36" x 48"[/caption] What is the color of water?  It’s the color created from reflections. The color of water is the light of the sky reflecting down, the light from the bottom of the river reflecting up, and all of the light bouncing within the surrounding environment. Our mood shifts near bodies of water. The color of water is a multifaceted reflection drawing people to stop for a moment and calmly contemplate. City planners have always known this about water. This is why they include water elements and fountains throughout urban environments. City dwellers naturally gather around them and are stilled for a moment. This newest series of the Russian River is an Experience of Art for a patron who owns a beautiful ranch in Healdsburg, California. I could have chosen any number of vistas throughout this hilly ranch but it is the shore of the Russian River that holds her countless memories of family and friends. Just standing in a place can bring us back to the energy of another chapter in our lives and the feelings contained within. This patron chose “Still Water” a 16” x 20” study in oils as the basis for her 36” x 48” custom sized painting, currently drying behind me on my easel. Ironically it was the very first study I painted within this collection. I created it while she was wading along the water.  I would not let her watch me paint, that would have be too nerve racking. It is the entire creative process that an Experience of Art requires.  I am committed to a full creative investigation so that I know I’m offering enough choices to provide very best options to my patrons.  Because ultimately my painting is not for me it is for my collectors.
Russian River Experience of Art
mimi2 Last week one of my patrons arrived at my San Francisco beach studio with two close friends visiting from New Jersey. She came to preview a series of oil paintings from her Experience of Art of the Russian River, which snakes along her beautiful Sonoma Valley ranch in Healdsburg, California. The paint was barely dry on a dozen studies. I created them in and around the waters that have been reflecting her family’s memories over many years. She was so excited.  We took each piece outside so that she could examine the paintings under the sunlight. Under the full sun she could see the layering of color and thick and generous textures of pigment. Like so many of my patrons who commission an Experience of Art she struggled to decide which study would serve as the basis for the custom large-scale oil painting. I encouraged her. "Go with your gut. Don't think it, feel it." She had a dozen paintings on her “tasting menu” and ironically she chose the very first study I painted as the basis for her "main course." Why did I paint a dozen original oil studies?
  • This study gives her a reasonable expectation of what her four-foot painting will look like.
  • Because creatively everything exists in context.
  • And there would be no way of knowing if this study should serve as the basis for her large canvas if I did not present her with all of my very best creative options.
The Russian River painting collection of studies will eventually find a home in other collector’s walls.  And I’ll have clear creative direction. This confidence will inspire the larger scale painting and the others studies will inform it.
An Artist, a Patron, an Afternoon
mimi2 Yesterday was a warm afternoon.  I wound my paint smeared Honda up a high hill. After my third try punching in the security code the black iron gates parted and I arrived at my patron's Healdsburg ranch home. Mimi was waiting with two tall cool iced teas and beautiful mozzarella salads that she had prepared with fresh colorful greens from her container garden.   She's gracious and fun. We loaded up my painting supplies, her inner tube, and beach towels into her red Mule tractor.   I’m convinced that this vehicle could climb a wall. As we rambled down the steep hill to the edge of the Russian River, I wondered if the oil painting I was about to create was going to make it back without suffering a few face plants into the tall grass. But there was only one way down and I knew that I’d just have to hold my finished field study like a delivery pizza. We arrived at the bank of the river.  As I set up my easel and canvas Mimi balanced her backpack on her head and dutifully walked across the river to give me space.  Her plan was to catch up on chapters of Moby Dick in time for her book club meeting that evening in San Francisco. But it was a glorious day and somehow I just knew that she wasn’t going to read that book with the glistening river and woods to explore. As she wandered around I painted this first field study pictured above. This is the beginning of a series of studies.  One study will be chosen and I’ll reinterpret it on a larger scale custom canvas for Mimi’s second story hallway wall. She absolutely loved this study.  And of course I was glad that she did.  This is my third trip to the river bank but I’m just getting warmed up. My intention is to create a painting for Mimi that will have meaning. Mimi has years of family memories stored by this river.   And now we've shared an experience of this special place will help inspire her painting.
Continuum Continues
[caption id="attachment_507" align="alignleft" width="490" caption=""Sundown Vines December" Ann Rea"]Ann Rea[/caption] My latest series of Tim Mondavi’s Continuum vineyard has just been uploaded to annrea.com, where you can see the collection now. My Naples, Florida patrons, who sponsored this series, have just acquired three of the field studies in addition to their commissioned custom large-scale painting. I’ve chosen “Sundown Vines December" as the basis for their canvas.  I'll develop this image on a larger scale refining the color and composition. I’m clearing the decks today so that I can devote my undivided attention to creating the final canvas.  I can’t wait to dive into the color and movement of this piece. I was so heartened to receive Sandi’s response to working with me that I asked if I could share her message.  She agreed, “We are so happy.  You are the first artist with whom we have personally worked.  Although we knew Robert Rauschenberg and know some other contemporary artists, we have only collected prior works of art.  This has been special in many ways.”- Sandi Moran Beyond the vineyards, the clear California light, and the interesting winemakers that I get to walk the land with, this kind of response from my collectors is what moves me.  I have met the most enthusiastic, appreciative, and delightful collectors over the years.  The finished product is not for me. It’s for them.  It just provides me with a vehicle to live my life’s passion and take this creative journey. I’m grateful to them. Next I’ll be starting a series of the Russian River for collectors whose Healdsburg ranch runs along the Russian River.  From the top of Prichard Hill in Napa to the Sonoma Valley, inspired color is everywhere.  And I can’t wait to paint it.
What and Where to Place the Paintings?
[caption id="attachment_191" align="alignleft" width="499" caption="Before and After"] Where to place the paintings.[/caption]

What and Where to Place the Paintings?

One of my newest patrons came to me by referral from her interior designer. They worked together over two years ago on the exterior her family’s second home, atop a Healdsburg ranch. My patron designed her interiors herself but her designer felt strongly that she really needed some original art to breathe inspiration, color, and more warmth into the space. Art was not part of the original budget and there was no clear design concept to work within so we are working a bit backwards. And my patron was not at all sure of what she wanted and where she was going to place art. But this is not a problem. My formal training is in architectural design so I understand the language of design and I am used to scaling within interior spaces.

I toured the house with my patron, photographing and measuring each wall that presented an opportunity to showcase art. I listened carefully to my patron about how she uses her space and where her family spends most of their time. With elevation, digital photographs and wall measurements in hand I crafted a proposal.

The art proposal outlined several options to help her determine her preferences and budget. I listed each placement, type, and size range that would work proportionally so that she could choose from one or more of these placements. I also delineated to what extent we could scale each selection up or down to fit her preference and budget. The possibilities are infinite and the great thing about art is that you can move it around.

I was inspired by the Russian River running along the edge of her property. So to further help her visualize, I took one of my existing paintings of a river to provide her with a before and after illustration. With this example she could get a sense of the impact of my art in her home.  The illustration provides an approximation of a 36 x 48 canvas.

Even though she was unsure of her art budget and placement she knew that she wanted to bring the inspiration of original work into her home and this process has helped her make a decision.

Even Painters need Technology
[caption id="attachment_141" align="alignnone" width="375" caption="This is what happens when a tractor runs over your iPhone."]this is what happens when a tracker runs over your iPhone[/caption] Even Painters need Technology On Wednesday I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and made my way to Healdsburg, CA in Sonoma county to meet one of my newest patrons, Mimi.  Her family’s second new home sits atop 228 acres bordering the winding Russian River.  The panoramic view is stunning. Mimi loves my paintings so she has commissioned me, but we have to determine what is going to work best for her space and budget.  This is where I get to draw upon my former design background. When I arrived, Mimi graciously met me in the driveway with a tall cold glass of iced tea.  Then she gave me the tour of her home and pool house where I photographed and measured each wall that would benefit from an art placement. What’s great about Mimi is she is completely open to suggestions and has turned to my experience and expertise.  The end result always benefits from this trust. Next it was time for a tour of her ranch.  She started up her Kawasaki Mule and off we went.  I was amazed at this tractor like machine that seemed to be able to crawl up walls.  I asked her to take me to the special places that hold her memories.  Mimi unfolded ten years of history contained in the beauty of her landscape.  We paused at each spot and as she recounted her stories of each place as I took photographs. We plowed up and down the hills of tall grass, visited Mr. Black’s rusted old car (the original owner), ate apples from the remnants of an ancient orchard, and drank in the beauty of the water on the shore of the Russian River. When we arrived back her family and friends greeted us. I soon discovered that my iPhone had plunged out of my back pocket during the bumpy ride to who knows where.  I had to leave so I accepted the loss. But Mimi was determined to retrace our steps and find it.  With her family and friends, and cocktails in hand, they roamed in the Mule.  I returned to my Pacific beach studio and I retrieved a message, she and the joyful search team screamed, “we found it!” I was so relieved and grateful. As you can see my iPhone took a beating.  But even painters must have technology, so I’ve replaced it with the new 3GS iPhone. Soon I'll be able to post video clips of my adventures and my meetings with the special people who are my collectors.