Artist Ann Rea
Thankful for To Kalon
Yatch A few weeks back, while editing the storybook of my To Kalon Vineyard painting series, I received an email from my patron Cheryl Compham. She was sweet enough to send me a photo of “Tearing Vines.”  It was resting in its place on her and Dave’s yacht, aptly named “To Kalon.”  I was thankful to see it well-lit in a beautiful spot in the wine alcove. Beside “Tearing Vines” I could see the back of their other framed oil painting studyAlluvial Essence” and the note cards that I gave to each guest who attended the 2011 To Kalon Gala, sitting on the table. The To Kalon Gala presented a very special evening.  Along with the other black tie guests, Robert Mondavi’s staff made me feel a very welcome guest. So much work and planning goes into these lavish and lovely affairs yet you would never even know it. Behind the scenes there are countless meetings, emails, and spreadsheets tracking each timed move, every step, and each resource.  It works well. Everything goes off without a hitch. Robert Mondavi provided each To Kalon Gala guest with an Exclusive Edition print of his or her choice from my To Kalon vineyard painting series. As we prepared these gifts at my Pacific Beach studio I thought of Robert Mondavi’s staff and I wondered how much they are thanked and how I could thank them. So I asked each of Robert Mondavi’s host staff to select their favorite piece from my To Kalon Vineyard painting series and I sent them each an Exclusive Edition print as a token of my appreciation. We can’t be thankful enough for our health, our relationships, or the privilege to celebrate in such lovely and grand fashion as we did the evening of the 2011 To Kalon Gala.
Making Sense of Sparkling
[caption id="attachment_1544" align="alignnone" width="400" caption=""Tearing Vines" Unveiling at the To Kalon Gala"]"Tearing Vines" Unveiling at the To Kalon Gala[/caption] Three weeks ago I was in Manhattan for the unveiling of my painting "Dreamy Aspens" at a press event sponsored for the Montage Deer Valley Residences. The day before, I was in sunny NYC traipsing around with my friend Meg who insisted that we go to her favorite boutique. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to buy anything. I didn’t have any more room in my suitcase. But then I spotted a very dark hand beaded grey silk gown in the very corner of the room.  Okay.  What the heck?  Maybe? It fit like a dream. I was sure the weight of the beads on this gown would put my luggage over the weight limit.  But my friend Meg insisted that I get it.  “Every woman needs some sparkle!”  Of course, she's right. The following week I worked in jeans and a tee-shirt as one of the lovely ladies at Robert Mondavi Winery helped me hang twelve original oil painting studies in the Vineyard Room in preparation for the To Kalon Gala where we planned the unveiling of “Tearing Vines”, an Experience of Art for Cheryl and Dave Copham. After the To Kalon vineyard painting studies where hung, and the large custom painting was draped in black velvet, I poured myself into my new sparkling silk gown and sauntered down to the barrel room to join the arriving guests. The lovely lady who was helping me earlier passed me a glass of  sparkling wine.  I thanked her for helping hang my paintings but she didn't even recognize me. I laughed.  It was either the change of dress or change of context. Carl Jaeger, the MC for the evening was planning to introduce me, and the To Kalon vineyard painting series, so he needed to interview me before all of the guests arrived.  He asked about my first visit to Robert Mondavi Winery. I shared a very clear recollection.  I was visiting Robert Mondavi Winery with my family shortly after graduating from art school.  I remember vividly standing in the parking lot and placing my foot on the curb.  At that moment I experienced a sensation from the future sparkling within.  The thought struck me that I would return to this place in a memorable way. I shared this thought with my family and they tilted their heads sideways and dismissed me.  I knew that it didn’t “make sense” but neither does wanting to live in San Francisco and paint for a living nor does buying a long silk hand beaded dress when there’s no room in your suitcase. If I have learned one thing it is that making sense is overrated. Sparkling silk, sparkling wine, sparkles in our cement sidewalks, the sparkle in your eyes.  These are the moments that we live for.
The Color of Water
[caption id="attachment_1525" align="alignnone" width="500" caption=""Tearing Vines" Ann Rea ©, 30"x40", charcoal on canvas, To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley"]likeWater3[/caption] This partial shot of “Tearing Vines” was snapped where it sits now, laying flat on a drying rack while the very thick layers of oil paint dry. I was struck by its watery quality from this perspective.  And I was reminded of a comment made by a talented interior designer. “Your paintings have a fluid, watery quality.” I thought, why is that?  A watery quality is not something I have deliberately or even unconsciously imbued in my work. But I’m ever conscious and influenced by the sight of water.  I literally stare over the largest expanse of it every day. My private live work studio overlooks the Pacific. It’s an ever-changing cycle of color from a completely colorless form.  Like a mood ring, I watch it change with temperature and the cycles of the sun and the moon. But why else would my right brain create watery images?  Emotion.  That’s why. Straight, angular lines, flat plains of color, communicate less emotion.  An Edward Hopper painting demonstrates this. Fluid lines with gradations of color say, "I’m feeling it, I’m feeling you." It may look like I’m painting a vineyard or an aspen grove in the snow but it’s all coming from my emotional register. That’s what shapes the line, guides the brush stroke, and makes me move.  It’s the energy, the fire, that keeps me up past midnight sketching in charcoals, covering my hands in black dusk, messing up the last manicure and not caring. I love watching the Pacific Ocean colored by the sky and the sun its reflecting. And I love shaping color.  Its formed from the fire I feel inside.  Color that comes from emotions that I may never find the words for but that I will only ever express in paint.
Feeling in the Moment
lightDark As I complete a series of Robert Mondavi Winery’s To Kalon Vineyard, I'm asked what is my subject?  It is simply a moment of color and my feeling in that moment. Hence my tag line, “Savor the colors of the moment.” But what is color really?  Scientifically, color is light vibrating on different frequencies.  The Impressionists observed that color, or light, changes each moment as the sun moves over the sky. The Impressionists also knew that color is shaped by surfaces and surrounding reflections and absorptions of other color.  It’s a complex business and painter’s attempt to simplify this illusion on canvas. Back to the right brain, color is emotion.  So how is emotion expressed in color?  By blending it and smearing, painting, mushing it on the canvas with feeling behind it. People have asked how I know how to blend colors.  What percentage of red and blue do I mix to get purple? Like a chef, you measure your ingredients when you're starting out but then you just feel it. I respond to color intuitively.  That response is where the juice is, the depth of feeling. I don’t think it, I feel it. Before I complete a large-scale canvas like this 30” x40” of “Tearing Vines” of Robert Mondavi Winery’s To Kalon Vineyard for Dave and Cheryl Copham, I get the foundation down. The foundation is the light and dark, the range of contrasts.  I’ll use a warm neutral foundational color, Transparent Oxide Red. It’s at this stage that I delineate my light source, establish the shadows, and give the piece my emotional energy and that is my feeling in the moment.
What inspires art?
[caption id="attachment_1506" align="alignnone" width="500" caption=""Tearing Vines" Ann Rea ©, 30"x40", charcoal on canvas, To Kalon Vineyard, Napa Valley"]ToKalon22[/caption] What inspires art?  You know.  Authentic human passion, love, lust, sexual attraction, and all of the self doubt and insecurity that lurks around our minds, fueled by the prospect of rejection. There’s no better channel for this energy than creative expression.  It’s therapy and it is the vital ingredient to great art. The creative realm is a place where the songwriter can take the saddest sentiments and inspiration and transform this into the most beautiful and peaceful lyric and melody. I understand that the Picasso exhibit, currently at the De Young museum of San Francisco, organizes the presentation of each of his artistic periods by his muses.  Makes sense to me. I was with a friend last week and we walked to her favorite dive Pakistani restaurant on Russian Hill.  You can sit there for hours sipping unlimited amounts of Chai.  I was all over it. She’s there so much that the staff knows her. We started chatting with the Pakistani man behind the counter about movies. He told us that Western movies deal with a full range of subjects.  But Bollywood movies are all about; you guessed it, authentic human passion, love, lust, and sexual attraction. Why am I bringing this up?  I’ll admit it, while I was sketching the canvas for “Tearing Vines” as I was carrying on a, let’s just say, an ongoing flirtatious text dialog with a man I’ve known. I texted him the image above,  his replay, “Intense.”  Intense is right.  I’m in San Francisco and he’s, well, elsewhere and unavailable.  That can cause some tension. But I digress.  You don’t need the naughty details.  I’m just making the point that art is born from feelings. And human passion, love, lust, and sexual attraction are amongst the strongest and most intense we can experience. At this point in my life I’m embracing and celebrating this part of my life.  It will make for better art.
The To Kalon Vineyard Painting Series is Complete
[caption id="attachment_1501" align="alignnone" width="400" caption=""Tearing Vines" © Ann Rea, oil on canvas"]"Tearing Vines" © Ann Rea, oil on canvas[/caption] The To Kalon Vineyard series of studies is now complete.   At this point in Dave and Cheryl Copham's Experience of Art they get to select one study that I will be interpreting on a larger custom sized canvas.  This oil painting will soon be hanging in their beautiful yacht, also aptly named “To Kalon.” I’ve completed a dozen studies in oil of Robert Mondavi Winery's famed To Kalon Vineyard in Yountville, CA.  I actually completed over twenty studies, but just like writing or designing, the creative process demands editing to maintain quality and integrity of an Experience of Art. When I mention the "editing process" my friends threaten to go dumpster diving.  I warn them not to bother as they are, in fact, destroyed. Right now my art patrons Dave and Cheryl Copham are traveling on their motorcycles through upstate New York and making their way through New England. Dave and Cheryl received the announcement yesterday but they could only view the studies on Cheryl’s phone. So this Thursday they arrive in New Paltz and will view the To Kalon Vineyard series on a full monitor. The number of choices on the “menu” can overwhelm many of my patrons, so I always offer my recommendations.  I examine each painting study to determine which images will work best as a larger more refined interpretation. I also tune into my creative thermostat.  The pieces warming the most creative energy will fuel my creative curiosity.  Of the dozen in the series, these are the studies that I believe will be the most successful as a larger interpretation on a custom 30” x 40” canvas. 1.   “Tearing Vines” "The legs of these vines seemed to gnash and tear in the wind." 2.   “Mayacamas Beyond” "Dusk brings out a deeper stain of color that I'm forever drawn to." 3.   “Fading” "Color fades out of the vines as the sun sets behind the mountains." Now I wait, like a waiter with a tray, to see what Dave and Cheryl Copham will choose.
An Artist and a Filmmaker Collaborate
Ann2 I invented a complex concept with an Experience of Art.  And trying to explain a new complex concept can be a bit daunting. So I took the sage advice of my company’s advisory board members and sought out someone who has better story telling talent than I ever will. If a picture paints a thousand words, then how many words can a filmmaker paint with hundreds of frames and sound?  It turns out a whole lot. Now I did not want to work with a videographer, I wanted a creative collaboration with a traditional filmmaker.  Just like I am not an illustrator but a fine artist. The difference?  The videographer and the illustrator are tasked with crafting someone else’s creative vision. A fine artist and a filmmaker are engaged because of the visions that they create. My creative collaboration with San Francisco based Dalan McNabola was just that, a natural collaboration between two creatives joining their respective mediums. I knew that I wanted to work with this Sundance Film Festival talent because not only is he very creative but he is professional, intelligent, and he listens keenly so that he can tell the story. Of course there was specific information that had to be relayed about the Experience of Art. But how this was communicated, shaped, and edited, that was all up to Dalan. I just stepped back and I’m very proud of the dreamy, painterly, and suggestive film that he produced. Dalan created a short film that invites the viewer to not only understand and consider an Experience of Art as an incredible everlasting gift, but also gives the viewer a taste of my creative process from the inside to the outside. The outside vineyard footage was filmed at Robert Mondavi’s famed To Kalon Vineyard in Yountville, CA, the Experience of Art that I’m currently creating for Dave and Cheryl Compham. And the inside footage is shot in my San Francisco beach studio. I invite you to see an Experience of Art for yourself. I have one remaining reservation left for 2011 and I'm currently accepting applications for 2012. Celebrate. Reserve your Experience of Art.  Phone 415.387.2224. And if you would like Dalan McNabola to tell your story, contact him about availability at
To Kalon Vinyard- Another Series Another Season
ToKalon Last Wednesday I toured Robert Mondavi Winery’s famed To Kalon Vineyard with Winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez and Addison Kavish, a young emerging filmmaker. Addison was there to capture part of the Experience of Art in film. Gustavo has been a Winemaker for Robert Mondavi for over sixteen years and I wanted his particular experienced perspective before I began this August series. I like to tour the vineyard with those who work the land.  They're connected to it. As we toured the vineyard we came to an unruly block of cabernet vines that Jani DiCarlo of the To Kalon Circle told me would come along in August. My commission calendar allowed for me to create this series during the latter half of this month, August.  So the timing was perfect. August is when Jani mentioned that the unruly jungle like cabernet vines would be reaching high into the sky. I had a moment of serendipity when I discovered that this block of vines that I was most drawn to stands in front of the Yountville Carmelite Monastery hermitage. I stayed in the Carmelite hermitage when I painted a series of Tim Mondavi’s Continuum Estate Vineyards for patrons Tom and Sandi Moran of Naples, Florida. Tim Mondavi’s vines overlook the spot where we were standing on valley floor from the noted Pritchard Hill. He pointed out the Carmelite Monastery when I toured his vineyard last year. This afternoon I’ll return to To Kalon to begin a series of studies in oil during the Golden Hour.  The time before sunset when the light is the most saturated and the shadows reach their final length.
Touring Mondavi's To Kalon Vineyard
[caption id="attachment_1338" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Ann Rea, Cheryl Copham, and Dave Copham"]Ann Rea, Cheryl Copham and Dave Copham[/caption] This Friday afternoon I stood with the winners of the my Experience of Art & Wine from the Naples Winter Wine Festival. Tom and Cheryl Copham and I smiled for the camera as we enjoyed our first toast in Robert Mondavi’s famed To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, CA. The Cophams  won auction lot #14 that included my Experience of Art & Wine, and other amazing donations from my patrons Sandi & Tom Moran, Meadowood Napa Valley, The French Laundryand Michael Chiarello, to name a few. It was a perfect afternoon.  The light was as clear and crisp as the first sip of wine that we enjoyed that afternoon. I liked the Cophams when I “met” them on the phone.  And I liked them even better in person.  I’m always inspired by the stories of successful entrepreneurs like Dave. And I was heartened to find Tom and Cheryl to be warm and down to earth, like many of my fellow Midwesterner friends. Jani DiCarlo of Robert Mondavi ToKalon Circle guided us through To Kalon Vineyard revealing the different facets of the terroir.  The afternoon light slowly saturated the tops of the vines as we discovered the golden California poppies, the big old oak tree hugging the stream, and the crazy looking cork tree, the rose bushes ending the rows, and finally the garden where Robert Mondavi himself used to love to entertain. I know that the Cophams must be curious about what and where I will be painting the series of To Kalon Vineyard but the truth is I just don’t know.  When I return to To Kalon Vineyard I’ll respond to and then study in oil paint what calls me.  And what that will be could be one thing one day and another the next day.  It’s very personal. It’s simply an inexplicable creative response that only thrives when I release control by thinking too much about it. When I honor my creative impulses my paintings tend to call to viewers.  They have a sense of what I felt blended with what they feel. Art is so very personal for the artist and for the viewer. In the words of Tim Mondavi, "That’s how the best art, and the best wine, are created – from the heart."
Naples Winter Wine Auction Winner choose Robert Mondavi Winery’s To Kalon Vineyard
2011.nwwf_ I’m often asked to donate to charitable auctions but rarely do I accept these requests.  Even though auctions can involve the right demographic of potential collectors,  generally auctions do not yield much, if any, business.  And I'm just not yet in a position to give much of my limited time or inventory away. I decided to make an exception for the 2011 Naples Winter Wine Auction which brings many of the world's finest vintners and chefs together with wine collectors and philanthropists for a three-day gala each January in Naples, Florida. This event raises significant donations and awareness for at-risk and underprivileged children.  I am particularly interested in causes that promote the health and well being of women and children. 2010 was a banner year for Ann Rea, Inc. It marked my fifth year anniversary in business.  I formed an advisory board. I launched an Experience of Art & Wine. And a gentleman who is an extraordinarily successful venture capitalist, philanthropist, business professor, and author offered to mentor me along with eleven other emerging entrepreneurs that he selects each year. With good health and good people in my life, I have much to be thankful for.  So I felt an urge to celebrate my good fortune and give back by donating an Experience of Art & Wine to help 2011 Naples Winter Wine Auction. I'm proud to say that I helped the Naples Winter Wine Festival raise $12 million at this years auction.  They have raised a total of $94.5 million in the last eleven years.

The other donors who contributed to the same auction lot include: Terry & Bob Edwards, Sandi & Tom Moran, Nancy Andrus Duckhorn, Meadowood Napa Valley, Araujo Estate, BOND Estates, Michael Chiarello, Colgin Cellars, Ken Frank, Thomas Keller, Kelly Fleming Wines, Kongsgaard Wine, Christopher Kostow, Cindy Pawlcyn, Richard Reddington, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Spottswoode Estate Vineyards & Winery The winners of my prize have chosen an Experience of Art & Wine featuring Robert Mondavi Winery’s To Kalon Vineyard. Their custom sized painting of To Kalon Vineyard will be featured in their newly restored 100 foot yacht, named “To Kalon.”