February: I'm back!

It's good to be back in the studio.  Like most folks, life gets busy.  Holidays, birthdays, kids, life.  Between last September (has it been that long since my last blog post?) and now, life has been non-stop.  On a great note, my studio got a terrific upgrade. I have heat! And lights!  And insulation! And freshly painted drywall on which to hang paintings! I'm truly excited.  

It took a few months for the studio renovation to happen, and I have to admit that not much painting got done.  I had to move completely out of my studio and stick everything out in the garage.  

For a while my studio looked like this:

 I love my renovated space.  And now, I'm happy to get back to work. 

Almost Home

Almost Home
Oil on Canvas

This painting will be available for auction this weekend.  The Gala is our kids' school's BIG fundraiser of the year.  It's a great evening with live music, fabulous food and a lively auction.  I'm happy to be part of it.

About the painting:  most of us who live in the Santa Cruz Mountains have a common experience... driving up Highway 17.  For those of you who are not familiar with our commute, this highway is essentially a steep and narrow mountain pass that connects Silicon Valley with the coast.  It takes some skill and fortitude to drive this road, as it's fast, narrow and the concrete barriers come right to the edge with essentially no "breakdown lane."  Throw in the occasional distracted driver, wayward deer, mountain lion or mud slide and it's a commute that is not for the faint of heart.  This painting depicts the curve in the road right before the Summit exit.  This is the exit that for many of us is a transition between life in "The Valley" and life on the Mountain.

For more about this great annual event, go to LPEF.org/Gala

Why This Place Is Full of Awesome

Four years ago, we made the crazy leap across country, moving from Virginia to the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.  My son was 3, my daughter 6.  We landed in the mountains, which felt a little wild & untamed & exciting.  We also set out to explore our newly adopted state. 

 Ben, at 3, at the Golden Gate Bridge

 Bear Creek House, crazy driveway

 Skyler, with freshly picked lemons.

 Beautiful red moss on madrone trees, Santa Cruz Mountains.

 View of Monterey Bay, as seen from the Santa Cruz Mountains.

 Ben amongst the redwoods, at Big Basin Park.

 Coastal drive down to Big Sur. 

 Miss S. with Snow.

What we didn't expect was how important the local mountain school is to this area. What we found was a very tight knit and welcoming community, and that has made us feel very much at home.  We also came to realize that California is in a terrible fiscal mess, and the schools are struggling.  It's up to the schools to raise their own funds to keep teachers & programs.  Our little community has stepped up by fundraising throughout the year.  I have to say that one of the most heartwarming events is the Jogathon  that's held in the Spring, because it's the kids who are working the hardest.  The kids all run (kindergarteners, running an average of 2 miles!) to raise money.  It's an incredible event with everyone involved: the teachers, kids, parents and community members coming out to cheer on and run with our kids. 

 Rallying to save our teachers.
 School spirit at the Jogathon.
 Jogathon, 2011

With this in mind, I was asked to create a painting for another great fundraiser, our annual Gala which is held in October.  I couldn't help but think of this unique California landscape, so different from the East Coast that I know so well.  One view that never fails to make me feel like I'm in a unique and beautiful place is whenever I drive north toward San Francisco.  Driving up 280, you go through a gorgeous area where the highway is flanked by the foothills of the Diablo Range.  These foothills are covered in a golden grass that much of the year is bone dry and is the color of lion's fur.  Interspersed are these gorgeous oaks and shrubs. Every time I drive through I try and take a few photos.  The photo below doesn't quite do it justice.   Instead, I made a painting that captures the essence of the hills with some of the color that I catch a glimpse of from time to time. 

 View of the foothills of the Diablo Range

Painting of the same view of the Diablo Range.
Oil on canvas, 30x48"  

This painting will be available for bidding at this Friday's Gala event.  100% of the proceeds goes directly to the school.  

You're Invited!

Featured Artist at Regale Winery & Vineyard: Exhibition & Reception
Local Atmosphere: Paintings by Giselle Gautreau
Sunday, April 3- 12:00 pm-5:00 pm
2040 Summit Road
Los Gatos, CA

Exhibit dates: April 2 through May 30th, 2011
Tasting Room Hours at Regale
Weekends: Noon-5:00

Fountain at Regale
Oil on canvas
©2011 Giselle Gautreau

A portion of sales to benefit the Loma Prieta Public Education Fund


Oil on panel
©2010 Giselle Gautreau
This painting will be on view at Regale Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The show opens next month and will continue until the end of May.

About the painting: A couple of years ago we took our first ever trip to Yosemite. On our road trip with the kids, I really enjoyed taking in the changing landscape. We left the Santa Cruz Mountains, went through Silicon Valley and then headed across the Central Valley before getting to the Sierras. The Central Valley really struck me in it's flatness and how most of it seemed dedicated to agriculture on a grand scale. Field after field, orchard after orchard went by, and once in a while a small cluster of houses. This tree stood out... a cypress in the middle of nowhere, with the Sierras in the distance.

Maison du Lac

Red Bench in the Garden-Maison du Lac
20x20", oil on canvas
©2010 Giselle Gautreau

This painting is my donation to my local school's fundraiser. They host an incredible event here in the Santa Cruz Mountains every October, raising money for our small public mountain school. Not only is the event a LOT of fun, it also brings in much-needed funding for our school. The evening brings us wine tasting, live music, a silent auction, dancing, and a very lively live auction. Can't wait!

About the painting:
The Gala is held at an incredibly beautiful venue, a private estate called Maison du Lac. Earlier this summer, with camera in hand, I explored the grounds and gardens. I took this photo of a red bench overlooking the little pond. The funny thing is that I took the photo with my iPhone, using a little application that emulates a vintage cameras, where you get to select the lens/film/flash options. The resulting image for me was compelling, and was the source for this painting. Old meets new: oil painting meets iPhone technology.
So, come to the Gala if you can. Look for this painting at the Silent Auction.

Tis the Season

Oil on panel, 5"x6"

I've been a bit remiss in my blog posting, but have been busy at work in the studio. Life in general is busy too... we have a new rescue puppy named Lily (she's awesome!), and with two kids life seems constantly in motion. In the studio I've been working slowly on some paintings on panel.
Besides the slowly-developing works on panel, I also wanted to make some small scale and affordable art for the holiday season. That's right! A Studio Sale! I'm creating a series of small work, some on un-stretched canvas that will be matted, ready for framing. Prices will be in the $50-$100 range.

Some pieces are drying, and I'll post them right after the Thanksgiving holiday. In the meantime, I'm going to jump start the Studio Sale with a small work on panel. This painting is of a hawk, flying low over the trees. Hawks fascinate me. On one hand they're gorgeous and it's always a little thrill to see them. On the other hand they are big enough to carry away any one of my chickens, so I really don't want to see them around my yard.
A small hint of paintings to come: birds, bees, salt marshes and chickens.

Also, please take a moment to look through my available paintings. You just might see the perfect painting to give as a gift or keep for yourself....


Winter Fog, Redwood

Winter Fog, Redwood
Oil on canvas

It's coming up on our two year anniversary of moving to California. Our first winter here was memorable. We were renting a beautiful, yet remote house here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In the master bedroom was a large window, and framed perfectly in that window was this Redwood tree. The marine layer would pour in from the Pacific nightly, and every morning this tree would loom, ghostly and magestic. I began this painting while renting that house, and put it away for a while. Recently I pulled it back onto the easel, and finished those delicate layers of fog, of morning light, of a hint of blue sky behind that morning grey.


I received a commission to paint a front panel of a new beehive.  The hive belongs to friends, and I'm looking forward to visiting their new bees.  The view depicted is from their house, of the Santa Cruz Mountains. 




The panel, albeit a bit crooked & blurry & with a fair amount of glare:

I'll post more photos later, of the beehive in it's new location, with the new occupants.  

Lower Orchard, Summit Wildfire

Lower Orchard,  Summit Wildfire
Oil on canvas, 20"x 20"

(note on the painting:  Last May, after having been in our new home only 10 days, a wildfire broke out near our home.  The winds took the fire in the opposite direction, but it was a stressful & vigilant few days.  The smoke blocked the sun and created this beautiful yet eerie glow throughout the landscape.  This is a view of our backyard, which I photographed at the time.  I painted a small (3"x3") study of this view, and this is the larger & more developed version.)