Art Adventures

Posts tagged ‘travel’

I’m flying out to Italy today at 3pm to teach a painting workshop in Tuscany! I can’t wait! I have a couple of layovers, and will end up in Florence tomorrow at 5pm. So excited. Can’t wait to experience the beautiful light and sights of amazing Tuscany. LOVE Italy.

Italian Farmhouse we will call home for 6 days!

 

View from one of the beautiful little towns in Tuscany last year

 

Roman spa from 2016 tour

 

Montepulciano window box. Gorgeous.

I have uploaded Google Drive to my devices, so that I can send my phone photos to my tablet and post a blog update every day. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how it works. In any case, I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram. Watch were we go, what we see, what we paint, and (probably) what we eat!! Oh, and the wine, of course!

Follow this blog, my FB page and Instagram to share the adventure with us!

 

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My backpack trip into the Enchantment Mountains proved worthy of the incredible challenge I faced just to arrive. It was extremely rugged country. Mountain goats, waterfalls, lakes, icebergs, glaciers, and sheer cliffs astounded us with views at every turn.

I am no stranger to backpacking. I backpacked as a kid in the Colorado Rockies with my family. Later, I explored the Pacific Northwest with my husband and our kiddos, once they were old enough to hike (or be carried, as the case often was…ha…). Camping out in the wilderness rejuvenates my soul. I usually feel as though I have been holding my breath and when I get into the mountains, I finally exhale, and breathe deep for the first time in a long while. Ahhhhh……there it is. I’m whole again.

When my husband suggested we hike into the Stuart Range in Washington for a family trip, however, I was a little reserved. What? No, no, not for the kids, but for me! Our boys, ages ranging from 14-20 at the time, were completely able to carry their own food, clothes, and selves deep into the great outdoors. No problem. In fact, strong, young boys with tons of muscle and energy? Hiking was a breeze for them. All I had to do was organize the food and get myself and my own backpack to the destination. Easy enough, right?

Problem. Errrr, yes. Twelve miles in and 7,000 feet elevation gain of steep, rugged wilderness awaited. I was nervous about the sheer amount of physical energy needed to arrive at the campsite. Nevertheless, excited to go, I envisioned the beauty and couldn’t wait to begin. We made plans, reserved our permit, packed, organized, and headed up. Oh, and I DID pack my watercolor journal. Extra weight, sure, but I could handle it.

HA.

Every ounce practically killed me by the end. In fact? Just the weight of my own body proved almost too difficult to bear.

Difficult. But worth every step. It was so beautiful, so challenging, so scary, and so amazing, and I’ll probably never see it again.

Here we are, in all our pre-hike glory.

Here we are, in all our pre-hike glory.

The hike started out extremely steep, rising up out of the valley just outside of Leavenworth, Washington.

Me, with my three boys and friends, on our way up to Snow Lake

Me, with our three boys and friends, on our way up to Snow Lake. Hubby took the pic. It was a little steamy, as you can tell by the boy’s hair.

Our goal for the first night was to hike in and camp at Snow Lake, a 6 mile trek.The hike in was gorgeous, steep, but not terribly difficult.

Snow Lake. View from our camp, first night.

Snow Lake. View from our camp, first night. Mt. McClellen in the background.

No worries, I thought! I can handle this! The next day we headed out for the upper lakes.

By the second mile on day two, my knee was giving me a bit of grief from the steep climb the day before. THIS day, the climb was even steeper, working our way up boulder fields,

Boulder fields

Boulder fields above Snow and Nada Lakes.

over tumbling waterfalls,

Hubby and I, posing for an "excuse pic" i.e. RESTING!

Hubby and I, posing for a pic (i.e. RESTING).

 

across a dam, with floating trees on one side and a waterfall on the other (we had to cross the 12″ concrete dam while water rushed over the top…yikes!!),

This was scary for me. Death by drowning on one side, death by OUCH on the other! CONCENTRATE, Sarah! The dam was slippery!

This was scary for me. Death by drowning on one side, death by OUCH on the other! CONCENTRATE, Sarah! The dam was slippery!

and over a rounded, dead-drop boulder with rebar as footholds so that hikers would (hopefully) not plunge to their death. I have no photo of that, sketchy enough that my legs quivered and I was SO NOT taking my camera out. In fact, I may have cried. That’s just a rumor, mind you.

It was hot, gorgeous, and tiring.

Some of us rested in the shade. Kid 3 tired out from helping me up the boulders.

Some of us rested in the shade. Kid 3 tired out from helping me up the boulders.

So, yeah, gorgeous, but (ouch)knee, fear of heights, and water/drowning issues came to the front of my anxiety on that day. I worked it all through, though. and was rewarded with the most amazing high-alpine location I’d ever been.

Once we arrived at Vivian Lake, we re-grouped with a water filter re-fill, lunch, and a much-needed rest.

Son 1, refilling his water with a water filter system.

Son 1, refilling his water with a water filter system.

We rested among the no-fear mountain goats and spent the next day exploring the area before heading down the following day.

We hiked the entire 12 miles out in one day. By the time I reached the truck, I could barely place one foot in front of another. My legs were jellyfish, seemingly only marginally attached to my body with painful connections called joints. My back, shoulders and neck were stiff and my feet? Ugh. Too much. Only the memories of my family in one of the most gorgeous places I’ve been, and the photos I took, kept me going through some painful muscle aches for the rest of the week. Oh, and quite a substantial amount of Advil (and possibly wine…another rumor).

This past weekend, paying homage to this amazing hike, I worked on a landscape of one of the waterfalls we found at the lakes. I wanted to capture the raw beauty of this location, the way nature molds the landscape, the resistance and strength of the alpine trees, and the simple glory of water in erosive action. I’m bringing this to you, in the hopes that you can experience a part of The Enchantments, without the pain of the hike!

Enchanted, 12x32, original watercolor on textured Plexiglas

Enchanted, 12×32, original watercolor on textured Plexiglas

“Enchanted” was created for a group show at Tumalo Art Company, and is hanging at the gallery during the month of March. It’s delightful to see in person, with collaged texture and watercolor crayons capturing the rugged feel of the cliff bands surrounding Vivian Lake.

Enjoy the new work, and find it and other paintings of mine at Tumalo Art Company, and Hood Avenue Art.

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and events! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that we can meet at showings and to receive notifications about classes. I will be planning a workshop painting class in the fall of 2017. I will post more when I know the dates. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images

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During our Paint Tuscany trip this May, we toured the beautiful hill town of Montepulciano. It was just as I had imagined it to be, but even more spectacular. A quaint little town of stone atop small hill with incredible views of the Tuscan valley below, Montepulciano also had unique stores, tucked along its streets, begging to be explored.

It was in Montepulciano where I found a hand-made book store, Legatoria Koine. Oh my. Such beautiful books! Such reasonable prices! I had to buy two. One for me (of course), and one as a gift (you know who you are!). Its heavy, torn-edged paper looks like old-time textured watercolor paper!

Hand bound Italian book. Leather outer, watercolor paper inside

Hand bound Italian book. Leather outer, watercolor paper inside

I can’t wait to fill it with artwork! It smells like leather, has rough edges, and came with a little note tucked inside. The woman who waited on us was a beautiful late-20’s Italian girl, who bound all the books (and painted oils on the side!). So cute.

Anyway, as we wound our way up through the town to take a look at the view as well as a garden near the top, I passed by a gorgeous alley, flooded in yellow Tuscan light, with views to the valley below. Breathtaking.

This is one of three Tuscan paintings I worked on this weekend.

Here is my reference photo:

IMG_5247

Montepulciano alley, showing views of the valley below

Can you see why I was so inspired??!!  And, weirdly enough, it wasn’t a terribly sunny day, but warm sunlight burst through the haze and flooded a golden glow to the wall.

I painted this scene for several reasons. First, of course, to capture the gorgeous Tuscan light. But I also love the archway and the dark foreground drawing us in to a misty Tuscan landscape. A couple pause to contemplate the valley view, which adds a human element to the scene. I am also drawn to the lamp on the wall to the right. I decided accentuate a triangular composition highlighting the window box, lamp, and people.

With the composition focused on the 1/3 RH side of the canvas, here is my thumbnail sketch. Doing a small value sketch always help me decide on placement of shadows and forms within the painting.

Sketching the basic outline, values, and layout of the alley

Sketching the basic outline, values, and layout of the alley.

I gesso-coated rectangular paper cut out and collaged it onto my Plexiglas surface, haphazardly placing tiles of paper to resemble old brickwork. Netting further provided a gridded surface, suggesting rough stonework in the walls. As I painted, I sprayed and splattered water and paint on the surface, giving it an overall aged feel.

A dark entry of warm stonework draws our eyes into the painting. We then dance along the shapes of window shutters, glance off a warm yellow wall, and find the couple enjoying the valley scene below. We then might find the lamp and pop back to the red flowers of the window box before contemplating deeper into the scene.

Hard to see in this photo of the painting, but I added a white skirt on the woman and placed red shoes on her feet. 🙂

Montepulciano lowres copyright

Montepulciano Alley, 20×16, original watercolor and collage on Plexiglas

The resulting painting takes me back to my Tuscan experience and reminds me of our warm May day in Italy. I feel pulled in to the painting. I remember the cobblestone walls, stucco surface, rich smells, intimate windows, flowers, culture, and wonderful people. Imagine and allow it to draw you in to a beautiful moment in Montepulciano.

Find my work at Tumalo Art Company. In July, I will have my Tuscan work hung on their walls!

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

 

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I had so much fun at the Willamette Valley last weekend! After hiking the Silverton Falls (10 falls, 7 miles…we shortened our hike and had 5 falls in 5 miles…gorgeous), we toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s Gordon House (my favorite architect of all time…what a treat), then managed to fit in a stop at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm before calling it a day…yep, all that in ONE day, and heading back to our VRBO in McMinnville.

I was somewhat amazed (and a little disgusted, frankly) at the commercialism of the Wooden Shoe. I had different visions of a quiet, peaceful field of tulips, but instead, there were inflatable kid toys, bungee jumping, rides through the tulips on a “train”, a hot air balloon, you name it. But for my purposes, we headed straight into the fields, where I managed to shoot about 200 photos of tulips and people in the tulips. It was incredibly beautiful.

You will see several paintings from this trip, but the first one I had to do was this one, a man on a bike, riding through the field. PERFECT! I took several shots of him. He seemed to be leisurely poking along, glancing down at the flowers every now and again, clearly out for a casual ride to see the sights.

First wash of teal and yellow

First wash of teal and yellow

String, paper squares, produce netting and scribbles dance in the canvas, providing a crazy, fun background for the tulip colors.

Details:

Tulip guy detail 1

In the background, I suggested trees and a distant field of pink flowers. You can see the squares of paper, produce netting grid, and string

Tulip guy detail 2

Up close of Mr. Tulip Guy, where there is gridded pattern of netting and paper squares as well as a fruit tree in the background.

Tulip guy detail 3

Here is a detailed view of the bike, with string, painted grids, and paper collage. As you can see, the flowers are not painted as such, but suggested by mass and color.

Finished original on Plexiglas! One of my favorite areas is the background, where it seems a little surreal, or suggestive of trees, clouds, and haze. This turned out to be a fabulous painting!! It strikes the perfect mood.

Petals, 20x16, $750 original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

Petals, 20×16, $750 original watercolor and mixed media on Plexiglas

The question was…Petals? Or Pedals for my title. After some deliberation, I decided on Petals. Why? Not sure, other than that I just love the flowers.

Cheers!

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes. Every one of my paintings is available as a print, and I sell signed greeting cards of all my images.

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Alpacas! Son3 and I decided to take a few hours this Saturday and stop by the Snow Diamond Alpacas farm just outside of Bend. Armed with our cameras, we took the scenic drive out to the open areas northwest of Tumalo. I was probably a little more excited than son3, having imagined alpaca paintings since I first saw their ad in the Bend Bulletin a few weeks ago. But my son got to drive the Jetta, so…And, since he has a photography class in high school, this provided an opportunity for him to increase his photography portfolio.

When we arrived at the ranch, there were a few small signs directing us back to a large barn on the property. The owner, Don, took us out into the field among the beautiful, fuzzy, puffy animals. I was surprised at how docile they were. Don knew each one, it seemed. He estimated about 180 alpacas lived on his farm!

I was not prepared for just how cute these guys and girls were! The color variety in their coats, their personalities, and their beautiful eyes captivated us.

A small family of alpacas

A small family of alpacas. Their collars defined family ties.

We got a bunch of close-ups.

White alpaca.

Ms. white puffy alpaca, surveying her surroundings.

Check out this baby! Isn’t she beautiful. I mean, look at those lashes! They must be 5 inches long!

Young alpaca.

Young alpaca. Was this Carmel? I cannot remember. Maybe Carmel’s child.

Apparently, some decided their best end was their back end, and presented such for the shot.

Behind the scenes

“If we ignore them, maybe they will go away.”

One posed handsomely.

Posing for the pic

“Ahem…The lighting is perfect for my coat…”

The obligatory selfie, just to show how cool we are. Was I standing in a hole? I must have been standing in a hole. Really.

My son and myself selfie

My son and myself selfie. How’s the hair? Just great, Mom.

The owner decided to go in for the kiss.

Hows about a kiss, sweetheart?

Hows about a kiss, sweetheart?

Son3 had a few fans.

Oh, hello. Do you want your pic taken?

Oh, hello. Do you want your pic taken?

And I’m sorry. Yep. I apologize for doing this to you all, but I must end this blog post on a cute factor of plus ten. If you look at the next pic, you will never be the same. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

OMG. Cute factor off the charts!!

OMG. Cute factor? Off the charts!!

Whhhaaattt? Can an animal really be that cute? A real, live animal? I think I’m in love.

Anyway, best day ever. Son3 and I had the best time taking photos. The owners were amazing; so kind and educational. They have a wonderful shop there, full of beautiful alpaca scarves, throws, hats, socks, etc. You must stop by and see them if you are going through the area. It’s not that far off Highway 20.

You can bet I will be painting these beautiful creatures in the future. I already have one in process. Stay tuned!

Follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals! Contact me to receive my newsletter so that you see me at showings and receive notifications about SB Hansen Watercolor & Wine Painting Classes.

Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

 

 

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I prepared myself for a grizzly encounter. I planned. While hiking, I would make plenty of noise, clapping, talking, and having my pepper spray in-hand (though you have to be 16 feet from the bear to use the spray…uhmm…wow…really?…yikes). More importantly, I had griz-photos all pre-determined in my head, imagining paintings of huge Alaskan brown bears, swishing around in violent rivers, sleek salmon in their massive mouths.

Alaska. I’d never been before. Growing up in Colorado, I thought it would be same-same. Just bigger and colder. Not so.

We headed up at the end of August for a week-long family trip, which included more family than the usual crew of myself, my husband and our boys. We were a group of eleven; extended family members as well as friends. We happily co-habitated in a home on the Kenai River near the little town of Soldotna (we all had to train ourselves to pronunciate the Russian name, Sol-DOT-na). And little town it was, gearing down from a busy summer. Some of the shops and restaurants were shuttering for the year. Fred Meyer, our oft-visited grocery store, however, buzzed with business every day. Mostly ours.;)

Back view of the house we rented on the Kenai River.

Back view of the house we rented on the Kenai River.

Most of our crew of 11 people fished every day, sometimes all day long! They could fish directly on the Kenai, just a few yards down a path from the house.

We lined the river, fishing for Sockeye Salmon

Our crew lined the river, fishing for Sockeye Salmon

While my family and friends fished, I painted in my journal, enjoying sunny, warm weather.

Painting in my journal on the back deck

Painting in my journal on the back deck

On one particularly sunny day, a nuthatch flew into the house through the open door and ended up confused, flying into a window with a clonk. I threw a shirt over him and took him outdoors. He wobbled around a bit, sat on my thumb until he was mindful, and took off.

Poor little nuthatch on my thumb.

Poor little nuthatch on my thumb. Cute, isn’t he?

In spite of the amazing fishing and the nuthatch encounter, I had my mind focused on bears, scared though I was with the prospect of an actual teeth-slobbering, claws-slashing encounter. BUT! Never, ever let anything come between a woman and her vision of a great painting. Even big brown scary bears. Even that.

We planned a hike to Russian River Falls, which is known for bear activity. Specifically, bears fishing.

Lower Russian Falls sign

Lower Russian Falls

There were plenty, plenty of fish in the Russian River

There were plenty, plenty of fish in the Russian River

The hike was a 2.5 mile stroll along a wide, pedestrian-friendly path down to the famed river and falls. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who wished for an encounter with bears. The path was well-worn, but since we were there at the end of the season, we encountered only a few groups of people. When we arrived at the overlook to the falls, I was dissapointed to find NO BEARS. Not a single bear anywhere! We saw fresh bear scat, but no bears. There were, however, millions of fish packed in the river, trying to head up the falls, exhausted though they were, to spawn in their own special spawning spot. No other spot would do. They were driven to jump the falls to reproduce. Their jumps were amazing, seeming an impossible feat for a fish. Hello? Note to fish: You are supposed to swim, not fly…

We headed back after a lunch of sandwiches and tangerines by the falls. We all had plenty of chances to take photos of amazing Alaskan terrain. You can bet I found plenty of subjects for future paintings.

On our way back, we met up with a friendly Fish & Wildlife guy, who offered to take us up to see the fish dam (or weir, as he called it), near Lower Russian Lake, where they count salmon on a daily basis. Wonderful! He was a trove of information on the fauna, and even the flora of the area. We arrived at the lake…gorgeous!

Russian Lake. Gorgeous!

Russian Lake. Gorgeous!

Wonderful hike. I would love to spend time in one of the lake cabins that the F&W guy mentioned, painting and hiking the area every day. Maybe I would even become a bear-whisperer.

One day, in spite of some major vehicular problems in which we spent all morning at the dealership then ended up renting a HOT Dodge Charger…(hello power, and welcome!), we drove to Homer.

Posing with two of my sons, in front of the famous Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer

Beautiful Homer. It featured a long spit on which rested the famed Salty Dawg Saloon (of course, we had to pose in front of it) as well as cute little tourist shops. Glacial-formed mountains swung steeply down into Kachemak Bay, providing shelter for many seabirds in its wind-swept waters. Stunning.

Homer spit

Homer Spit Marina

The next day, we decided another hike was in order. This one, called Skilak Lookout trail, promised incredible views of Skilak Lake. Everyone performed back-bends to get 11 people to their different needs and locations with one car this day, having returned the rental.

Skilak Lookout Trail

Skilak Lookout Trail

This trail was a little more sketchy than the other, being less used, more brushy, and in serious bear country. At one point, I heard a very deep moan-groan (no, it wasn’t me) that was “something” (“something” being an inside joke that family members from the trip will enjoy…). That “something” was probably a moose, we decided later, as we had fresh tracks all the way up to the lookout. At the time, though, we considered the very real possibility it could be a bear, and were on hyper-alert, our bear-spray warriors in the front and the back of our group, thumbs on triggers.

Top of Skilak Lookout

Selfie on the top of Skilak Lookout

My boys and I at the top of Skilak Lake Lookout Trail. Skilak Lake below

My boys and I at the top of Skilak Lake Lookout Trail. Skilak Lake below

Amazing, amazing views. The guides online and at the trail site were a little confusing. Online, the hike was supposed to be 2.5 miles round-trip. Turns out, it was 2.5 miles in, 2.5 out. No big deal for any of us, but took longer than what we had planned.

No bears(sad face). Bonus, though! On our way home, we spotted a moose!

Mama moose with her baby

Mama moose with her baby

Alas, we had to pack up and go home eventually. No bear sightings! I still cannot believe it! My visions of superb paintings of bears must be shelved! I took many photos, though, and have paintings planned and canvases primed to convey to you my impressions of Alaska.

Fish for home

Fish for home

Also? We had around 250 pounds of fish to take home and put into our freezers. Yum. Thanks, fishermen!!

Alaska. Bigger than Colorado indeed, but also more wild, more rugged, more extreme and wayyyy less tamed.

View from the plane of Alaska

View from the plane of Alaskan glaciers on our way home

Goodbye, Alaska. I’ll be back… 🙂

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen unless otherwise noted.

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes you just have to throw down the paint brush(or place it neatly on the table, since they are so spendy…).

This weekend was one of those times. After a miserably-failed painting(yep, I actually wiped off all the paint and then globbed gesso over it…it was THAT bad), I ended up spear-heading an impromptu camping trip. My middle son had returned from his first year of college, my youngest finished his sophomore year at high school. My husband wrapped up a crazy work week. It was time.

We had a blast.

Kayaking with the boys and Sheba

Kayaking with the boys and Sheba

We camped at Hosmer Lake in nearby Cascade Range. With our campsite right next to the lake, we kayaked a-plenty.

Kayaking with the boys and hubby. South Sister in the background

Kayaking with the boys and hubby. South Sister in the background

Sheba enjoyed a little down-time.

Sheba, watching her crazy humans.

Sheba, watching her crazy humans.

Warm, sunny days filled with relaxation. And a comfy lawn chair.

Hubby relaxing at the campsite. Mt Bachelor in the background.

Hubby relaxing at the campsite. Mt Bachelor in the background.

I talked my husband into a selfie…

Selfie at the campsite. Yep. That's a cold beer.

Selfie at the campsite. Yep. That’s a cold beer.

On Sunday, amid crazy bird cacophony, we scrambled out of our tent in the early morning and went for another kayak trip to see if we could scout out some otters. To our surprise, ice had formed overnight on the kayaks! Brrr!! But it was beautiful that morning. I took so many photos my fingers are sore. Just kidding.

Early morning kayak trip with South Sister in the background.

Early morning kayak trip with South Sister in the background.

Okay, okay. I’ll admit to a little bit of painting. Just a quick sketch to remember the moment.

Watercolor journal painting on Sunday.

Watercolor journal painting on Sunday.

Now, I’m filled with energy and can’t wait to pick up the paint brush. I took photos of a man fishing with a dog for my dog series, took some pics of our wine with Mt. B in the background (I know, right? Another wine painting for my friends!!), set up flip flops with lake and dock backgrounds for my flip flop series (thanks to my peeps for loaning me your flip flops) and took GREAT up-close photos of a mama duck and her ducklings. Can’t wait, can’t wait to paint! Next plan, draw all these out for my annual Colorado Paint Retreat!!

All images taken by and copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen.

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