Brilliant Light


Badger’s Pass

I wanted to to start the New Year doing what I love, painting outside. On New Year’s Day, I headed to Yosemite to see the Winter Wonderland that it becomes in the snow. I was able to paint this “quick one” while my family played. I was dazzled by the brilliant light on the snow, contrasted against the cool shadows. 
The was so much more to paint there, but the days are short and the light fades quickly. If only I had my time to spend there. 

Happy New Year!


Autumn Light

The Light Beyond the Trees ©Loralee chapleau 11x14

The Light Beyond the Trees
©Loralee chapleau

I love the golden glow of autumn light. That is exactly what moved me to paint this scene. The light beyond the dark and shaded trees seemed to set the distant foliage aglow. I think this pleasant scene captures the feel of the season.

I painted this in plein air behind the Firehouse Arts Center. It will be on view there, along with other paintings done in and around the Firehouse, from November 12th through December 16th.

My Green Sea

Cliffs Hwy 1 ©Loralee Chapleau 24x36

Cliffs Hwy 1
©Loralee Chapleau

I am primarily a plein air painter. I love being outside, painting on location. It allows me to be immersed in the moment, and to really get the feel of a place. Due to the nature of plein air, I often have to paint on smaller canvases. I like the impact that a larger painting can have, so I have been using my smaller plein air pieces as inspiration for larger paintings.

When I painted this from a smaller plein air piece, I could easily recall the rhythmic sound of the waves, the cool ocean breeze cutting across my face, and the smell of salt in the air. All of that memory and feeling went into the creation of this painting. I hope that some of those sensations come through to the viewer.

Crop to Selection

Cliffs Near Bodega Bay ©Loralee Chapleau

Cliffs Near Bodega Bay
©Loralee Chapleau


Earlier this fall, I went on a painting trip with a group of artists to the Russian River. On the way home we stopped to paint the cliffs on Highway 101 north of Bodega Bay. It was a beautiful, clear day, and the sound of the ocean was mesmerizing. Knowing that we had limited time, I may have bit off more than I could chew when I selected a 14 x 18 inch canvas. The time slipped away, as it usually does when I am deeply involved with a painting, and it was time to leave. My 14 x 18 inch painting was unfinished. Perhaps I could finish it at home, from memory?

Well, the painting sat for weeks, as I was unsure of how to resolve it with out being on site. There was a lot of interesting elements to the painting and some dynamic energy, but I just couldn’t see it working out the way it was. Then, last week I read a blog post from a terrific artist, Ann Blair Brown, about “dud” plein air paintings. Sometimes she crops the ones that just don’t quite work as they are. This seemed like the right idea for my unresolved painting. I have decided to crop my painting as shown above, and I am thinking the the other areas may make interesting abstract minis.

Ocean Collage ©Loralee Chapleau

Ocean Collage
©Loralee Chapleau


This is a collage using the other parts of the original painting. The options seem endless. Who knew that duds could be so much fun?

Here is a link to Ann Blair Brown’s blog post.





A Pop of Gray

Old Lakeville Road Vineyards ©Loralee Chapleau 16x20

Old Lakeville Road Vineyards
©Loralee Chapleau


I went back to the vineyards again to paint. The colors were even more glorious than the last time. People may wonder if I get bored painting vineyards. The answer is not at all. I know that this special season won’t last forever, so I like to get out to Wine Country  to paint as much as I can before the leaves fall.

There is a design principle that is employed by many landscape painters in which the artists use many grayed down colors with just a touch of saturated color. This is commonly referred to as a pop of color. It is a very effective technique, but I enjoy using bright, vibrant color. Perhaps I am a fauvist at heart because this scene cried out for full saturation. The light hit the leaves in such a way that the vineyards appeared to be scorching with color. Why would I want to gray them down?

Some artists use a pop of color. I use a pop of gray!

Autumn in the Vineyard

Autumn in the Vineyard ©Loralee Chapleau 14x18

Autumn in the Vineyard
©Loralee Chapleau


The leaves are beginning to change in Wine Country. Since I was a young girl growing up in Vermont, the radiant colors of fall foliage have amazed me. One of the most awe-inspiring sights I can think of is sunlight illuminating autumn leaves. This is my first attempt of the season to try and capture some of that splendor in oil. Although my brushes are no match for nature’s, it is pleasant to while away an afternoon trying.

Evening Light

St. Mary's Church, Nicasio

Saint Mary’s Church, Nicasio CA ©Loralee Chapleau, 11×14


On the way back from Point Reyes last week, my friend and I stopped to paint a quick one in the small village of Nicasio. Nicasio is home to Saint Mary’s, a beautiful little church established in 1867. It is a favorite place for artists to paint. In my mind, there is little reason to wonder why. Nestled in the golden hills, and bathed in the evening light, Saint Mary’s Church was both a challenge and a delight to paint.

Path to Agate Beach

Path to Agate Beach ©Loralee Chapleau 16x20

Path to Agate Beach
©Loralee Chapleau


Last week I got the chance to venture into the elusive coastal community of Bolinas. The residence of Bolinas have a reputation of being a bit reclusive and solitary. Let’s just say they are not exactly looking for the company of tourists or big corporations. I think the truth is that they are just trying to preserve and protect there beautiful home.

Indeed the place is beautiful! The coastline has breathtaking cliffs and the town seems to have stopped off at some nostalgic point in time.  My friend and I had no trouble scouting out a great place to paint. We chose this spot on the path to Agate Beach. Maybe next time will paint a scene in town, or the sunbathers and beachcombers. Perhaps we will even try to catch the surfers on the waves. Oh! The possibilities!

The Neglectful Blogger

I fear I have been neglecting my blog. In my own defense, I have been pretty busy. I have had quite a few shows to get ready for, which includes lots of painting and framing. Not to mention that little thing we call life. Well anyway, enough with the excuses!

I want to share some of my good news with you. Two of my paintings were selected into the annual juried exhibit Fresh Works 2014 at the Harrington Gallery. But wait, there’s more! One of them received an Honorable Mention Award. You may remember these paintings from my previous blog post “The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly.”  Well, “the Good” and “the Bad” made it into the exhibit and “the Good” received the award.  Not bad for a couple of dusty cowpokes! The exhibit continues until June 7th.

My other good news is that my painting “Late Afternoon” received an Honorable Mention Award at Primavera, the Alamo Danville Artists’ Society’s Spring Show. May has been good to me so far!


Honorable Mention for “Late Afternoon.” ©Loralee Chapleau


The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

Our Plein Air group got rained out last week, or should I say rained in? A few of us headed indoors to do some figure painting. It was great fun, and a nice change from the landscape. On the last few paintings, I focused on the face. Here are my results.


Cowboy 1
©Loralee Chapleau


Cowboy 2
©Loralee Chapleau


Cowboy 3 ©Loralee Chapleau 20x16

Cowboy 3
©Loralee Chapleau


I really enjoyed letting loose with expressive brush strokes and color. My aim was not to try to paint an exact likeness of the model, but rather to capture a gesture. It was almost like creating a character. As for my three amigos here, I like to call them the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. Can you guess which one is which?