The Vineyard in the Valley

Last weekend I loaded my backpack with art supplies and hiked into the countryside near my house. It had rained earlier in the day, but as soon as I saw a break in the clouds, I gathered my art supplies and headed out to sketch.

The golden grasses covering the hills during the dryer months are turning green with the help of recent rains. Reaching the top of a hill, I was confronted by the bright colors of Jordan Winery’s vineyard and a red-roofed shed guarding its gate. What a great view I thought, and parked myself on my folding stool to paint.

This northeast edge of Healdsburg used to be a horse ranch until about 15 years ago, when it was replaced by the homes in my neighborhood. Some reminders of the ranch still remain, like the old wooden fence posts climbing this hill. Although people have encroached upon this once wild land, the area is still home to raptors, deer, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, and migratory birds. Blue herons and egrets, much to my dismay, like to eat goldfish out of our backyard pond. But it’s a small price to pay for living near open land. Some of the wildlife can be dangerous, like rattle snakes and mountain lions, and many of my neighbors have reported sightings. Luckily, I’ve never run into any problems but still keep a sharp eye whenever I’m out in the field. At night as I’m drifting off to sleep, I often hear the howls of coyotes celebrating a new kill and the feast that follows.

The sky above me darkened and small drops of rain splashed on my page. Looking toward the west, I could see that another storm approached, so I packed up my gear and headed home. Under the next day’s sunny skies I returned to the same spot to add the finishing touches.

6 thoughts on “The Vineyard in the Valley

  1. What came to mind to me is “What a view”!! Gorgeous with some of the fall colors. I really admire your penwork combined with the watercolors. The hints of other colors (like a bit of pink/magenta) in the greens, along with all the golds makes this a very interesting painting!

  2. I love Jordan wines but have never had the pleasure of visiting the winery. This is beautiful–all of it, of course, but especially the sky. That is an exceptional sky!

  3. Wow, rattlesnakes and mountain lions! Usually I’m worried about ticks and chiggers painting outside in the southeast. You really sacrifice for your art.

    I love this one! That mass of trees near the top is beautifully defined and shaded. I’m still working on being able to capture such detail in watercolor. Your paintings are such an inspiration.

  4. Thanks for the comment Claire! I work with a limited palette while I’m out sketching. I think sometimes that the limiting aspect is actually an asset!

  5. Thanks very much Jean! I haven’t visited Jordan winery in years but do love their wines. Maybe I’ll get an opportunity to sketch their facility. Thanks for your comment about the sky!

  6. Thanks for the comment Martha! Yes, those rattlesnakes and mountain lions are out there. My friend Phil and I were out sketching one day after I sketched this one and his wife called him and said there was a mountain lion just outside their fence, and it had been there for about an hour! Geesh! They live about a quarter mile from my house and less than that from where I drew this only one day before. Glad you like the painting!

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