Kathleen Elsey


November 9, 2000
Matanzas Winery Celebrates Plein-Air Painting

—By Marty Olmstead, IJ correspondent

Kathleen Elsey, creator of "Lavender Afternoon" an acrylic on canvas, joins three other artists in an exhibit this weekend at Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa.

Some People come for the wine. Some people come to take pictures of the scenery. Others come to make pictures of the wine country scenery, which offers endless possibilities for artists. The tradition of plein-air painting, popularized by the French impressionists, involves landscape painting in the outdoors. A popular aspect of this type of work is the opportunity to paint virtually the same scene two or three times in the course of a day, letting the changing light come into play. Today, the approach is alive, even flourishing, in Northern California.

Four artists from Marin and Sonoma counties have joined forces to present a three-day exhibit opening tomorrow at Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa. The winery, famed for its extensive lavender plantings as well as for its ultra-premium wines, has a history of promoting regional artists. Now it is reviving its well-received artist-in-residence program. For now, however, this four-woman exhibit will bring attention to the revitalized plein-air tradition.

Not surprisingly, the subject of many of thee 20 or so canvases on display this weekend is the winery's landscaping. Located in the picturesque but undersung Bennett Valley, which runs alongside Sonoma Mountain between Glen Ellen and Santa Rosa, Matanzas Creek promotes the splendor of its aromatic gardens each summer with its sell-out Days of Wine and Lavender, which also offers food and live music.

In fact, the idea of painting together sprang from a meeting at Matanzas Creek. "I had a commission to paint the lavender," says Camille Przewodek of Petaluma. "Once, when I was there, I ran into Kathleen Elsey, who came up with the idea of finding locations that appeal to us and painting together.

"It's great to paint with other painters. There's a camaraderie, and it's interesting to see their vision, how they see the same place."

While the four do not paint all together, their lives and work have intertwined over the years at various shows and other art functions. All have extensive experience and impressive resumes detailing their education, exhibits and awards.

Kay Carlson, an oil painter from Sausalito likes to stay late at the winery, painting until the last light fades. Another painter, Wendy Gruber, also of Sausalito, works in a combination of pastels and acrylics. "I want the grasses I paint to keep blowing after the piece is finished."

Kathleen Elsey, whose studio is a barn on nearby Sonoma Mountain, estimates that half the works on display this weekend will have been painted at the winery, and the others will feature other Sonoma county landscapes. The artists will be at the gallery, welcoming visitors and answering questions. Elsey says many of the questions have to do with technique-"how I get acrylic on so thick-the answer is meaty brush strokes and lots of paint- or why I use red underpaintings in so many of my works."

The tasting room will be open for this event from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday. Matanzas Creek Winery is at 6097 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa: 800 590-6464

© 2009 Kathleen Elsey. All rights reserved. All paintings are property of Kathleen Elsey
and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of Kathleen Elsey.
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