Hippocrates said, "Nature itself is the best physician." He was certainly onto something. Disappearing into wild and remote places strips away the day-to-day stresses.
Grover Beach plein air painter Rosanne Seitz knows this better than most.
"When heading out to paint, I feel excited about the exploration, and when I get there, I am totally focused on what I'm doing, which is sort of a meditative process where I lose track of time," Seitz explained during an email interview. "When I'm done and headed home, I feel relaxed, tired, but satisfied and ready to meet other life challenges."
Seitz's current solo exhibition, I'll Take You There, features more than 30 works created during the pandemic from "solo trips, off the beaten track, to places showing the majesty and quiet beauty of our Central Coast scenery." It's on display at SLO's Art Central Art Supply through Tuesday, Nov. 24. The landscapes are "inspired by personal sketches, photos, and plein air paintings developed while driving out-of-the-way backroads."
How does she decide on where to go and what to paint?
"When I'm painting on my own, I have selected painting sites when on roads, visiting ranches, or parks," she explained. "I will notice a particular way the shadows accent landforms, the way oaks are gathered or spread out, the overlapping shapes of trees, creeks, or rocks. I also look for man's footprint on the land, such as barns, fences, equipment, and water tanks that show past use. If it speaks to me, then I will photograph it and go back there.
- Photo Courtesy Of Rosanne Seitz
- ON LOCATION Grover Beach artist Rosanne Seitz travels throughout the county to paint remote but breathtaking scenes.
"I do set off on driving trips and just wander, trying to hit roads I have not been on before that go way back into the countryside and are not often used," she continued. "I'll also go back to locations to see how it looks in different light and weather. I'm attracted to lands that are a bit more open. I found when traveling in Georgia that I was very frustrated because I couldn't see the landforms and the distance because of all the trees."
Seitz's paintings are lovely and calming, many of them painted plein air on location, others worked up in her studio from sketches, photos, or earlier studies.
"I love to work plein air, to be out in the landscape, to absorb the places' smells, insects, and weather, even in windy weather from my van," she revealed. "I do prefer some shadows. I'll photograph and take my plein air paintings home. Some are finished and some are enlarged or changed in the studio. If there's a choice between inside and outside, I will always choose outside."
Boundless and Laguna Wetlands are both examples of paintings she worked in her studio.
"Laguna Wetlands was inspired by a scene on Foothill Boulevard near O'Connor Way with no place to safely pull over or set up," she explained. "Also, the light was fading fast so it required a studio setting. Boundless is also a studio painting with many plein air works done before it over the years in the Carrizo National Monument."
Seitz has painted with various media, but she prefers watercolor, explaining, "I tried watercolor on a trip to Yosemite and I was a 'goner.' I love how the colors blend, how spontaneous and inventive you can be with your brushstrokes. It dries quickly, is easily transportable, and easy to clean up. I can work on more than one piece at a time. I can make corrections to it using the correct paper and pigments.
- Courtesy Image By Rosanne Seitz
- BOUNDLESS This 22-by-30-inch watercolor was also developed in the studio from many plein air paintings done over the years at the Carrizo National Monument.
"The difficulties are that it usually needs matting and framing under glass. It's not as well regarded by some members of the art community and public, and conversely it is also well regarded by others as being the most difficult medium to work with," she continued. "I find it the easiest."
In addition to calming the mind and restoring the spirit, being out in the sticks comes with added surprises.
"While painting with a friend, we were mobbed by cattle that were thinking we were delivering food. Our easels got bumped around a little, and we took cover next to the vehicles until the cattle figured out we did not have food," she said. "Nothing like a big cow coming towards you!
"Another time, painting on one of the creek roads, inland from Highway 1, I was surrounded by deep bellows. It turns out that it was mating time for the cattle and the bellows were echoing up and down the tree- and bush-shrouded creek bed like having my head inside a bell.
"One more story—just leaving for a painting site, I saw a bunch of turkeys under a tree. I stopped to photo as they walked towards me. They got closer and closer and squeezed under a barbwire fence. I got in my car and they surrounded me, thinking I had food for them. I started my Prius, which doesn't make much noise, so [it] didn't scare them off. I started driving slowly, getting them to move out of my way, and as I sped up, they kept pace until we were racing each other."
- Courtesy Image By Rosanne Seitz
- LAGUNA WETLANDS This 22-by-30-inch was developed in the studio from a photo captured on Foothill Boulevard in SLO because there was "no place to safely pull over or set up."
The joys of plein air painting! If you want to get a feel for the many remote places Seitz visits, check out the show before it comes down.
"I wanted to show my travel and painting during COVID-19 in hopes that sharing what I love with others will help them enjoy the landscape for a moment in time," Seitz added. "I also wanted to put together a slideshow for my newsletter and Facebook so that it could be shared with those who don't or can't get out.
"I visited New York City for my 70th birthday just before COVID-19. I stayed in a vacation rental on the seventh floor of an apartment complex," she continued. "I remember the families living in that building with no front porch, back porch, open space, or parks, with a very slow elevator. It is a wonder how they keep it together during sheltering, especially with kids.
"I am grateful that I live in SLO County with access to so many beautiful areas. The families that live here that can get outside with social distancing at the beach or walks in the neighborhood and still be safe," Seitz reflected. "We're very fortunate." Δ
Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at firstname.lastname@example.org.