Neighbor’s Tree

My Neighbor’s Tree just keep giving and giving.  It’s suuuuper convenient to paint it because I can just walk out to my front driveway and if it’s too cold, rainy or SNOWY(!?), I can paint while looking out the studio window.

Barrel 42, Medford, Oregon

Barrel 42 Medford, Oregon 12″ x 16″

Brian Gruber Winery

It started with this composition for a smaller panel, but decided to move to the larger panel with more background info, which gave me a chance to play with an idea I’d been kicking around for a while.  I had been looking at the “Classical” landscape painting formulas and wanted to make a painting that used these principles.

claude lorrain pastoral landscape

Classical Landscape by Claude Lorrain – there are a million billion paintings made with this formula in the 18th and even into the 19th century.  The Ecole de Beaux Arts clearly taught this was the way you had to do it.  Nobody cares now, but it’s interesting how many paintings were made this way.

Google “Classical Landscape” here

claude lorrain pastoral landscape spiral

The composition spirals to for you to enter the picture on either side, the bottom is always darker value.

claude lorrain pastoral landscape zig zag

They always zig zag with close distance object on one side, going nearly top to bottom, then swing over to the opposite side for middle distance subject and then swing back for the far away view.


Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns

The close middle far is obvious in my painting.  I elected not to try to make spirals with clouds etc, because after all, my work is more about stark, aging American landscapes instead of fantastical ideal pastorals.  I did look for stuff to point to the subject, which was the green building, though, as well as the secondary subject of the far power lines.  I don’t always take time to carefully compose a plein air landscape, but it’s pretty satisfying when I do.

The location for this painting has a story too.  The green building houses a business called Barrel 42.  Brian Gruber and Herb Quady make Rogue Valley wines here, including the fabulous Quady North wines.  This is of particular interest to me, a native Southern Oregonian with an agricultural family history, because wine is overturning pears as the dominant agricultural product in Southern Oregon.  The big aqua building (so many of the old pear buildings are painted aqua –???) is called SOS – Southern Oregon Storage, or something like that.  The walls are super thick and maintain cool temperatures year round, perfect for storing barrels of wine, pears etc.  Of course these interesting places are always along railroad tracks because they used to use rails to ship things.  Not much anymore, as you see the side track to get close to the building to load up the goods is overgrown with weeds.  Time marches on, and it’s nice that the railroad tracks are seldom used, because they offer a quiet place to paint, and the tracks always have nice lines to play with.

New Classes

right ear left ear

Brace yourselves, It’s winter and I’m posting on my blog like a fiend.  But don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll get distracted soon and go back to barely ever posting.

So I have two new classes scheduled at the Ashland Art Center.


If you want to sign up, you can follow the links, or contact AAC and try to sign up over the phone or stop by Ashland Art Center. They are open Daily 10:00am  to 6:00 pm at 357 E. Main St, Ashland, OR 97520.  541-482-2772

Pilot Rock

Pilot Rock

Pilot Rock – As seen from the Pacific Crest Trail near Hobart Bluff, in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

I painted this in September after the smoke cleared out of the valley.  (We had a terrible, terrible smokey summer from all the wild fires this year.  This is the only bummer about living surrounded by wilderness.  Avoid the Rogue Valley in August.)  Painting here involves a bit of a drive and a pretty short hike.  Interstate 5 is tucked in between the more distant ridges.

This painting is for sale on my Etsy shop — 50% of the purchase price will go to the Friends of the Cascade- Siskiyou National Monument.  They put on nature hikes with scientists (and artists), help maintain trails, do butterfly counts and all kinds of fun stuff.

Plein Air Painting Video

I participated in a paint out event in Roseburg, Oregon and while there, Michael Sullivan, photojournalist at the News Review created this little video profile.

Thanks Mike and check out his work at

Hike and Learn

The Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument hold a monthly event called a Hike and Learn, where the invite someone to enhance participants’ experience of the monument with their expertise. They have invited me to lead a Hike and Learn on the subject of Landscape Sketching!  The monument is pretty neat because it has some of the greatest bio-diversity in a concentrated area in the United States.  I’m a big fan of using my art as a tool for documentation, so I’m looking forward to documenting this significant location this week and weekend.

The Hike and Learn is open to all, and is free to attend.  On Friday evening I will give a slide talk that goes over the basics of sketching the landscape.  Then Saturday morning, we will all meet up and head to Hobart Bluff to hike a little and sketch out in the wild.  We’ll meet back around lunch time and share our successes and struggles.

And the local paper – Ashland Daily Tidings has done an article on the event — check it out here.

bpennell sarahfburns
Photo by Bob Pennell for the Ashland Daily Tidings  – That’s me with the crazy grin, pretending to be on my way to do some landscape painting.

Details and Further Info:

Hike and Learn — FREE
Limited space, please sign up as space is limited by sending email to:  Email title: Hike & Learn SKETCH  Email body: Your name, email, address, phone

Friday, August 21, 6:00-7:00 pm
Slide Talk at the Ashland Public Library

Saturday, August 22
Hike – Meet at the Shop-N-Kart Ashland Parking Lot at 9:00 am to caravan up to Hobart Bluff
Hike and Sketch from 9:30 – Noon

Plein Air Trip to the Oregon Coast

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
McVay Beach, Brookings, Oregon
Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Samuel H. Boardman State Park, Oregon


Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Whaleshead Beach


Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Whaleshead Beach
Clifford Beach Grassland, Northern California
Clifford Beach Grassland, Northern California


Clifford Dunes, Northern California
Clifford Dunes, Northern California

My Trip to Paris — Part Two: The Paintings

I had an amazing time painting in Paris. Getting out and painting in this old city, known for centuries of great art, connected me to so many of my heroes and gave me a chance to meet lots of tourists and locals. I cannot wait to go back – there are paintings there I still really want to make!!

They are displayed in the order I made them.

Oil Painting
Hyacinths – on a Rainy Holiday in Paris

It was rainy and a national holiday, so all the museums were closed, so I bought some hyacinths from the nearby flower market and made a still life in the little apartment I was staying in with my aunt.

Oil Painting
The Louvre, as seen from the Tuileries

I love the Louvre so much, I must go back someday and paint the iconic entrance with the pyramid. When I first arrived, I shied away from making a painting that would be so direct, but after spending two weeks in Paris, where they really embrace beauty directly, I realized it’s just as affected to avoid beauty as it is to seek it exclusively.  Best bet is always just paint what moves you. Be real, even if it lands you in a cliche.

Oil Painting
From Pont Neuf, The Seine

Mid Morning looking sort of toward the east.

Oil Painting
Cincannatus in the Tuileries

With a view of the Musee D’Orsay in the background 9 to the left of the statue is  the tip of the museum, with it’s massive clock face peeking out a tiny bit behind the trees).  I finally had a day where Paris had those impressionist clouds you see in paintings.

Oil Painting
Sculpture in the Petit Palais Garden

My local friend showed me this wonderful little park.  Many paintings could be made here.

Oil Painting
Looking out of the Louvre Courtyard

Here I am, nearing the end of my trip, embracing the obvious beauty and being happy about it. Archway to a view with a grand building? The more the merrier.

Notre Dame, oil painting by Sarah F Burns
Notre Dame

My last day painting in Paris, I was under the influence of the Corots I’d seen in the Louvre. I was also recreating the point of view of some impressionist paintings I’d seen.