Dotti’s Carmel River Beach Rocks

Carmel River Beach Rocks
22″ x 15″ watercolor
From the Collection of
Barbara & Earl Jost Byron

Thanks to all of you for sharing this retrospective of the paintings of Dotti Rix McPherson. I have enjoyed posting more than 60 of her works over the past two years. Each painting brought back wonderful memories of my Mother’s adventurous spirit and the places she loved. You may have guessed that the last painting would be looking out over the rocks at the north end of the Carmel River Beach. This is where she spent many of the happiest hours of her life, shared with her family and her friends. And this is where her spirit will be for all eternity. Thank you again, for taking this journey with me, Dana

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Dotti’s Carmel River Beach Surf

Carmel River Beach Surf
22″ x 15″ watercolor
From the Collection of
Dana & John Richards

There are only a few more paintings by my Mother, Dotti Rix McPherson that I have to share with you. I saved the best for last! This view is from the north end of the Carmel River Beach looking across to the Carmelite Monestary, home to a community of sequestered nuns called the “Sisters by the Sea”.

What Mom particularly loved about this view is that it constantly changed with the seasons. Sometimes the beach would be piled high with enormous pieces of drift wood which we used to make elaborate beach “houses”. In wet winters, the beach was sometimes bisected by the Carmel River which would come roaring down Carmel Valley through the wide sand beach and on to the ocean.

One year Mom wanted to take her grandchildren to her favorite beach. We arrived to discover that the entire north end of the beach was essentially gone! The river had carved a brand new channel that ate away the parking lot and undermined the restroom facilities and then curved north along the top of the beach eroding everything in its path! Almost all the sand you can see on the left side of this painting was gone, leaving a field of enormous boulders! Eventually, the ocean waves returned all the sand that had been swept away.

I can still see my Mom walking through this painting from one end of the beach to the other and back again as we did together many times over the years.

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Dotti’s Monterey Peninsula

Monterey Peninsula
20″ x 20″ acrylic
From the Collection of
Dana & John Richards

If you walk down to the southern end of the Carmel Beach at the foot of Ocean Avenue and climb out on the rocks, this is the view you see. Pebble Beach is in the distance with its famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. There is a house perched on the foreground rocks of this painting, just out of view to the left. It has huge plate glass windows displaying a telescope and a grand piano! Mom loved to imagine what it would have been like to watch the fog rolling in and out of Carmel from those windows every day. So she painted it!

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Dotti’s “Pants”

21″ x 28″ watercolor
From the Collection of
Rachael & Jon Votaw Ochoa

Time for another one of Mom’s paintings on the whimsical side. This painting is 21″ x 28″ which presents a commanding sight on view in a home, gallery or restaurant setting. Mom had it in several art shows in Davis over the years and she received a number of offers to buy it. Instead, she had it hanging at the end of her own hallway where she could enjoy looking at it every day. It now belongs to her Step-Granddaughter, Rachael Votaw Ochoa, the owner of the original pants!

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Don & Woody

Don & Woody
5″ x 7″ watercolor sketch

I don’t know why I don’t spend more time sketching portraits. I enjoy the process and marvel at the way the slightest tilt of eyebrow or corner of the mouth can thoroughly change the expression and character of a subject. Recently, I was so enchanted by a photograph of my friend Don and his cat Woody relaxing together on their couch that I decided to give it a go. I am pleased with the way the portrait turned out – especially since I was dealing with some tricky foreshortening! O.K. People who know Don – do you recognize him? ;}

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Dotti’s Arch Rock

Ach Rock
22″x22″ acrylic
From the Collection of
Jeff & Anna Richards

This painting is another one of Dotti’s acrylics on canvas done in a watercolor style. It’s a family favorite with something for everyone! I love the sparks of color in the wet sand and the flock of birds the casual observer might not notice at first glance. My husband and son are drawn to the arched rocks in the painting (just like they are at the beach!)

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Dotti’s “The Wave”

The Wave
30″ x 30″ acrylic
From the Collection of
Terry & Jay Davison

I had Mom’s painting of The Wave hanging in the front hallway for many years. I love its subdued palette that reminds me of foggy days at the beach. I also love the subtle color changes in the wet sand of the foreground. This painting is truly an example of “less is more”. There is a lot of detail in this deceptively “simple” painting!

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Dotti’s American Oystercatchers

American Oystercatchers
20″ x 20″ Acrylic
From the Collection of
Sami & Doug LaRocca

I chose one of Mom’s more whimsical acrylic paintings to post today. Our world will officially contain President Trump as of tomorrow so I thought we might need some cheering up! For those of you who may be Trump fans, consider it a celebratory image. Mom enjoyed the smiles she got in response to this painting of American Oystercatchers, and showed it in numerous locations. She had many opportunities to sell it, but kept it for her own enjoyment. She would be happy to know that the Oystercatchers now spend their time with one of her favorite Bird Watchers, Sami LaRocca!

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Dotti”s Point Lobos

Point Lobos 30" x30" acrylic From the Collection of  Jeff & AnnaRichards

Point Lobos
30″ x30″ acrylic
From the Collection of
Jeff & AnnaRichards

This is Mom’s favorite view looking out toward Point Lobos across the rocks from the south end of the Carmel River Beach. Mom used to sit for hours gazing at this view as it constantly changed with the weather and the tides. She created multiple paintings from this vantage point over the years. I have 2 more I will post in the coming weeks. I know this place is an indelible part of her soul!

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2017: Focus on Travel Sketching

Sketches of Italy

I’m getting more serious about travel sketching this year, having enjoyed it immensely during our past 2 sojourns to Italy in 2014 & 2016. To that end, I’m taking Liz Steel’s online course called “SketchingNow Foundations”. You can check out to see sketches of her travels and her daily life in Sydney, Australia. By taking her class, I’m hoping to greatly SPEED UP my sketching. I can already create a sketch I’m happy with … in an HOUR. I’d like to bring that down to 15 MINUTES or less! I hoping to record what I discover during the course on so I can refer back to it!

Testing Materials

The first week’s lesson is about getting to know your materials. That led to a pleasant afternoon gathering all the pens & pencils I own and making lines & squiggles with them. After that I decided to compare Daniel Smith, Windsor-Newton & M Graham watercolors. I tried out various Sienna’s & Blues because I use them so frequently in sketching.  I also tried out some new  paper called “Bockingford” by St Cuthbert’s Mill in England.

So, what are my results? My pens & pencils have been whittled down to 2 waterproof 0.5 Pigma Micron pens in black & sienna, an unbelievably light & handsome Italian Aurora fountain pen, a Japanese Brush pen for variable line work, a 0.9 mm Staedtler mechanical pencil, and a small selection of watercolor pencils.

On the watercolor front, I know now that I’ll be using a mix of brands. I’ve used Windsor-Newton for years but in this particular test I discovered the W-N burnt sienna is downright wimpy compared to M Graham’s. And I really like the rusty color of Daniel Smiths transparent red oxide.

Testing the paper was just a fun aside since my real decision will be about what travel journal(s) I plan to use. But since I was comparing paints I took the opportunity to see how I liked Bockingford paper. I’ve concluded I don’t! Water, and therefore watercolor doesn’t seem to soak into the paper readily. It just sits on top making it difficult to make colors blend or create soft edges. It’s not fair to condemn a paper on such short acquaintance but I am going to set it aside for the time being.

All in all, this week’s lesson has been informative and fun. I know I’ll be testing materials until the week before our next trip but this has given me a good “foundation” to start from, so thank you “SketchingNow Foundations”!

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