Sunday Painter

I’ve been doing this bi-coastal commute for about two and a half years now. Aspects of it are a pain in the bo-hiney, and I joke about being 4,000 miles from the nearest Bergdorf’s (okay 2,462; and yes they do have stores in Santa Barbara), but being on this ranch and being able to sit here and write, look out at these mountains, watch the cows and horses graze, and walk through these vineyards, well, it’s pretty dang great. Even in February. Most of the time.

A moody view from Rancho La Zaca

All this is a long way of saying that being surrounded by all this beauty often has me thinking about capturing it. Not to keep, of course, but in my humble way to interpret and to share it.

View of the San Rafael Mountains from RLZ. On the other side of that ridge is Neverland, Michael Jackson

I’m a big believer in following your heart and have yet to find where it says you have to be an expert at it.* So my heart’s been telling me to paint.

Attempt #1. Baby steps, on a 5 x 7-inch linen board: my first oil painting since 5th grade in Mrs. Kittinger's class at the Tarboro Recreation Center.

Some of you know about the sketchbooks I keep when I travel, and that’s been about the extent of my “art” for the last 20 years. An intention I set for myself this year was to do more of it, and to learn more about painting. I am even tip-toeing into oil, which is a whole ‘nother thing.

Another view of the mountains across the road...
Attempt #2

The Santa Ynez Valley is blessed with artists. The trick is to find one whose work you admire who also teaches. I would like to work with a few until I find the best fit. I’ve had two outings with Camille Dellar, a Santa Barbara landscape artist whose work I love and who has studied with artists whose work I love. You can see more of Camille’s work here.

*Just in case you need to hear it again: following your heart does not mean you need to be an expert at whatever it is you’re following, whether it’s horseback riding or haiku. What it means is you listen to your heart, and you acknowledge it. That is your grace, your heart’s song. And in every heart’s song is a whisper of the divine, the humming of your life’s purpose.


  1. LOVE the last two lines of this post…beautifully written…and am envious of what you’ve already achieved in the sky of your second painting; you go girl!

  2. Frances, the last three sentences of this post are so simple, yet so profound! Thank you for expressing this truth so beautifully! We all need to allow quiet reverent times to be able to listen to God and hear Him (His whispers), without the distraction of the physical world interrupting this glorious communion!

  3. Frances,

    I like your paintings; don’t be intimidated by your lack of experience–you have an excellent sense of color and composition, and your spontaneity is reflected beautifully in your paintings. Please keep it up and continue to post your work here.

    Jan Berlowski

  4. Paintings are really beautiful. Do not stop. They have a tactile quality which has an innate beauty. all the very best, Jim

  5. Lovely paintings of a beautiful place. But beyond that ridge is Los Padres National Forest. Neverland is slightly farther to the south, and out of the frame of this photo.

    1. Thank you so much – you are correct of course. No one has ever accused me of having a sense of direction. Signed, Magellan’s Nightmare

  6. Frances, they are gorgeous paintings. Your words are music to my heart as I’ve been trying to paint a little again. Would be very special to paint together with you and Alex. He lived in Santa Barbara way back as his grandparents retired there. Huge love as always.

    1. Oh Mary! How good to hear from you and how happy I am to hear you are painting. Please y’all come see us when you are next in California.

  7. Your humble way is THE WAY! How beautiful – the essence of the experience of what is out there in nature and what it awakens in your soul coming together and spilling out onto your little canvas. Thank you for sharing these with us. I am happy I happened upon it today. Cheers!!!

  8. Frances, I am newbie to your blog, but just want to say what a lovely little ray of sunshine your posts always are — a thousand thanks!

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