The more than 200 participants in our eleventh annual cover contest rolled up their sleeves, grabbed their easels and brushes (or cameras) and turned in some outstanding pieces of art reflecting the county and its creative residents. We're proud to introduce the winner and 12 finalists (in no particular order).
JOHN DECKERT - Winner
Point Bonita Light
11” x 14”, oil
WHILE IT’S PRETTY obvious what would get people out to Marin’s beautiful outdoor spaces, the story of what got John Deckert out to California in the first place might fit better in a movie.
“I was living in Long Island when the first girl I ever dated saw a selfportrait of me on my website and said, ‘I know him,’ ” Deckert says, adding that the two started a correspondence shortly after. “And 35 years after we dated I came to live with her in Mill Valley.”
They’ve now been married 13 years and, according to Deckert, it was his wife, Anne, a member of the Friends of Mt. Tam and Mountain Play boards, who showed him the natural riches of the county. “She was dragging me up on Mount Tam and getting me out on the mountain,” he says.
Deckert noticed something else about Marin (the couple now lives in Santa Rosa, where John has a large studio in his two-car garage). “People love the landscape and the natural environment here,” the artist says. “People stop their cars to watch the sun go down.” And that is certainly true at one of Marin’s most beautiful places: Point Bonita.
The point and the lighthouse were a subject the oil painter, who once wrote for Arts Magazine and had a display in the window at Tiffany’s on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, had to tackle. “To get there you walk down this peninsula and then through a tunnel, and as soon as you exit you are blasted by this incredible light,” Deckert says.
Given the short amount of time the attraction is open each week, the narrow trails and the fierce winds, there was no way to paint it on the spot, so Deckert brought some Bristol paper and boards, pens and a camera to get the basics down. “My pen was dancing. I just loved this series of sketches.”
When he later applied paint to the sunset image he captured, he knew he had created something special. “It was truly a magical moment,” he says.
Beach Road (Stinson), 6” x 24”, digital painting
Andrew Faulkner is a graphic designer who loves to produce images of Northern California. He was born into a family of artists, designers and architects and likes to use technology, including a digital drawing tablet, to manipulate his work before he applies it to paper.
“My father-in-law lived at Stinson Beach for several years, giving me and my wife a great excuse to make many trips over the hill from Mill Valley. The view, just as the beach reveals itself, never gets old for me,” Faulkner says.
St. Mary's Church in Nicasio
24" x 30", oil on canvas
Barbara Libby-Steinmann moved to Marin in 1996 and currently teaches art at Bacich Elementary School in Kentfield. She uses an iPhone to capture her subject, then sketches out the proportion lines and compositional elements before applying layers of oil paint with palette knives and brushes.
“For my oil paintings and pen-and-ink works I draw inspiration from the beauty of western Marin County,” she says. “St. Mary’s Church is a historical West Marin icon, which has sparked my inspiration in its simplicity and setting.”
20" x 20", acrylic on canvas
Elizabeth Geisler’s work hangs in collections across the United States and shows in galleries throughout the Bay Area. The Mill Valley resident got her start in high school and went on to study art at many academic institutions, eventually becoming known for her paintings of water and nightscapes.
“I find that light’s reflections and refractions offer endless compositions of abstract beauty, while also imparting a strong sense of atmosphere,” Geisler says. “Additionally, I was compelled by the contrast of nature and the manmade world. The cars and highway seem inconsequential compared to the towering clouds and expansive sky.”
Beach Day at Bolinas
15" x 11", watercolor on paper
A resident of Walnut Creek, Catherine McCargar joined a group of plein air painters and has been painting with them weekly for more than 10 years. Primarily a watercolorist, she says she enjoys seeing how color presents itself in nature and in works of human creativity.
“While visiting the beach at Bolinas, I noticed a young woman involved in sand castle building with her children, and I identified with her in this simple act of love,” McCargar says. “This painting is one of several watercolors of the scene that I created later in my studio using photos I’d taken on site.”
Mt. Tamalpais from Bon Tempe Lake
36" x 30", oil on canvas
For more than 35 years, San Anselmo’s Kathleen Lipinski has been working with images of the Marin landscape in painting and printmaking. In 2015, she and her husband, Steve Emery, received the 2015 Marin Cultural Treasure Award for their work in art and the community.
“Bon Tempe Lake is distinctly stunning every day with clouds, fog or clear skies; mirror-like reflections or wind; golden summer light or brilliant spring greens and wildflowers; chiseled shadows or pale blue silhouettes,” Lipinski says. “The natural beauty, expansive views and amazing quality of light in Marin provide a never-ending supply of inspiration for my work.”
Kim Ford Kitz
40" x 30", oil on canvas
After recently relocating to West Marin, Kim Ford Kitz has been happily soaking up her new surroundings. When she is not at the beach, in the woods, on the trails or driving the back roads, she finds herself sketching every chance she can get.
“For this piece I was inspired by a sketch I drew after a weekend stay at a beautiful garden property overlooking Stinson Beach,” the artist says. “I chose to enter this piece because I am getting married at that same location in May.”
25" x 33", acrylic on canvas
The self-taught artist has lived in the county for 20 years and credits her mother with inspiring her love of art. She enjoys traveling and visits museums for inspiration, always making it a point to drop in on her favorites: Vuillard, Manet and van Gogh.
About Now Playing, Murphy says, “The Lark Theater is such a quintessential Marin icon and having seen it shuttered and then thankfully saved, I really wanted to honor its current splendor.”
With a love of nature born of time in Montana, the Sierras and the California coast, Michael Ryan has made capturing what he sees in these places a lifelong pursuit. His goal with his photographic images is to inspire the viewer to connect or even reconnect with the natural world.
“Early on in my landscape photography journey, I found fog to be a frustrating adversary that often concealed more than it revealed,” Ryan says of this shot taken on Ridgecrest Road at Mount Tamalpais State Park. “However, with experience, I began to better understand fog’s nuances and realized that it can bring a special quality to just about any scene.”
Highway One, Night
24" x 25", acrylic on canvas
Steve Emery grew up in Fairfax and currently lives with fellow artist and wife Kathleen Lipinski in San Anselmo. He loves taking part in groups helping to nourish the artistic community in Marin and has been holding open studios here since 1979.
Emery points to outer space as inspiration for this piece: “This painting began inspired by the rings of Saturn. I have always loved photos of/from space, and this spot along Highway One, along Bolinas Lagoon, seemed to evoke another world.”
Beyond the Wave Gate
30" x 18", oil
At age 10 and seemingly overnight, Elaine West realized she could draw. After working in graphic design for 25 years, West was finally able to return to her first love, fine art. Now, the Sausalito resident lives and works near the water and is often drawn to subjects right outside her window.
“In addition to a live/work space and a ceramics cooperative (called Beyond the Wave Gate), there are the unusual rooflines, whimsically designed and painted spaces, and the trappings that accompany a light-industry neighborhood,” she says. “I’m a sucker for all the above and don’t shy away from complex compositions or architectural challenges.”
40" x 60", oil on canvas
The San Rafael resident and former graphic designer now has the time to paint fulltime and be an active member of the Marin arts community. Her work is in oil on canvas, linen or board with imagery primarily based on landscapes, gardens and nature.
“The title refers to both the source of my inspiration and the source of the water element seen in the composition,” Buscho says. “It is based on a scene from a hike near Point Reyes with creative interpretation from my imagination.”
Victoria Loren Miller
54" x 40", photograph
Miller, a native San Franciscan and recent transplant to Tiburon, loves to paint with her camera. Rather than produce a crisp image, she seeks an impressionistic quality, a soft, fluid effect that evokes a mysterious narrative.
This image was shot before a Thanksgiving dinner in Huntington Beach, where beach days can happen even in November. “I like the unintentional artistry of daily occurrences, the seemingly banal, unintentional, transient, that can become poetic, or poignant,” she says.