Sheila G Ticen

Thoughts about painting and places to see my work

Parts of a Whole

I liked how the pieces of this lime gave me a variety of shapes to play with.  Instead of a white plate, I chose a glass dessert plate which had belonged to my husband’s mother.

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“Parts of a Whole”, oil on panel, 5″ x 7″, © Sheila G. Ticen


Just a Glimpse

After hiking for an hour or so out at Moore Creek Park, I chose this scene, which includes just a glimpse of Lake Hennessey, to paint.

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“Glimpse of Hennessey”, oil on panel, 8″ x 8″, © Sheila G. Ticen

Spring Runoff

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“Spring Runoff”, 7″ x 5″, oil on panel, © Sheila G. Ticen

Rain water draining from a hillside vineyard made for a nice focal point on this beautiful spring day in Jack London State Historic Park.

Getting Out

I love being outdoors, and after the rain we’ve had this winter, the hills are calling to me.  However, the last plein air workshop I took made me realize that my full sized French easel was way too heavy for me unless I stayed very close to my car.  I’d been wanting to take another workshop soon, but needed to be able to get on location without the help of a prairie schooner and a team of oxen.  So, after doing a good bit of research (i.e., checking out other artists’ blogs), I ordered an Open Box M, pochade box.

I fitted it with a Duralar liner to protect the wooden paint mixing surface while adding very little weight.  Then I went through a trial run, setting up the new easel in my studio.  I found the lightest tripod we own and fitted it with a cloth sling to hold gear and help keep the whole outfit from toppling over with the first good breeze.

A couple of weeks ago I packed up my gear, lunch and dog and drove over to Jack London State Historic Park to try out my new easel.  Although I had tried to limit my gear, I still ended up hauling too much stuff.  My day pack held my easel, paints, brushes, solvent, sunscreen and paper towels.  I slung my Raymar panel carrier over my shoulder where it refused to stay, as the backpack strap prevented the carrier’s strap from resting squarely on top of my shoulder.  I also carried my lunch, including a sandwich, yogurt and apple in an insulated lunch bag with one of those little ice inserts that won’t get your food all soggy when the ice melts.  At least I left the folding chair in the car!

While being watchful to keep the dog out of the poison oak and managing my assorted parcels, I took a nice walk out to the ruins of Jack London’s Wolf House.  I had passed a nice spot along the way and after eating my lunch near the Wolf House, I backtracked to the promising spot and got to work, completing a 5″ x 7″ oil painting on location.


All ready to get started at Jack London Park, watched over by my dog, Belle.


The day after my trip to Jack London Park I went through my painting gear, getting fairly serious about lightening my load.  I had packed carefully to start with, but found a couple of ways to reduce and lighten my gear.

Yesterday my friend, Carol, and I went out to Moore Creek Park, near Lake Hennessey, just east of Rutherford.  We were surprised to find that we had to wade across a stream near the trail head, but managed it without getting soaked.  We just pulled off our socks and shoes, rolled up our pants legs and waded across.  Easy as can be, except that neither one of us is accustomed to walking barefoot on sharp, slippery rocks.  Surprisingly painful, considering that every kid in the world would have been barefoot in that water and having a blast.  I doubt that the weight on our backs helped with the discomfort, and definitely not with the balance.

Once we had dried our feet and put our shoes back on, we made good time and covered a couple of miles of trail at a good pace.  For some reason, we thought that the Shoreline Trail would take us closer to the actual shoreline of the lake than it ever did, but we were still happy that we had located the trailhead and braved crossing the stream.  The trail wound through oak woodlands that opened up to grassy meadows strewn with wildflowers.  Yep, Julie Andrews would have been spinning in circles and singing her head off out there.

One thing about painting outdoors is that you do just have to decide at some point to set up your gear and get started painting.  The potential view from the next bend in the trail always lures you forward, but sooner or later you’ve got to do what you came there to do before it’s time to start the hike back.

Carol quickly and quietly spread out a waterproof cloth, pulled out her watercolors, sketchbooks and watercolor paper block and got down to work.  I looked around for a couple of minutes before settling on my subject, getting the dog situated and setting up my easel.  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to be outdoors.

This time I had forgone the lunch bag, ice insert and yogurt in favor of a peanut butter sandwich and some trail mix, which fit into my backpack.  I had managed to put the Raymar panel carrier into the rear compartment of my pack along with the Open Box M and could still, just barely, get the zipper closed.  A partial roll of painter’s tape had been replaced by a much smaller bit of tape, which was plenty.  I think I’m starting to get the hang of this.  My next plot to lighten my load is to use tin snips to cut off the empty ends of paint tubes, which I’ll re-crimp, leaving the useless weight behind.

My setup_taken by me_web

I still seem to be wildly optimistic about how many pieces I’ll be able to complete in a single outing.  It would be a shame to get all the way out there without enough panels to paint on, yet I’m finding that getting one painting (even at this size) done or nearly done on location is plenty when I’m hiking more than a mile or two each way.  I would love to hear how others plan and execute outdoor painting trips, especially with canine company!





“Gathering”, oil on panel, 6″ x 6″, © Sheila G. Ticen 2016


I’m glad I challenged myself to keep working with these same objects and that I stayed with it until I came up with a new composition.  I’ll be moving on to other subjects now, but don’t be surprised if you see these old scissors again some day.




“Shears”, oil on panel, © Sheila G. Ticen, 2016


I think my mom gave me these old scissors when I first started sewing, probably to keep me from ruining her good sewing scissors.  Now I keep them around for cutting flowers, twine, and such.  I find that I like the patina on their cutting surfaces as much as the reflective quality of the chrome.

Fresh Threads



“Fresh Threads”, oil on panel, © Sheila G. Ticen, 2016


I use one of the drawers in my antique Singer treadle sewing machine as storage for my colored threads, another drawer for neutral tones.  The drawer of colored threads is my own tiny domain of chromatic order.

I arrange the spools so that they fill the long, narrow drawer in two rows of shining hues, a little visual treat each time I slide the drawer open.  Violets leading to blues, greens, yellows, and so on.

My boxes of paint tubes enjoy no such tidy consideration.  Two sturdy plastic storage boxes (lids removed) house my paints, “cool” hues in one box, and “warm” hues in the other.  The only reason I separate them at all is to facilitate quickly grabbing whatever color I need in the moment.



Estero de Limantour

Estero de Limantour

Estero de Limantour, 2015, Oil on panel, 5″ x 7″ © Sheila G. Ticen

This painting comes from a recent trip over to Point Reyes National Seashore.  I drove over one day to scout out possible painting locations.  My dog, Belle, came along to keep me company.  She’s good about that.

Belle prefers to keep moving, but will settle and wait it out when I do stop to take photos, sketch or paint.  She takes her job seriously and won’t let anyone approach without letting them know I have a protective painting companion on duty.


Belle at the beach.

View to Mount Tamalpais

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“View to Mount Tamalpais”, Oil on panel, 5″ x 7″, © Sheila G. Ticen, 2015

This painting was started in plein air, or “outdoors” as most people call it.  I was painting from a fellow Napa Valley artist’s property way, way off the main road atop Mt. George.  The view was astonishing, taking in Calistoga to the north and San Francisco to the south, so it took a bit of doing to simply choose a segment of this vista on which to focus.

I had finally chosen a snippet that I felt would make a nice composition and had gotten a good start on the painting when lunch was called.  I left my perch on the rocky outcrop behind the house and joined the others on the deck, glad for the company and conversation, but itching to get back to my painting at the same time.  After lunch I had to really hustle to block in the rest of the painting and pack my gear so as not to keep others blocked in on the narrow driveway for too long.

I so often use photo references when painting the landscape and am used to the very deliberate process of setting up a still life composition to paint from life,  so this location (and the delightful company) was a very good challenge and a welcome change of pace.

Bosc on Blue

Bosc on Blue

Bosc on Blue, 6″ x 6″, Oil on panel, © Sheila G. Ticen, 2015

I brought home a few Bosc pears the other day, intending to do a painting that included all three of them.  I like their subtle, warm colors, but found that on a white background they looked pretty drab.  So I started playing around with colored backgrounds and soon came across this combination, which I liked.   I settled on a simple composition using just one of the pears and a well-worn cloth napkin from my sideboard.