The Cambrian

Succulent ‘Art in The Pines’

Claudia Solomon basks in the glow of her first blue ribbon in Allied Arts Association’s ‘Art in the Pines.’
Claudia Solomon basks in the glow of her first blue ribbon in Allied Arts Association’s ‘Art in the Pines.’ PHOTO BY LEE SUTTER

Special to The Cambrian

Allied Arts Association’s new gallery fits the group’s needs to a “T” –literally. That’s the shape, albeit inverted, of the hallway at the Old Grammar School that now features “Art in the Pines.”

It’s roomy enough to contain all 57 entries for this show, judged by Kristopher Doe. Doe, who teaches painting at Cuesta College and has a degree in illustration, was also able to hang three of his oil landscapes, the largest in the exhibit.

Claudia Solomon’s crisp-looking succulents, “Green with Envy,” pop out from the others on display.

“That was the first thing I saw when I walked down the hall,” said Doe. “It grabbed my attention immediately.” He awarded Solomon’s work first place for its strong focal point and sense of light, the highest quality craftsmanship and dynamic composition. “I thought she nailed the color,” he said, noting the difficulty of rendering the blue grays of desert plants.

It was the first blue ribbon for Solomon, a 11-year resident of Cambria. “I’m still kind of floating,” she said.

With 40 years of painting experience, Solomon enjoys a variety of subjects.

“If it stands still long enough, I’ll paint it,” she said. Her work has twice been accepted for the Paso Robles Art Association’s juried “Color of Autumn” exhibit, where she once took a third-place award.

Solomon began using oil paint five years ago, and waxes poetic on its “buttery, pliable and mixable” qualities. “It’s just so creamy and stays workable for a while,” she said, although the paint’s slow-drying nature can be a disadvantage when she gets impatient to continue. It took her two months to complete the detailed oil painting, working from a photograph she took.

Second-place winner Sue Johnson has been painting for 35 years and has won a number of awards with the “Color of Autumn” show. A Cambria resident since the mid-1990s, Johnson has been going out with the plein air group, the Wednesday Irregulars, for a decade. While she was with those outdoor painters she captured the Paso vineyard for her “Harvest Time.” She touched it up a bit when she returned home.

Johnson switched from watercolor to oils in the late ‘90s, but she’s taking her watercolors on an upcoming trip to Tuscany as they are easier to tote than oils.

Atsuko Risque took third place with her pastel of koi, “Queen of the Pond.”

Many of Cambria’s well-known artists have work in the show, but the judge, a San Luis Obispo resident for five years, wasn’t familiar with them or their work. “It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know any of them,” said Doe. After deciding immediately on the first-place winner, it was difficult to select the others, including a number of honorable mentions, he said.

“There was a lot of talent in there.”