Creative Strokes Collective Fills Gallery with Paintings

Painter Alix Watson depicts a vibrant pool of koi in Searching For Calming Waters, a 39” x 33” watercolor in the gallery this month.

    The Lamorinda Arts Council is proud to present the work of Linda Darsow Sutton and members of the Creative Strokes Collective (CSC) during the month of November at the Art Gallery in the Orinda Library. Join them on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. for their artist reception where light refreshments will be served.
    Linda Darsow Sutton of Martinez, art teacher – and she insists – colleague of the Creative Strokes Collective is showing about 16 transparent watercolor and oil paintings. Her theme for the show is “Rogue and Water – The Quest to Go to The Ocean.” This refers to the intriguing combination of oil paintings and watercolors being unified by one of her favorite painting subjects – water, whether in the ocean or wherever she finds it. She is showing over 15 works evenly divided between transparent watercolors and transparent oil paintings.
    Early in her career as an oil painter she spent 10 years studying with Patricia and Elizabeth Hubbell, known for their incredible precision and style. After that, she became fascinated by transparent watercolor and eventually transparent oil painting as well. This interest in the properties of light came naturally because her father was an optical engineer. She grew up studying light through a beam splitter. The Albers-based color study plan she designed for herself was so enjoyable she stretched it out as long as she could. That’s what goes on in her CSC classes. Students learn how to make color do what they want it to do in whatever they are painting.
    Sutton’s eponymous Emerald Pool, a 22” x 30” transparent watercolor, transports you to this treasured spot in the Black Sand Basin of Yellowstone National Park. The famous natural spring has been delighting visitors for centuries because of its unusual color. It was named by geologist A.C. Peale in 1878 who described it thus: “… beautiful emerald tint with yellow-green basin and ornamental edge.” The yellow bacteria that lives in the pool tints what would normally be blue water to a sparkling emerald green. Sutton hopes that people who view her art use their imagination just for a minute to go somewhere they dream up or experience a different thought.
    Some of her favorite artists are John Singer Sargent, Mort Solberg, Nita Engle, Joaquin Sorolla, Bruno Liljefors and Mark Rothko. Regarding her viewing of a Rothko painting at the Asian Art Museum she had this to say: “First he completely fills your vision field so your mind is in his control. How does he do that? One of the best parts of being alive is seeing art!” For more of Sutton’s work, go to
    Alix Watson, organizer of the CSC show, describes it as follows: “The Creative Strokes Collective is a group of six painters whose paths joined together in Linda Sutton’s watercolor class. This show is unique for us because we are exhibiting our works with our instructor. Our show demonstrates Linda’s versatility as an instructor because the six of us paint in very different styles. She has helped develop our skills while allowing us the freedom to create art that reflects our individual personalities and styles.” The group has been painting together once a month for six years. One look at Colin, Watson’s 16” x 20” watercolor, and you’ll want to feed this four-legged fellow a treat.
    Members of the Creative Strokes group from Walnut Creek showing watercolors include Barney Howard, Chris Kutzscher, Neanna Miles, Anne Murray and Alix Watson plus Bob Segerdell of Benicia, who is showing both watercolors and oil paintings. The collective is showing over 50 paintings of different genres. Howard is showing watercolors that make up a 12 month sports calendar. “I enjoy creating paintings that show the interaction of people in a variety of activities such as sports, card games, marchings, etc. and also like to donate my work to local organizations such as the Lindsay Wildlife Experience,” says Howard.
    What keeps CSC artists painting and drawing? Miles says, “Each photograph I select to paint presents its own problems; solving these problems so that the painting ‘works’ is always a challenge. When I am successful and feel I have captured the beauty I had intended, it is very gratifying. Pushing myself to attempt more difficult subjects definitely keeps me interested in continuing to learn.”
    Kutzscher relates that she paints only what she loves to do or see: “I push myself to try new techniques and subjects. Our teacher and mentor, Linda Sutton, helps to push us in those directions but is continually teaching us new techniques and approaches to subject matter.” According to Segerdell, “I get out there and see the world through travel and time in nature, whether it is local or abroad.” Miles does just that because two of her works are in faraway lands – Cinque Terre, 26” x 20” and Poppy Field Near Spello, Italy, 30” x 22,” both of which are watercolors.
    As to the value of art to our community Sutton says, “I think art is a valuable vehicle for kind communication and kind communication is an invitation to soften into something new.” Kutzscher’s view is simple: “We want them to see and enjoy. No rules or requirements.” Murray is more reflective: “All people need art in their lives to give a sense of the connectivity between what is seen and what can be imagined.”
    Visit the gallery at 26 Orinda Way during normal library hours – Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The library is closed on Nov. 11 and 12 for Veteran’s Day, closes at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21 and will be closed all day Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving. Call 925-254-2184 for more information or visit

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