Three Painters Usher in the New Year at the Orinda Library Gallery

Artist Francesca Saveri used a mixture of beeswax, resin and pigment to create vivid colors in her encaustic painting on panel Bay of All Saints, on display in the Library Gallery.

    The Lamorinda Arts Council is proud to present the paintings of Francesca Saveri, Pam McCauley and Joan Yao during the month of January at the Art Gallery in the Orinda Library. The first three lines of Bei Dao’s poem “New Year” read: “a child carrying flowers walks toward the new year / a conductor tattooing darkness / listens to the shortest pause” (1-3).
    The exhibiting artists ask you to take these lines as an invitation to treat January with the innocence it deserves by gazing at an entire gallery of their paintings. To encourage your enjoyment of the artwork, light refreshments will be served at their artist reception on Sun., Jan. 6, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
    Artist Francesca Saveri is a native Californian and divides her time between Studio Wildcat in Berkeley and Salvador, Brazil. She is showing 20 abstract paintings, all done with encaustics which she describes as “a delicious mixture of beeswax, damar resin and raw pigment.”
    Damar resin is a natural tree resin extracted from the Southeast Asian Damar Pine tree. It is used for hardening beeswax and raising its melting temperature for use in encaustic applications. It allows wax to be buffed to a higher, more translucent sheen and helps prevent blooming (clouding on the surface). Bay of All Saints (a 36” x 36” encaustic painting on panel) invites you to dive into a pool of color.
    Recently she was interviewed as part of Voyage LA’s “Thought Provoker Series,” and she has exhibited in the SF Bay Area, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and more. “I don’t think we value color enough; it can be nourishment. I threw away all my black clothing and don’t use black in my paintings. Color is another tool for well-being,” enthuses Saveri. She challenges us to put on a pair of red pants to see if our conversations with people change based on color. Go to to learn more about her artwork.
    Pam McCauley of Lafayette grew up in a home filled with art because both her mom and uncle were painters. A graduate of Occidental College with a BA in Fine Arts, she taught art in the Los Angeles school system before she had children. McCauley is a board member of the Lamorinda Arts Alliance, part owner of Main Street Arts in Martinez and exhibits extensively around the SF Bay Area.
    Her theme for the dozen works she is showing, “Now and Then,” is just that – current work mixed in with earlier work. “It’s an example of when the ‘C’ word – change – can be a good thing,” quips McCauley. Expect portraiture, still lifes and more. She wants to share the feelings she tries to capture when painting a person or even an orange and wants to convey that feeling to the viewer. This may take a little imagination for viewers. McCauley reminds us about Einstein’s endorsement of imagination: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
    The title for her 36” x 36” oil painting on gesso board, A Thousand Words, befits the enigmatic expression on the subject’s face. Indeed, either too few or too many words come to mind when viewing it. She always paints from actual scenes and people. Visit for more of her artwork. To find out more about Main Street Art, go to
    Joan Yao of Moraga, a native of Shanghai, came to America in 1980. As a young artist in Shanghai, she studied calligraphy and Chinese brush painting with several prestigious masters. After arriving in America, she built a life with her husband TJ and their son Andrew. “I feel called to show Chinese culture and traditional art to people in America. Traditional Chinese Brush Painting (TCBP) uses techniques and principles that are not part of Western art,” explains Yao.
    A TCBP teacher at the Contra Costa Chinese School at Diablo Valley College (DVC) for the last 19 years, she feels that her own work displays techniques she learned from Master Chang Dai-Chien (1899-1983) and others. Master Chien was reputed to be the most renowned Chinese brush painter and calligrapher in five generations.
    The 40 artworks on display are all related to nature and exemplify the grace and power she imbues in the genre. This unique Chinese tradition challenges the painter to work from the inside out – always painting the ‘spirit’ of the subject first – never a photograph. Viewing these lyrical works becomes a meditative experience, drawing the viewer into the heart of the paintings.
    Nature’s Harmony, an 11.5” x 17.5” traditional Chinese watercolor on rice paper, depicts the synergistic relationship between the avian world, flora and other creatures. To explore Yao’s classes at Contra Costa Chinese School, part of DVC in Pleasant Hill, go to
    As to the importance of art in the community, Saveri says, “I love exhibiting in this community because when I read The Orinda News I can see how youth and art are supported. This allows people to grow and change.” McCauley points out that “If you can get people to stop for just a moment to look at art, it transports them to somewhere else.” Yao explains what she is contributing as a teacher of Chinese brush painting: “There must be a thirst in the Chinese-American community to learn the techniques I was taught from prestigious artists in China. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have multiple classes with 80 students, aged 5 to 94. Along with this kind of teaching comes tranquility and peacefulness of spirit.”
    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 Jan.1, New Year’s Day and Jan. 21, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Call 925-254-2184 for more information or visit

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