Category Archives: Wine Country Art

Highway One Near Jenner California

Highway One near Jenner California

View of the Northern California coastline from Highway One near Jenner – Oil Painting by Pat Meier-Johnson

One of our very favorite places for romantic getaways: the Northern California coast just above where the Russian River spills into the Pacific Ocean.  My birthday is just around the corner and Russ suggested we head out there again. I never grow tired of it. The light is different every time of the year and with clear weather ahead for next weekend I can’t wait to see the coastline bathed in autumn light.

Some people say California is too dry, and certainly with the drought this is no laughing matter. But I do like the silvery grasses with feathery tops that catch the wind and reflect back in whites, lavenders, frosty greens, and gold as the sun prepares to go to sleep.  Typically by this point in the day we are heading to the open pit fireplace to enjoy a bottle of good wine and some nibbles at the Timber Cove Lodge, right near where this picture was painted.

On one occasion when we stayed at the lodge we stopped at Korbel Winery first on the way to the coast, picked up some sparkling wine and chunks of sinfully good salami that we couldn’t finish (though we gave it a good try). We returned to our room after a lovely dinner, fell asleep to the sound of the ocean, leaving our deck door slightly ajar. In the middle of the night I thought I heard Russ rummaging around and called out to him, only to hear his voice in bed on my left. Well if that was Russ, who was that in our room. I switched on the light in time to see the greasy hasty footprints and furry hindquarter of a local raccoon who obviously made off with the last of our salami.  Maybe I should paint the raccoon next time.

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Spring at the Valley of the Moon Winery in Sonoma


Valley of the Moon Winery by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on panel

Every year after several months of cold gray weather the dark grape vines of Sonoma are touched with flecks of bright green. Within a few weeks, vineyard by vineyard, leaves emerge as a salute to spring. Grasses grow and wildflowers play a happy tune. I captured this oil painting of the Valley of the Moon Winery in Sonoma in early 2014.

We discovered the “new” Valley of the Moon Winery (originally planted in 1863) at a tasting in the Sonoma Lodge presented by Dan Zepponi, winery president and co-proprietor. Dan Zepponi is a third generation Sonoma vintner, having worked in the family business of ZD Winery since the age of five. He left to study engineering. But the vineyards called and he became involved in operations for Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap, and more and finally bought Valley of the Moon Winery and Lake Sonoma Winery.

We were so impressed with his Barbera, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir that Russ and I made it a point to visit. Just 10 minutes from our house, the Valley of the Moon Winery has a spacious tasting room that led us to a lovely outdoor seating area. Just beyond is an outdoor oven and adjacent bocce court.  The day was perfect and we took a walk around the grounds behind the winery. I caught a glimpse of this view and just had to paint it.

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Pat Paints Lanterns for Audubon Fundraiser

Pat Paints Lanterns for Audubon

What fun I had researching salamanders, quail, egrets and flowers to paint my lanterns for auction at The Art of Eating Audubon fundrasier for Nature Education Programs at the ACR Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen. Numerous Sonoma artists were asked to decorate paper lanterns with motifs portraying the flora, fauna and environments of the ACR Preserves (including the Audubon Canyon Ranch at Stinson Beach and the beautiful Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen). The Art of Eating fundraiser took place Sunday May 18 2014 at the Bouverie Preserve in Glen Ellen and I heard that my lanterns helped raise considerable money for the organization’s worthy youth education programs.  The event raised more than $122,000!

The famous food author, MFK Fisher spent her last 20 years at the Audubon Canyon Ranch Bouverie Preserve where David Bouverie provided a house for her on beautiful property. The five ACR Preserves in Marin and Sonoma Counties total more than 5,000 acres and are home to herons, egrets, quail, salamanders, and much more wildlife and flora.
Interested in finding out more about the preserves and the Audubon fundraiser?

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Sebastiani Vineyard

Sebastiani Vineyard by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on canvas

Sebastiani Vineyard by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on canvas

The weather was perfect when I painted this landscape of the Sebastiani vineyards.  The earth was warmed by the sun and the olive tree was moving ever so slightly in the breeze.

Samuele Sebastiani, started Sebastiani winery in 1904 buying land using money that he earned as a stonemason, quarrying cobblestones from Sonoma hills that were used to build streets in San Francisco.  This vineyard directly across the street from the winery grows Malbec and Merlot grapes. You can see an old wall built with local stone.

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Also posted in Oil Paintings Tagged , , |

Sonoma Train Depot Park

Sonoma Depot Park by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on canvas

Sonoma Depot Park by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on canvas

As many as 15 railroads ran in the Sonoma Valley at one time. Today this train car is part of the Depot Park Museum where the Sonoma Historical Society has a sweet museum with exhibits of Victorian era furnishings, fashion, a train bell that begs to be rung, and historic photos of Sonoma going back to the 1870s.

Every season, every hour of the day creates different colored shadows. I painted this during the afternoon in August. The style is one I played around with when studying with Obadiah Hunter who came to Sonoma to spend the summer. I hung out with him and painted with him at various locations throughout Sonoma over several days.

A limited edition print of this oil painting is on exhibit at the Depot Park Museum.

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Also posted in Oil Paintings, Uncategorized Tagged |

Two Cows Sonoma

Two Cows Sonoma by Pat Meier-Johnson 11 x 14 oil painting on canvas

Two Cows Sonoma by Pat Meier-Johnson 11 x 14 oil painting on canvas

I think there’s a unwritten rule that when you’re an oil painter in Sonoma you simply have to paint a cow or two. So I did. There’s something about seeing herds of cows on the rolling hills west of the town of Sonoma that make you feel that all is well with the world.


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Also posted in Landscapes, Oil Paintings

Old Coffee Pot

Old Coffee Pot – Oil Painting by Pat Meier-Johnson – 5 x 7 on canvas

Our friend Kathleen Hill has collected kitchen paraphernalia for years and in 2013 assembled a marvelous exhibit, “Kitchen Memories: The Kathleen Thompson Hill Culinary Collection” at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art.  As visitors wandered through the exhibits they recognized food mills, Jell-o molds, even a formica and chrome kitchen table that took them back to their childhood and put warm smiles so many people’s faces.  I loved this old coffee pot displayed atop an O’Keefe and Merritt stove in a corner of the show and just had to do a small oil painting of it.

My great grandmother was a wonderful cook and came to California from Czechoslovakia. Going through Kathleen Hill’s show I saw several items that took me right back to the days where I was at my Omi’s side as a very little girl watching her mill walnuts that she put in homemade apple strudel. No store-bought filo dough for her! This was the real stuff rolled out on a floured tablecloth so thin till you “could read a newspaper through it.”  She loaded the filling at one edge, sprinkled melted butter and nuts over the rest, and then gathered the tablecloth until the dough flopped over and over, enveloping the apples in the middle with layers of flaky pastry, butter and nuts. She then lifted it onto the flat pan where it looked like a baby in swaddling clothes and baked it.

Food is such a big part of our lives, and Kathleen, who is Food and Wine Editor of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, has rounded up all kinds of good folks and businesses here in Sonoma for the Sonoma Valley School Garden Project. This wonderful program connects local kids with the origins of food, how it grows, how to cook it, and shows them how cool it is to raise their own fruits and veggies and enjoy them. (It’s astounding how many youngsters are unable to connect the processed foods they eat with the produce in its natural state). Is there such a thing as a plant that grows french fries?  Some schools are even donating some of the food they raise to people in greater need. Ah, that’s the spirit of Sonoma!

When I created the small oil painting of the coffee pot I tried to capture the transparency of the glass part of the lid and the hard baked enamel finish of the pot itself. I hope you like it.

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Also posted in Oil Paintings, Small Works Tagged , , , , |

Napa Valley Vineyard

Napa Valley Vineyard by Pat Meier-Johnson 20 x 20 oil painting on canvas

Napa Valley Vineyard by Pat Meier-Johnson 20 x 20 oil painting on canvas

In late September along the Silverado trail in the Napa Valley wine country you’re bound to find visitors lined up along the road snapping pictures of the changing colors in the vineyards. The hill on the right takes on a blue hue as the sun starts to set behind it.

This annual scene in the Napa Valley is months away.  It’s still winter and thankfully the rains have come and the gray fields have turned a brilliant green, a welcome sight during this drought in California.

We were at Cline and Jacuzzi Vineyards yesterday for the Olive Festival and saw the grass growing like crazy between the vines.  Pretty soon the Woolly Weeders (sheep) will be out keeping the grass trimmed and the winery visitors amused.

A bit of research turned up some unromantic facts: I learned recently that yellow leaves on grapevines may indicate a fungus or that they are thirsty. Not surprising at the end of summer/early fall. Some grapevines are capable of sending roots down some 20 feet, so some vineyards don’t irrigate, letting the roots do their own drilling.




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Art From the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival

Mariachis by Pat Meier-Johnson 15 x 20 cut paper on watercolor paper

Mariachis by Pat Meier-Johnson 15 x 20 cut paper on watercolor paper

This is the final weekend of the Sonoma Valley Olive Festival, with lots of wineries participating. My own personal favorite is the olive sampling at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards February 15 and 16. A nice way to extend Valentine’s Day into the weekend.

I created this paper collage of mariachis a couple of years ago when we first moved to Sonoma.  The sun reflected off the bright white walls of the Mission San Francisco Solano across from the northeast corner of the Sonoma Plaza. Their music welcomed the locals who came to celebrate the Blessing of the Olives, Sonoma’s second largest crop. I wanted to capture the bright blue sky and the contrast of the mariachis’ black trim black Traje de Charro suits against the white wall of the mission.

This piece is part craft paper, part snippets from some magazine advertising, and bits from some old sheet music. The sun was so bright the day I shot the picture of the mariachis that the figures did indeed seem to be flat, shadows were stark and planes of color very clearly defined. So it was an ideal image to recreate with cut paper art.

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Sonoma Plaza

Sonoma Plaza Duck Pond by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on canvas

Sonoma Plaza Duck Pond by Pat Meier-Johnson 16 x 20 oil painting on canvas

I have been coming to the historic Sonoma Plaza since I was a little girl and am so fortunate to live here now. In the summer people visit from all over the world, but it’s the Tuesday evening Farmers Market that draws the locals, young and old, to gather and enjoy the special Sonoma friendliness. I love how the Plaza appears to change throughout the day and at different times of the year.



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