FOLLOW those BLUE Art Trails signs, NEW DATES October 21-22 & 28-29!


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Art Trails Open Studios rescheduled:

October 21-22 and October 28-29

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In the spirit of an offering, a gift to our community, about 130 Art Trails artists throughout Sonoma County, will open studios and hearts to the public, sharing beauty and hope. My studio, #24 on Art Trails map, 2180 Beverly Way, Santa Rosa, will be open both weekends, 10am – 5pm.

Just as music can be inspiring and soothing, light and dark, taking us on emotional journeys without words, seeing wonderful art can be uplifting, inspirational, moody and joyful, bringing comfort, solace, contemplation, refuge, and pleasure. I invite you to visit, and have a hug, share a story, tea and cookies, and travel through my plein air paintings to healing landscapes, places of memory, dreams and renewal.

Our hearts are breaking for those who have been devastated by fire. Several Art Trails artists have lost homes, studios and/or their entire art inventory. The Art Trails Artist Relief Fund has been established. Donations can be made directly at many Art Trails studios and exhibits, and on-line at or Make checks payable to SCA, with a notation indicating Art Trails Artists Relief Fund; checks may also be mailed to Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 S. High St., Sebastopol, CA 95472.

I will be donating a percentage of painting sales, and will also be offering my contemplative Dream Vessels collages and some hand held carved clay sculptures.

An updated list of artists and maps showing participating studios will be posted by the weekend on the home page. We encourage visitors to stay up to date on road conditions.

Thank you for supporting the arts!
Marsha Connell, Chair Art Trails Steering Committee


The Human Race: Support The Living Room


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I’ve recently joined a business referral networking group (a stretch and an education for an artist!). We are supporting The Living Room here in Santa Rosa through Sonoma County’s outstanding annual Human Race, a truly creative and open-hearted event. Some of the fun takes place on the pavement through efforts by thousands of runners and walkers, and some of the fun and good works take place behind the scenes, for example right here. (In 2016 there were over 8,000 participants with almost $600,000 raised to date for over 225 nonprofits who will benefit from the event. The first Human Race in 1981 raised $1,800.) I invite you to learn about the important services that the Living Room provides for homeless and at-risk women and children and to make a contribution if you are so moved. $10, $20, $50, or an amount of your choice. This is a straight donation fundraiser. No Pledges. Thank you so much for caring and helping our community thrive. Follow link to donate:

I’m excited to be offering two plein air painting workshops in May


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These painting workshops will be held at stunning Sonoma County sites that are only accessible via the conservation groups that protect them from development, Pepperwood Preserve and Laufenburg Ranch. Painting in community, with guidance and support from an enthusiastic and practiced plein air painter, could be a great way to kick off your summer painting season or vacation time. You are welcome to join us for one or both sessions, whether you are an experienced painter or haven’t picked up a bush or pastel since childhood. Scientists, hikers, and students, painting and drawing deepen your powers of observation which translates to many disciplines.


Two Landscape Painting Workshops


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Recording & Expressing “Spirit of Place”

Sunday, May 7, 2017, 9am – 3pm
Pepperwood Preserve
2130 Pepperwood Preserve Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Meet at the Bechtel House
$45 per participant ($40 for members)
For ages 13 and up

Explore plein air painting with artist and Santa Rosa Junior College instructor Marsha Connell. Deepen your naturalist and artist observational skills. Express your responses to Pepperwood’s verdant and blossoming spring landscape. Open to beginning painters, who will learn basics of working in the field, and experienced painters, who may expand their repertoire and enjoy support for finding their own voice. Demonstrations will be given in oil and pastel,  but students may use any drawing or painting media of their choice.

Marsha’s approach to landscape painting conveys the spirit of place and evokes the mood of the inner landscape. Marsha has also taught at Sonoma State University and at a variety of other venues in the US, Mexico and France.

A suggested materials list will be sent upon registration.

Reserve your spot

Painting Iconic Rural Landscapes

Saturday May 13, 2017, 9:30 AM – 2:30 PM
Class level: All levels
Class Size: 6-15

$60 per person, $45 per Sonoma Land Trust member

Learn how to convey the spirit of place and embody the rhythms and forms of the landscape in this plein air painting workshop at Sonoma Land Trusts’ legendary Laufenburg Ranch near Calistoga. Beginning and longtime artists alike can benefit from Marsha’s expertise and extensive history of teaching, which brings out the joy of the creative process.

Enjoy a day in the bucolic setting of Laufenburg Ranch in Knight’s Valley. Create a record of your experience, which might include the magnificent 1883 barn, native oaks, old orchards, creek and hillsides, even Mt St Helena, by painting in the field. Explore gesture, shape, composition, light and shadow. Beginning artists: learn the basics of using painting materials and composing images. Experienced painters: expand your repertoire of painting techniques and visual approaches, realist, tonalist, impressionist, expressionist. Demonstrations will be given in oil and pastel, but you may use any drawing or painting media of your choice.

Materials Required: You will be able to do this with simple minimal supplies, for example, just black and white or three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) of oil or acrylic, and one brush, or a basic small set of pastels, or any materials you may already have.

Sign up here

3 Art Receptions for 3 Great Events


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Sunday, October 23, 2-5 pm, La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard

La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard, 3575 Slusser Road, Windsor, CA, is hosting an Artists’ Reception, welcoming collectors, aficionados and friends to view the Estate’s permanent collection of artwork, and a revolving exhibit changing seasonally, through our partnership with Healdsburg Center for the Arts. We are currently featuring fourteen large expressive landscape drawings and paintings by Marsha Connell. (Exhibit dates August 15-January 15) View and purchase the art online.

Our permanent collection highlights a diverse selection of local artists, including James Armstrong, Elaine Greenwood, Chris Henry, Cari Hernandez, Dusanka Kralj, Benjamin Owen, and Paula Strother.

We invite you to enjoy these fabulous artworks, and light hors d’oeuvres expertly paired with La Crema’s acclaimed wines, including selections only available at the Estate, in a panoramic vineyard setting.  

              RSVP appreciated:

AWS Meeting Photos September 2016 123a

Friday, October 21, 6-7:30 pm,  Sebastopol Center for the Arts

A Cabin Above a Lake
began as a demo for AWS (Art Workshop of Western Sonoma County), just last month, inspired by small plein air paintings from our recent East Coast annual summer sojourn. As Helen Frankenthaler once said, ” I had the landscape in my arms when I painted it. I had the landscape in my mind and shoulder and wrist.” After revisiting it in my studio, I entered the painting in this juried exhibit, and am pleased that juror Sukey Bryan selected it, (along with about 56 other works from a pool of almost 700 entries).  Sebastopol Center for the Arts, 282 High Street. Exhibit dates: Oct 21 – Nov 27, 2016. I’d be pleased if you joined me at the Artists’ reception for YOUR LANDSCAPE.  

Marsha Connell's Murder of Crows Painting in Peter Perez's altar for Day of the Dead, Sonoma county History Museum, 2016.jpg

Saturday, October 22,  6 pm – 8 pm, History Museum of Sonoma County

Reception for  Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Altars. This exhibition brings together altars created by community members, festive artwork and three-dimensional sculpture associated with the Day of the Dead celebration. I am honored that Peter Perez requested that my painting, Thinking About Bonnard, from my Murder of Crows series, be included in his altar against violence.

Exhibit runs October 18 – November 27.

The reception in the History Museum of Sonoma County is concurrent with a reception in the adjacent Art Museum of Sonoma County, for Faith Ringgold: An American Artist featuring storyquilts, works on paper, tankas, soft sculpture, and original illustrations.

Exhibit runs October 23 – January 29.

Art Trails Open Studios – My Plein Air Suitcase


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It will be as easy as 1-2-3 to find my studio the next 2 weekends. It’s #123 on the Art Trails map. 10am-5pm. Come see what came out of my suitcase from my recent plein air painting journeys, West Coast to East, ocean to mountain, and back home in Sonoma county, and how it inspires studio work. Drawings, pastels, oils, watercolors. Small works to large. Hope to see you!


Here’s a great map of most of the artists in the Northeast Santa Rosa area participating in Art Trails. #123 is just about in the middle.


Jewish Community Free Clinic in Santa Rosa brightens patients’ visits with art


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Jewish Community Free Clinic in Santa Rosa brightens patients’ visits with art (More photos online here)

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | May 22, 2016, 6:07PM

Can art heal?

Champions of what’s been called a miracle of a Santa Rosa health clinic can’t prove that the fine and vivid pieces of framed beauty that adorn the walls help to make the low-income patients better.

But good luck persuading them that it doesn’t.

“Art lifts the spirit of this place,” said Donna Waldman, director and co-founder of the Jewish Community Free Clinic on Montgomery Drive.

The operation runs on a shoestring — its budget is less than $300,000 a year — and it relies on the volunteer labor of doctors, nurses, translators and other staffers. Patients, a good many of them immigrants without health insurance, are charged nothing for the care they receive.

Given the austere nature of the mission, someone walking in the door might expect the waiting and reception areas, the halls and the exam rooms to be clinical and plain.

But for the donations by acclaimed Sonoma County artists Marsha Connell and Sally Baker, they would be.

It’s not coincidental that Connell, the landscape and abstract artist who chairs the county’s ArtTrails open-studio program, is married to Dr. Jerry Connell. The retired family doctor was an early volunteer medical director with the 15-year-old clinic.

Said his wife the artist, “I was always wishing I could do something for the clinic.”

Marsha Connell with one of her oil paintings, Mallows and More—Pepperwood Preserve, donated to Jewish Community Free Clinic.She found that something when she perceived that the walls pleaded for art. Several of the 15 or so pieces Connell contributed are lavish landscapes of Sonoma County scenes.

The total effect is an environment far more inviting and calming than anyone would reasonably anticipate upon entering a free health clinic.

“Our medical offices should look exactly like any other medical offices,” Waldman said.

It helps that the building on Montgomery Drive, just west of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, is not some beggarly space, but the smartly designed and well maintained former home of a prosthetics practice.

The clinic operated within a smaller location in Rohnert Park when the owners of the Montgomery Drive building did something grand two and a half years ago: they donated it for the benefit of people without health insurance or the ability to pay for health care.

“This is more than double what we had,” Waldman said of the space.
The Jewish Community Free Clinic is open about 25 hours a week, and its volunteers see between 1,500 and 2,000 patients a year. That’s 500 to 1,000 fewer patients than eight and nine years ago, when the recession was in force and the federal Affordable Care Act wasn’t yet enacted and offering coverage to the uninsured.

That law “has absolutely, positively helped many of our clients,” Waldman said. Yet, the clinic’s safety-net services continue to be essential to people who remain without health insurance, or who come down with a medical issue and don’t have a doctor to turn to.

Many impoverished people also look to the clinic for vaccines, prescription medications other than painkillers, pre-employment physicals and women’s health services. People who come in with chronic illnesses are referred to one of the county’s low-cost community health centers.

Though no one is charged for the care received at the Montgomery Drive clinic, Waldman said it often happens that grateful former patients will send in donations when they’re able to. The other operating funds come from philanthropic gifts and fundraisers.

Giving Tree Final FilledArtist Connell is completing a large, colorful giving-tree painting that will be placed prominently at the clinic and will feature ceramic leaves, doves and poppies bearing the names of donors. The ceramics are being made by artist Leslie Gattmann of Sebastopol.

Connell said the model for the purple-hued tree in the painting is a great oak that stands near her Santa Rosa home and that has proven to be healing to her.
“We want to make this clinic a healing place,” she said, “and art is very healing.”

Sales of her giving-tree painting’s ceramic accoutrements will generate $90,000 for the Jewish Community Free Clinic. Once completed and hung, the tree painting and its personalized leaves, doves and poppies will indefinitely beautify a clinic wall.

Leslie Gattmann cutting models for Giving Tree A wine-and-food benefit on June 5, 5-8pm at Congregation Shomrei Torah on Bennett Valley Road will honor Connell and Gattmann for their creative contributions to the mission and raise additional dollars to sustain it. You can sign up for the benefit evening here.

Director Waldman said that ideally, the day will come when everyone is provided quality health care and the little miracle of a clinic will no longer be necessary. She added, “As long as we’re needed, we’re going to be here.”

And as long as the clinic exists, an abundance of art will surely be there to help patients feel welcomed and honored and, who knows, maybe even feel better.

Landscape Painting at Pepperwood Preserve. May 15


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There are just a few spots left. Sign up by Thursday May 12 noon!
Landscape Painting: Observation and Expression. Sunday, May 15, 9am – 3pm
Only $45 per participant ($40 for members)!
Ages 13+
Explore plein air painting with me! Deepen your observational skills and express your responses to Pepperwood’s verdant and blossoming spring landscape. The continuing rains have gifted us with wildflower joy this year!
Beginning painters: learn basics of working in the field. Experienced painters: expand your repertoire with elements of realism, impressionism, expressionism, with support for finding your own voice. Demonstrations in oil but you may use any media.Marsha Connell-The Warmth of Autumn, o/c, 24 x 24", 2010