The number of varying and inspiring landscapes in Northern California was one of the big draws that brought me here over two decades ago from Ohio. This Marin, California landscape series of oil paintings is the beginning of an Experience of Art that Kelly Neil commissioned for his wife Shirlee as her seventh year anniversary gift. Kelly and Shirlee live in a beautiful home that Kelly built atop the rolling hills of Marin with stunning distant views of San Francisco bay. Kelly is an engineer by training and a successful investor. Like me, he’s a transplant, as he grew up in the Midwest. Kelly married in his late forties. He said that when he met Shirlee he just knew that “it was right.” His story gives me hope and it makes me mindful of the celebratory meaning behind this gift. Right now I’m sketching a number of different perspectives that surround the Neil’s home. Kelly was anxious to give me information and maps that define his property. Although I do appreciate his desire to help, art is not born of the facts. I have to feel into each series of paintings. Just like the words of a song might refer to some of the facts involved in a relationship, that’s not where the music comes from. The music is born of the musician’s heart felt perspective. This Experience of Art will also be born of my heart-felt perspective, my creative exploration. I never know what the final large-scale painting will look like. It is this artistic journey that is part of the joy and the inevitable frustration of the creative process. At this point I'm photographing and sketching to start to get a sense of how this place, and how the Neil’s story, make me feel, this feeling will influence the series. I've just completed the eleventh sketch for the oil painting studies.