The Palo Alto Weekly spoke with local artists about their work and what visitors can expect during Silicon Valley Open Studios.
Read longer interviews with these and other Peninsula artists at paloaltoonline.com/arts.
Flo de Bretagne — Palo Alto
A native of France, Flo de Bretagne has lived in California since 2006. The Palo Alto-based painter has participated in Silicon Valley Open Studios for 14 years.
In college, de Bretagne double-majored in business and tax law, but a health crisis ultimately steered her toward an art career.
"I loved painting, but I thought it was a hobby. So then when I had a health crisis, I realized that I wanted to do something more and bring joy to people with my artwork. That's when I decided to become a full-time artist," de Bretagne said.
She specializes in bright, colorful acrylic paintings that often feature flowers or animals. Her artistic inspiration comes from many sources, she said.
"I love hiking, so every time I go out in nature that is inspiring because many of my paintings depict flowers. Hiking is very inspiring for me. And I also love books. I love reading everything about different cultures," she said.
Her open studio will have the theme "Replenishing Waters," with colorful paintings intended to celebrate life and buoy spirits during dark times, whether it's the continuing war in Ukraine or the ongoing pandemic, de Bretagne said.
"People tell me all the time that my paintings bring a smile to their face. They can expect to see very uplifting art around the themes of water and life."
De Bretagne's open studio takes place at Site #393, 756 Garland Drive, Palo Alto.
LaRhee Webster — Palo Alto
Art has been a constant throughout LaRhee Webster's life. She worked in marketing and advertising as a graphic designer and illustrator. After retiring, she shifted her focus to painting.
"This is kind of an extension of art that I've always done," Webster said.
She has been participating in Silicon Valley Open Studios for eight years.
Webster, now based in Palo Alto, grew up on her family's farm in the foothills near San Jose, where she cultivated an appreciation for nature. Now she channels that love of natural beauty into oil paintings that capture rural spots in the Bay Area and throughout California. Though local landscapes are a specialty, she also paints still-lifes and some abstract works.
"I paint the places I like to be and the things I love. So it's mostly California landscapes and the things I love can be still lifes of fruit and food and some figures. Like any artist, I explore different techniques and different styles. I have a couple of abstracts and some that are extremely realistic. So it's quite a range," she said.
At her open studio, Webster will be showing paintings in a range of sizes, as well as notecards. Her studio site will also host three other artists.
Something she said she particularly enjoys about the experience is speaking with the wide range of people who drop by, everyone from neighbors to fellow artists.
"People seem to want to know how you paint, what's the story behind it. Of course, I'm more than happy to share all that with everybody," she said.
Webster's open studio takes place at Site #290, 2510 Greer Road, Palo Alto.
Silicon Valley Open Studios features Peninsula-based artists May 14-15, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at various sites throughout the Peninsula. Find maps of participating artists and more information at svos.org.
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