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Throughout the valley, 64 artists are applying finishing touches to pieces they’ve been working on and spiffing up their studios in preparation for Open Studios Napa Valley.

The free, self-guided art discovery tour that art lovers look forward to all year, always takes place during the last two weekends in September. This year, 38 studio locations throughout Napa, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga will be open on Sept. 22-23 and 29-30.

To kick off Open Studios Napa Valley, Jessel Gallery in Napa hosted a preview party and show Sept. 7.

“I think we have a wealth of art in the valley and there’s a vast variety of talent in different mediums here.”said gallery owner Jessel Miller.

The show will run through the end of the month featuring one piece of art from every artist participating in Open Studios.

Over the two weekends that artists invite the public to their work spaces, live demonstrations will take place in many of the studios. These will include painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, glass, fiber, printmaking, jewelry design and sculpture.

The Open Studios Napa Valley directory and map indicates which artists will be giving demonstrations and whether they are handicapped-accessible and open if raining.

All artists, whether they are giving demonstrations or not, are happy to share how and why they do what they do and give visitors personal insight into the world of the artist.

Not only can visitors discover multiple mediums and experience the studio atmosphere, but they also discover hidden parts of the valley and hear stores from artists about their work.

“It really is wonderful to see how much talent we have in the valley. Some of our artists here are recognized internationally,” said Lis MacDonald, a watercolor and inks artist whose alcohol ink on Yupo was selected by fellow artists for the cover of this year’s Open Studios artist directory and map.

Like other participating artists, MacDonald misses out on visiting other artists’ studios during the event, so seeing a representation of their work at Jessel Gallery is a privilege she said she appreciates.

“I was amazed to have my work chosen by the committee for the cover,” MacDonald said. “I really felt honored to have been selected.”

Though MacDonald enjoys oils and acrylics, for the last 20 years she has become best known as a water media artist. Recently, she has been using alcohol inks. Her work was displayed at the Napa County Library’s juried Art in the Library exhibit in March.

A dog lover who volunteers at the Napa County Animal Shelter, MacDonald has painted various breeds of dogs for the 10 years. Without abandoning these paintings, she is now “finding a sense of freedom” with her alcohol inks.

“I have been searching for a way to abstract my landscapes without sacrificing design and color,” MacDonald said. “This started my alcohol ink paintings.”

She allows the inks, with their intense colors and fluidity to run on tilted Yupo paper, adding more color or softening with plain alcohol to create patterns consistent with landscapes.

“Most of the paintings are from inner visions rather than a specific place,” she said. “In the end, the painting ends up looking like a watercolor painting.

Over the last two weekends in September, MacDonald will be giving demonstrations of her artistic process at 2394 Big Ranch Road where she will be exhibiting with three other artists: Bob Saxby, Gerda Shupe and Karen Winograde.

“We’d like people to just come visit,” MacDonald said. “Purchase is not necessary. We just want people to come enjoy the art and visit.”

The popular art event is a collaborative effort by the participating artists of the Art Association of Napa Valley.

The program has endured for more than three decades because local artists believe in the importance and value of opening their studios to visitors. Volunteers have contributed hundreds of hours and sponsors have contributed financial support to ensure the success of Open Studios Napa Valley.

In gratitude for the community support they receive, the art association contributes a portion of revenues to local high school and junior college scholarships.

The 2018 Open Studios Napa Valley artist directory and maps are downloadable at

Copies of the 2018 Open Studios Napa Valley artist directory and map will soon be available free of charge throughout Napa and the valley at:

  • Napa Tourist Information Center, 1331 First St.;
  • Napa Valley Art Supplies and Cartons and Crates, 3250 California Blvd.;
  • Napa Main Library, 580 Coombs St.;
  • Art Gallery Napa Valley, 1307 First St.;
  • Upper Valley Calistoga Pottery at 1001 Foothill Blvd.’

Most studios will also have extra directories to pass out.

Also visit for daily updates.

For information about the Open Studios preview party, call Jessel Gallery at 707-257-2350. The Jessel Gallery is at 1019 Atlas Peak Road, Napa.

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