Artists Inspired by our Haass Adobe Watercolor Exhibit

by Anne Petersen

Thomas Van Stein explains the use of shadow in Haass' s watercolor of the Orena Adobe.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
Thomas Van Stein explains the use of reflected light in Haass’s watercolor of the Orena Adobe. Photo by Anne Petersen.

On Wednesday October 14, artist and instructor Thomas Van Stein brought his Adult Education painting class to Casa de la Guerra to view our Haass Adobe Watercolor exhibition.   Van Stein is no stranger to our exhibits.  A member of the Oak Group. he participated in our recent tribute to Ray Strong, The Art of Preservation.

The Haass Adobe Watercolor collection is made up of a series of historic adobes painted in the late 1940s and early 1950s by Fridloin Haass at the request of Pearl Chase.  The extremely detailed paintings capture a moment in time at each site.  Today some of the buildings captured for the series (including Casa de la Guerra), look radically different, and others have been lost altogether.

The artists prepare to paint the Casa.  Photo by Anne Petersen.
The artists prepare to paint the Casa. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Van Stein worked with his class to pay close attention to Haass’s ability to use light and dark colors to make features either recede or come to the forefront.  He also praised the artist’s ability to  capture complex shadows and reflections, and to offer enough line detail to suggest intricate painterly features like a tile roof, without articulating each tile.

After viewing the exhibit, the class set up their easels in the Casa Courtyard and began to paint, using the inspiration of the Haass watercolors to guide them.  While assisting his students, Van Stein was also able to create his own work of art, capturing the East wing of the Casa, with a delicately painted tile roof.

Casa de la Guerra, by Thomas Van Stein. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Casa de la Guerra, by Thomas Van Stein.

We thoroughly enjoyed the class visit, which brings together several of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s areas of interest: our local architecture, historic preservation, and the appreciation of our community’s sense of place through the visual arts.

Anne Petersen is the Associate Director for Historical Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

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