BOOK: Palos Verdes Watercolors, a personal album

A catalog of my Palos Verdes watercolors combined with pictures and personal notes about my early golden childhood there.
31 back and white pages 17 colors pages.

20 dollars – postage included within the United States.

also on sale at Terrenea, The Wayfarerer’s Chapel and the Point Vicente Interpretive Center.
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My mother made each of her four children elaborate scrapbooks. I look at them now and I see a totally different, idyllic world. I could not resist mixing some of the photographs with my watercolors to show the fairy tale childhood that formed me.

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Arts & Entertainment

Album of photos and paintings recalls ‘a little bit of paradise’

By Annie Lubinsky, Peninsula News
Friday, December 21, 2012 11:12 AM PST

“Palos Verdes Watercolors: A Personal Album,” by Katrina Vanderlip

Katrina Vanderlip’s upbringing was the perfect background for an art conservator. She grew up in her family home, Villa Narcissa, in Rancho Palos Verdes, and also lived in Europe. She learned several languages, explored beautiful houses and gardens with her mother and eventually worked in some of the world’s most prestigious museums.

When she decided to create paintings for personal pleasure, though, she revisited her childhood in Palos Verdes.

“Palos Verdes, a Personal Album” contains images of Vanderlip’s watercolors as well as black-and-white photos of the Vanderlip family in the 1950s. She created the album to share her happy memories of growing up on the Peninsula.

“I could not resist mixing some of the photographs with my watercolors to show the fairy tale childhood that formed me,” she wrote on her website.

Vanderlip grew up at Villa Narcissa, now a fourth-generation family home. Her grandfather, Frank Vanderlip, bought 16,000 acres of the Peninsula in 1913, and he and later his son Kelvin, Katrina Vanderlip’s father, developed the land.

“My parents entertained a lot because they were developing the area,” she told the News. “It was a Camelot existence, and (in the album) I mixed memories together with my watercolors.”

She attended a “tiny nursery school” in Abalone Cove, then Chadwick and Palos Verdes High School. She and her siblings went to Sunday school at the Wayfarers Chapel.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “We had nurses and a butler, and we dressed differently then. It was a totally different, idyllic world.”

Vanderlip’s mother, Elin, encouraged her painting ever since she was a child. When Vanderlip’s father died in 1956, Elin took the children to Europe, where they lived in Gstaad, Switzerland, and Paris.

As a result, Katrina Vanderlip became bilingual in English and French and also learned Spanish and Italian. In preparing to work in art conservation, she attended Harvard and worked at the Louvre, experiences that “launched a great career,” she said. “I get paintings that are filthy and in bad shape, and I bring them back to life, and that’s fun.”

Four years ago, Vanderlip’s mother and husband died within three months of each other. Filled with “fresh and raw” feelings, Vanderlip soothed herself by painting watercolors.

She is now a resident of Sagaponack, N.Y., but when she reconnected to her art, she chose her California home for inspiration.

“I love Palos Verdes and beauty and nature,” she said. “I started painting the garden and peacocks. If you look around our house, you feel like painting. It made me happy and I was good at it.”

After spending years restoring the work of other artists, “it’s really nice to paint fresh things and have it come out of your imagination,” she said. “A lot of my friends in art restoration are doing their own painting; we’ve all started painting again.”

When Vanderlip decided to do a show, it made sense to show her watercolors. But she didn’t want to simply catalog them.

“I wanted an explanation of what’s behind it,” she said.

Her mother had made each of her children elaborate scrapbooks, and Vanderlip’s was a gold mine for her.

“When I decided to do this book, I went through my scrapbook and picked out pictures that I wanted,” she said. “I had them in one album, so it was easy.”

The finished album combines her Palos Verdes-themed watercolors with pictures and personal notes about her childhood.

When people see her album, she said, “Everybody reminisces about their own childhood; also, young people can read it and see pictures of the way it used to be.”

In November, Vanderlip presented a show at Terranea, then opened Villa Narcissa to Palos Verdes Art Center patrons.

“To my delight, I sold some of my watercolors. Maybe I can make a living selling my paintings,” she said.

Another treasure turned up as she worked on the album: her family’s historical papers.

“I found 130 boxes full of my grandfather’s correspondence, and next year will be 100 years since the first time he came and saw the Peninsula. I want to do a big book of my grandmother and grandfather’s correspondence and pictures. It’s like stepping back into the past. It would be fun if I could pull that together.”

She plans to complete that book next fall. Meanwhile, she’ll continue creating paintings of places she loves.

“I don’t paint angst-ridden paintings,” she said. “I paint happy, sometimes beautiful, sometimes quirky pictures. They make me happy, and I hope they make others happy.”

“Palos Verdes, a Personal Album” contains 31 back-and-white pages and 17 color pages. The album is available for purchase at Terranea, The Wayfarers Chapel and the Point Vicente Interpretive Center, or online at http://aquarelles.us.

alubinsky@pvnews.com

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