Art Where We Live - Part II, by Wendy DeRaud


Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” ~John Lubbock (1834-1913), “The Pleasures of Life”


"It isn't necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy."  Groucho Marx



Years ago, a good friend was visiting us here in Fresno, California, and as we were driving down Blackstone Avenue on our way to Woodward Park, I felt a need to complain out loud about the eyesore of the ugliest street in town, to apologize to her for Fresno.


Being the wise woman that she is, she immediately suggested a different way to think about it. Why not find a way to become a part of the solution?


From then on, I allowed her words to inspire me to see the best in my town, often deemed the “armpit of California”. Most of the time I find myself defending Fresno, and decided to discover the beauty here by painting it. I am a part of a larger movement of others like me who want our city to become a cool place to live.




 "Fresno Cityscape," acrylic on 16x10 canvas, Wendy DeRaud




We choose to see the good things about living here: its proximity to the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains, which sometimes on a clear day can be seen from the city center, the fertile agricultural croplands, providing local harvests to the world as well as for our farmers markets.




"Valley Vineyards," acrylic on 16x20, Wendy DeRaud




In the Springtime, we are rich in blossom and wildflower trails, as our orchards, vineyards, and citrus groves spread out over the hills and valleys leading to the foothills, and the fragrance of citrus blossoms and jasmine permeate the atmosphere.


Our famous dry Summer heat is what makes our crops grow as well as they do, and if we find water to cool us, then we are happy.



The Fall brings vivid colors from surrounding shade trees, and the cooling air is a welcome reprieve.

It’s an hour or 2 to higher elevations to find the Winter snow, but we don’t have to live in its cold and inconvenience.




"Yosemite Fall", acrylic on 16x20 canvas, Wendy DeRaud




There are artists here, too, many boomerangs who have left but have returned to appreciate the unique community here and the slower pace afforded us because of the stigma we continue to shake. You can find good art that reflects the resilience, tenacity and perseverance born out of the poverty that resides here. This talent has grown into an insider art movement of sorts, with lots of figurative art popping up in studios on our monthly Art Hop nights.


When Mark and I started doing paint parties, I wanted to make paintings that expressed my love for Fresno, so that when people came to paint them in our 2 hour sessions, they also could embellish their canvases with a homegrown and authentic beauty, changing the way they see their home through their painting. I took the license to add impressionistic sparkle, wild color and light because I wanted to see it that way, and encourage others to have a hopeful perspective too.




My art can enhance my home, whether it’s inside my house or outside into my community. Art makes everyplace better.