WALNUT CREEK -- Roswitha Kress grew up in Bamberg, Germany surrounded by world-class art right in her own backyard.

"When I was a child, living in this 1,000-year-old city was totally normal to me," said Kress, a Walnut Creek resident since 1974. "We saw nothing unusual about it -- every little town around us had ancient cathedrals, palaces and castles within its walls. Kids don't see the significance in all of it if you walk to school past all of this every day."

Growing up in a family of artists, it felt natural for Kress to draw sculptures, statues and buildings she saw. Her all-time favorite artist was Albrecht Duerer, a 15th Century German painter.

"His woodcuts, paintings and watercolor paintings were magical to me as a youngster," she said. "As an adult, I was and still am fascinated and inspired by Edgar Degas' paintings of ballerinas and his monotypes. He used his monotypes so many times as an underpainting for many of his most famous works."

As a U.S. military wife who moved to the United States to raise her family, Kress remembers her parents sent her an easel and oil paints for her to continue her art. Later on, when she moved to California, Kress immersed herself in all things artistic, taking classes at various art venues including Diablo Valley College, Civic Arts Education and the DeYoung Museum. She's won numerous awards and her art was selected in several local, national and international juried exhibitions.


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Kress shows her plein-air paintings of local landscapes at the Valley Art Gallery this summer. Visitors to the gallery get to meet the artist from noon to 2 p.m. on July 13.

"At present my work is focused on the human figure and the local landscape," she said. "As a plein-air painter my approach to nature is intuitive, not preconceived, but a spontaneous reaction to what I see and feel at that particular moment in time."

Whether it's natural landscapes or beloved pets, Kress said it's hard not to get sentimental about a subject. Recently, Kress has also been painting animals in pastel portraits. As a volunteer cat socializer with Tony LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF), Kress said she wishes to increase awareness about animal adoptions through her paintings.

Local residents say Kress' art inspires, and that it resonates with human emotions.

"Roswitha sees beyond the objects she paints; her art speaks to the observer with light, beautiful colors that reflect the passion she feel about what she does," said Martha Duran of Lafayette. "Her work is truly inspired."

Louise and Steve Olsen of Concord said Kress' paintings evoked such fond memories they just had to take the paintings home. When Louise Olsen saw Kress' landscapes she was taken by the beautiful colors and the way the light plays on the trees, flowers, hills and fields. These works touched Louise Olsen's heart as these landscape features represent where she grew up, she said.

Steve Olsen's emotional responses to the paintings were associated with walking through the foothills of central county and memories of seeing Mount Diablo in all seasons.

"Roswitha's works perpetuate continuation of these wonderful memories," the Olsens said.

Kress said while her early exposure to ancient relics and grand castles got her into art, it is the local landscapes that continue to captivate her. Summer, she said, is one of the best times of the year to capture the emotions that go with the season in her paintings.

"I love the golden hills and valleys of summertime and sitting there in the quiet outdoors with the air around me," she said. "I'm itching to go there right now."

Local landscapes of Roswitha Kress
  • WHEN: Through Aug. 3. Artist's reception noon to 2 p.m. July 13
  • WHERE: Valley Art Gallery, 1661 Botelho Dr., Walnut Creek
  • INFORMATION: Gallery, 925-935-4311 or valleyartgallery@gmail.com