Artist Teresa Onoda is a California-based plein air painter whose work is noted for its vibrant color and powerful, painterly applications of oils. Most of her work captures the "endangered landscapes" of Northern California, the beautiful rural areas being rapidly developed to make way for housing a burgeoning population. As farms, forests, and meadows of wild flowers are destroyed, Onoda is one of a small band of plein air painters trying to put on canvas the beauty that, ironically, attracts so many to live in one of the most desirable regions in the world. Her preferred landscapes include rural vineyards and farms within a day's drive of San Francisco. She has also made painting excursions to Carmel, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.
Plein air painting has strong historical roots in California where the year-round temperate climate and generous amounts of sunshine encourage artists who seek to capture the state’s abundant beauty. Onoda primarily paints among the rolling hills of the East Bay and the vineyards of the wine country. She occasionally also paints in Colorado and Nevada.
Her work and paint palette are inspired by the French impressionists of the early 20th century, and by the Fauvists, noted for using the most vibrant colors found in nature. Onoda acknowledges an artistic indebtedness to a group of impressionists called the "Society of Six” – a group of plein air painters who made history as a creative force upon viewing French works at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. Given the climatic and geologic similarities between southern France and the California coastline, there were strong, natural affinities between the work of the French and American artists.
However, the Society of Six rejected the tonalist preference for a muted, almost shrouded landscape that depicted California's foggy days, and focused on the predominantly sunny reality. According to one book, "They sought instead to capture the visual impression of the sunshine and the color of the land and sky, and to evoke the quality of light and weather, the yellow hills, the Manzanitas and scrub oaks, lupine and poppies, tile roofs and Monterey pines.”
Several members of the Society of Six passed on their craft to young local painters, including Pam Glover, who painted one of the group's founders, Louis Siegrist, and his son, Lundy. Glover taught plein air techniques to many accomplished artists, including Onoda, who is now teaching outdoor impressionist painting herself. Given the strong hold of the arts in California and the striking natural beauty of the region's farmland, vineyards, coastline and mountains, this generation-spanning school of painting is certain to continue.
Onoda earned a degree in fine arts from Creighton University. She has been a fine arts instructor at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, and was also an art teacher in Houston and in the Bay Area. She is married and has two children.