What is in a glass of wine? One smells, swirls, tastes and witnesses the distinctions and complexity of each varietal of grape that makes up a fine wine.  Now imagine that creativity coming forward in a work of art, a work of oil on canvas!

Penelope Moore, a Napa based fine artist, pushes the boundaries of sensory experience by fusing visual art with nuances inherent in the craft of winemaking. In her new series “Palette of the Palate” she translates the taste and aromas of wine into dynamic large-scale abstract oil paintings. Each canvas expresses the range of characteristics found in wine through rich color and abstract texture.

Earlier this year, Penelope took a leap of faith and transformed her passion for food and wine into her new abstract series.  She purchased 15 blank five-foot by six-foot canvases delivered by a semi-truck to her studio in Napa and embarked on a new venture.  Working with vintners and sommeliers, she would taste a Napa Valley wine and discuss the wine with the maker. She isolates the characteristics found in the wine, visualizes the taste and fleshes out colorful images that she translates across a large canvas.  Luscious velvet, deep blueberry, madagascar vanilla, graphite, leather interlaced with cherry are some of the visions that roll through Penelope’s senses.

The fun part with her work is watching her create live in public. She is not shy or hides her talent for creating the unexpected. The six-foot canvas engulfs her perky petite five-foot four-inch frame doused with blond curls and her never-ending smile.  For the “Palette of the Palate” series she begins by dripping paint from the top of the canvas emulating the legs of wine and works her way down.  Half way through the painting, she turns it upside down and continues the dance of color until she is satisfied the tasting notes in the wine are denoted.  Not until after she is done with the oil painting does she decide which is top and which is the bottom.

“Each oil painting has a story of its own based on the unique characteristics found within the wine” said Penelope.  “My favorite way to paint is to take my canvas into the public and do an impromptu live painting pop-up somewhere. I love to share my process, which is the part of art that people rarely get to see or experience.  On Valentine’s Day I had a wild idea, what if I painted one of these enormous pieces right on the sidewalk somewhere in Downtown Napa.  So, of course I called friend and Vintner Garrett Ahnfeldt. I told him I wanted to paint his Cab Franc, large…and it will be a scene. Without hesitation he was completely supportive of my stunt. We tasted through his wine and narrowed down the primary components as inspiration for the painting that I was about to begin. I painted it live right on the sidewalk with my canvas propped up against The Wine Thief Tasting Room across from Gott’s. The experience was incredible, couples and families out and about for Valentine’s Day unexpectedly became part of the art. I took a risk and did something I have never done before and it was worth it! We called the painting the “Bouquet of Violets, Sweet Oak and Marrakech Spices” inspired by his G Wine Cellars 2011 Cab Franc.”

A gourmet at heart, Penelope is immersed in an epicurean culture and influenced by her connectedness with the world of wine.  Penelope’s culinary compositions offer intimate insight into a food and wine lifestyle. It was that love that brought the modern day vagabond from her life on the road to the Napa Valley in 2012. Penelope spent four years living small and carrying only what she needed – a few clothes and all her paints – from Malibu to the South of France, from Sante Fe to Park City and back to Napa to create art pieces commissioned by her clients in trade for their vacation homes.

“Napa is the only place where I feel at home,” she said.  “My only question was why wasn’t Napa up to par artistically with other art and destination communities?  I saw enormous potential here for growth in Napa overall and to become an more of arts destination like Aspen, Park City, Sante Fe and Charleston. Our edge here is wine, they’ve got nothing on us. I wanted to be a part of it, to help.  I moved here permanently to challenge my artistic ability with food and wine and be an advocate for the arts. I’m impressed with the Arts Council Napa Valley’s mission and Olivia Everett has been instrumental in that vision.”

Her inspiration begins in social scenes such as restaurants, wine bars, wineries, wine cellars and often simply in the kitchen and around dinner tables with wine, food and friends.  Through the use of rich color, dynamic perspective, inviting atmosphere and gourmet subject matter, Penelope’s work conveys the essence of a bon vivant lifestyle.  Once her inspiration is transformed into colorful still life paintings and photographs, her work expresses gratitude, optimism and joy of life.

“It’s my joie de vivre,” Penelope laughs.  (Joy of life)

Penelope earned her BFA in Painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. She regularly paints in public and exhibits her work at wineries throughout Wine Country. Her love and growing knowledge of wine continues to be a source of inspiration in her work. She currently has a series of 30+ original oil paintings on display at Luna Vineyards and an ongoing photography exhibit at Sterling Vineyards Winery. During Arts in April, a spotlight month for arts in Napa, her Opening Exhibition Soiree is at Luna Vineyards is Friday, April 8th from 5:30-8:30pm where guests are invited to meet and mingle with the artist.  Follow her on Facebook for updates on her debut exhibition of Palette of the Palate and live painting pop-up session locations.