Hiking to Seven Falls– Painting Process

I’m excited to share this large oil painting (36×48″) that I created from memory, plein air sketches and photos of the hike up the creek to Seven Falls.  I really wanted to try to show the feeling of coming out of the golden dappled-light of the oak canyon to the sun-drenched opening where the rocks and falls rise up.  I had to invent the view a bit since the trees and geography get in the way as you are hiking up… it’s a truthful lie.   I’m including some process images for the painters out there who would like to see how a painting like this develops. It starts with a sketch… I was thinking of the composition on this one as being kind of like a tunnel where the focal point of the cliffs and falls is circled by a ring of trees.   My first block-in is really general with simple shapes that describe big features in the landscape.  I was thinking of having the color palette on this one be triadic, with warm versions of green, violet and orange.  The progress of the painting is starting to bring things out of the “fog” and describe them in smaller and smaller shapes.  I’ll attach a couple of details below.  Enjoy your day!

Riparian Boulder Hop

24×36″ oil on linen–  It’s raining right now as I post this giving the promise of even more days this spring for rock hopping up our local creeks to find boulder falls and pools like this lit by sunlight filtered through the oak and bay laurel canopy… I threw some poison oak into this one.  I’ve had it quite a bit this winter from mushroom hunting this winter.   Although it would be nice to just walk cross country without having to always be mindful of what twigs you are touching, I’d never wish this plant not to be there.  I think of it as kind of a protector in the forest,  making us watch where we step and being sure there are places always for wildlife to hide and for people to not be.   And besides– it adds to the fun challenge of a rock scramble obstacle course to have some poison oak “hot lava” spots…  

Up a Creek without a Paintbrush

That would be horrible– I try never to get stuck up a creek without my art supplies.    It makes me so happy to be exploring our local watersheds and seeing the waterfalls flowing like the good old days.   I’ve been making lots of plein air sketches and working on a large studio painting of one of my favorite sweet boulder falls.  What I love about our little canyons in the oaks is how small patches of sunlight illuminate transparent pools here and there.  It is not an easy effect to get and I’m playing around with different ways of doing it.   These small paintings are both 6×8″.  

Liquid Light

25 1/2 x 34″– oil on canvas– I had my dad in mind when I made this painting.  He loves to drop a fly into small mountain streams like this and catch and release the native trout.  Can you spot the three fish swimming in the painting?

Also a reminder that this weekend is my open studio and art sale.  If you would like to come by it is  at 1128 Via Regina this Labor Day Weekend.  Saturday and Sunday 11 am-5 pm, Monday  11-2pm.  I will have special sale prices on paintings for the weekend and the first buyers of paintings over $500 will get a free 8×10 casein painting.  I’ll have my easel set up and be doing a demo over the weekend as well.  Hope to see you there!

 

Sunpockets

20×48″ Oil on Canvas– I love how a canopy of trees creates little spotlights that highlight little parts of the forest floor.  Sometimes these illuminate delicate plants that wait for their thirty minutes of direct sunlight a day and sometimes they make a pool in the creek glow like a lantern.

Pockets of Light and Water

16×20″ oil on canvas– The pools up Cold Springs Canyon still have some flow and are teeming with tadpoles, frogs, water striders and those big flat underwater beetles that paddle around… you don’t need an ocean to go tide pooling.  When I came up the creek the tree windows were just right that it was like a spotlight was on the mossy waterfall.

Trout Creek at Sundown

16×20″ Oil on Canvas– This bend in the creek was down the hill in my backyard growing up.  I have known it for  thirty-three years now.  This winter the meadow flooded and I got to see first hand how oxbows form and a creek finds a new path.  It could be seen as distress to the landscape or it could just be seen as change.  I think of many of my favorite places over the years that have been subject to avalanches, forest fires and other setbacks and have realized that in most cases this is a way of setting the clock back and allowing those areas to spring back and regenerate.  Nature is patient and distress simply provides a blank canvas.