The Lookout

The acorn that sprouted and started to grow into this Coast Live Oak many, many mornings ago sure picked a good spot to sink its roots. I wonder if it knew how many people would visit it for picnics and to share its grand view of Cathedral and Arlington Peaks, the rolling green hills and the Santa Barbara harbor on the horizon. I spent a pleasant morning before the easel trying to catch the atmospheric golden light we get on green winter mornings here.

Arlington Peak– Late Afternoon

9×12″ oil on linen panel– Arlington Peak always offers artists a mountain anatomy lesson… It’s fascinating the way the sandstone bones reach up and offer structure while the sinuous muscles of earth overlap and fold, forming rippling hills and canyons. And on top of it all the color and texture of the living, sprouting, growing skin of the earth.

Painting in the Oaks

Rocky Nook Park– 14×18″ oil

Sandstone outcroppings and Coast Live Oaks… I’ve been spending several afternoons painting in oak forests the last couple of weeks. The acorns are ripening and the squirrels, scrubjays and a deer were all inspecting their progress as I was painting.

Sunny Oak Forest– 8×10″
Work in progress…

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″.  

San Marcos Pass Sunset

Oil on Canvas Panel– The skies have been incredible these evenings and mornings as the sun has been sweeping a lower arc across the sky and lingering longer in the golden zone.  I attempted to freeze this one in paint from a turn out on San Marcos Road last weekend.  Next time I think I’ll bring three tiny canvases to try to catch those subtle color shifts that are just minutes a part, but so different from each other.

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.

The Foothills in Casein

I saw my box of casein paints lying around and realized I haven’t used them for a while.  It is a quick and easy way for me to get outdoors and paint… my casein set-up weighs about ten pounds (lightweight cardboard and aluminum easel and all) while my oil painting gear is much heavier.

Grey Day on the San Marcos Preserve– 10×20″Bee Hives and Human Hives– 10×20″

Santa Ynez River Flow

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20×24″ oil on linen– It is so good to see the Santa Ynez River flowing again and knowing the thousands of gallons of sweet water that flowed past me as I painted this are on their way to Lake Cachuma.  I really hope people use the drought as a learning experience and keep conserving water even though the storms have been good to us.   This was made just before the first crossing on Paradise Road, which is completely washed out at the moment..

Rattlesnake Canyon Creekflow

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22×28″ oil on canvas–  I’m savoring the sound of raindrops on the roof right now and smiling knowing we have more boulder hopping and creek painting days ahead of us this spring!

Santa Barbara Golden Hour

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18×36″ oil on canvas (sold)– What a romantic seaside town for smitten, starry-eyed couples to  be walking around in, enjoying a nice walk in the late afternoon light before dinner… Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!