Other titles I considered for this one were “Rent Free”, “Rock Stack Studio” and “An Abundance of Windows.” I wanted to put the viewer in the shade and breezy shelter of one of the beach shacks at Ellwood… those wonderful communal forms of real estate that we all can inhabit for a while when we find our paths meandering up the coast. Hung on the wall, it looks like a window out to a beach shack porch.
This fallen spruce tree has become a landscape in itself as the forest reclaims it and it’s decomposition feeds ferns and mosses, beetles and butterflies and even young trees seeding in its layers of life. If you want to experience life after death, check out the rainforest. Here plants grow out of plants and embrace trees and rotting wood like sprouting verdant carpet. Since almost all the organic material is in the canopy rather than in the soil in a rainforest, a dead tree fall means the start of a new fountain of living greenery. It rained the day before we got here, but we got to see the rainforest in sunlight!
There is an unexpected point on any rock where it can find momentary balance. If you have ever done slack lining or hopped across rocks in a stream you know that the only kind of balance is momentary. In every instant we are making slight adjustments and becoming relaxed and comfortable with a shifting center.
In this painting, I was balancing shades of grey. It was fun to push them in different directions to find all of the color on an overcast day. It is fun to hang this one on the wall (it is almost life-size scale) and bring a beachside still life indoors.
The challenge of painting water like this is you are looking at three superimposed surfaces.
- The leaves and rocks (and fish and newts) under the water.
- The floating leaves and surface ripples on the water.
- The reflections of the trees and sky upside down.
It is an endless challenge to communicate that depth on a flat surface… and can keep an artist busy for a lifetime as it did with Monet and his waterlilies. On a warm day like today, you’ll find me up a cool shady canyon like this one trying to figure it out… Here is a link to a very short video of this painting in progress that I posted to my Instagram page. Enjoy!
Such sweet June Gloom weather this morning on the coast. To top it off, last night’s Strawberry Supermoon pulled the tides way out. (Moons have so many more flavors and varieties now than they did when we were kids.) I set up with my feet in the sand to paint the colors of the cliffs and the light starting to burn off the clouds…
Every UCSB student knows this path well. I stepped just off the trail to paint this one and enjoyed snippets of conversation coming from passing college students… walking, pedaling and jogging on their way to enjoy the last hours of sunlight.
I’ve been running at Lake Los Carneros many mornings this year, watching how the rising sun makes our local mountains blush.
It has been a wonderful winter for clouds this year, hasn’t it? Hopefully we can coax some more water out of them before the dry season.
So this is from healthy pots of succulents and imagination… no ceramics were injured in the making of this painting. I have had an idea to paint a crushed terra cotta pot, but with its inhabitants finding a way to thrive in the new situation. I find that sometimes titles are hard to pin on a painting, but for this one the metaphors were waiting in line in my imagination as I laid down the paint. “Catastrophe and Opportunity,” “Fragile Planet,” “Microclimate,” “Heroic Voyage,” “Hatched,” “Branching Out.” You get the idea… I let “Looking on the Bright Side” rise to the top.
This is that special kind of overcast where the ceiling of clouds is full of tatters and holes that light keeps leaking through. You get the grey reflective mood of a cloudy day with occasional dazzling spotlights of sunny day sneaking in. The top painting was a nice morning at Hendry’s beach last week and the one below was made that same afternoon out walking at low tide at Ellwood. It’s a beautiful world out there…
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.