Depth and Reflection: Painting a Creek

Depth and Reflection– 12×16″ oil on linen panel (available)

The challenge of painting water like this is you are looking at three superimposed surfaces.

  1. The leaves and rocks (and fish and newts) under the water.
  2. The floating leaves and surface ripples on the water.
  3. 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!

Minus Tide Plus Light Fog Equals…

16×20″ oil on linen panel

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…

Morning Glow

36×48″ oil on canvas

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.

Looking on the Bright Side

12×24″ –oil on canvas

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.

Winter Skies at the Beach

Hendry’s Cloudcover– 12×24″ oil on stretched linen

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…

Sea, Sky and a Soon-to-be Obsolete Energy Source– 6×8″ oil on panel

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.

Ellwood Seasons

12×24″ oil on linen– Thanks to the rains yesterday, this will be the last painting of the bluffs with the late summer, early autumn color palette. We’ll be moving into the greens and yellows of wild mustard and grasses. I appreciate both seasons– they both have their own beauty, colored by the memories we tie to a place we know well.

Sierra Backpacking Paintings: Part 1

There is a place in Mammoth that is really special to my family and growing up in Tahoe, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to walk there. A couple weeks ago I finally connected those dots, leaving a 180 mile trail from my parents’ backyard to our favorite camping spot. I was hiking long days, but still managed to make a gouache painting each day. I had fun crossing paths with the main bubble of northbound PCT hikers floating on the trail on their way up to Canada… one of these days I want to hike and paint that whole journey!

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…