Wet Sand and Salt Air– El Refugio Point

 36×48″– oil on canvas–  This is the painting that emerged from the sketches I posted in my last post.   When you paint a canvas this large or larger, it really feels like you can step right inside and inhabit the scene.  I was trying to recreate the feeling of walking up our coastline in this beautiful season when the sun is starting to set over the water again and the tides are starting to pull the sand from the rocks underneath.  

Value Sketches and Color Studies

I thought I’d share a few glimpses of my process for making a large studio painting.  I’m working on a big 3’x4′ image of the coast looking northwest towards El Refugio State beach.  Sometimes I fight things out on the canvas, but for large images I’ve found that investing a little time in some loose, quick sketches like these helps make the painting go smoother.  I’m focused at this stage on getting a strong design that reads well an abstract level and a color key that feels like the mood I’m trying to convey.  Isn’t it fascinating how different the feel is when you try to visually step into each little thumbnail below?  Color is magical that way.

This spring I’ll be offering another workshop for people who would like to learn the process of making paintings from start to finish.  

Between the Mountains and the Sea

36×48″–oil on canvas- At twelve square feet, this is the biggest painting that I’ve made in a while.  I made the sketch for this one from the breakwater looking back towards Stearn’s Wharf.  I really wanted to emphasize the scale of the mountains that rise behind our city and the atmosphere of the ocean air.  We’re so lucky to live in a place that you can easily hike up a wooded canyon to a peak and then play in the surf in the same day.

Space to Breathe

20×48″ oil on canvas– This is what finally emerged from the sketches in my last post.  I love running along this path on the bluffs above More Mesa and then dropping down the Thousand Steps to get to the beach.  The light spilling out of the canyon up the coast line is the spot where the Hope Ranch creek meets the ocean.  I’ll add a couple detail images as well.  Enjoy the cooler weather everyone! 

My most detailed painting yet…

My family and I recently visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery.  I went looking for the best art that I could find and for inspiration to turn in a new direction with my work.  The impressionists excited me with their colorful light effects as usual and Joaquin Sorolla and John Singer Sargent dazzled me with their expressive brushwork, but the paintings that knocked my socks off this time were those of the Frederic Edwin Church.  In particular, the painting “Dream of the Andes,” has me staring for… well, I don’t know how long but, thank you Lauren, Ellie and Quinn for being so patient with me in art museums.  What blew me away was the incredible detail. He beautifully designed every fern in the forest, every termite in the trees, and the painting goes back into space at least ten miles.  Now I’m trying to paint a painting with exquisite detail.  I’m not at his level yet, but I’m happy with how it is progressing.   Here are the sketches for now… one from memory in the sketchbook and then a plein air color study.  MoreMesaBreathe-Gleason - 2

Spring in Summerland

12×36″ oil on canvas–  I enjoyed painting the echoing serpentine lines flowing through Summerland from up on Ortega hill.  It was a relatively clear day and you could see for miles.  That’s Carpinteria in the mid ground followed by Rincon Peak and then Ventura sticking out behind.

A Glimpse of the Sea through the Oaks

18×24″ oil on canvas– Tomorrow is the equinox… happy first day of spring!  I know the season is here because I get to use electric greens to color the grass instead of the usual Southern California gold.