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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
20×48″ oil on Canvas– I loved the patterns of sparkling lights that the sun was making on the glassy ocean the day I painted this commission of the Ellwood Coast. The blue water was a nice foil for the reds and oranges in the winter iceplant hanging over the cliffs.
22×28″ oil on canvas– Lauren and I like to play a game at the beach we call “Rock Jenga.” We take turns stacking a rock at a time until someone makes the tower fall. Often aesthetics get the better of us and we leave an attractive precariously balanced rock stack standing, declare ourselves both winners, and start a new one nearby.
I am excited to be teaching a plein air painting workshop through SCAPE in April this year. There are still spaces available if anyone is interested in signing up.
24×30″ oil on canvas– With the Solstice approaching and the days warming up, the nice cool ocean becomes even more inviting. Those surfboards behind the beach shack and the pink ice plant gave me excuses to use every crayon in the box, so to speak.
20×24″ oil on canvas– I pulled off the highway near the a bridge and turned my easel parallel with the wind to paint the evaporating haze over the ocean…