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!

Garrapata Atmosphere

18×24″ oil on linen– What I love about the Big Sur coast is how much edge there is. The fractal canyons and bays and multitude of islands make for an enchanted scene. There are so many folds for the ocean to peak into, for light to cling to and to hide secret shady coves. We got here just in time to catch those transparent cliff shadows still extending into the sea.

Big Sur Impressions

18×24″ oil on linen

This is painting paradise for me. It is actually so beautiful it is dangerous… big cliffs and unbelievable views combined. My knee is all skinned up from walking around on wet rocks with my eyes up on the view. The design possibilities are endless here… every few feet I want to start a new canvas.

Clouds Parting–Stearn’s Wharf

12×24″ oil on panel– The city was washed clean and sparkling after the last storm. Out on the wharf was a great place to take it all in. A magnificent rainbow appeared and I was tempted to paint it in, but usually paintings of rainbows look about as convincing as paintings of unicorns. I went with the unicorn instead– can you see him hiding behind the palm tree?

Space to Ramble

18×36” oil on linen

When Lauren and I were first married we used to spend most of a day walking from the distant eucalyptus groves, out over the bluffs, around the slough, through IV and UCSB, down the bike trail, out on More Mesa, through the horse trails in Hope Ranch, through westside and finally downtown. There we’d sit our tired legs down at a cafe, eat a big meal and take the bus all the way back home. It was our favorite date… so simple but so full of interesting people watching, nature exploration and places to appreciate the many sides of our town.

Sunrise over Santa Barbara

15×30″  oil on linen– So nice to watch the glimmer on the water as the sun rises over our fair seaside town on a morning between the fog cycles…  The kids are out for summer and it won’t be long before the last of the June Gloom evaporates and these beaches are full of people playing in the surf.

Big Sur Coast–Morning and Sundown

 Garrapata Dawn– 8×16″ oil on panel–  This was painted on a lovely Big Sur morning.  This is by far one of the prettiest parts of the planet I’ve ever experienced.  Late Afternoon Glimmer– 6×8″ oil on panel– This small study of light on the water was painted at Limekiln State Park where I slept in the overflow site, under the bridge at the edge of the sand listening to waves roll in all night and the rain falling at one point.

Santa Ynez River Flow

24×30″ oil on linen–  I created this studio painting from the sketch I posted a couple of weeks ago of a view off Paradise Road.  I love seeing the river which has been dry save for a few pools from the droughts over the past years flowing strong and steady.  The road is under swift water and closed at first crossing, but I can’t wait to get back there and do some exploring of the canyons and pools this spring.