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…

Fernald Point from Ortega Hill

12×24″ oil on panel– From this perch on Ortega Hill, you can see three points jutting out to the north. In the foreground Fernald Point encloses Shark Cove, which I’ve heard is named because in the mid 1800’s they used to butcher cattle nearby and then toss the remnants to the sea.  Behind that is Hammond’s Point in the mid ground and way back there is Ledbetter Point at the far end of the Santa Barbara Harbor.  For a painter, it’s a great lesson in atmospheric perspective, seeing the colors and contrast cool and fade as they fall into the distance.

Up a Canyon

8×10″ oil on canvas– The water is still flowing beautifully through our local canyons and the salamanders and frogs are going strong despite the wildfires and floods last year.  When the weather gets warm most people head to the beach.  There is always also a nice breeze and some cool pools up a canyon.

Watercolor Sketches– Santa Barbara Backcountry

The pencil is there for scale.  The crack in the sidewalk reminded me of what they say– that when you find a fault, you shouldn’t dwell on it.  But here we are dwelling in earthquake country and quite happy about it.   I had fun backpacking Memorial Day weekend with a fun group, several of whom are geologists and point out really cool things about the shape of the land and the fossils hiding in plain sight.  Here are a couple of watercolor and gouache sketches that I snuck in between the rains.

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.

Butterfly Beach

18×24″ oil on canvas– Thanks to all the people who brought beach umbrellas that nice afternoon at Butterfly Beach.   They were just the right colors and in just the right spots to create a strong design… The orange frisbee was a nice touch as well.  And you all wore the perfect swimsuit colors to add accents– nice work everybody.   Now, if you would just hold still for a couple hours and not move around so much…   : )

Hiking to Seven Falls– Painting Process

I’m excited to share this large oil painting (36×48″) that I created from memory, plein air sketches and photos of the hike up the creek to Seven Falls.  I really wanted to try to show the feeling of coming out of the golden dappled-light of the oak canyon to the sun-drenched opening where the rocks and falls rise up.  I had to invent the view a bit since the trees and geography get in the way as you are hiking up… it’s a truthful lie.   I’m including some process images for the painters out there who would like to see how a painting like this develops. It starts with a sketch… I was thinking of the composition on this one as being kind of like a tunnel where the focal point of the cliffs and falls is circled by a ring of trees.   My first block-in is really general with simple shapes that describe big features in the landscape.  I was thinking of having the color palette on this one be triadic, with warm versions of green, violet and orange.  The progress of the painting is starting to bring things out of the “fog” and describe them in smaller and smaller shapes.  I’ll attach a couple of details below.  Enjoy your day!

Riparian Boulder Hop

24×36″ oil on linen–  It’s raining right now as I post this giving the promise of even more days this spring for rock hopping up our local creeks to find boulder falls and pools like this lit by sunlight filtered through the oak and bay laurel canopy… I threw some poison oak into this one.  I’ve had it quite a bit this winter from mushroom hunting this winter.   Although it would be nice to just walk cross country without having to always be mindful of what twigs you are touching, I’d never wish this plant not to be there.  I think of it as kind of a protector in the forest,  making us watch where we step and being sure there are places always for wildlife to hide and for people to not be.   And besides– it adds to the fun challenge of a rock scramble obstacle course to have some poison oak “hot lava” spots…