The Alcove

18×36″ oil on canvas– This is possibly my favorite spot in the Los Padres National Forest.  It lies on an exposed spine of sandstone that travels for miles over the landscape.  For those who explore off the trail, there are all types of natural history mysteries waiting to be discovered, from amazing geology, plants, bears, cougars, birds and signs of the people who called this place home.

Rae Lakes Splendor

16×20″ oil on canvas– This is one of my favorite spots on the John Muir Trail– which is saying something because there are so many gorgeous lakes strung like turquoise beads on the path from Whitney to Yosemite.  But these lakes just below timber line at the base of several granite peaks and the play of light on them is dramatic.  Have you hiked this section of trail?  You might recognize Glen Pass in the top right corner.

Magic Hour at Devereux Point

30×42″ oil on canvas– This was a commission for a friendly, adventurous family who wanted to take home a piece of Goleta.  I was excited when they chose this spot– it is really special to our family as well.  I wanted to capture the magic hour, that short sweet time of shifting colors that happens in the few moments before the sun drops over the horizon.  This was a big studio painting that I made from a small plein air painting that you can see below.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I’m grateful to all of you for sharing my art adventures with me.  

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.  

Changing Moods- Ellwood Bluffs

14×18″ oil on canvas– Every day of the year is a sunny day…  if you can only get above the clouds.  I love days like this when just a few luminous spotlights find their way through the overcast… little patches of brilliant sunlight on an otherwise grey landscape.   Just like with moods, you can appreciate the sunny even more when you also know the melancholy.

Late Afternoon, Early Autumn

15×30″ oil on canvas panel–  The warm and cool color notes on the bluffs are beautiful in the afternoon this time of year.  Isn’t this a great season?  Things start to change really dramatically as the  nights are growing and the coolness, wetness and crispness of winter starts eclipse the warm, dry, hazy summer.