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.

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.

More Summer Backpacking Sketches

I love looking back at this sketchbook from backpacking this summer.  When you take the time to sit down and make a drawing or a painting of something, all your senses are absorbed.  The sketchbook becomes a time machine and can flash you right back to that vivid moment… even years later as I’ve found with my old college sketchbooks.

The Taste of a Place

20×48″ oil on canvas– I sketched this from a random dirt road up in the wine country near Los Olivos.  One nice thing about wine is people really stop and savor it at the end of a day and to really try to experience the flavor.  It could only taste better outdoors where it was grown and wine tasters are probably trying to bottle the location as much as the beverage… like this bottle which will surely have undertones of bitter oak, dry autumn grass, a rolling mellow smoothness  and some notes of bright golden sunlight.

Afternoon Meadow Glow

24×30″ oil on canvas– The landscape designers and gardeners at the Botanic Gardens are amazing artists… the palette of wildflowers and native plants changes colors so many times over the course of a year!  Next Saturday SCAPE is having a benefit show for the gardens.

Liquid Light

25 1/2 x 34″– oil on canvas– I had my dad in mind when I made this painting.  He loves to drop a fly into small mountain streams like this and catch and release the native trout.  Can you spot the three fish swimming in the painting?

Also a reminder that this weekend is my open studio and art sale.  If you would like to come by it is  at 1128 Via Regina this Labor Day Weekend.  Saturday and Sunday 11 am-5 pm, Monday  11-2pm.  I will have special sale prices on paintings for the weekend and the first buyers of paintings over $500 will get a free 8×10 casein painting.  I’ll have my easel set up and be doing a demo over the weekend as well.  Hope to see you there!

 

Marmot Paradise and Painting Process

Oil on Canvas 25.5×34″  –This is the first backpacking sketch that I’ve turned into a finished oil painting.  Lauren named this place on the east side of Sawtooth Pass “Marmot Paradise” for all the happy groundhogs who call this place home who were whistling, running amok and eating the vibrant grasses in these high meadows. I took pictures of the original sketch and my backpacking painting kit so people can see the setup.  I used a lightweight sheet of corrugated plastic as a laptop desk with a clip-on water container.  Notice the wet paper towel that I squeeze my paints onto… it wicks water up into the paints to keep the dry mountain air from solidifying them.   No stand up easel this trip, but after hiking fifteen miles over a pass, who wants to stand?