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.  

What the Egret Knows

12×36″ oil on canvas– What the egret knows is that this is the place to be when the sun is sinking low in the west.  Mountain views, beautiful reflections, interesting trees– what more could you ask for.  The one in the distance posed for quite a while in the shallows as she waited to snag a frog or fish for dinner.

Sign Post–Santa Cruz Island

16×20″  oil on canvas– I had a Georgia O’Keefe moment painting this cow and Channel Island Fox skull I found on a fence post on a damp and misty morning on Santa Cruz Island last spring.  I love this area– just a short boat ride from the mainland and it feels like you are transported back in time a hundred years.  I’m getting a couple of Channel Islands paintings together for an Oak Group benefit show for the Nature Conservancy next month.

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.

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.