This is a small 6×8″ oil sketch I made on New Years eve hiking with my family. We went to a place that out of cultural respect and a sense of conservation I won’t name. I have several times painted or sketched at rock art sites and always feel a sense of awe and wonder admiring the art of these native Californians. I love seeing the mortars nearby where the artists ground their pigments and it is always a longing and stretch of the imagination to travel back in time and picture them being made and to try to understand their meanings.
I’ve got just the thing for fellow hiker artists who like to wander with very little weight and then pull out their oils and make a quick little haiku oil sketch. At under five pounds for the whole set-up, it even offers protection for the wet painting on the hike down. I’m really happy with this portable thumb box I built out of an old wooden palette. It eliminates the need for an easel and can hold two wet paintings for a full day of exploring and artmaking. I haven’t ventured too far with it… yet… but here you can see some of the small 6×6″ paintings that I’ve made so far with it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.