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.

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.

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.

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.

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.