What a cool little town! Here’s Santa Barbara resting at the base of its chaparral mountains that smell of bay and sage, with it’s red-tiled roofs and sunny gardens and the peaceful blue ocean protected by the Channel Islands. I tried to paint her portrait from an angle that accentuates her best features.
I set up my easel downtown a couple of days ago to paint the light and shadows and activity on State Street. It was a painting sprint: an experience in painting fleeting moments as people breeze by and the shadows lengthen every minute. Just as you start to get focused and absorbed in detail a person walking by will strike up a conversation, which is good for the art… it keeps you painting only what is essential before it is gone. At one point a crowd marched by in support of the people of Ukraine and protesting the Russian invasion. It is good to see people raising their voices and walking together in solidarity against this madness and senseless violence.
Every UCSB student knows this path well. I stepped just off the trail to paint this one and enjoyed snippets of conversation coming from passing college students… walking, pedaling and jogging on their way to enjoy the last hours of sunlight.
I’ve been running at Lake Los Carneros many mornings this year, watching how the rising sun makes our local mountains blush.
It has been a wonderful winter for clouds this year, hasn’t it? Hopefully we can coax some more water out of them before the dry season.
The acorn that sprouted and started to grow into this Coast Live Oak many, many mornings ago sure picked a good spot to sink its roots. I wonder if it knew how many people would visit it for picnics and to share its grand view of Cathedral and Arlington Peaks, the rolling green hills and the Santa Barbara harbor on the horizon. I spent a pleasant morning before the easel trying to catch the atmospheric golden light we get on green winter mornings here.
9×12″ oil on linen panel– Arlington Peak always offers artists a mountain anatomy lesson… It’s fascinating the way the sandstone bones reach up and offer structure while the sinuous muscles of earth overlap and fold, forming rippling hills and canyons. And on top of it all the color and texture of the living, sprouting, growing skin of the earth.
14×45″– Oil on Repurposed Cabinet Door– It has been a long time since I’ve painted on a repurposed cabinet door like this… I love the natural frame you get and the extreme vertical panorama that let’s you emphasize the scale of things, like this view of how our local sandstone peaks teeming with fragrant chaparral scrub catch moisture from the clouds and filter it down to our shady, sycamore and oak-filled canyons. You can see in the detail below I added a couple of travelers to enhance the sense of scale. These paintings look good on one of those skinny walls that you wouldn’t expect could hold a large painting.
12×24″ oil on linen– Thanks to the rains yesterday, this will be the last painting of the bluffs with the late summer, early autumn color palette. We’ll be moving into the greens and yellows of wild mustard and grasses. I appreciate both seasons– they both have their own beauty, colored by the memories we tie to a place we know well.
State Street Stroll– 16×20″ oil on linen– It turns out that streets are much nicer without cars on them. Since the pandemic pushed the restaurants and cafes out into the lanes feet and bikes are the only mode of transportation down State. We learned to slow down last year in so many ways. As the speed and busyness of life is ramping up, I hope we hold on to our inner and outer pedestrian mindset.
6×8″ oil on panel– Here are a couple of recent studies up local creeks…. I’m hoping to see some rain in the forecast to fill them up a little more this winter. Community rain dance, anyone?