The creeks are flowing beautifully after that last storm and I saw that there is a chance of rain in the forecast for this weekend. These sketches are from Cold Springs and Rattlesnake Canyons.
I’m happy to see that many of you fellow Coronavirus recluses are finding more free time to appreciate the simple pleasures in life: hiking up creeks, dusting off old hobbies, playing games with family… How are you making the best of your corona-experience?
I love this chair. I found it broken and abandoned a couple of years ago and patched it up with some wood glue and nails. It reminds me of the chair Van Gogh painted when he was in Arles. I think I might do a series of paintings of it in different locations. I like how having the chair in the image gives the viewer a place to rest. Here viewer– have a seat in my backyard living room and I’ll make you a cup of tea from that hummingbird sage under the peach tree.
I turned my recent plein air study of Lake Lose Carneros into a larger studio painting. I’m including a photo from in the studio of the two next to each other so you can see what can be changed when you have more time to think about shapes and colors. The purple flowers growing on the fields out there are wild radish and the yellow flowers are of course mustard greens. Both are delicious and in this time when people are stocking up on food rations, it’s good to know that there are always fresh greens growing around. I like to eat the pods and flowers of the the radish plants and the young mustard leaves and shoots can be sautéed with a little garlic and lemon like you would their domesticated cousin, broccoli. I hope you are all staying healthy and finding ways to connect with nature.
I’ve been out painting small studies a couple of times this week. I feel like I see way more people out hiking an walking than usual, which is one of the silver linings of the crazy situation we find ourselves in. People are home from work and doing things they haven’t had time for in a while. It’s easy to practice “social distancing” on a hiking trail or by the beach, so if you haven’t yet, get out there and see the creeks flowing, the wildflowers blooming and listen for bird songs you haven’t heard since last spring.
These are a couple of recent small 6×8” paintings of architecture in downtown Santa Barbara. The first is of the Presidio adobe. I love how the windows in the tower were open so you could see through to the mountains behind. The other is of the Santa Barbara Courthouse at dusk catching the warm colors of the setting sun.
24×30” oil on canvas— Cave painting always feels really elemental and makes me think of the first artists thousands of years ago creating the first art galleries. That’s the railroad trestle above Gaviota State beach below the horizon. If you’ve never taken the hike up here there are several caves to explore and its well worth the climb.
Imagine walking this path through Cold Springs Canyon and feeling the warmth of the sun, then the cool of the shade and then the radiance around the bend again… I love that feeling and its what this painting is about: passing through shadow areas and experiencing the coolness and dark and then stepping again into the sunlight.
I was running on Camino Cielo early a couple of weekends ago, high above the fog and overcast and happy to watch the sun spill over the top and warm the east sides of the mountains. I was struggling with the sunlit sides of the mountain on this painting, trying to put too much detail in but losing the feeling of the radiant warmth. In the end, I just wove some strokes of pure color that I’ll include a detail of. I always appreciate paintings that look somewhat lifelike from a distance, but upon walking up to them image dissolve into abstract strokes of paint.
I usually don’t like to include the oil platforms when I paint this coastline, preferring a clear horizon and the idea that we won’t always be relying on fossil fuels. Platform Holly here is abandoned and rusty these days and will be removed in the coming years. There is some beauty and history in this rusty ghost ship. It would be nice if Venoco was cleaning up their toys after profiting off of them for all this time, but they have strategically declared bankruptcy so that the California tax payers will foot the bill.
I drive a car. I love the freedom of being able to get around to so many amazing places. At the same time I understand that slowing climate change requires us to stop combusting fossil fuels as soon as possible. It is a difficult time to navigate when to sacrifice the conveniences of modern life and the adventure of traveling to see beautiful spots on this lovely earth while at the same time making sure the ecosystem on this planet is balanced and livable for our kids and grandkids and for theirs… There are a lot of positive changes in our awareness as a culture happening and simultaneously a lot of old fossil fools in business and government staying strategically blind. I’m sure many of you feel the same inner and outer conflicts as well. Life is beautiful and the greatest joys are simple— here’s to all of us moving in the right direction.
The monarchs are passing through Goleta on their 3000 mile migration from Canada to Mexico. It has been a rough few years for them and the eucalyptus trees they roost in because of the recent drought, but hopefully they’ll be making a comeback after last year’s rains. I learned that they fly 50-100 miles in a single day and one was recorded flying over 250 miles in a single day… amazing, no?