Sierra Backpacking Paintings: Part 1

There is a place in Mammoth that is really special to my family and growing up in Tahoe, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to walk there. A couple weeks ago I finally connected those dots, leaving a 180 mile trail from my parents’ backyard to our favorite camping spot. I was hiking long days, but still managed to make a gouache painting each day. I had fun crossing paths with the main bubble of northbound PCT hikers floating on the trail on their way up to Canada… one of these days I want to hike and paint that whole journey!

View from a Hammock

24×36″ oil on linen

I’m doing a painting demo at the Wilding Museum in Solvang this Sunday from 11-2. I’ll be showing how to develop a painting from a sketch using oils. Come on by and chat for a bit!

When Lauren and I were first dating I asked her what would be the ultimate painting that I could make for her. She said she’d love the view when you are laying on your back looking up into a tree watching the ways the light filters through the stained-glass leaves and the layers of depth. Wow, I thought, that’s a tough one… I’ve been trying ever since and I’m getting closer to the vision. Only in her mind it is a Sycamore Tree and this is an oak, so I’ll keep dancing around this theme.

I thought it would be fun to create a kaleidoscopic image from this painting… would make a good Grateful Dead album cover wouldn’t it?

Still Pool, Splash of Light

20×30″ oil on canvas

The first morning sunbeams, filtered through the Coast Live Oak canopy, illuminate one of the many secret deeper pools up a local canyon. The salamanders and steelhead know these narrow, deep spots where they retreat amidst a shrinking world of water through the dry season. How grateful they must be when the rains bring new life, space and flow to the canyon.

Sisquoc Backpacking Sketches pt. 2

People shared that on some devices the photos from my last post looked really overexposed and dark. I think I’ve found the problem and am using a new file format, so hopefully this will work better. If you’d like to see the corrected images from the last post you can find it here.

We went hunting waterfalls this trip and found some beautiful ones in the backcountry canyons. Here are their portraits, painted between swims, as well as a couple of colored pencil drawings of sycamores and the skull of a young buck.

Sisquoc Backpacking Sketches Pt. 1

Acrylic on Paper– Sisquoc Geology Lesson

I went backpacking with some friends along the Sisquoc a week ago… the creek is still flowing and it is a ribbon oasis of birds, dragonflies and wildflowers in a relatively dry chaparral landscape. I painted these creek portraits with acrylics, using a bit of the sweet Sisquoc water to make them flow. I’ll include a shot below of my backpacking painting set-up… a light aluminum tripod anchored by a rock to keep the wind at bay, a cardboard pallette with plastic water jar, and brushes. (Maybe I should saw the handles shorter to be more lightweight next time.)

Lightweight Backpacking set-up

State Street Stroll (corrected post)

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. 

Open Studio this Sunday!

Open Studio this Sunday


10am to 3pm

1128 Via Regina, Santa Barbara

Everyone welcome!

I would love to see you! Come by to say “hi” and explore oil landscape paintings of Santa Barbara and the Sierras. You are welcome just to look, but if you want a piece for your home, I have paintings in a variety of prices and sizes from $180 and up. I’m giving away free 6×8″ paintings this weekend for people who buy pieces 11×14 and larger. Follow the signs and the sound of chickens to the backyard studio… I hope to see you then!

Morning’s Edge

18×24″ oil on linen– This was painted as the edge of morning advanced last shadow edges of evening, from the edge of the cliffs on the edge of Spring. I was thinking of edges in my painting, both crisp and defined and soft and atmospheric as I made it. On edges there is excitement–a little danger perhaps– and the view is always better.

Spring Mustard Bloom

14×18″ oil on linen panel –Ellwood Spring– $700

Spring on the Jesusita Trail–8×10″ oil on panel– “The hiiillls are alive, with the sound of muuuusssiiiiiiic.” Doesn’t the mustard bloom make you want to run and spin down the trail? Our landscape is a little pokier than Switzerland, though, so sometimes the song devolves into swearing when one finds the wrong end of sharp sticks and poison oak. But don’t let that stop you… Spring is in the air and there are reasons to start feeling free.

Spring on the Jesusita Trail– 8×10″ oil on panel– $400