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.
I painted this one from memory, which was the only way to create it this year, with a some sadness and also some hope. The sadness is that the Monarch Butterflies did not show up this winter to their wintering site in the Ellwood Eucalyptus groves. Their numbers have been shrinking in recent years as a result of drought and climate change, loss of habitat and wildfires. I can remember as recently as a decade ago laying on my back under the trees and looking in awe at the shear number of orange butterflies fluttering overhead and weighing down tree boughs in clumps the size of potato sacks.
The hope is that they are just passing through a difficult spell and will return again. In the decade or two that we’ve watched the numbers of butterflies diminish and watched the surrounding area grow with shopping areas and a housing track, we’ve also seen the concept of “climate change” turn from a fringe environmentalist concern to a mainstream observation of reality. Joni Mitchell was singing fifty years ago about “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone…” I’m hoping the winter monarch experience isn’t gone for good, but just a reality check that is part of the waking up to the fragile beauty and delicate balance of our one and only planet.
15×30″ oil on linen– When you paint waves from observation, you are literally taking details from dozens of unique waves, all breaking in their own particular patterns of glass and spray and blending them together into one wave, frozen in time, that pretty much sums up what you noticed from many. It is hard… I sometimes wish I could pause time, but when I do so with a camera, I’m never satisfied. There is more motion in the amalgamation.
In the Sierras and other alpine regions this type of light is called alpenglow, when the last rays of sun warm the granite peaks a shade of pink. Does anyone know if there is a synonym for it if you are at sea level? “Twilight” was all the Thesaurus had to offer. And “aurora,” but I think that means dawn rather than sunset. I had fun playing with impressionistic effects on this one, putting a variety of colors side by side to try to get the feeling of that warm glowing light.
Below is a small 6×8″ plein air study I made one evening to try to catch the colors, which only last about ten minutes.
I love the ocean’s rock sculptures, carved by centuries of erosion, that are arranged on El Matador State Beach… I’m guessing the beach is named because this big one looks like an enormous bull charging out of the surf? The bull’s back is a big elevated garden on stilts for the gulls to look down on their beach from.
This second painting was painted from high up on the ridge above Corral Canyon looking out towards Point Dume. There’s nothing more fun than hiking on a trail I’ve never been on before or painting a beautiful view for the first time.
Iceplant is red,
The ocean is blue,
In high tide or low,
Ellwood I sure love you…
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Poppies are popping up in the meadow at the SB Botanic Gardens and even through a mask you can smell spring in the air. Valentines day is coming and the birds and the bees are doing what the birds and the bees do. Hopefully we can squeeze a little more rain from some passing clouds before the calendar pages slip through our fingers.
Creek Sounds– 12×16″ oil on linen panel– Do you know what time of year it is? Duck season? Wabbit season? No… it’s creek painting season! (If you are under thirty you probably missed that reference… sorry). It is so nice to hear all the echoing watery sounds reverberating through the canyons– I love to paint creeks! It is also the season when I get to use more shades of the color green here in Santa Barbara where the summer and fall palette is more in shades of tan and gold. I hope you all are finding some time to play outdoors!
I was thinking about things that move in waves as I made this small painting. You know… light, ocean energy, sound, emotions, wind through a banner, fans in a stadium. The interesting thing about waves is they flow beneath the surface– a wave is energy moving through things that are otherwise staying still. It was just a passing wave of thought painting from the cliffs at Ellwood…
These are a few recent small 6×8″ paintings made while hiking on our local trails. ($250 each) It is fun to work on this scale… you learn how to simplify an image to its most essential parts. I’m looking forward to some rain this next week to get these creeks flowing well again and hydrate the landscape. Enjoy your weekend everyone!