Recent Paintings Blog

Banner Breathing, Garnet’s Grandeur

24×36″ oil on linen– I’ve heard people say that mountains breathe and what they mean was vividly clear to me camping below Banner Peak a couple of weeks ago. Sitting there painting it in gouache (you can see the sketch in my last post) there would be about five to ten minutes of stillness and warm sun. Then, from the direction of the peak I would hear the roar of cold air rushing down its sides… the bands of wind chop would spread across the lake and I’d grip my painting board as Banner’s roaring, icy exhale washed past me for a couple minutes. The rhythm repeated for most of the afternoon.

I was happy to see those glaciers, though shrinking dramatically every year, are still holding on and feeding the San Joaquin river below.

Sierra Backpacking Paintings: part 2

This was a beautiful hike, making paintings between hiking passes, swimming in lakes and eating cereal in epic breakfast locations. I’m working on a large oil painting based on this gouache backpacking painting of Garnet Lake and Banner Peak. There is so much richness and beauty out there…. does anybody know what bird has the most melodic song in the Sierras with a series of sad notes followed by metallic trills? It’s song enchanted me several times but I could never lay eyes on it.

I’ll be having an open studio show on Labor Day weekend if you’d like to see these and other recent paintings in person.

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

Warm Breeze–Ellwood Bluffs

18×38″ oil on canvas

I’m teaching landscape painting to my students this week and as I look around at what they are creating, I’m struck by the fact that arrangements of light and colors have emotional tones to them. I guess other senses do this too. For example, smell is said to be the sense that links most closely to memory and that’s why certain smells can transport you back to your childhood. I think that certain qualities of light and color are similarly evocative, connecting us back to past moods.

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.