When Lauren and I were first married we used to spend most of a day walking from the distant eucalyptus groves, out over the bluffs, around the slough, through IV and UCSB, down the bike trail, out on More Mesa, through the horse trails in Hope Ranch, through westside and finally downtown. There we’d sit our tired legs down at a cafe, eat a big meal and take the bus all the way back home. It was our favorite date… so simple but so full of interesting people watching, nature exploration and places to appreciate the many sides of our town.
As I made this small painting, good memories from college of running out from Isla Vista, around the slough and up the path to the Ellwood bluffs came back to me. It was a new exotic landscape for me back in 1993 when I started at UCSB, but now I know these trails like the back of my hand. Funny how a place becomes a part of you as you become a part of a place.
It is fascinating when you paint a white object to notice all of the different colors that reflect into the shadows. You can see here where the colored light from the red rooftops, the blue sky and green grass influence the shadows.
Just a typical summer afternoon on the Ellwood Bluffs… I love the filtered light that comes through the windblown eucalyptus trees in their sweet groves at the edge of the cliffs. Hope you can us at the Open Studio Event this weekend!
This portrait of our local mountains was painted while my daughter was chasing the ball around the field with her team. I love how the contours start to pop out on our south-facing hills as the sun dips to the west.
I finished a larger studio painting from the backpacking sketches on my hike this summer I wanted to catch a moment that stood out when the sun was just setting at Disappointment Lake and trying to decide what the opposite of disappointment is. (The made-up story in my head is that the lake was named by a bitter miner who either found gold and didn’t want others to look or didn’t find gold and was genuinely bummed. Either way– its a lovely lake that I hope will continue to disappoint those who like to profit off of exploiting wilderness areas.)
Want to see it and the other paintings I’ve created this year in person? My open studio is coming up the first weekend in September and I’d love to see you!
Half Moon Lake– Sierra National Forest– gouache backpacking sketch– I’m guessing this lake got its name for the unusual crescent shaped mountain behind it which would hold a half-moon shaped snowfield in the spring. The trail barely trodden and hard to find getting up here… most days of the year you’d probably have the lake to yourself.
This place was rainbow trout paradise and a fly-fisherman’s dream. I made a donation to the local mosquito population, which in turn no doubt fed some fish. If only I had my pole instead of art supplies the relationship could have gone full circle. This creek is a tributary to the river in the other image.
I went backpacking for a few days last week up in a new pocket of the Sierras for me. I was intrigued by some of the lake names: Disappointment, Hell-for-Sure, Mosquito. Sometimes the less inviting the lake name, the more spectacular the lake… someone, in naming it, wanted to keep it from becoming the overcrowded Yosemite Valley. I couldn’t have been any less disappointed with Disappointment Lake and if that’s what Hell-for-Sure looks like, I know where I’m going. They were right about one thing, though. The mosquitos were hungry everywhere this season, as are all the late season wildflowers from the heavy snows this year.
Lauren and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this month doing the thing we love most– walking in the woods. This time it was the redwoods in Big Basin and Butano State Parks north of Santa Cruz. I’m so lucky to be married to such a thoughtful, fun and beautiful fellow adventurer. I painted her in admiring the canopy from a fallen log in one of the oil sketches below.