A small painting that I snuck into a busy week… I went to Goleta Beach and realized there were dozens of paintings to be made looking in all directions. I painted several of them in my mind, imagining compositions, colors and designs made of imaginary brushstrokes– I daydream like that a lot when I haven’t painted for a few days. If only my real paintings were as successful as the ones I imagine.
Here are a couple recent paintings of trees. Above I painted where the sea breeze rustles the eucalyptus scented leaves, dogs rest in the dappled shade on a hot day. The old folks climb the cliffside trees overlooking the beaches and young kids watch them and think about how it will be to be old again.
For the image below, I was walking around the Santa Ynez mission looking for something to paint and was drawn to this natural arbor of oaks that makes a small tunnel of shade for the path that descends into a valley. I simplified this one down to the most basic composition, shapes and design. I have several works in the Oak Group exhibit at the Faulkner Gallery. The opening is this Thursday from 5:30-7:30. We’d love to see you there!
The eastern morning light spills over the cliffs at More Mesa in the mornings as though it is trying to find its way to the beach below.
What a cool little town! Here’s Santa Barbara resting at the base of its chaparral mountains that smell of bay and sage, with it’s red-tiled roofs and sunny gardens and the peaceful blue ocean protected by the Channel Islands. I tried to paint her portrait from an angle that accentuates her best features.
These are both paintings that I’ve made recently, when I have the luxury of a couple of free hours to head outdoors, relax, and study the way light falls on something beautiful. The top one was from the path that goes up the hill on the west side of Haskell’s Beach. The image below was painted in Tucker’s Grove, trying to capture the wonderful quality of filtered forest light while appreciating the oxygen it produces.
We know that last moment of light that brings everybody outside while simultaneously bringing them inside themselves. We grow silent like at a performance and contemplate the day behind and the one to come as the sky, illuminated by the light of our favorite star, fades through a spectrum of colors from green to yellow to orange to pink. I particularly like this brilliant tangerine shade and the warm light it casts on the surrounding landscape.
I cropped out the sky and mountains and some great oak trees on this one to focus on this small mossy green falls in Cold Springs Canyon… I didn’t crop close enough to show you all the little grey frogs blending in perfectly with the color of the stones.
In the painting below I drove to the valley to paint grapevines for the Vino De Suenos fundraiser for People Helping People in Santa Ynez. I forgot that grapes have no leaves this time of year and look more like twigs, but these horses obliged to let me paint their portrait instead.
We spent a couple of days exploring slot canyons and dry washes in Death Valley over break. And we spent a couple of evenings in a collapsed tent with constant thirty-mile-an-hour winds flapping across our backs. The desolate beauty in the day made the sleep-deprived nights worth it. It is a geologists dream here, to see a multi-colored barren landscape stripped almost to the bones (or to the stones) of life. And yet life is there. We found hidden treasures: wildflowers, a jackrabbit, ravens, lizards and colorful moths hiding in the sheltered spaces.
This is of the view from West Camino Cielo in the light of the full moon. These flowers have many names and are shrouded in mystery. It was a sacred medicinal plant for the Chumash who lived here, but is deadly poisonous when used without traditional knowledge. It is pollenated in the moonlight by the huge Hawk Moth, a mysterious insect nearly as big across as the large Datura flowers with a four-inch long coiled tongue for drinking their starlit nectar.
The painting above was created from imagination using this daytime view of the same location I painted on site last weekend as a reference…
Lots of reds and oranges here right now at the Goleta Train Depot where there are poppies sprouting between the railroad ties and the rusty patina of time on the antique boxcar. I was daydreaming about an earlier Goleta as I painted this one. I learned it was back in 1901 when these structures were built (though not on their current site). This was a stop when the first rail lines connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles were built. It would be seven years later before the Model T Ford was developed and cars became more prevalent. What a difference a century makes…