Other titles I considered for this one were “Rent Free”, “Rock Stack Studio” and “An Abundance of Windows.” I wanted to put the viewer in the shade and breezy shelter of one of the beach shacks at Ellwood… those wonderful communal forms of real estate that we all can inhabit for a while when we find our paths meandering up the coast. Hung on the wall, it looks like a window out to a beach shack porch.
I saw several gems of lakes like this one backpacking this summer. There is no actual trail going here, but there are alpine creek drainages to follow or talus field passes that take you off of the most common routes and let you experience hiking in a different way. In some ways, there is more energy in way finding and more mindfulness of steps that aren’t graded and switchbacked for stock travel… and for this you get the reward of recognizing how many little secret meadows, glens, lakes, tarns, granite art forms and other surprises are tucked into the rocky arms of the Sierra Nevada. This little lake sits on the eastern flank of Seven Gables which you can see beginning to rise on the right side of the canvas.
Here are a couple of more moody paintings of lakes from my backpacking trip last week in the high eastern Sierras. It rained every day. It was also sunny every day. Often both were happening at the same time. Under the changing skies I saw wildflowers, bighorn sheep, lightning flashes and felt a flood of memories as the mountain smells were intensified by the rain.
I was dizzy and wobbly with vertigo as I painted this one. I wished I could have stayed a couple hours on the peak to decipher the distant peaks that stretched for what looked like hundreds of miles before me, but cumulonimbus clouds were materializing by the minute and I wanted lower ground before the lightning started. I had a healthy amount of fear… can you sense the urgency in the sketch?
I was able to get down to this lake at the northern base of the peak and make this sketch before the raindrops fell. Dramatic holes of sunlight in a mostly clouded sky created spotlights on a dazzling stage. Every now and then they would find me and I’d be in the sun for a few short moments as rain fell in the distance.
This fallen spruce tree has become a landscape in itself as the forest reclaims it and it’s decomposition feeds ferns and mosses, beetles and butterflies and even young trees seeding in its layers of life. If you want to experience life after death, check out the rainforest. Here plants grow out of plants and embrace trees and rotting wood like sprouting verdant carpet. Since almost all the organic material is in the canopy rather than in the soil in a rainforest, a dead tree fall means the start of a new fountain of living greenery. It rained the day before we got here, but we got to see the rainforest in sunlight!
Here are a couple of new ones recently off the easel. I painted a nice misty morning view from the cliffs above Hendry’s on the Douglas Preserve a couple days ago, watching the people on the beach play and walk around not unlike the ants that have been in our kitchen. : )
I also made another neighborhood painting with two small panels of a corner on Valerio Street and once again enjoyed chatting with the friendly neighbors and hearing a little bit of the story of place. It is interesting how this type of conversation is often about a tree… either one that’s there or one that used to be. Trees make a neighborhood, don’t they?
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.