The Lookout

The acorn that sprouted and started to grow into this Coast Live Oak many, many mornings ago sure picked a good spot to sink its roots. I wonder if it knew how many people would visit it for picnics and to share its grand view of Cathedral and Arlington Peaks, the rolling green hills and the Santa Barbara harbor on the horizon. I spent a pleasant morning before the easel trying to catch the atmospheric golden light we get on green winter mornings here.

Chaparral Watershed

14×45″– Oil on Repurposed Cabinet Door– It has been a long time since I’ve painted on a repurposed cabinet door like this… I love the natural frame you get and the extreme vertical panorama that let’s you emphasize the scale of things, like this view of how our local sandstone peaks teeming with fragrant chaparral scrub catch moisture from the clouds and filter it down to our shady, sycamore and oak-filled canyons. You can see in the detail below I added a couple of travelers to enhance the sense of scale. These paintings look good on one of those skinny walls that you wouldn’t expect could hold a large painting.

Yin Yang Gulls–Malibu

16×20″ oil on linen– The rock formations at El Matador State Beach are so much fun to paint– the sea sculpts them into fantastic forms undercut with tunnels and topped with hanging gardens of cliff plants that only the gulls can access. The title comes from the way the relative value of the gulls appears to change whether they are silhouetted against the dark rock or the bright sunset.

Flavors of Light

All paintings are 9×12″ oil on panel– Here are a few of the places I’ve been setting up the easel lately. Whether I’m on the fragrant path in the eucalyptus grove, on the cliffs looking at the precarious and fun hanging college apartments in Isla Vista or painting the gardens at San Ysidro Ranch, the light is always the main subject of a painting. I continue to grow more and more fascinated with the quality and colors of light and the visual and emotional effects they have on a scene.

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!

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.

Open Studio and Creek Light

Salamander Playground –16×20″ oil on linen

Hi Everyone! This Sunday is a casual Open Studio from 10am -3pm in my backyard studio at 1128 Via Regina. I’ll have my paintings out and arranged by size and would love to chat and share my work with anyone who wants to come by! If anyone is interested in a belated Mother’s Day gift, I’m throwing in a free 6×8″ painting with any purchase over $500.

I saw an auspicious friendly rattlesnake as I hiked Rattlesnake Canyon for this view a week ago. The summer is going to be dry, but the water is still flowing, at least in some parts of the creek. It is a challenge to catch the changing light in a dappled situation. Look at the two images below to see how quickly the light and shadow parts of a scene like this can swap places. It’s comparable to painting a portrait of people playing musical chairs. I made the small sketch you can see at the top of the easel to remember where I wanted the shadows to be.

Painting Seasons

Portrait of Santa Barbara– 8×16″ oil on linen panel– $500

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!

Creek Sounds– 12×16″ oil on linen panel– $750
Creek Light in Progress…

Daytime Moon–Ellwood

Daytime Moon– 18×36″ oil on linen–$1800

Whatever your hobby or love is, I encourage you to try a month of doing it every day. These are things I’ve learned making a painting a day this month of September:

  1. Some of our best ideas come when we don’t overthink and just respond to what we are experiencing in the moment.
  2. You don’t have to wash your brushes if you use them every day– they don’t have a chance to dry out.
  3. There is something worth painting no matter where you are.

Painting is a little more like running than it is like riding a bike… You know how people say “its like riding a bike” which means you never forget how to do it. This is somewhat true with painting, but if you do it more regularly, it is kind of like you get into art shape and it is much easier.

in progress…

Campus Point– 12×24″ oil on panel– $750
Lizard’s Mouth and the Sea of Clouds– 16×20″– $750