Snowmelt Journey— 15×30” oil on panel— This is the result of the other canvas that I hiked up to Lamarck Lake. I loved the way the warm morning light on the cliff wall reflected into the rocks across the creek and the meandering path the water takes on its journey to the lake.
This is probably the hardest earned outdoor painting I have made yet… It started with carrying all of my backpacking gear, oil painting gear, easel and two large canvasses a couple thousand feet up to Lamarck Lake. It wasn’t the most practical venture, but I had romantic visions of standing before this breathtaking view with a two foot by three foot canvas over two afternoons of painting. The first day, the wind nearly blew this sail of a canvas and my entire easel into the dirt. I lashed the easel to a heavy rock below and a pine tree windward and held onto it with my left hand (to keep myself from blowing away.) It wasn’t the peaceful experience I was imagining to say the least and the painting made a very effective mosquito trap, with hundreds of the little guys finding themselves impaled in shades of blue and turquoise. In the future, if they ever need to clone a foolish artist, they can extract my DNA Jurassic-Park-Style from this painting.
Day two I spent exploring the tributaries to this lake and anticipating painting like a storm tossed sailer again. Rather, there was a pleasant breeze all afternoon… the experience I was hoping for. To top it off, I made it back to the trailhead without tripping and face planting on my wet painting once.
I spent a little over a week tramping around the sierras with my family and then solo for a few nights. Here are some of the gouache backpacking sketches made in a watercolor sketchbook I brought along. Is there any place on earth as stunning and magical as the Sierras? I know there are– we live on a planet with such amazing diversity and beauty and everybody should have their own favorite environment. We’re lucky to be alive with this awesome earth to explore, aren’t we?
I love the high elevation pockets of pines that hikers can find in the Los Padres National Forest. Just an hour and a half drive from Goleta and a few miles of scratchy chaparral and a couple thousand feet of elevation gain and you find yourself above six thousand feet and wondering if you are in the Sierras. When I got to the top, I waved across the valley to my folks in Tahoe at the same elevation, but 300 miles away.
I’ve been fortunate to go backpacking almost every weekend this past month. These are all small (about 5×8″) gouache sketches made during hikes in the Sespe Wilderness. It has been so good to be experiencing all of the wildflowers and flowing creeks of spring.
The pencil is there for scale. The crack in the sidewalk reminded me of what they say– that when you find a fault, you shouldn’t dwell on it. But here we are dwelling in earthquake country and quite happy about it. I had fun backpacking Memorial Day weekend with a fun group, several of whom are geologists and point out really cool things about the shape of the land and the fossils hiding in plain sight. Here are a couple of watercolor and gouache sketches that I snuck in between the rains.