Up a Canyon

8×10″ oil on canvas– The water is still flowing beautifully through our local canyons and the salamanders and frogs are going strong despite the wildfires and floods last year.  When the weather gets warm most people head to the beach.  There is always also a nice breeze and some cool pools up a canyon.

Hiking to Seven Falls– Painting Process

I’m excited to share this large oil painting (36×48″) that I created from memory, plein air sketches and photos of the hike up the creek to Seven Falls.  I really wanted to try to show the feeling of coming out of the golden dappled-light of the oak canyon to the sun-drenched opening where the rocks and falls rise up.  I had to invent the view a bit since the trees and geography get in the way as you are hiking up… it’s a truthful lie.   I’m including some process images for the painters out there who would like to see how a painting like this develops. It starts with a sketch… I was thinking of the composition on this one as being kind of like a tunnel where the focal point of the cliffs and falls is circled by a ring of trees.   My first block-in is really general with simple shapes that describe big features in the landscape.  I was thinking of having the color palette on this one be triadic, with warm versions of green, violet and orange.  The progress of the painting is starting to bring things out of the “fog” and describe them in smaller and smaller shapes.  I’ll attach a couple of details below.  Enjoy your day!

Up a Creek without a Paintbrush

That would be horrible– I try never to get stuck up a creek without my art supplies.    It makes me so happy to be exploring our local watersheds and seeing the waterfalls flowing like the good old days.   I’ve been making lots of plein air sketches and working on a large studio painting of one of my favorite sweet boulder falls.  What I love about our little canyons in the oaks is how small patches of sunlight illuminate transparent pools here and there.  It is not an easy effect to get and I’m playing around with different ways of doing it.   These small paintings are both 6×8″.  

Pockets of Light and Water

16×20″ oil on canvas– The pools up Cold Springs Canyon still have some flow and are teeming with tadpoles, frogs, water striders and those big flat underwater beetles that paddle around… you don’t need an ocean to go tide pooling.  When I came up the creek the tree windows were just right that it was like a spotlight was on the mossy waterfall.

Trout Creek at Sundown

16×20″ Oil on Canvas– This bend in the creek was down the hill in my backyard growing up.  I have known it for  thirty-three years now.  This winter the meadow flooded and I got to see first hand how oxbows form and a creek finds a new path.  It could be seen as distress to the landscape or it could just be seen as change.  I think of many of my favorite places over the years that have been subject to avalanches, forest fires and other setbacks and have realized that in most cases this is a way of setting the clock back and allowing those areas to spring back and regenerate.  Nature is patient and distress simply provides a blank canvas.

Kaweah River Colors

10×20″ acrylic–  I was drawn to paint here by the colors of the underwater rocks in sunlight.  The melting snow on the mountain crests is leaving the creeks and rivers downstream gushing this year.  It is still early spring as far as the wildflowers and mosquitoes are concerned.

Rocky Nook Park Creek

10×20″ Casein– This was a casein study from a sandbar in Rocky Nook Park– Families with kids were wading up the creek and one twelve-year-old artist sat and watched and talked with me for a long time as I worked, just as I used to do when I was his age and saw someone out painting.

Cold Springs Confluence

Oil on Canvas 20×24″  — This is the crossing by “Kevin’s Bench” where the east and west forks of Cold Springs Creek meet.  The water is cold and clear and the entire canyon is green and full of life.

Rattlesnake Canyon Creekflow

rattlesnakecanyon-gleason-1

22×28″ oil on canvas–  I’m savoring the sound of raindrops on the roof right now and smiling knowing we have more boulder hopping and creek painting days ahead of us this spring!