This is that special kind of overcast where the ceiling of clouds is full of tatters and holes that light keeps leaking through. You get the grey reflective mood of a cloudy day with occasional dazzling spotlights of sunny day sneaking in. The top painting was a nice morning at Hendry’s beach last week and the one below was made that same afternoon out walking at low tide at Ellwood. It’s a beautiful world out there…
18×24″ oil on canvas– There are encouraging signs that the Monarch Butterfly population is making a comeback. Last year I hardly saw a single butterfly. They are always suffering from habitat loss, but I heard that there was also a wildfire at one of their roosting sites in Mexico while they were there last year. This year they can be seen fluttering and forming clumps around Ellwood again!
12×24″ oil on linen– Thanks to the rains yesterday, this will be the last painting of the bluffs with the late summer, early autumn color palette. We’ll be moving into the greens and yellows of wild mustard and grasses. I appreciate both seasons– they both have their own beauty, colored by the memories we tie to a place we know well.
This is the season when the dried straw on the bluffs has lost its green and instead has that golden glow when the sun gets low in the sky. I painted here at dawn a couple months ago and it was such a different palette, with mustard flowers and tall green grasses.
18×24″ oil on linen– This was painted as the edge of morning advanced last shadow edges of evening, from the edge of the cliffs on the edge of Spring. I was thinking of edges in my painting, both crisp and defined and soft and atmospheric as I made it. On edges there is excitement–a little danger perhaps– and the view is always better.
In the Sierras and other alpine regions this type of light is called alpenglow, when the last rays of sun warm the granite peaks a shade of pink. Does anyone know if there is a synonym for it if you are at sea level? “Twilight” was all the Thesaurus had to offer. And “aurora,” but I think that means dawn rather than sunset. I had fun playing with impressionistic effects on this one, putting a variety of colors side by side to try to get the feeling of that warm glowing light.
Below is a small 6×8″ plein air study I made one evening to try to catch the colors, which only last about ten minutes.
I made this recent painting as a studio work based on some sketches that I made one day out on Ellwood. It was a nice way to work. I find it helps to step away from the actual scene for a bit to allow my imagination and memory to enter into the painting and create an impression not only of how the scene looks but also how it feels to be there. I’ve also included a work in process shot from the Studio.
I’m going to have a staggered Covid Friendly mostly-outdoor open studio art sale on November 14 and 15… stay tuned for more info and let me know if you’d like to save a time slot.
I love the variety of driftwood shelters you stumble upon while walking along the coast. This one that I painted at Ellwood had cords of kelp hanging like strings of lights, party streamers or Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the wind.
The say you can’t cross the same river twice and I think it would also be true to say you can’t watch the same sunset twice from this trail on the edge of the Ellwood Bluffs. This particular afternoon, the water was shimmering and I was squinting… letting in just enough of the brilliance to not see spots before my eyes.
It is so healing to be under a big sky in an expansive place. I’m thinking of people in cities with shelter in place orders and hoping the residents are getting outside for their share of fresh air and sunlight. It’s a big sky and a big planet– there’s plenty of space for all of us to stretch a bit if we’re smart about it. I’m hoping for health, peace and the opportunity to connect with nature for all of you.