Ahhhh…. you are beautiful Ellwood an hour before sundown. You make me use every color in the paintbox– the cadmium yellow mustardseeds, the reds in the ice plant, the golden light in the sky and on the water, the phthalo blue ocean, the deep rich greens of spring, and most important– the lovely grey in-between colors that support the others and allow them to shine.
24×30” oil on canvas— Cave painting always feels really elemental and makes me think of the first artists thousands of years ago creating the first art galleries. That’s the railroad trestle above Gaviota State beach below the horizon. If you’ve never taken the hike up here there are several caves to explore and its well worth the climb.
Imagine walking this path through Cold Springs Canyon and feeling the warmth of the sun, then the cool of the shade and then the radiance around the bend again… I love that feeling and its what this painting is about: passing through shadow areas and experiencing the coolness and dark and then stepping again into the sunlight.
I was running on Camino Cielo early a couple of weekends ago, high above the fog and overcast and happy to watch the sun spill over the top and warm the east sides of the mountains. I was struggling with the sunlit sides of the mountain on this painting, trying to put too much detail in but losing the feeling of the radiant warmth. In the end, I just wove some strokes of pure color that I’ll include a detail of. I always appreciate paintings that look somewhat lifelike from a distance, but upon walking up to them image dissolve into abstract strokes of paint.
For my last painting of 2019 I hiked a large canvas up San Ysidro Canyon. It makes me optimistic to see how well nature heals. This area has been hammered with drought, then fire, then flood and debris flows and yet here it is recovering beautifully. Trees and chapparal shrubs have sprouted from their roots and new pools and falls are being carved out in the new stream path. The insects, lizards, birds and deer are all tending the wilderness and stitching it together. The community of Montecito downstream is also recovering from the tragedy of those slides and like nature is showing love and resiliency.
I’m optimistic for healing, resiliency, connection and love in this new year… they are clearly characteristics found in nature and so, as living strands in the web of life on this planet, are characteristics of our selves.
36×48” oil on linen— I was thinking about hiking and painting and the delicate art of knowing when to continue and knowing when to stop. Just like a mindful hiker enjoying each bend in the creek, I tried to be very intentional on this painting, minding each stroke and color that I mixed. The trick is finding the time to stop while there is still some freshness and sketchiness, before overworking the painting into something that looks labored and tired.
It is a new thing for me to have people, in this case my daughters, in the canvas. I realized how much they give the painting scale and help the viewer understand the size of the boulders and falls.
I was running around Lake Los Carneros a couple of weeks ago and enjoying how the red light climbed across the mountains. The time of the sunrise is subjective, depending upon where you are on the mountain or in a canyon. I saw two sunrises that morning on different sides of the lake.
As I made this small painting, good memories from college of running out from Isla Vista, around the slough and up the path to the Ellwood bluffs came back to me. It was a new exotic landscape for me back in 1993 when I started at UCSB, but now I know these trails like the back of my hand. Funny how a place becomes a part of you as you become a part of a place.
It is fascinating when you paint a white object to notice all of the different colors that reflect into the shadows. You can see here where the colored light from the red rooftops, the blue sky and green grass influence the shadows.
This portrait of our local mountains was painted while my daughter was chasing the ball around the field with her team. I love how the contours start to pop out on our south-facing hills as the sun dips to the west.