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.

Morning’s Edge

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.

Ellwood Bluff Walk

20×48″ oil on linen– $3200

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.

A Living Microclimate

18×36″ oil on panel– $2200

This is the view looking out towards Santa Cruz Island from near the San Marcos open space. It is striking on a hot day how much cooler it is beneath an oak tree, with its thick dappled shade and its leaves transpiring. I had fun stylizing the leaves, trying to get the variety of warm and cool greens they contain.

Detail

Painting in the Oaks

Rocky Nook Park– 14×18″ oil

Sandstone outcroppings and Coast Live Oaks… I’ve been spending several afternoons painting in oak forests the last couple of weeks. The acorns are ripening and the squirrels, scrubjays and a deer were all inspecting their progress as I was painting.

Sunny Oak Forest– 8×10″
Work in progress…

Arc of Palms– Refugio Point

12×24″ oil on panel

This palms in this iconic line arcing elegantly around to Refugio Point have been falling one by one the past few years as more extreme tidal events eat at the soil holding their roots. I’m grateful for the young people who are marching and standing up worldwide to try to wake our policy makers and business leaders up to the truth that we live in relationship with the natural world and that we need to honor and tend to the delicately balanced ecosystems that we are an inseparable part of.

Small Paintings

6×8″ oil paintings– Tangerine Falls and the Santa Ynez River– It’s amazing how quickly Cold Springs Canyon is healing after the fires and mudslides.  New pools are forming and the chaparral is sprouting from roots and seeds in a riot of canyon sunflowers, morning glories and monkey flowers.   We made it up the west fork to below tangerine falls and saw salamanders and frogs in the pools.