I’m was out in the garden painting in my sketchbook with gouache today. That is my go-to medium when I don’t have a lot of time and just feel like drawing and moving some colors around. It is portable, cheap, versatile and fun to use. Working on paper without the commitment of a canvas, I find myself taking more chances and trying out compositions or subjects that I would otherwise shy away from. Here are a couple of recent gouache studies…
These paintings are from the UC Reserve on the west end of Santa Cruz Island. Going to the islands is like going back in time 150 years and seeing what the California coastline looked like before development. The tide pools were full of diversity and life and we got to see the shenanigans of a few Channel Island Foxes and Scrub Jays.
The variety of colors and textures of the rock formations that make up the band of islands make me wish I’d taken geology classes when I was in school. Dry coriopsis flowers dot the hillsides— I’d love to see the blooms in early spring!
This was a beautiful hike, making paintings between hiking passes, swimming in lakes and eating cereal in epic breakfast locations. I’m working on a large oil painting based on this gouache backpacking painting of Garnet Lake and Banner Peak. There is so much richness and beauty out there…. does anybody know what bird has the most melodic song in the Sierras with a series of sad notes followed by metallic trills? It’s song enchanted me several times but I could never lay eyes on it.
I’ll be having an open studio show on Labor Day weekend if you’d like to see these and other recent paintings in person.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
The sketch for this painting was painted from the trail on the Wilcox Property/ Douglas Preserve as the dog walkers, joggers, birdwatchers, 5-year-old log balancers, stroller passengers, Pelicans, Canadian Geese and one lost college student started their daily parade.
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.