Arlington Peak– Late Afternoon

9×12″ oil on linen panel– Arlington Peak always offers artists a mountain anatomy lesson… It’s fascinating the way the sandstone bones reach up and offer structure while the sinuous muscles of earth overlap and fold, forming rippling hills and canyons. And on top of it all the color and texture of the living, sprouting, growing skin of the earth.

Holiday Season Open Studio

Sands Beach Surf– 20×48″ oil on linen

On Sunday, December 12, from 11 am-5 pm I’ll be hosting an open studio at 1128 Via Regina. In some ways paintings are like imaginary windows– we can hang them on our walls and fantasize that we are looking out into our favorite landscapes just beyond our walls. Of course our favorite places are always somewhere beyond our walls and are so rich in life and light and the ever-changing forces of nature that a painting could never capture the reality of these places. And yet, paintings are good reminders to us that these places exist and we should head out and see them as soon as possible. If you’d like to add some windows to your own walls, come by on the 12th and all artwork will be 10% off. (And of course you are welcome just to come hang out and look for fun!)

Chaparral Watershed

14×45″– Oil on Repurposed Cabinet Door– It has been a long time since I’ve painted on a repurposed cabinet door like this… I love the natural frame you get and the extreme vertical panorama that let’s you emphasize the scale of things, like this view of how our local sandstone peaks teeming with fragrant chaparral scrub catch moisture from the clouds and filter it down to our shady, sycamore and oak-filled canyons. You can see in the detail below I added a couple of travelers to enhance the sense of scale. These paintings look good on one of those skinny walls that you wouldn’t expect could hold a large painting.

Yin Yang Gulls–Malibu

16×20″ oil on linen– The rock formations at El Matador State Beach are so much fun to paint– the sea sculpts them into fantastic forms undercut with tunnels and topped with hanging gardens of cliff plants that only the gulls can access. The title comes from the way the relative value of the gulls appears to change whether they are silhouetted against the dark rock or the bright sunset.

Ellwood Seasons

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.

Recent Gouache Paintings

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…

Santa Cruz Island Reserve

Forney’s Cove– 15×30″ oil on canvas

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. 

Sauces Beach– 8×10″ oil on panel

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! 

Sierra Backpacking Paintings: part 2

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.

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.