Path of Least Resistance

I’ve been working on a large canvas recently and painting from memory…

36×48″ oil on canvas (available)

I wanted to create a view that exists over time on a hike in our local mountains, but you can never quite frame with a camera. Do you know moments like this when you are on canyon creek trail watching spotlights penetrating the oak and California Bay canopy and illuminating patches of creek water and leaf litter. In the distance you glimpse an occasional peak of the ocean and Channel Islands. The title describes the chosen journey the creek takes as the raindrops return home to the Pacific.

Detail

Sea Guitar and the Forest Gardener

This old guitar has been sitting around half-strung and gathering dust for several years. A past art student of mine had begun etching it at one time and had never finished. I decided to paint in on a whim last week. I just worked from imagination and let the warm wooden surface peak through in the sky and sand. I bought some strings and tuned it up and it’s sound hole is ready to sing about coastlines and sea breezes… about time, timelessness and giving new life to things that would be abandoned.

The painting below is a small 9×12″ called the Forest Gardener. Scrub Jays hide thousands of acorns each year. Many are buried in shallow holes… head into an oak forest this month and if you see a Jay you’ll see it hiding a food cache for the winter. They have incredible memories to remember all the locations during the winter months. Those they don’t eat become tomorrow’s oak forests… when you enjoy a walk in an oak grove, thank a Scrub Jay.

Patterns

24×36″ oil on canvas (available)

Besides the thought of how nice it would be to sit in the shade of this oak and taste the wine grown from the grapes below, I was also thinking about the contrast between manmade and natural patterns. The geometric, efficient patterns of human developments often oppose the sinuous natural rhythms. Here the two blend: straight parallel lines of the vineyard roll over the organic contours of the hills in a beautiful way.

Light and Airy

18×24″ oil on canvas (Available)

Other titles I considered for this one were “Rent Free”, “Rock Stack Studio” and “An Abundance of Windows.” I wanted to put the viewer in the shade and breezy shelter of one of the beach shacks at Ellwood… those wonderful communal forms of real estate that we all can inhabit for a while when we find our paths meandering up the coast. Hung on the wall, it looks like a window out to a beach shack porch.

Painting at Extreme Altitudes

Beauty and Fear–From Seven Gables at 13,000 feet– gouache on paper

I was dizzy and wobbly with vertigo as I painted this one. I wished I could have stayed a couple hours on the peak to decipher the distant peaks that stretched for what looked like hundreds of miles before me, but cumulonimbus clouds were materializing by the minute and I wanted lower ground before the lightning started. I had a healthy amount of fear… can you sense the urgency in the sketch?

I was able to get down to this lake at the northern base of the peak and make this sketch before the raindrops fell. Dramatic holes of sunlight in a mostly clouded sky created spotlights on a dazzling stage. Every now and then they would find me and I’d be in the sun for a few short moments as rain fell in the distance.

Before the Rain–Below Seven Gables– gouache on paper

Pedregosa Street

Pedregrosa Street Diptych– 5×14″

I love the variety of architecture, color and gardens in the downtown neighborhoods. A couple of the neighbors came out to say “hi.” One had lived in the house behind me for fifty years and said he remembered cutting the 50 foot tall palm tree with a six foot step ladder. I definitely saw many more houses with character that I want to paint portraits of…

left panel
right panel

Pleasant places to paint…

Los Olives Summer Day– 8×10″ oil on linen panel

Here are a couple of pleasant painting locals from the past week. The top one was made after a walk around Lake Los Carneros and a delicious sandwich with my family in Los Olives. (We brought a couple more small works to show at the Los Olivos General Store if you find yourself up that way.)

The second was made at El Refugio State Beach at the moment when the sun burns through the marine layer and it’s time to jump in the ocean. I hope you are all enjoying your summer days!

El Refugio Beach Day– 9×12″ oil on linen panel