I committed myself to the challenge of making a painting a day for the month of September. Each day I’ve been heading out and working on a variety of sizes depending upon the amount of time and energy I have left in me. (I’m not posting them all here because I don’t want to overwhelm people’s inboxes, but if you’d like to see them all they are on my Instagram and Facebook Artist pages.).
I’m hoping that the experience will take my technique to a new level. Already I’m seeing things a little differently and addressing canvases with a looser, more cavalier style. I always tell my students that there aren’t many things like painting that you can do your entire life and continue to improve. And just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the next day you are thrown for a loop and feel like a beginner again. Painting is a constant challenge and joy.
Snowmelt Journey— 15×30” oil on panel— This is the result of the other canvas that I hiked up to Lamarck Lake. I loved the way the warm morning light on the cliff wall reflected into the rocks across the creek and the meandering path the water takes on its journey to the lake.
This is probably the hardest earned outdoor painting I have made yet… It started with carrying all of my backpacking gear, oil painting gear, easel and two large canvasses a couple thousand feet up to Lamarck Lake. It wasn’t the most practical venture, but I had romantic visions of standing before this breathtaking view with a two foot by three foot canvas over two afternoons of painting. The first day, the wind nearly blew this sail of a canvas and my entire easel into the dirt. I lashed the easel to a heavy rock below and a pine tree windward and held onto it with my left hand (to keep myself from blowing away.) It wasn’t the peaceful experience I was imagining to say the least and the painting made a very effective mosquito trap, with hundreds of the little guys finding themselves impaled in shades of blue and turquoise. In the future, if they ever need to clone a foolish artist, they can extract my DNA Jurassic-Park-Style from this painting.
Day two I spent exploring the tributaries to this lake and anticipating painting like a storm tossed sailer again. Rather, there was a pleasant breeze all afternoon… the experience I was hoping for. To top it off, I made it back to the trailhead without tripping and face planting on my wet painting once.
I spent a little over a week tramping around the sierras with my family and then solo for a few nights. Here are some of the gouache backpacking sketches made in a watercolor sketchbook I brought along. Is there any place on earth as stunning and magical as the Sierras? I know there are– we live on a planet with such amazing diversity and beauty and everybody should have their own favorite environment. We’re lucky to be alive with this awesome earth to explore, aren’t we?
I painted this over a couple of afternoons at the spot where the east and west forks of Cold Springs Canyon converged. I have been hiking here for well over twenty five years now. Some of you fellow lovers of this trail might have the same experience as me know where we hold two images of every bend in the creek in our heads… the ones before the fires and debris flow and the new ones we are experiencing as we scramble up new boulders and pools. It is really amazing how resilient our local wilderness is. I’m amazed at how quickly the landscape has healed. It will take many years for it to become the mature, rich riparian wonderland that it was, but in the meantime there is beauty in all of the stages of succession.
These are all small recent paintings. They say you can’t cross the same creek twice and you certainly can’t paint it. Every time I go out the light and colors are different. Not only do I love the fog for cooling everything down and making things mysterious in the mornings– it also makes for some fun subtle grey colors to try to paint.
I plan to do a lot of painting this summer (hopefully almost every day.) I really appreciate you all for following my work and don’t want to overwhelm your mailboxes. My plan is to do a weekly digest of a couple favorite paintings from the week like this. If you would like to see more regular posts or don’t want to miss any images, I will post more regularly on Instagram (@kevingleasonart) and on my Facebook Artists’ page, which you can follow by “liking” the main page.
Thanks again for all of your support… I hope you are enjoying the final days of Spring!
The say you can’t cross the same river twice and I think it would also be true to say you can’t watch the same sunset twice from this trail on the edge of the Ellwood Bluffs. This particular afternoon, the water was shimmering and I was squinting… letting in just enough of the brilliance to not see spots before my eyes.
I love the high elevation pockets of pines that hikers can find in the Los Padres National Forest. Just an hour and a half drive from Goleta and a few miles of scratchy chaparral and a couple thousand feet of elevation gain and you find yourself above six thousand feet and wondering if you are in the Sierras. When I got to the top, I waved across the valley to my folks in Tahoe at the same elevation, but 300 miles away.
I’ve been fortunate to go backpacking almost every weekend this past month. These are all small (about 5×8″) gouache sketches made during hikes in the Sespe Wilderness. It has been so good to be experiencing all of the wildflowers and flowing creeks of spring.