Depth and Reflection: Painting a Creek

Depth and Reflection– 12×16″ oil on linen panel (available)

The challenge of painting water like this is you are looking at three superimposed surfaces.

  1. The leaves and rocks (and fish and newts) under the water.
  2. The floating leaves and surface ripples on the water.
  3. The reflections of the trees and sky upside down.

It is an endless challenge to communicate that depth on a flat surface… and can keep an artist busy for a lifetime as it did with Monet and his waterlilies. On a warm day like today, you’ll find me up a cool shady canyon like this one trying to figure it out… Here is a link to a very short video of this painting in progress that I posted to my Instagram page. Enjoy!

Minus Tide Plus Light Fog Equals…

16×20″ oil on linen panel

Such sweet June Gloom weather this morning on the coast. To top it off, last night’s Strawberry Supermoon pulled the tides way out. (Moons have so many more flavors and varieties now than they did when we were kids.) I set up with my feet in the sand to paint the colors of the cliffs and the light starting to burn off the clouds…

Redwood Creek Studies

These are two studies for a new painting I’m currently working on attempting to get that enchanted feeling of being on a creek through a redwood grove, one of the most beautiful experiences I know. It’s fun to see what gouache and charcoal have to say about a subject before I work larger and speak in oil paint.

Theres’s just a week and a half until my open studio event. It will be Saturday, June 18 from 11-4 at 1128 Via Regina. I’ll have all my work out to make things easy to see. I hope to see you there!

Backpacking Paintings

These are some gouache backpacking sketches made while camping with friends recently in the San Rafael Wilderness. You find elevations of over 6000 feet just a condor’s flight from the coast. The “Sea of Clouds” one above is of a 4000 foot deep fog layer blanketing the coast… it was drizzly and grey at down at home, but we were up in the sun with the Jeffrey pines, Sugar pines and other pines whose names I couldn’t quite catch as they whispered in the wind.

Ellwood Expanse

24×48″ oil on linen

This was a recent studio commission that I made by reinterpreting the color, light and composition in a smaller plein air painting I had posted earlier this year. It is fun to elaborate on smaller ones and bring in more detail and space with the extra canvas. If any of you want larger paintings out there to go above your fireplace or somewhere, that is a good way to approach it by looking for a smaller piece that calls you that you’d like me to expand upon. : )

Visual Languages

Charcoal Sketch — about 6×6″

I’ve been playing around with charcoal lately… a media I haven’t really used since college. It makes me think about how if art is a form of communication, every media or material you use is like a different language. And like all languages, some are better for saying some things and others… others. Here is me sketching, speaking in two languages: Charcoal and Gouache and trying my best to say, “Don’t you love a mossy redwood canyon?”

Gouache– About 6×6″

Big Sur Paintings and Open Studio Date

Rocky Coast Big Sur– 12×16″ oil on linen panel

Save the date: I’ll be putting my paintings out at an open studio event on Saturday, June 18 (Father’s Day Weekend) from 11-4 pm. I’ll post details when it gets closer and also announce it on my quarterly newsletter which you can sign up for on my website.

Here are a couple of other paintings I made when up the coast at Big Sur. It is so fun to paint the steep cliffs and fractal coastline with rocks, inlands and inlets of every size imaginable. The second painting was made up a fern-lined creek where the sunlight moves through spotlights in the redwood canopy.

Light Crossing the Creek– 16×20″ oil on linen panel

Painting Point Lobos

China Cove–16×20″ oil on linen

It feels like painting a mermaid cove in Neverland here at Point Lobos. The cypress trees, sculpted rocks and sea caves, turquoise water, circuitous shoreline and sandy beaches with lounging seal pups… if people haven’t been there they’d think you were making it up. So much fun to paint!

Blue Fish Cove– 12×16″

Spring Morning–Goleta Slough

A small painting that I snuck into a busy week… I went to Goleta Beach and realized there were dozens of paintings to be made looking in all directions. I painted several of them in my mind, imagining compositions, colors and designs made of imaginary brushstrokes– I daydream like that a lot when I haven’t painted for a few days. If only my real paintings were as successful as the ones I imagine.

8×10″ oil on linen panel

Trees I’ve Met

Cliffside Grove– 12×16″ oil on linen panel– (Available)

Here are a couple recent paintings of trees. Above I painted where the sea breeze rustles the eucalyptus scented leaves, dogs rest in the dappled shade on a hot day.   The old folks climb the cliffside trees overlooking the beaches and young kids watch them and think about how it will be to be old again.  

For the image below, I was walking around the Santa Ynez mission looking for something to paint and was drawn to this natural arbor of oaks that makes a small tunnel of shade for the path that descends into a valley.  I simplified this one down to the most basic composition, shapes and design.   I have several works in the Oak Group exhibit at the Faulkner Gallery. The opening is this Thursday from 5:30-7:30. We’d love to see you there!

Oaken Archway– 8×10″ oil on linen panel– (Available)