So this is from healthy pots of succulents and imagination… no ceramics were injured in the making of this painting. I have had an idea to paint a crushed terra cotta pot, but with its inhabitants finding a way to thrive in the new situation. I find that sometimes titles are hard to pin on a painting, but for this one the metaphors were waiting in line in my imagination as I laid down the paint. “Catastrophe and Opportunity,” “Fragile Planet,” “Microclimate,” “Heroic Voyage,” “Hatched,” “Branching Out.” You get the idea… I let “Looking on the Bright Side” rise to the top.
This is that special kind of overcast where the ceiling of clouds is full of tatters and holes that light keeps leaking through. You get the grey reflective mood of a cloudy day with occasional dazzling spotlights of sunny day sneaking in. The top painting was a nice morning at Hendry’s beach last week and the one below was made that same afternoon out walking at low tide at Ellwood. It’s a beautiful world out there…
The acorn that sprouted and started to grow into this Coast Live Oak many, many mornings ago sure picked a good spot to sink its roots. I wonder if it knew how many people would visit it for picnics and to share its grand view of Cathedral and Arlington Peaks, the rolling green hills and the Santa Barbara harbor on the horizon. I spent a pleasant morning before the easel trying to catch the atmospheric golden light we get on green winter mornings here.
Here are a couple of recent 9×12″ paintings of the Santa Barbara Coastline. The top one was painted under some dramatic skies from out on Stearn’s Wharf. The second was painted up the coast from Haskel’s Beach during a minus tide as the underwater eel grass meadows are revealed and the egrets are hunting for fish and crabs in the tide pools.
There is always something beautiful to paint, wherever I find myself. The tough part is deciding how to narrow it down…
I had my hopes down for much rainfall this year, with the meteorologists predicting a dry cold La Nina winter. It was an unexpected gift to get these last storms and when I took my easel out on the last day of the year I wanted to catch a local creek with the water spilling through the boulders and the sycamores starting to drop their orange leaves. It is the promise of another year of happy steelhead and salamanders, fresh water in Cachuma and beautiful hiking.
8×16″ oil on linen panel– I love the rain. In our dry, crispy, chaparral climate the rain changes the landscape almost as dramatically as snow in the sierras, but instead of turning the landscape white, everything grows lush. I hope you all are enjoying watching the world turn green and the reservoirs fill.
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.
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!)
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.
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.