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…

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. : )

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)

Portrait of Santa Barbara

24×36″ oil on linen panel– $3200

What a cool little town! Here’s Santa Barbara resting at the base of its chaparral mountains that smell of bay and sage, with it’s red-tiled roofs and sunny gardens and the peaceful blue ocean protected by the Channel Islands. I tried to paint her portrait from an angle that accentuates her best features.

Painting in the Shade

9×12″ oil on linen panel– Haskell’s Beach Eucalyptus Hill (Available)

These are both paintings that I’ve made recently, when I have the luxury of a couple of free hours to head outdoors, relax, and study the way light falls on something beautiful. The top one was from the path that goes up the hill on the west side of Haskell’s Beach. The image below was painted in Tucker’s Grove, trying to capture the wonderful quality of filtered forest light while appreciating the oxygen it produces.

Filtered Forest Light–9×12″ oil on linen panel –(Available)

Spring Creek and Friendly Horses

Spring Creek– 12×16″ oil on linen panel

I cropped out the sky and mountains and some great oak trees on this one to focus on this small mossy green falls in Cold Springs Canyon… I didn’t crop close enough to show you all the little grey frogs blending in perfectly with the color of the stones.

In the painting below I drove to the valley to paint grapevines for the Vino De Suenos fundraiser for People Helping People in Santa Ynez. I forgot that grapes have no leaves this time of year and look more like twigs, but these horses obliged to let me paint their portrait instead.