I had a deep connection to the plein air practice of painting while creating this view from El Dorado Park. There was a recognition of the timelessness plein air painting has. The thought has occurred to me more than once, but never more so than on this outing.
The materials and equipment used in outdoor painting goes back hundreds of years. Although many of the master painters did outdoor sketches, not many of them were seen. During those days the sketches were not considered works of art in and of themselves as we see them today. The “Masters” sketches were usually referenced later in the studio for their “real” paintings.
That perception changed during the Barbizon and Impressionism periods. Artists, (particularly Monet) eventually became known specifically for their outdoor work that was usually done in a very short period of time.
In the same manner as my predecessors, this painting was done with the traditional equipment. I had a wooden easel, a palette, a hand stretched canvas and some newly acquired oil paints manufactured from a 19th century process. Laying out the colors, assessing the scene and laying on the first strokes is how nearly every outdoor painting starts. Rousseau, Monet, Pissarro, all did it this way. Now I am doing it too! Continuing the tradition in this timeless practice was very present this day while painting this picture.
I painted this view from Carbon Canyon while visiting a town called Brea. The town was established on the northeast corner of Orange County, CA, many years ago. It was known mostly for the oil business around the area and as a small pioneer town once called Olinda. Some of the oil fields are still there, nestled in Carbon Canyon. Part of the canyon is a regional park where many people now hike and ride their horses.
This painting was done at the very east end of the park where the trails drop down to a loop around a small hill. The fenced in area is now a native plant garden. Like many places in Orange County, the setting sun provides a particular golden glow that has been captured by many artists and photographers. This is a beautiful area during certain times of the day and is full of history.
Part of the richness of California History can still be experienced at any of the several Ranchos and Adobes that are still maintained throughout the State. Here at Rancho los Cerritos (in Long Beach), and as part of the Arts Council of Long Beach, the Calico Band performed under the giant fig tree that still stands for about a century.
They are fantastic musicians and song writers, inspired by the lore and history of the area, producing a western style bluegrass / folk music sound with a few rock-a-billy under currents.
I painted them while they were performing. Afterword, the band really took an interest and a small crowd gathered to have a look. It was a wonderful evening, being there and listening to the group. Please take a moment to visit their website (https://www.calicotheband.com) and go see them live if you can. They perform nationally and even internationally! They super nice people, too.