Sometime in late summer I had my easel in the car and stopped my errands to venture into the Madrona Marsh in Torrance, CA. The light was good and the landscape is spare and weedy. An old California oak tree stands as a testament to time, the smells of dry grasses comes up and fills the air. I stood in the shade of a small tree, painting this scene and at one point two birds landed on a branch right behind me. Continue reading “Madrona Marsh Painting in the Less is More Show for Laguna Plein Air Painters Association”
A little while ago, I drove south of Los Angeles and into the wilds of North East Orange County where there several canyons and trails. With my portable painting kit where I would be able to paint a view of Santiago Peak. Orange County California has within it a number of beautiful parks to visit and hike. One visit brought me to the canyon country at base of Santiago Peak. Along a creek bed I saw this view and decided on it as a subject to paint. Standing on the rocks and sand of the wash, I laid a nine by twelve panel on my portable easel and began to lay out little piles of paint onto my palette. The activity of preparation got me tuned in to the immediate environment around me. I could hear the gurgling water and feel the mild breeze, the sun was setting behind me.
In some ways I could imagine what a rustic and remote environment this must have been to the early settlers of the area. I wondered how they made their way into the canyons, carving out little villages and stage routes. On the face of my view of the mountain, I knew to be a small hidden village area called Modjeska. Odd, it seems, that a Polish name for the town is in a land where most are monikered after Spanish surnames. The area is named after Helena Modjeska, a polish born Shakespearian actress who was quite famous in the 1870’s.
Today, and not too far away are the freeways and urban sprawl that has become Southern California. Seeing this view of Santiago Peak was good place to connect with the area and imagine it’s history. I could imagine the spirits of the Native Americans, the Spanish, the Mexicans, the American Pioneers, and Helena Modjeska who have had their history here. Now we can tell the stories, imagine the past and add to the legacy. While painting this view of Santiago Peak, I felt as though I was being a part of that history also.
The sun was setting rapidly in the native nature garden. If I was going to paint this then it was going to have to happen fast. The garden was in half sun and half shadow. Each color was placed where it was with one or two strokes and left there, then on to the next one until the canvas was completed.
I titled it “Late Sunset in Carbon Canyon”.
The garden is located in Carbon Canyon, Brea, CA.
The violin is an instrument that is as beautiful looking as the sounds it makes in the hands of a talented musician. The range of instrument can go from festive to mournful and everything in between. It can achieve dramatic volume in a powerful symphony delivers the wild storms of Wagner. In the hands of a soloist, the sounds can be like a suspension of one’s breath. Other times, it brings us to something contemplative and soothing like a pastoral painting. These are the ideas and feelings that are hopefully captured when painting a portrait of a violinist.
The connection made between the performer and the instrument can at times be transcendent, thus the common understanding that the violin is considered a very emotional instrument. Hopefully, the emotion can be conveyed in the visual expression.
This painting was at first a quick oil sketch done from life, while working with the actress and film maker, Aycil Yeltan. The pose was something we both liked. At one point we set up a tripod for her hand to rest on. A drawing was done quickly with oil paint. A few lines drawn in to set up where the image would be on the canvas.
Next, an amber tone was laid over the whole canvas and the features of the face were blocked in. After that the violin was painted solidly. The entire process was done quickly, perhaps two hours. After the model left, the painting was finished later from memory and imagination.
The painting belongs to a private collection.
A historical connection to the practice of painting was strongly felt while creating this view from El Dorado Park. I recognized the timeless tradition of plein air painting. The connection has occurred to me more than once.
That is (not) Art
The materials and equipment used in outdoor painting goes back hundreds of years. Before the Impressionists, many of the master painters did outdoor sketches. Not many of them were ever seen. During those days the sketches were not considered works of art. The “Masters” sketches were usually referenced later in the studio for their “real” paintings.
Barbaric to Beautiful
That perception changed during the Barbizon and Impressionism periods. Artists, (particularly Monet) eventually became known specifically for their outdoor work. Their outdoor work was usually done in a very short period of time. The Impressionists considered the outdoor sketch as a finished artwork. This was shocking and barbaric at the time. This is not how we see them today.
Continuing a Tradition
In the same manner as my predecessors, this painting was done with the traditional equipment. I had a wooden easel and palette. A hand stretched canvas was brought from the studio. Lastly, some newly acquired oil paints manufactured from a 19th century process were in my kit. These oil paints were made by Rublev Natural Pigments.
Nearly every outdoor painting starts by laying out the colors, assessing the scene and putting down the first strokes. Rousseau, Monet, Pissarro, all did it this way. Continuing the tradition in this timeless practice was very present this day while painting this picture.