Flowers are an attractive subject, but they are also one of the most difficult for a painter. Why? One reason is in translating flowers into a painting. There are so many ways to approach an arrangement of flowers. The attraction may be the variety of color or the “prettiness” of the subject. Maybe you like the challenge of so much detail of every leaf and petal. Often the intention at the beginning of the painting turns into something very different as the process goes on.Continue reading “Translating Flowers into a Painting”
I had no idea I would be spending my Sunday afternoon painting inside. There was no plan to do this. This was a spontaneous set up. I was not at my studio, but there were some materials laying around, so I simply worked with what I had.
Getting the Afternoon Started
My wife wanted to read her book. She was leaning back in the day bed near the open window. A breeze was gently blowing in and the air was fresh. Immersed in the book she was reading at the time, she agreed to let me do some studies of her, so long as she could rest. No problem. I laid down a sheet, set up my small easel, put out three colors on my palette with a white and started working.Continue reading “My Sunday Afternoon Painting Inside”
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.
While visiting the area outside of Brea, CA I began painting a view of Carbon Canyon. During the 1880’s, the town of Olinda was established on the northeast corner of Orange County, CA. It was a small pioneer town known mostly for agriculture and oil businesses. Some of the oil fields are still there. 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 Carbon Canyon Regional Park. 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.
Redwood Forest in Southern California?
There is a natural redwood forest here also. A short hike around a small hill takes you to the small forest of redwood trees. It is easy to imagine what life must have been like when the area was being settled by the new farmers. One would like to think of those days as simple times. Not far away is the town of Brea which would have been a hub for commerce. The Santa Fe railway serviced the area. At that time, Los Angeles must have seemed very far away.
A Great Day Trip
Fortunately, much of Carbon Canyon remains as it always has. It appears the locals want to keep it that way. I hope they do. Places like this are wonderful to visit. You can learn more about the Canyon Canyon Regional Park here.
The plein air process for this painting was in keeping with the historic flavor of the area. I used my portable wooden easel, a hand stretched canvas and a few tubes of paint made by Rublev Natural Pigments. I plan to return and capture more of this hidden area just off the beaten path.
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 and go see them live if you can. They perform nationally and even internationally! They super nice people, too.
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