Mid-winter means the sun is still a little low in the horizon and is just beginning to hint at the position it will soon be at in spring. There is a quality of the softer light that inspires that feeling one gets when the air is clear and clean and also both warm and cool.
This painting was done in the brisk shade, looking down the path that leads past the nature preserve and garden in Carbon Canyon. This is a return trip, probably the third one, to this area that has captured my attention. This area was recently on fire, and some of the area showed signs of being scorched. The trees that appear here were also subjects of the other paintings done around this location. Fortunately the main trunks survived and restoration of the area is underway.
I like the height of the trees so I’m mostly responding to the massing of the shapes and how that creates a composition on the canvas. It seems to set up for a “Californian” as well as a European sensibility. That’s the goal, anyway.
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 this in on a nine by twelve panel using a limited palette, as I often do.
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.
Being at this vantage point was good place to connect with the area and observe the mountain face and it’s facets in way I haven’t been able to before.
During the fall of 2015, this painting was laid in quickly during a moments notice when I saw outside, the view of the clouds building behind the trees. I grabbed a small field easel, an umber and a blue and started sketching while the wild wind started blowing over the landscape. The weather was about to bring in a good marine layer but was holding out over the water for now. Also, the sun was setting therefore, fast work was important. After a day or two I finished the painting.
A few months later the painting was on display at the Long Beach Museum of Art for their semi-annual fundraiser. The artwork now belongs in a private collection to a purchaser who responded to the painting with a personal appreciation.
New work is beginning to happen in the direction of made up images of portraits depicting fictional characters. Here is a progress shot of a painting that is based on an earlier piece called “The Heiress”. The original Heiress painting was made from studies done with a live model. In turn, that painting became the basis for the new one shown here, which will probably be given the same title.
Each iteration has improved and I like the direction these are going in. I’m starting to develop a story line that inspires new ideas for new paintings that will probably tie in together as one whole body of work at some point. It’s exciting right now as I start to see it come to fruition.
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.
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 is from festive to mournful and everything in between. The dramatic volume it makes all together in a powerful symphony delivers the wild storms of Wagner for example. Yet, in the hands of a soloist, the sounds can be like a suspension of the breath to something contemplative and soothing like a pastoral painting. 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.
I have a feeling that the violin may start being a regular feature in some future paintings, this one is the first. This painting was at first a quick oil sketch done from life, while working with Aycil Yeltan. The pose was something we both liked and the pose and the painting was continued and finished later from memory and imagination.
A lot of comments are made by artists about painting flowers. Flowers are an attractive subject, but also one of the most difficult for a painter. Why? One reason is in the translation of the subject matter into a painting. Often the intention at the beginning of the painting turns into something very different as the process goes on. The attraction may be the variety of color, the “prettiness” of the subject, maybe the challenge of so much detail of every leaf and petal. There are so many ways to approach an arrangement of flowers.
Personally, I like to discard the want of a pretty picture by ignoring all the colors and petals as the basis, and instead going for the mood of the arrangement. For instance, the quiet nature of the arrangement as a whole is easier to grasp and therefore grab onto for interpretation into a painting. The overall shape directs my eye to one part perhaps, where a petal is falling off, which gives me a sense of an offering the flower has. The light might be illuminating one particular part which may set the sentimental tone the painting should therefore communicate, whether somber, introspective or joyous. Working in large masses of general tonality and color first, then “pulling” out the petals with little detail works best for me. The intention I typically have for painting flowers is allow the strokes to impart the suggestion of the flowers so as to not overpower their soft and delicate aspects.
This little study was done outdoors on an unseasonably warm day with just two colors and two neutrals. I hope to do more of these.
Interior scenes are sometimes tricky. Backlighting or bounced light can make reading form and color a great challenge. Also, some interiors are full of objects and nick-naks, therefore forcing one to make choices about what to select or omit. Then, there’s the logistics of painting in the living room, which may be a “bull in the china shop” type of set-up. However, when all of this comes together, some really nice things can come about. I hope this painting is one.
This was a spontaneous set up one Sunday afternoon. There was no plan to do this at the time and I simply worked with what I had. It shows the figure from the shoulders up, as was intended given the size of the board available which is nine inches by twelve inches. Roz is shown immersed in a book she was reading at the time. She agreed to let me do some studies of her, so long as she could rest and read. So, I laid down a sheet, set up my small easel, put out three colors on my palette with a white and in almost an hour I had this painting worked to the point shown here.
On the northeast edge of Orange County, CA is a town called Brea. Many years ago it was known mostly for the oil business around the area and 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.