Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Morning of Plein Air Painting

Headed off to Winters, CA for some morning painting. Weather was perfect after a big black cloud passed. This first painting is a house on the river which lists to the left and has a serious bump in the roof. Someone lives in it as proven by the parked cars. The vegetation is overgrown and the fence is being pulled by the structure. I expect one day to see it flat on the ground. Location, location, location.

This painting was done in 40 minutes. I was amused by the back doors into this corrugated building off a parking lot. Three different entries and different forms of cooling, from an open door to swamp cooler and A/C. It probably gets pretty warm inside. It is a blue painting with a few warm notes. Winters has everything for the painter's imagination. The downtown is original and there are plenty of farms. It is charming and would be my choice for a studio.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Another beautiful day, so I swung by my favorite site for a quick sketch and watercolor painting. The students are gone so the activity was less but trains came and went and excited people arrived. The city of Davis is a much quieter place during the summer. No lines in the markets, fewer people at the movies and a lot less bicycle traffic in town. I like all seasons of Davis. There is a lot of energy here with the student population and we all gain from it. Summers are quieter but by no means dull. The train schedule doesn't change.

Friday, June 24, 2011

If a Tree Falls...

In painting this I am reminded of that philosophical argument: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?". This is a study of textures with the rough outside of a fallen tree trunk and coarse cypress growth contrasted with the pillow-soft sails of the distant boats. There is no one around.
It's been a wonderful week of painting with the warm weather. I have lots of sketches to develop but while the weather is perfect, I will be painting on location.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fog Over the Golden Gate

I painted this yesterday while standing in Fort Baker in Sausalito. The temperature was around 60 degrees and I just left home in Davis, CA where the temp was in the 90's. What a change. When the valley heats up the fog rolls in off the Pacific and San Francisco gets a daily bath. It comes right in over and under the Gate. It is a sure sign of summer in San Francisco. A brave sailor was out there under the bridge. Sailing on San Francisco Bay is only for the proven. I have been out there with the wind, cold and wet. When I return to my Berkeley mooring, it is in the 80's and I dry out and warm up in no time. I love the Bay and this painting site is a favorite. Next year, 2012, the Golden Gate will be 75 years old. Next year, the Bay will also be the venue for the America's Cup race.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Sheep Ranch

This is the last of my sketches from my farm visit two days ago. I sketched sheep. One doesn't think of sheep moving fast, but as soon as they sense someone, they move on. In New Zealand we had the expression, 'rattle your dags', which was the sound of sheep moving on. It came from the dried feces on their rear ends.
I climbed up the hill to get a view of them and the barn. There was no rattling as they were recently sheered and it is very dry at this ranch. They dispersed.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Down on the Farm

Good weather arrived yesterday so we drove out to this massive sheep farm on the Delta. The weather was beautiful. We got a tour of the place and then I did some very quick sketching and painting. My thought was to get them down, bring them home and compose a masterpiece. Isn't that every artist's plan? How can you pass up painting the farm 'bone yard' with all the rusting equipment? The sheep got far away when I tried sketching them. They were recently sheered and missing their woolly appearance.

The little house that was shadowed and dwarfed by the silo superstructure caught my eye and was my first painting sketch. The hills are different shades of yellow, so I felt closed in by the continuous ribbon of yellow. My 'retired tractor; painting shows an advanced state of corrosion like many of the other equipment residents. Most of these relics were deposited right around the homestead, hence the bone yard. It fascinates me that this always happens despite a huge six miles of land. I guess you get very attached to the stuff. For an artist, it is great subject matter.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is There a Taxi?

Today could be the last of our rain here in Northern California. We do not have any flooding but it is a lot of rain for us. It keeps us plein air painters inside. Today's painting is a tribute to the rain. In reality, there are very few taxis where I live, but I know when it is raining in New York City, it is very hard to find one.
Wet surfaces make for great reflections. I kept the paper very wet hoping to add to the overall affect of a wet day. I do like those paintings of roadways with the red tail light of cars and the yellow light from lamp posts reflected on the wet pavement. I will have to find a window close to a road, so I can capture it in watercolor. This is a media which is great for painting cast reflections but not for the artist painting at a wet location.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tidal Pools

The sun has not shown for the past 4 days in northern California and it is 25 degrees below normal. This means painting in the studio. This painting gave me a chance to paint some figure gestures and their reflections in the water. I played with a lot of things but was totally immersed in seeing what was developing. A painting paints itself if given the chance. My white edge to the rocks became driftwood pushed to the side of the beach.
Maybe tomorrow, there will be sunshine on my shoulder.