Thursday, June 28, 2012

Abandoned Housing

Way out, on the back forty of the campus, there exists a group of old houses that are not maintained and belong to the University. Most likely housed faculty a long time ago.  The buildings are clustered around some large shade trees.  Plenty of squirrels and other critters became frantic on our arrival.  Their routine  was interrupted by of a bunch of artists setting up to paint.  What a great spot for a studio.

This morning was very sunny and I tried to capture the intense cast shadows on the structures.  They changed quickly as the morning moved on.  I had several sketches to mark the shading and cast shadows and this was a great help.  I will be back.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ridge Above Putah Creek

It was a very hot morning and wasn't even 10AM.  There was a warning on the trail about snakes.  This led me to a shady spot in a wide opening under this huge rocky outcropping above Putah Creek.  The creek was moving swiftly and birds were singing.  I was really into my painting when I heard a rustling in the leaves beside the path.  I must have jumped 4ft.  I looked around but saw nothing moving.  Having been warned about the snakes, I was very distracted from that point on. 

Plein aire painting has so many features.  Seeing shadows dance across surfaces and appreciating values of distant and close objects are just two.  Sounds just add to the adventure.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Best Burger in Davis

A favorite spot at noon or anytime.  This burger shop is on Olive Drive, a busy street.  I was set up painting in the shade across the street as I painted on this very hot morning.  The traffic was always changing but the burger joint was not open until I was done painting.  The tree is huge and may be a combination of several trees.  There was plenty of signage on buildings but I fudged it all so not to distract the eye.  Wherever there is writing our eye immediately goes to read it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lake Solano Campground

Wonderful weather and view of Lake Solano in Winters, CA.  An opportunity to mix a few varied greens and put a canoe in the Lake.  The birds, especially, the peacocks gathered around as we painted.  I think the peacocks are be used to campers and being fed.  The hills are dried out now with the hot summer days.

I tried to paint the bridge in a recognizable likeness, but did not want it dominant.  The canoe is the focal point. I used the bridge cast shadow and supports to direct the attention to it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Morning Meetup

A couple of weeks ago, I was out early to paint in Winters, CA.  I wanted to catch the morning sunlight on the downtown but when I arrived the wind started blowing and the gusts kept intensifying.  I got behind a large tree and painted fast.  Nothing is more annoying than wind.  I really like the result of the early morning sunlight on the building with the color bleached out due to the brightness.  Good things happen when painting fast with gay abandon and not overworking it.  You take risks, are bold and get a good result.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eucalyptus Giants

Was painting in Birds Landing, CA and moved up from the Delta because of the winds.  It was hot and sultry.  The winds blow frequently in this area and there are huge wind turbines all over the hills.  These lend a surreal  atmosphere  to the sun baked hills.  I expected to see aliens and space craft.  This was my second painting of the day.  I moved into the shade of the giant eucalyptus trees along the roadway.  They created some very nice cast shadows that reached out across the roadway.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Riding into Paradise Valley

A favorite bicycle ride in our area is up through Cantelow Road and down into Paradise Valley.  It is so picturesque that I couldn't resist stopping and painting it.  The fog was still hanging over the valley.  The heat has dried up some of the lush greenery.  However, nothing spoils it for the riders.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Dining in Davis, CA

This eatery across from my favorite train station in Davis, CA was busy at 11AM on a Friday.  I was set up across the street and quickly sketched and painted for about 2 hours.  It is a colorful place and the cooking smells were wonderfully seductive. This certainly hurried me along so I could finish up and eat some lunch.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Along Putah Creek

It was hot, the way I like it.  After being out for an hour the bugs did show up but I still like it better than wind and cold.  Putah Creek runs down from the dam in Winters through Davis along the arboretum on the campus.  This scene was out on a patch before reaching Davis.  It is frequented by joggers but otherwise, very quiet.  The hills have already dried out but there is shade from these trees along the gravel pathway. 
Shadows are so important to painting.  After all, it is the light that we are after and shade with cast shadow show off this light.  It gives contour to the hill and is directional for the viewer. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Plein Aire Painting Class

One morning we all gathered at the Davis Train Station for painting.  Everyone was worried that we would get a parking ticket since there was a 2 hour maximum.  This was the first time for many to paint on location.  It was a great day for painting with the station busy and trains coming and going.  I quickly sketched the simplest of forms and told them to do the same.  We then pained in the big blocks and proceeded with details.  They were very surprised that a painting could be done with such simplicity.  All the paintings and then some done at home arrived at the next class for critique.  The class was really excited and ready to try it again.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Just completed a month of voluntary teaching at the senior center and it flew by.  It was gratifying to see progress made by the painters and also, get their wonderful feedback.  We had a goal for each session, a demonstration by me, and then time for painting.  Each class went fast and left little time for critique, which is so important.  Critiques were not only from me but included a good exchange from the class.  We had a partnership in the venture and no one should have felt picked on.

I had requests for painting lots of things but did this quick painting of birches in about 20min leaving time to go over work from the previous session. Birches are easy and gratifying to paint into scenes.