Plein Air event in Marin County. Hand full of painters set up, capturing historical buildings and victorian houses in Downtown San Rafael, Ca.
Here's a snap shot of my usual plein air set up: Guerrila box to hold watercolor board and paints, tripod and Easy L umbrella. If you decide to paint on location, I highly recommend setting up your easel in a safe spot...away from foot traffic and especially from cars.
Back in February 2015 I had a chance to plein air paint from Corte Madera with a gorgeous view of Mt. Tamalpias in the background, aka: Mt. Tam.
I originally wanted to set up along the wetland area but it was under restoration. In other words, it was off limits. And with the California drought, it really was not much of a wetland. So this painting was imagined with a small creek and what looks to be the famous Mt. Tam off to the distance.
It always starts with a Thumbnail.... next project in progress.
Can you guess which thumbnail will become a painting???
Will post final piece tomorrow!
Thumbnails are a great way to get ideas out and onto paper. And when you fill a page, you can quickly scan over multiple ideas.... that may create additional hybrid ideas!!! It could save time (save paint) and to see if your layout has a good chance of working into a bigger format.
After a little rain from the previous night... the skies cleared right up and I headed to Nicasio, Ca. Such a pretty drive through Lucas Valley and Nicasio Valley... but due to a local Pumpkin Patch Event, I opted to take another route.
Parking can be limited at times but don't worry... Folks are mostly stopping by to grab a bite to eat or just to snap some photos. I'd say cars are in and out within half an hour. It was quite busy during my visit... Lots of passerby's all day! Not just cars... but bicyclists and motorcycles as well.
So this time around I anticipated painting this church. I took a walk up and down the street to select a spot to set up... and just as I walk through the baseball field and back to my car... I see a great view just from across the street! It was a view that practically cropped itself... Now, the main challenge... can I successfully capture that same view and transfer it into my painting? (crossing fingers)
Here's a couple progress shots throughout the afternoon. Laid down a light pencil drawing... followed with a couple of watercolor washes.
Rain was in the forecast this past week. And this afternoon showcased lots clouds in the sky. While driving up Highway-1 towards Tomales, the overcast burned off and the rolling hills were brightly lit. But a particular hillside caught my eye so I decided to pull over and scope it out.
Such a great view with a creek along the left side and a handful of barns to the right!
Once my gear was set, I quickly penciled in my layout and immediately started painting the sky. I wanted to work fast because (through experience) once those clouds move in, they will cast numerous shadows over my view.
Luckily for me... today's weather stayed clear of rain and the wind was minimal.
Stay tuned for the finished painting in my next post!
As fun as plein air painting can be, there's always the struggle of the natural elements. In this case, I battled afternoon blown out lighting over the Lake. And the temperature was 90 degree (in the shade) causing my gouache paints to dry rather quickly and my glazes appearing much lighter than intended. So I decided to pack it up and retouch areas of my painting back home.
(7" x 10" gouache on watercolor board)
It's not the first time this has occurred. Usually I scrap the entire painting and start a new. But this particular experience was really FUN!!! Actually...it's given me ideas to finish 2 additional paintings sitting in the recycle bin. Once I give it a go, I'll be sure to share the outcome. But for now.... it's time to get this framed. Thanks again!
Have you ever driven through a town and wondered, "What if I just drove down a little further?"
That's how if felt when I visited Spring Lake Regional Park located in Santa Rosa, Ca! Located just 15 minutes from the main freeway. Really easy to find, no curvy roads, just a straight shot to the park entrance.
Although it was a Summer Weekend I had to wait in line (about 4 cars in front of me) to pay the park entrance fee. There are several parking lots to choose but finding an open spot can get tricky due to the popularity of the park.
I walked around the entire Lake to scope out an area to set up. Saw some great views by the Lagoon area,
but lots of foot traffic and all the shaded areas were occupied by picnickers. On the opposite side of the Lake I found a cool swamp like area with algae resting on the top surface, but I could immediately hear the swarms of mosquitos planning their attach on an innocent plein air painter, LOL!
So I ended up setting up where my hike began... just 20 feet from my parked car, haha! So I walked along the shore, where visitors can rent paddle boats. Found some good shady coverage and set up my gear. Had a great view of the Lake, trees, paddle boats and a couple of hills off in the distance.
Stay tuned for my next post featuring the final painting!
Driving up to the Bodega Head was fun... but the parking lot is small.... and filled up rather quickly! It was a bit crowded due to the Summer time visitors. I'll have to revisit again in sometime in the Fall.
So I decided to drive back down the hill and over to the Marina. Didn't find anything that caught my attention at Spud Point Marina but found a nice spot at the Porto Bodega Marina. I had set up my gear .... and it suddenly started to RAIN! Typical weather along this part of the coast.... So I packed up, parked and painted some studies from my car.
(top) View at the entrance of Marina - a boat parked in front of large lush trees.
(bottom) Squeezed in one more study of a hillside behind one of the vacation homes.
(Gouache studies 4"x6" each in sketchbook)
Well that was my plein air adventure along the northern California coast!
I may try for another farm or maybe winery next paintout :)
Decided to go on a day trip to the town of Bodega with my wife. We left early in the morning with intentions to sketch and plein air paint at Bodega Head. Just like most road trips... taking a break is in order. But in our case... a sign caught our eye when reaching Bodega. A bright neon sign that read "Big Book Sale Today". Luckily we didn't have to drive far at all... it was easy to find.
There's never a guaranteed to find a gem at each book sale. But one person's trash will eventually become another person's treasure. In our case we each found a couple items that we just had to purchase!
As my wife quickly found 2 intriguing books, I ventured off to the Arts and Media tables. I don't collect much VHS tapes (wait, what's that?) but a particular box caught my eye... Flipped it around and immediately noticed the sticker price.... only a dollar? Hold on, Are they just selling an empty box?
I guess luck was on my side because the extra collectible contents were included! I have to say the best part of this find was the "Art of Episode I" which is filled with Concept Art from some of my favorite artists!
1 - 35 mm Film Strip consisting of 5 consecutive frames from actual theatrical print.
1 - Collector's book (48 pgs) excerpted from "The Art of Episode I", filled with conceptual paintings, storyboard drawings, and developmental artwork exploring the creative impulse behind the film's astonishing designs!
I later walked over to the Fine Arts table and found several art book based on Impressionist Painters! Most were huge coffee table sized books but I wanted something that I could easily read before going to bed or maybe for a weekend getaway. And that's when I found this...
Although it was published in 1999..... I got it for 2 dollars! It's packed with painters and paintings I absolutely admire! With images of Manet's Olympia and Renoir's The Path in the Grass! It's a 2 part book. The first half discusses the Impressionist movement and the second half gets more personal about each individual artist life and works.
Both great finds! One to enjoy during my stay in Bodega and the other one to enjoy at home while watching Star Wars in the background.
Next post I'll share my paintout at Bodega Head. Stay Tuned!
A recent plein air painting during a visit to Fort Baker (Sausalito, Ca). I packed my gear and set up on the grassy parade grounds.
(7" x 10" watercolors)
The house in the background is a former general's residence, which has
been renovated to a historic guest-room for a resort. I planned on adding some
folks picnicking…but they left early. Instead, I quickly captured someone
flying a blue kite!
For the past month I would see these bright orange flowers blooming along the North Bay freeway. It was really nice to find these during my recent hike in Petaluma, Ca. If you haven't seen or heard of this flower it's call the "California Poppy" but also goes by "Golden Poppy" and "Cup of Gold". It's the California State Flower :)
Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Here's a snapshot from a recent paintout at a fishing pond in Sonoma County.
The hike was pleasant and the pond was quite easy to find. It was so fun to see all the fall leaves in the background and the 2 families fishing on both sides of the pond. Already looking forward to returning and hiking to the opposite side of the trail and maybe paint one of the vista views.