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Solstice Canyon Plein Air Landscape Oil Painting

March 16th, 2009

solstice canyon malibu oil painting
Solstice Canyon, Malibu (on the bridge up the trail)
9 x 12
oil on canvas

Click image to see a larger, higher quality picture

Saturday I had the pleasure of going with a group of painting friends to Solstice Canyon, a park in Malibu in the Santa Monica Mountains. When we woke up in the morning (early) it was very dark outside and I came to realize that it wasn’t just our daylight saving time change – the sky was heavily overcast. I debated going or not going, because I generally prefer to paint spring scenes under beautiful clear skies. But I decided to go paint anyway, thinking that maybe it would be a 2-panel day. One before the burnoff and one later.

As it turned out, the overcast skies never really cleared, but there was something about the silvery look and cool blue light that really appealed to me. And it’s a look that I might not have gotten on a typical sunny Malibu day.

In the earliest spring, only a few of the trees had put on their new foliage so a great deal of light came through to illuminate the ground. I can imagine that with a full summer canopy only patches of warm, brilliant light would appear. This is what I love about plein air painting. Even when you have painted a scene before, it’s never the same twice. The weather is different, or the time of day, or the season, and each of those factors interact to create different looks and moods.

Here’s a work in progress shot

7 Comments »

  1. Had I not read your story, I think I would have thought this was painted on a bright sunny day! The colors are wonderful and I love how you painted the reflections in the stream. What a fun way to spend a day!

    Comment by Leslie Saeta — March 16, 2009 @ 2:17 pm
  2. Yep, I pushed the colors a little bit, especially toward the distant part of the stream where the yellow flowers were blooming. It really was a great day – we went on to hike in some other Malibu locations after we finished there.

    Comment by Karen — March 16, 2009 @ 3:11 pm
  3. Love the shot of you painting!! Glad you’re having a good time!

    Comment by Marian Fortunati — March 17, 2009 @ 9:02 am
  4. This is beautiful. I love those spring colors and that water is perfect. It is often easier to see color on overcast days, and you captured this brilliantly!

    Comment by Ann — March 17, 2009 @ 5:17 pm
  5. So glad you went on the trip, after all, because I am enjoying
    that painting, so much, and we might not be looking at it today.
    :)
    I agree about the brook. Its flow and reflections are so
    lovely.

    Comment by annie — March 18, 2009 @ 9:15 am
  6. Karen, you’ve captured the delicate spring light so nicely. And I really like the beautiful stream.

    Comment by christine — March 18, 2009 @ 10:35 am
  7. Karen, the flow of light through your painting is so engaging.

    Comment by Susan — March 18, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

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