12 x 9 inch oil on plein air panel
One of the lovely features of Mission San Juan Capistrano, in southern California, is the mission garden which is filled with seasonal flowers such as these hollyhocks. It’s been said that the padres called this biennial plant St. Joseph’s Staff, because of its great height. I have some growing in my own garden and they are close to seven feet tall. What I like about painting hollyhocks is that the petals are so translucent in the sunlight. Capturing the delicacy is challenging, but fun. Palm trees and blooming jacarandas can be seen in the background along with the mission architecture.
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Capistrano Train Station
9 x 12 oil on linen panel
Plein air painting – June 2009
Among the other locations we explored during our week in San Clemente was nearby San Juan Capistrano. The old train station is a picturesque diversion bordering the Los Rios Historical District.
I found a good spot in the shade and had fun talking to people as I painted.
California Golden Hills
11 x 14
Plein air oil painting
This painting is currently on exhibition in the San Clemente Art Association Gallery, in San Clemente, CA.
Much of the week in San Clemente we experienced “June gloom” – that cool gray marine layer that covers the seacoast until early afternoon. Although paintings in the gloom do have a certain mystery to them, I was looking for a more colorful subject, and so we traveled inland along the Ortega Highway to find this vista at Caspers Park. But really, it could be anywhere in the state – the golden hills studded with oaks is so typical of our scenery.
Just for fun, I included a photo of me, mid-painting, on location. You can see my preliminary sketch on the easel, above the canvas. If I have the time I always try to do a sketch because it helps me to organize my thoughts and not to “get lost” as I strive to capture the scene on canvas. Here are the steps I usually take:
1) select an appealing scene
2) do a value sketch
3) draw the “bones” of the scene on canvas
4) put in the darks
5) put in the lights
If the light is rapidly changing, though, all bets are off, and sometimes you just have to paint whatever is most ephemeral. In this case, I knew that the cloud shadows might go away, so I painted them first, saving the golden grasses for last.
More paintout paintings to come …
11 x 14 oil
The mission San Juan Capistrano was the cheerful inspiration for this classic California impressionist painting. I have included the sago palms, several fan palms and blooming jacarandas to complete the setting of summery splendor. Water lilies bloom in the landmark fountain, topped with a sculptural urn. Water irises wait their turn to bloom at the foot of the pedestal.