Fallbrook Country Road – Plein Air Study

Fallbrook Country Road
Plein air oil sketch
9 x 12 oil on canvas laid on board

Eucs, palms, oaks, sycamores. I’d have a hard time deciding upon my favorite California tree.

This time, eucs are featured. and it turned out to be one of my favorite on-location oil sketches from Libby Tolley’s workshop. It was late top-light, about 3 in the afternoon, before the sun made its final descent. The hillside was starting to go into shadow, but the warm light was still touching the tops of the brushy shrubs here and there. The eucs are getting the kiss of the sun on their heads but shortly afterward became more sidelit. What attracted me to this scene was the warm glow of light striking the grass at the base of the eucs. I thought that it gave an interesting way to show the trunks that are usually hidden in shadow.

This is a transitional season painting. There still remains some spring grass, especially in the irrigated pasture, but the non-irrigated fields are turning the gold so characteristic of California in the summer and fall. The warm light of the day creates cool shadows – and I like the way the gold of the grass complements the shadowed blue-violet. The suggestion of fence posts adds a bit tot he composition, but I didn’t want to paint them so stiffly and regularly that they became a barrier. Just enough to let you know it’s a fenced pasture, no more.

If you’re in LA, this Saturday I’ll be showing paintings at the Montrose Artwalk, May 2. I’ll be near the bowling alley.

Lean on Me – Fan Palms – Plein Air Oil Landscape Painting

“Lean on Me”
9 x 12 oil on canvas panel
(Fan Palms in Fallbrook, CA)

This friendly palm twosome caught my attention on Wednesday morning at the Libby Tolley workshop. Our assignment was to find a composition that interested us and to paint it in two hours before the light changed. The week got progressively cooler, with atmospheric mornings and more brilliant sunsets. Capturing the quality of cool morning light was one of the many enjoyable challenges we rose to. This painting represents the moment where the morning fog is just starting to burn off, when the sun catches the edge of the palm fronds. Close to the ground the mist still hovers and swirls. But higher up, the clouds are breaking up to reveal a brilliant blue sky.

More palms in other workshop paintings to come …

What I love about workshops – going somewhere new to paint – meeting other artists and making new friends – getting immediate critiques and suggestions about one’s work “in the moment” – the fun of experimenting and trying new solutions to common painting problems – seeing how other people paint a similar scene – feeling tired but satisfied at the end of the day.