Rose Bowl, with San Gabriel Mountains, in January
8 x 10 inches
oil on linen panel
The Rose Bowl is an imposing structure any time of year, but when the San Gabriel Mountains are dusted with snow, as they often are in January, it provides an extra-special backdrop. When the air is cold enough, the snow falls at altitude, but down in the Arroyo Seco, it provides welcome rain. Welcome except on January 1, that is.
I thought about putting in some people in red or purple or gold or blue jackets, but it occurred to me that if someone wanted this painting as a keepsake of a special bowl game that they might prefer to have a few people in THEIR colors, rather than the, um, rival team. Sound fair?
Eaton Canyon Waters
9 x 12 in.
oil on archival linen panel
SOLD but I have more Pasadena Paintings
This morning, after days of gray skies and pouring rain, we woke up to bright blue skies and snow in the San Gabriel Mountains above us. I knew the watershed of Eaton Canyon would be filled with flowing streams, and I was determined to go see for myself. My original intention was just to get a few photos (my ankle is still healing and long standing is uncomfortable) but I knew I would kick myself if the scene looked highly paintable and I had left my plein air gear at home. So I packed the car and headed out, and was not disappointed. The mountains were a palette of soft blues, grays and violets and water was coursing among the big boulders. I resisted climbing down the bank – I don’t want to sprain myself again – but set up my easel along one of the trails.
A photographer came by on a hike and kindly took a photo of me with my camera. (Thanks, Miguel!) He shot a batch himself with his Canon – I’m looking forward to seeing them.
Days like this are just made for plein air painting. Although I was plenty weary toward the end of the afternoon painting (#2 painting for the day) I was in my element.
“Snow on the Crest”
16 x 20 oil on canvas
This is a view into the Crescenta Canada Valley from a high road in Flintridge, near the Sacred Heart Academy. The 210 freeway can be seen on the left as it passes the upper Arroyo Seco. The mountains are the San Gabriel range. Last winter, a snowstorm left a dusting of snow on the Angeles Crest Forest. It only lasted a few days but I had the opportunity to take some early morning pictures of this rare occurrence. By the next day, most of the snow had vanished.
Now that the temperatures have reached the high 90s locally, I thought it was a good time to think about something cool.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve been preparing for this event for some time.
So, if you’re in the LA area and would like to see my work in person, I invite you to come to my show of California impressionist fine art.
Place: Gale’s Restaurant
Address: 452 S. FairOaks in Pasadena, California
Dates: Sat. May 16 – Friday, July 10
Reception: Sunday afternoon, May 31, 4-6 pm.
“Red Cabin at Mt. Pinos”
12 x 16 oil on canvas
We had another good rainstorm here in Los Angeles, which translates to snow in our higher mountains. I had been saving this painting for the next snowy occasion , so here it is. It’s a new one, of a cabin in the woods on Highway 95, through Fort Tejon National Park, northwest of L.A. on the slopes of Mt. Pinos.
I hear there’s another storm coming in a day or two. After that one passes we’ll probably make another snow trip, perhaps closer to home into the Angeles Crest National Forest.
Snow is interesting to paint because, being white, it picks up all the colors of the environment. When you look at this painting, there’s actually very little pure white in it. But it’s unmistakably snow, right?
(Placerita Canyon Nature Center)
9 x 12 oil on canvas on board
The brilliant colors of fall give way to the softer colors of winter. In the last transitional days, some color remains on the trees, but the landscape takes on soft and refined hues.
Today the rainstorms are subsiding, and I’m optimistic that the next few days will show snow-decked mountains. I can hardly wait to see what the storm has left. Every season brings its unique gifts. As a California painter it’s always a thrill to see the seasonal changes of this beautiful and varied state.
Hansen Dam Willows
14 x 18 oil on canvas
Like most seasons in Southern California, signs of the season don’t follow a predictable pattern. This, for example is what early winter looks like at Hansen Dam, about 15 minutes from our house. To most people it would look like fall. But no, in fall the trees are still green. Because of our short seasons, however, spring is likely to come early. Our ash tree lost its leaves after Christmas in one rain and windstorm. Within a few days green leaves were making their appearance. It’s weird. I know.
We lack a full season of snow, gray and restful quiet but we do gain extra months in which to paint growing things, like these fall beauties gracefully shedding their leaves with every passing breeze.
Today’s reception for the new members of Pasadena Society of Artists was wonderful. It was a terrific opportunity to meet new friends and catch up with old friends, talk some busienss and enjoy a lot of beautiful art. The show runs until January 29 … so if you’re in LA, I hope you’ll have a chance to stop by and see some of the things we’ve created. We were each asked to bring one painting to the show – a painting that was one of the three we presented when we were juried in. Because two of those paintings have sold (Castle Green Balcony and Under Autumn Skies) and the third is currently in a California Art Club show at the Blinn House – instead I took this one … Dana Point Headlands, 18x 24 oil.
Eaton Canyon Color
5 x 7
oil on canvas on board
These small color studies are fun to do when I don’t have time to dedicate to a larger painting. I guess that’s the essence of being a “daily painter” isn’t it? No one really expects us to finish a large painting every day, but, like Jello, there’s always room for a small study.
Although there’s not a lot of wildflower color this time of year, the remnants of autumn brush still glow against the greys and browns of winter. Buckwheat is one plant that adds a ruddy hue to any landscape. I like the white boulders that gleam in the sunlight – I think they add an interesting sculptural touch and provide contrast to the soft foliage.
This small study may be the basis for a larger work sometime soon. And speaking of larger paintings, I’ve been working on a larger Eaton Canyon oil painting, 16 x 20 inches, and I will be putting it here soon.
Arroyo Seco Path
7″ x 5.5″ watercolor sketch
For more information about my work, please write
One of the most frequent questions I get about my paintings is whether they are all done plein air style (no) and, if not, what I use for reference. Although I do use photos to catch specific details of trees and structures, especially when painting architecture, one of my most valuable tools is my sketchbook. Because my roots are in watercolor, I usually do plein air sketches using that medium. This is a quick way to get color notes and the general layout of a landscape subject without having to fuss with too much detail.
General color areas are indicated with a quick wash. The colors of the shadows can be added when those are dry (and outdoors, watercolor dries fast!)
Using watercolor as a plein air medium has a long history among 19th century painters, and noteworthy is John Constable. His field work formed the basis for his later oil paintings. Eugene Delacroix followed the same practice.
Watercolor painting has the benefit of being quick and portable, and it is a good way to capture the mood with few strokes. Although I love plein air oil painting and do it as often as I can, it’s not always easy to set up an easel. But a watercolor sketchbook can be opened and put to use in a few minutes. A portable watercolor palette, a spray bottle, a collapsible water bucket and a few brushes, some paper towels and I’m good to go. And I can carry a kit in the car so it’s handy at any opportunity.
“Good Morning, La Canada”
9″ x 12″ oil on canvas on board
For more information about this painting, please write
In our small town, the streets aren’t usually this deserted in the morning, but during the holidays and early weekend mornings there’s definitely less traffic. I decided to leave out the random cars for the sake of reducing clutter.
La Canada Flintridge is a “bedroom” community of Los Angeles. Just 20 minutes or so from downtown, Foothill Blvd. is our main street. This is a view of the corner of Foothill and Oakwood, quite near the Vons market on the left, and La Canada Presbyterian Church on the right (that’s the spire that’s visible.)
After all the paintings I’ve done of Pasadena, the Arroyo Seco, Eaton Canyon, Hahamongna Park, Glendale, Descanso Gardens and other local sites, it’s really about time I got around to painting more of LC itself.
The last time I painted a vertical cityscape it was El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, near the Pasadena Playhouse. This one. So maybe it’s about time for another one.