Painting a Day – San Gabriel Sunset

7″ x 10″ on 140# watercolor paper – from my sketchbook

The beautiful San Gabriel Mountains. They’re sleeping right now, but rumor has it that the Sierra Madre fault, which runs along the foothills, could wake at any time, giving us all a wild and rocky ride. Those of us who are foothill-dwellers hope that it will be eons before that event occurs.


  1. Jana Bouc
    October 16, 2006

    There’s so much to look at and enjoy here. I think my favorite areas are the great shadows and the dimensionality of the hills, but I also really enjoyed the white area in the right middle ground which made me wonder if it was sandy dessert and the strong shadows in the foreground too. It helps me to see how painting loosely allows viewers to bring their own imaginations and stories to the work instead of having it all spelled out in detail for them.

  2. Karen
    October 17, 2006

    Jana, you are exactly right, it is a dry riverbed with white rocks of various sizes, sandy bottom and dried scrubby weeds. This is Eaton Canyon, where water courses out of the mountains and down into the arroyo. I must get back here during the water-flowing season when the hills will be green with new rye grass and there will be reflections in the water. Oooh, I can hardly wait!!!

    Regarding detail, I quite agree with you. I think that’s what I liked about Gao’s paintings. I can get lost in them and bring my own storyline.

  3. Katherine Tyrrell
    October 17, 2006

    Beautiful Karen – pulling off saturated colours in a watercolor is so difficult to get right – it’s why I gave up, I always got it too wishy washy or too full-on.

  4. Nina Johansson
    October 17, 2006

    I love this, it´s as treedimensional as it gets on a flat surface. Such depth, and wonderful shadows. I love the blue in the shadows, it´s so nice when the colors are themselves (not too mixed with others) and still show what you want them to show. A great painting.

  5. hfm
    October 17, 2006

    Great! All the colors! I could fell the environment.

  6. tami
    October 17, 2006

    this is so incredible!!! you are such a gifted watercolorist, i could gaze and learn for a loooong time :)

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