Arroyo Dawn – Daily Painting

“Arroyo Dawn” – 8 x 10″ oil on canvasboard
SOLD to a collector from Pasadena

See more Pasadena paintings here

When my husband and I had our duck adventure a few days ago, we were so struck with the beauty of the upper pond under Pasadena’s majestic bridges that we decided we’d go back soon to see what the light was like in the morning. (Can you tell we are dyed-in-the-wool photographers and artists?) Knowing that the 4th of July wasn’t going to be a work day, we set our alarms for early and got up before the sun peeped over the San Gabriels (see yesterday’s post) so we could grab a cup of coffee and head down to the Arroyo Seco.

Now, even though I’ve been doing a lot of oil painting recently, most of it has been studio painting from my own photo references – I haven’t taken the time to schlep my gear out into the field. The main difference is that even though watercolor takes practically as much gear, you can just pop the finished painting into a bag and not worry about it. Oil takes a bit more planning. I’ve got to get one of those wet panel holders to carry them home. I attached this wet one to the side of the French easel but worried about it as I carried it back up the gully. I found this environment to be beautiful but very challenging as the light changed radically from moment to moment as it slipped into the deep ravine. I followed the advice of the best plein air painters I’ve been studying: block in your scene and then stick with it.

Here are a couple of pictures of my setup and a glimpse of the environment

And if you were wondering about the fate of the ducks, we saw that mom and her brood were up early, having breakfast as we arrived. The fifth duckling is on the other side of mom, obscured by her tail. They were grazing for bugs or whatever they eat at the edge of the steep spillway.


  1. wendy
    July 5, 2007

    I think your story of the ducks deserves to be made into a children’s book with super illustratons.

  2. Linda
    July 5, 2007

    Gorgeous painting — I love the new line of oil pieces! :-) And it’s good to know that the ducks are all fine …

  3. Tami
    July 5, 2007

    Good for you guys!!! Sometimes that can be pretty hard to do, my husband and I are also photographers and tend to chase the best lighting when we can get ourselves moving…Beautiful study!! I can’t even
    imagine trying to paint plein air with oils…

  4. Brenda Yarborough
    July 6, 2007

    Absolutely gorgeous job of a truly beautiful scene!! I can’t IMAGINE plein air with oils – you are SO adventurous. I went to the Huntington yesterday and your ducks came to my mind as I went through Pasadena, so happy to hear a follow up to the story.

  5. Creekhiker
    July 7, 2007

    Karen, Lovely painting. Is this spot hikeable with off leash dogs??? Our little creek is bone dry and Mabel is having to make do in the urban runoff channel…YUCK!

    Thanks for the duck update!

  6. Sherie
    July 19, 2007

    Oh, my! I agree with Wendy. A children’s book will illustrations. Great story! This painting is gorgeous, all those greens. Wonderful work, Karen. You have some great scenery out there to paint.

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