California Sierra Cottonwood Trail – Impressionist Landscape Oil Painting

“Cottonwood Trail”
20 x 16 oil on canvas
(near Bishop, California)

This painting has been SOLD, but I have more sierra paintings here:

More Sierra Nevada paintings here

As the seasons change, I am following along, brush in hand, capturing the colors that nature provides. This scene is from the Owens Valley, in the foothills of the Sierra, not far from the Owens River, which I hear has some great fishing these days. The cottonwoods shimmer in the morning light, their orange leaves making a nice complement to the deep blue sky.

I’m going to guess that this is a Fremont Cottonwood (populus fremontii) which is common in lowlands, close to streams. I’ve heard that you can take a twig and stick it into moist ground and it will quickly root. Maybe that’s why you see so many cottonwoods used as windbreaks out in rural pastures. You can just imagine the farmers sticking branches in the ground at reasonable intervals. These were wild ones, however … they didn’t look as though they had been planted in any careful way.

If you notice some other cottonwoods on the right (to the rear) that are still green, that is very typical of the foliage this year. You’ll see trees fully turned growing next to others of the same species that are still wearing their summer look. Wind and weather create some interesting effects, as you’ll see in some of the other paintings I’ll post in the future.

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Malibu Pine – California landscape plein air oil painting

Malibu Pine
12 x 9 oil on canvas panel
Plein air oil painting

I’ve been so busy this past month with a flurry of shows and then two consecutive weeks painting and stomping around the Eastern Sierra, that I haven’t been posting as regularly as usual. That will change now that things sort of settle back to “normal.” (Whatever that is.)

Of course, I grab every opportunity to paint that I can, and sometimes those opportunities come at unusual times. This pine tree was painted during the Malibu Allied Artists show a week ago. I set my easel up by my display area and looked around for something paintable. Although the day was mostly gray, the sun came out a few times and illuminated a hillside behind this tree. There wasn’t much of a vista, so we’ll just call it a tree portrait. I was told by a man who does landscaping that it is an Aleppo Pine. Upon doing a little research about it I came upon a wikipedia article that claims that an Aleppo pine was the inspiration for one of Cezanne’s paintings. Their sculptural forms are certainly appealing.

Because the sky was an interesting combination of warm and cool lavender that day, I opted to borrow an impressionist technique of using complements of the same value in the sky area. Enlarge the image by clicking and you’ll see what I mean. When I’ve visited the Irvine Museum, I’ve seen this approach used to great effect by a number of the California impressionists. I like how it added a bit of a glow to the atmosphere.

I’ll be posting more new work soon. If you’ve been thinking of a commissioned painting for a holiday gift, now’s a good time to get in touch. I currently have three works in the queue, but there is plenty of time to create a portrait, house portrait, landscape or seascape for that special someone.

Some ideas for commissioned paintings … the place where he proposed and you got engaged … a still life representative of your spouse’s favorite hobby (fly fishing lures, a softball and glove, cut flowers for arranging) … a house portrait of your first home … a portrait of a beloved pet, from the present or past … your honeymoon spot … the place you and your spouse first met … a favorite camping or hiking spot … a favorite flower …

The ideas are just endless if you think about special moments, places, people and things.

Malibu Lagoon – California seascape oil painting

Malibu Lagoon
11 x 14
oil on canvas

This is one of the paintings I’ll be bringing to the Allied Artists Art Show and Sale this Sunday, October 18 at the Malibu Nature Preserve, 33905 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu.

It will probably be one of the last big outdoor shows of the season, so I hope that you’ll have a chance to come out and enjoy the weather at the coast. I was up in the Sierra last week, but we got rained out, so I hope to return again in a week or two, as we did last year.

Pasadena Skyline Oil Painting – Pasadena California City Hall complex

Pasadena Skyline
11 x 14 oil on hardboard panel


Although this painting is sold, I have more Pasadena area paintings at this link:
See more Pasadena paintings here

I am also happy to paint on commission.
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Garden Party Pasadena paint out – California impressionist landscape painting

The Garden Party
11 x 14 oil on canvas panel

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This season I’ve been enjoying doing more and more live event painting, like this recent party at a private home.
True, there’s a little pressure to get a painting mostly done within the time limit of an event, but I thrive on challenges and I enjoy socializing as I paint. And if there’s wine and cheese and fine music involved, what could be better!

I know that many of my readers have asked to see my palette set up. This photo gives a better look at a typical arrangement: French easel, easel mate with glass palette, medium cups, turp (OMS, really) brushes, lots of paper towels, paint scraper to clean glass palette, etc. I’ve blocked in the scene and am working on the background before the large crowd appeared. When I’m painting for myself, you’ll usually find me in T-shirt and jeans, but for a nice event I like to dress up a little (and try to keep my sleeves out of the paint piles.) Occupational hazard – I can’t shake hands with people who stop to visit, unless they want a nice offering of titanium white. So I do the back-handed knuckle-bump instead. So very hip, doncha know.

Arboretum Fountain – California plein air landscape oil painting

“First there is a fountain, then there is no fountain, then there is”
11 x 14
oil on canvas panel

Click image above to enlarge

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View my online gallery of paintings here

Last weekend I did a plein air painting at the Los Angeles Arboretum, which was a nice change of pace. I have a reciprocal membership with my Descanso membership, so I’m looking forward to doing this some more this fall.

This is a view of the San Gabriels that I haven’t painted before. I was enjoying blocking in the fountains, but after awhile they were turned off, so I had to do the rest from memory. If you remember a certain 70s Donovan song, the title of the painting will make perfect sense.

Some other curve balls thrown by Mother Nature. When I started blocking in the painting there was not a cloud in the sky. An hour and a half later, the sky looked like this. By the time the sun had lowered and the interesting shadows started, the clouds were all gone. So this is sort of a compressed-time view of the scene, as plein air paintings often are. You just have to adapt to the changes in a sort of Zen way – acceptance of the moment without stress. Here’s me, below, wildly gesticulating with brushes, no doubt. I hope I didn’t get any paint on that nice lady watching.

Malibu Meadow Plein Air California Landscape Oil Painting

Malibu Meadow
8 x 10 oil on canvas on hardboard
(Click image to enlarge)

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More of my malibu creek paintings at this link

I painted this in the spring, when the meadows of the Santa Monica Mtns were still green, but never got around to finishing it up. Now that the summer/fall show season is starting to wind down, I have time to revisit some of my field studies and bring them to completion, like this one. This is a meadow near one of the grassland trail entrances to Malibu Creek State Park

Mark your calendars for the annual Pasadena Art Walk, Saturday, October 10.

California Art Club – So. Pasadena City of Trees Show – “Arroyo Vista”

Arroyo Vista
South Pasadena
18 x 24 oil on canvas

Click image to enlarge

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This is my newest painting, which I took to the South Pasadena Public Library today for display at the annual show featuring scenes of South Pasdena. This year, the theme is City of Trees. Although many people are painting historically significant trees, I have grown fond of this group, framing the Arroyo Seco, which we see on our walks in the area. When the theme of “trees” was announced, I knew just what I wanted to paint.

The following information is from the California Art Club news release about the event:

Location: South Pasadena Public Library Community Room 
1115 El Centro Avenue
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Collectors’ Preview Reception: Friday, October 2, 7 – 9:30 p.m
All submitted artwork will be on display for this special Collectors’ Preview event at the South Pasadena Public Library Community Room. Tickets $25 per person. R.S.V.P. to 626-441-2339  (Participating artists get in free.)

Saturday, October 3, 6 – 10 p.m.
The free exhibition at the South Pasadena Library Community Room continues for one more day as part of SouthPas ArtsFest, featuring live music and entertainment,wine tasting, food court and an ArtWalk featuring eight galleries.