Saturday, December 24, 2016


       The Grand Oak | Pastel | 12x12

I fell in immediate love with this giant oak!  It presides over a gorgeous forty acres in the nearby town of Loomis, Ca.  Beloved by the former owners who have recently sold it, the property will become a new equestrian center. My challenge was to figure out how to depict the green sameness of the huge canopy of the tree.  I looked up Maxfield Parrish paintings of trees and studied them, loving his dark blue skies and colorful foliage.  As the tree progressed, I became increasingly excited, loving how it came out! Getting high off painting is an acceptable indulgence! I was so excited, I could hardly sleep. 

Painting Notes:  I used one of my dwindling supply of Wallis Warm Belgian Mist paper which I cannot get anymore.  It performed beautifully, allowing me to apply multiple layers of darks, and sky, applying fixative in between layers. I'm loving using Spectrafix as it allows me to layer areas as I paint. The only downside I can find to it is when using it for plein air (on site paintings), it takes a good 12-15 minutes to dry which can eat up valuable time if the light is rapidly changing in the early mornings or late afternoon.  

Sunday, December 11, 2016


       Cliff Notes  | Pastel | 8x6

There was just enough light left in the day. As I came up the hill, I saw the giant eucalyptus was backlit and the three cliff receding into obscurity.  I parked and set up quickly.  As is usual for this time of the last light of the day, the scene changed in me at least five times in the short hour I painted.  I put it away and later, in the studio, made a few adjustments to keep the foreground and background consistent for the same time of day.  We call it 'chasing the light' in plein air terms and it is one of the reasons why on-site painting has such a fresh look to it.

Painting Notes:  I pulled out my Sennelier Irridescents for the pampas grass, convinced they would give the plumes the glow I wanted. After applying two light colors of them, I found I got the glow from putting a 'regular' light for their finishing touches.  The whole idea behind the scene was to capture the glow of evening.