Friday, February 19, 2010


"A Sketch....."
This really wasn't a painting about a eucalyptus tree. This sketch was done to brush up on landscape work and to try some color mixes out and some minor painting ideas too. This was painted on a student canvas covered board. I have a couple of packs (of 4 each I think) that cost practically nothing from Blick in Pasadena.....which used to be The Art Store on Raymond Ave....been going there for years. I use these to try things out without wasting good canvas or canvas covered panels. A lot of them are now being sold as Acid Free too. I'm not sure what most of them are mounted ...used to be normal stiff cardboard which was no good except for student work. They are now making some that are on masonite type boards with Acid Free glue which is very cool....archival. Now if they could just put real quality canvas on them they'd sell a million. I have some that I bought in Santa Barbara at Art Essentials (bring your American Express card though!) that were made by Fredrix that have Belgian Linen on them...very cool but not quite the same feel as stretched linen....which I still rarely buy due to the cost. I'd love to paint on them but I need to sell more work before that happens, hahaha.

See how well I went off into left field!? That comes from painting alone too much...then when someone listens to you out comes the life story. Sorry. I won't go into the things I was shooting for or experimenting with but I learned a couple of things on this one which actually makes this sketch a success...if only for myself.

By the way....Marian Fortunati, an artist friend I met at the CAC shows recently said some very sweet words about me on her Blog that really warmed my heart. Marian is a very good artist who is a painting machine. I read about her adventures in painting a lot and am just blown away at her dedication to our journey in creating our lifes work. She has a painting that was juried into the current CAC show at the Blinn House in Pasadena that is great work. If anyone who reads this has a chance to get over there, that show, and Marian's painting would be well worth the trip. Thanks Marian...You Da Babe!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Manu Mele Aground at Santa Barbara

"Manu Mele Aground at Santa Barbara"
12" X 24" Oil on canvas
This is another of the wrecked boats from out recent storms this winter. On the transom of the Manu Mele it says she was from Maui, Hawaii. It's a shame to see this boat end up like this. Around 12 boats snapped their anchor lines in that storm and they were hammered onto the beach by the rough seas. 2 more of these boats are seen further down the beach in this scene. Once the owners get what they can off of their boats the city would crush up whats left and cart if off in a dumpster. That would be hard for any boatowner to stand and watch.


In between paintings I decided to get out a student board to practice some distance work. I wanted to just do a simple sketch pushing the distance in a painting. Distance adds depth to your work and is always something to work on. I muted down the distant mountain range and used a blue/grey mix to wash out the far off valley floor. That looked good enough but I wanted more so I added some trees way off in the distance...greying them more as they receded down into the valley. I could have done a better job of it had I gone with a larger canvas...this one was 9 X 12 and it's just a sketch with the idea in mind, not a finished piece in mind. The rocks were added to increase the size of foreground elements adding even more to the feeling of distance. I think it worked out ok and is a good lesson to me to use with future paintings. It has that middle of the day hazy-feel from summer heat which is cool to paint. I look at the way I've painted the mountains and it reminds me of the San Gabriel mountains when seen from a distance in summer. Coming up the 605 freeway towards Irwindale in summer the mountains look very much like this down there at midday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Demise of The Allegro, Santa Barbara

" The Demise of the Allegro"
16" X 20" Oil on canvas
The Allegro is one of 12 boats that were washed ashore on East beach during our recent row of massive storms. Heavy surf at Santa Barbara's East beach, which is nicknamed "Fools Anchorage" by the locals, proved fatal as many boats snapped anchor lines during the week of storms. The Allegro was one of several boats wrecked by the unprotected anchorage and washed ashore at the foot of the bluffs near East beach. 2 other boats were down there but strong surf and a risky hike kept me from getting any better photos of them.

While taking photos the owner was down there removing what he could before the sea took care of the rest of the boat. Her rudder was missing and half of her was buried in the sand. Scattered nearby were bits and pieces, rope, a tv, shattered fiberglass pieces. I saw one boat that had 2 anchor lines both snapped by the heavy surf. The deck cap, which is the molded deck and cabin tops that are bolted and glued to the hull, was ripped loose at the stern and her hull had 2 foot cracks in it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Along Valley Walls

"Along Valley Walls"
12" X 24" Oil on canvas
Going wide again...this is a 12"x24" painting. I like the wide format for landscapes and was glad to pick up some more of these canvases when they were on sale. Bonus! The mountains along the valley here have lots of big granite rocks exposed along their sides. More so on the Santa Barbara or coastal side of the mountains. These big rocks give a nice sense of scale to the mountains and hint at what lies underneath the scrub foliage. Normally I like painting dry grasses for their great ochre colors but it's Winter here and so I just plowed away with green grasses without thinking about it. Maybe I'll do another one of these with my favorite grasses.
I'm pretty happy with the rocks on this one. I'm normally not the big time rock painter but I'm getting more confident with them. When I paint a scene like this one I usually just paint the whole scene and then go in and wipe out the areas the rocks will be in. Then I make up a dark mix or grey blues and paint in the lower and shadowed parts of the rocks. Then I paint in the highlighted areas which is usually the tops and front side...which here is the right side of the rocks. Artist Frank Serrano has a book called "Plein Air Painting In Oil", a Walter Foster book, and he has a good demo of painting rocks in it...very simple method. Actually, that's a great little book and if you can get your hands on it you'll enjoy it.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Rancho Arbolado PA

Some of the Rancho Arbolado ranch houses and barn where I met Jose.
Well I headed out the other day to Rancho Arbolado to do a PA painting for the museum in Los Olivos. I arrived at the ranch at 9 am and met up with the foreman, Jose, and 2 very big but friendly dogs. One only had 3 legs but he seemed to move with no problem. He lost his right front leg but moved around so well I didn't notice for the first 10 minutes that I was there. Rancho Arbolado is a working cattle ranch and most of it is mountains. We drove over to another entrance to the ranch to start the drive up the mountains. The places I would be painting were high up and I took our 4 wheel drive truck to get up the narrow and badly worn dirt road. Recent rain storms had cut several large crevaces across it and no way would a car have made that trip. Once to the top I was awarded some beautiful vistas of the Santa Rita mountains, Santa Ynez mountains, the valley below and Pacific ocean. Low lying fog soon blew out and Jose left me to the rest of a sunny day.

Shady and cold painting here....but some excellent scenery.
I decided that I would try and do 2 paintings while there. I had to hurry because I needed to get the truck back by 3 and it was already 10 am. Remember, this is a large cattle ranch of 2400 acres. The first location I chose to paint was on a hilltop and some pretty strong winds blowing. It was cold! I set up my easel close to some oaks for protection but it didn't help much and I was in the shade which made it worse. I hurried on that one and within 2 hours had enough completed to just have to do minor touch ups once back in the studio. I packed up and headed for another the sun and with plenty of trees to block the winds.

Winter Hillside, Rancho Arbolado, 16"x20" Oil on canvas

The museum wanted somewhat larger canvases so I went with 16"x20"'s. Much larger than I normally paint when on location but it worked out. A nice little challenge for the day.

This next spot turned out to be a view looking south to the Pacific ocean and across to the Channel Islands. It got warm enough to take my shirt off and take a little more time on this one. It was shortly after setting up here that I remembered my thermos filled with steaming hot coffee in the back seat of the truck! Duh! By a little after 2 I was packing it up and heading down the mountains for home....but I had my coffee, the view in my head, the feeling that comes with discovery from being allowed to paint up here and I had 2 paintings under my belt for the day.

The only drawback was our recent rains have turned everything green and I was hoping for some dried brown grasses...not to be had. It's not that I can't paint greens it's just that I really love painting the ochres of summer grasses. I'm hoping to maybe go back there and paint again in summer. All in all it was a good day and I was glad to finally get some inspiration to paint again after the lull I've had lately. I did my touch ups but probably did too much since I want these to look good for the museum. Fun stuff.

" Rancho Arbolado View" 16"x20" Oil on canvas

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Pochade Box Finished

Well, I was going to go get some ref photos this morning but instead drove to home depot to pick up hinges and the side hinge for the pocahde box. On the way back my heater core started leaking in the car...what luck! This happens when you own a 20 year old car, hahaha. I'm waiting for that Lotto thing to kick in.
The pochade box came out pretty cool. A lot bigger than the 9"x12" box but then again that box can't handle 11"x14" or 12"x16" panels. This bigger 12"x16" pochade can handle all of them from 12"x16 down. I could also do a vertical 16"x20" too although I've never attempted to do something that big plein air. are some pics of the completed pochade box.....
I didn't notice until I posted this picture that the washers on the lower side hinge are in the wrong position, hahaha. Where's my screwdriver?

Here it is folded up...The slots cut across the top are where you attach the panel with a thin bungee cord. I thought that would not hold very well but very surprised it works great....and is simple to use or replace down the line. From the backside you can see how the pochade box mounts to the tripod. I used oak hardwood to hold a hammerd in Tee-nut to screw into the tripod great. Wood was scrap I had leftover from my previous pochade box project and the 2 back hinges, 1 side hinge and Tee-nut cost less than $20.00...oh, I spent about $10 for a quart of varnish but that will varnish a gazillion other projects down the line so if you want to get technical I guess you could say I used about .50...maybe .75 cents worth of varnish. Still a very affordable pochade box.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Danger!!! Artist in the Doldrums

Snow in the mountains above Santa Barbara...I took this shot from East Beach, east of the pier along the beach.

I know, I know...I've dealt with them before. You finish up a painting and then nothing happens no matter how hard you try. Only, I finished that painting a month ago. I actually did some paintings since then but that was forcing myself. I don't think you paint up to par when you force yourself to paint. I did it because I'm doing this full day job. If I am not doing something towards art during the day and into the evening I feel guilty of not working. I've been working since the 10th grade. It started with lawnmowing, bus boy, the military and so one...the longest I ever went without having a job since then was about 15 days....and yep, I felt miserable the entire 15 days, hahaha. I paint during the day and if I'm not painting I'm running errands for painting...going to meetings since I'm on the board for our Artist Guild, picking up supplies, framing etc. I then paint into the evening or am going through reference photos or doing my computing stuff...which usually has to do with art. I spent 6 hours today going back through my old reference photos because I couldn't come up with something with my new ones.....finally I gave up and went to the garage to build a 12"X16" pochade box...for painting. All I need now is the hinges and that will be done. At least I got something done today artwise.

The drive down to Santa Barbara as one wave of our storms was blowing through.

When I noticed I was in, not getting in, the doldrums I decided to try something different. I decided to try some Marine art since I like that type of work but never get around to doing it much since I spend so much time doing landscapes. Sometimes switching gears is good and it works to get me back on track....not this time. Add the dissapointments with learning something new and it has made it worse, hahaha....hence my heading down to the garage today to cut wood into the evening....and that's actually a good thing since I love to cut wood and build something. Thank heavens I wanted to build a larger pochade box. My 9"X12" box that I built works great but I figured why not be able to do 12"x16" sizes too.
One thing about painting...and being in an economy that is keeping sales almost to nil, is that you get plenty of time to think. That's not always a good thing. Too much of anything can be bad for you. I learned years and years ago that thinking can sometimes get your butt into trouble. When sales get slow I paint even more than usual...when I paint I think. I think of decisions I've made, slow sales, trying new subject matter, slow sales, art direction & career choices...and slow sales. It's not good to think too much.....I'm typing this because I figured it was better to get it out than to keep it all in.

I have to paint a plein air painting soon at a ranch here in the valley for the museum up in Los, no money in it, I just thought it was very cool they asked me first to do the painting which will be auctioned off to one of their members and it will be used for their advertising and invitations to their annual BBQ for members soon. I think it is really cool that I live here in this valley full of great artists and I got the offer I took it. I just need to get out of the doldrums before I go to do that painting...I don't want to come up with a big fat Zero for the day spent there....then I'll have to go back which isn't as bad as that sounds but I want to get out there and do a good job the first time. The only saving grace is that it is supposed to rain again tomorrow and that might last for the rest of the week. Too muddy to drive into the back country of the ranch which is huge...mountains almost to the ocean.

State in Santa Barbara.

Normally when I get into the doldrums I go out with my camera and get reference photos for future work but I did that last week...I'm going to try that again early tomorrow morning. If that doesn't work then I'll finish the pochade box....if that doesn't work then I'm going to cut my ear off....Now that this is finished I'll be up into the wee hours of the night going through more reference photos. Yikes!