Tag: California

Trees, Late Afternoon

Third and last of a photo I took earlier this month in Independence, CA, before being driven back home because of Covid. I am not sure which of the three of these paintings I did of the same photo I like best (you can back track on this blog if you want to see them, or go to Instagram!), but this one, in acrylic, was by far the most time-consuming.

I used 16×20 Arches 140# CP paper and a variety of acrylic paints, but first I laid down a few layers of gesso to prep the surface of the paper. The first layer of gesso was thinned with water and brushed on quite firmly to work it into the paper itself. The paper warped as watercolor paper does, but I was really happy to see it flatten out with the second, thicker layer of gesso.

Most of my brushwork tends toward dabbing on dots, which is great for pointillism and impressionistic painting, so I worked at creating lines, as seen on the grasses in the background, along with using a flat brush and using its tip or sides to work paint in a more up / down, side-to-side manner. My next painting is going to include these types of brush strokes, just because. It never hurts to try things you don’t usually do.

Every type of media – watercolor, gouache, acrylics – has its own “language” – that is, the way you have to work with it. Acrylics are rather heavy on paper and I need to think ahead for what I want to do. I tried the slower drying acrylic paints, and just did not like them. As a result, the ones I use tend to dry rather quickly. Filling the palette with every color I think I might want to use is a waste of paint. Instead, I have to plan, not like a general, but certainly I need to anticipate what comes first, what comes next, and so on. I also have to think about brushes and brushwork. Painting can be spontaneous, but it also needs experience to allow for more success (however you want to define “success”) than failure.

One thing I considered for this painting, but did not do, was to lay down a glaze to unify it. Chicken! Maybe I will come back to it later. Now, two things are on my next painting agenda: buildings and no dabbing! And maybe a glaze . . .

A Hint of Autumn

Independence, CA

Well . . . I got tired of pen, ink, watercolor. Watercolor just wasn’t in my head, so I dug out my gouache paints. They were rather fuzzy from mold – typical of gouache if you don’t use them often enough – so, I rinsed them off, and went to work. I really like the photo I took of these trees but did not like my earlier efforts.

I started out so klutzy – like, how do I use my colors? order or painting? All the usual stuff that goes with not doing something for awhile. The result is far better than I thought it would be!

Dry Wash

Dry Wash at Independence, CA, Botanical / Native Plant Garden

One of the nicest things about spending 2-3 nights at a place is that you get to explore. Independence, CA, is along Hwy 395 and is a town you would zip right by if your weren’t staying there. However, you really can miss a few things!

We stayed at the Winnedumah Hotel, in a room at the back. Out the door and down the road a few blocks is the local museum, and although it was closed the days we were there, we plan to go back. Outside the museum is a rather wonderful native plant garden. It faces west, so it is in the shadow of the Eastern Sierras. There is a creek running through it, complete with trickling water. Winter rains swell it and it obviously flows over its banks.

The sandy shore and rocky bottom depicted here create a dry wash. In canyon country these smooth areas are tempting for campers because the smooth soil makes pitching a tent and sleeping bag comfortable and easy, but if a rain happens upstream, a flash flood creates a swirling death trap. Even locally – where I live – people are drawn to these washes in the rainy season (if there still is one . . . ) and get washed away in the event. I had a wonderful friend who died in such a flash flood because the ground he was standing on probably got abruptly eroded from underneath. Even peaceful streams need to be treated with respect.

Near Olancha

Near Olancha, CA

Even though our trip was stopped by Covid-19, I did get a number of photos along the way. Olancha, CA, is one of those little towns without a lot of amenities, but big in different ways. Here are some – and were some – nice little restaurants that provide comfort to the hungry and a much-needed break from the car. Little dirt roads catch the eye, and trees and houses break up the flat land leading to the grandeur of the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. So, even though my trip was canceled, I d intend to create sketches of what I saw along the way . . .

Carpinteria Bluffs

Another attempt at acrylic painting. This time I used a sheet from a Fredrix linen pad. I gessoed it and then used, initially, the Open medium with the paints, but I didn’t like the way it was working, and so switched to regular matte medium to dilute the paints. I tried to use the paints fairly straight out of the tube, blending with white and matte medium. The result was a fairly thick paint that behaved well.

The Carpinteria Bluffs are located in the southernmost section of Santa Barbara County, just above the border of Ventura County, where I currently live. Carpinteria was home for many years and always enjoy returning, especially in summer when the light shifts and everything has a glow of its own. Eucalyptus trees and other plant life make for a wonderful walk along the cliffs above the Pacific, and across the Santa Barbara Channel are the various islands that make up the Channel Island National Park. This might be San Miguel Island, but I can never remember which one is which!

Spring in Hill Country

While we have not had much rain this year, the countryside still has fields of wildflowers, mostly lupines and poppies.

Today, I decided to just paint, not think too much, to see if I could get a good sense of value. I did a couple of paintings. I used hot press paper, whereas I normally use cold press when I paint. I tried two different brands, and the Arches won out.

Santa Paula Ranch in Winter

California is filled with open space and ranchlands; in fact, according to the US Department of Agriculture:

Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California is the leading US state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value.

So, California is far more than rich people, Los Angeles, and movie stars. Where I live, agriculture is a major industry. It is around little towns and large suburban areas that you find ranches, for flowers, avocados, citrus, strawberries, and vegetables. Here, a view of a ranch in Santa Paula, taken from a train ride several years ago. The original photo is below.