Early last summer, or late last spring, I visited a park with a friend. It is in Los Angeles, above the 118 freeway, so if you frequent the area you might recognize the photo (below) and the painting (above).
It is the kind of park I like – open, easily accessible, and then winding away from the city into the canyons beyond. Since my friend cannot get too far, we never have gone deep into the canyons, but perhaps one day I will go further than I have. It has some lovely tended areas and then wilder areas, but what I particularly enjoy are the oak trees.
This is the view from the pathway returning to the city, and this tree never ceases to find a soft spot (hopefully a sharp spot with good focus in a camera!) when I visit. I think we all have trees or buildings or places we enjoy revisiting.
More pointillism, more gouache.
This past spring in California has been one of the most stunning I can recall. A long period of rain, extending deep into May, produced a situation in which flowers bloomed, and bloomed, and bloomed. There are still traces of colors – golds and yellows mostly – on the hills when normally the color is beige and dead. The richness of the wildflowers made the landscape, whether on the hills or under the trees, in the meadows or alongside the freeway, a wonderland of color. I am still sorting out photos and memories as sources for paintings.
This is an underpainting for the gouache painting I did today. Wildflowers under the oak trees along a local trial – lupines, wild cucumber, white and yellow flowers of known and unknown species. Here, a la James Gurney, I decided to do an underpainting using casein paints. He suggests casein as the underpainting as it cannot be picked up, as can an underpainting of gouache, once it dries. It primes the paper, too. While the smell is rather gross, the substrate it creates is stable and I rather liked using it, not just for what it did for the paper, but to lay in some values as well.
From there, I moved into remembering – thin layers to thick in gouache, building to lighter colors and thicker layers as you move along. I’ve watched a number of videos on YouTube to get a sense of the process. In particular, I have enjoyed the videos on gouache by Sarah Burns. It’s rather strange to me, but it worked out. Below is a painting of blue-eyed grass and white flowers under the oak trees in this stunning California spring.