Painting in My "Backyard"

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Our property is adjacent to Santa Teresa County Park, so we sort of have a really big backyard.

Santa Teresa County Park tree

Here's my painting of a tree in the park (oil on panel). When I started painting it, there were cows on the hill. A few minutes later, they were gone. I'll just say I left them out so I can title it something clever like "Where Did All the Cows Go?"


Plein Air Art in the Park

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Martial Cottle Park, San Jose, CA

I entered the Santa Clara County Plein Air Art in the Park competition a few weeks ago. The location chosen was Martial Cottle State Park, a relatively new park in San Jose about six miles from me. I entered both the two-hour Quick Draw event, in which artists were given access to the Martial Cottle Life Estate (a restricted area within the park) and the main Plein Air competition.

The acrylic painting above won 3rd Place in the Plein Air competition, and my Quick Draw watercolor painting won an Honorable Mention. I don't have a picture of the Quick Draw painting yet, as I had to turn it in right away for judging. I'll post a picture of it once I get it back from the county.

Here I am at the Martial Cottle Park Spring Celebration, where all the paintings were displayed last weekend (thanks M. for the picture).


It was wonderful to meet other plein air painters in the area, including Kevin Kasik, who has participated in Los Gatos Plein Air before. He advised me to approach it like a sporting event -- eat right, get lots of sleep, etc. Great tips!

San Jose

Golf: My New Favorite Sport...

Saturday, May 06, 2017 sketch. OK, yes, it's sad that I've lived next to a golf course for two years and am only just discovering its pleasures. I still don't know how to golf, but it's really fun to draw other people practicing their swings and putts.

Santa Teresa Golf Club 1

Santa Teresa Golf Club 2

Santa Teresa Golf Club 3


San Diego Sketchbook

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Ocean view from Point Loma, San Diego, CA

First time in San Diego! Only spent a few days there, but it's a lovely city, and we'll be back. The painting above was done on location in Point Loma, at Cabrillo National Monument. I used Cobra water-mixable oils, which I bought at the Plein Air Convention & Expo. Loved the consistency -- they don't feel as stiff as the W&N Artisan paints.

In my sketchbook, I tried to capture little vignettes of the city over the time we were there.

At Breakfast Republic in Liberty Station:

Breakfast Republic, San Diego, CA

A quick sketch over lunch in the Gaslamp Quarter:

Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego, CA

A sketch of the harbor from the patio at the Sheraton:

Harbor from Sheraton Hotel & Marina, San Diego, CA

Sketches from the car as we drove around:

Sketches from car, San Diego, CA

Lots of sketches of La Jolla Cove, since we stayed to see the sunset:

La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

At La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

At La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

At sunset, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

At sunset, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, CA

The Firehouse Museum, as we ate breakfast near the farmer's market:

Firehouse Museum, San Diego, CA

On the drive back:

Driving back from San Diego, CA


Almaden Lake Park

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Almaden Lake Park

Finished this one today! I started the final stretch by creating some "sky holes" in the tree foliage and breaking up the masses.

I used some inexpensive new brushes: a synthetic filbert and a bright. I'm finding that these Taklon and nylon brushes are ideal for acrylics as they glide across the panel and enable soft edges.


Super Bloom, Soda Lake

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Super bloom Soda Lake

The recent rain has caused an explosion of wildflowers in California. Yesterday, we decided to take a day trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument, just east of San Luis Obispo. The swaths of gold were truly spectacular. I sketched the blooms near the salt encrusted Soda Lake. M. took a photo of me as I was working.

Suma sketching super bloom

I sketched this on Bee Paper's Super Deluxe Mixed Media sketchbook, which has been recommended by several sketchers as a good, reasonably priced workhorse surface. While I've been happy drawing on Bee's Pen Sketcher's paper, the Mixed Media one just isn't my jam for ink & watercolor work. Its weight and tooth feel more suited to dry media.


At Vasona Lake, Los Gatos

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Vasona Lake Park Los Gatos gouache

Glad that a fellow artist has resurrected the long-neglected South Bay Plein Air Meetup group. Yesterday there were three of us at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. Since I was squeezing this session in between errands and appointments, I chose to do a quick painting in gouache on Canson Mi-Teintes Touch toned paper. The sun was hot and climbing, so the paint dried almost instantly. The whole thing took less than an hour from setup to signature.


The Diptych Is Done!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

My paintings of the hills behind our house are done and framed and up on the wall!

Hills of Gold diptych

Golden Open acrylic on canvas. Really pleased with the gold floater frames from Here's how they look in the room.

Living room with diptych


Day 5: Challenge Completed!

Friday, March 10, 2017

It's a wrap. Started out with sketches after breakfast at the office cafe.

OneWeek100People2017 12

Continued through the messy commuter hour.

OneWeek100People2017 13

Ended with the grooves of Open Mic Night at Hub's Cafe.

OneWeek100People2017 14

OneWeek100People2017 15

Thanks Marc and Liz for this fantastic challenge!


Day 4: The Challenge Continues

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Switched to a Stillman & Birn sketchbook as I ran out of pages in the Bee Pen Sketcher's book I was using before.

OneWeek100People2017 10

OneWeek100People2017 11

Just 23 to go!


Sharpen Your Pencils: #OneWeek100People2017 Starts Tomorrow!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

M on couch with Chromebook

Move over Inktober. Here comes a mad March challenge from Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel: Draw 100 people in one week! That's ~20 people a day, starting ... tomorrow!

I warmed up yesterday by playing with my latest digital toy: the Adonit Pixel stylus on my iPad Air 2, using the app Adobe Sketch. I find Adobe Sketch to be more intuitive than Procreate, possibly because I'm familiar with Photoshop, and the stylus seems to play well with it.

Test portrait with Pixel stylus

Want to join? Find some people. Sketch. Share on social media with the hashtag #OneWeek100People2017. I'll be posting here, on Instagam, and elsewhere.


Mark Your Calendars: Los Gatos Plein Air 2017

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I'm delighted to have been juried into this year's Los Gatos Plein Air event. More than 30 invited artists will be painting in and around Los Gatos, California, from June 13-16, with a public sale and festival on Saturday, June 17. I'm excited and more than a little nervous to be in the company of such artists as Donald Neff, Mark Monsarrat, Marti Walker, and Suzi Long!

Santa Teresa, San Jose, CA

In past years, artists have generally been allowed to paint within a 15-mile radius of Los Gatos, so I've been using some mapping tools to see what's in the area. Last Sunday I walked around downtown Los Gatos, and this weekend I hiked in Almaden Quicksilver County Park, which has some great views of the surrounding hills. I'm excited to figure out my "shot list" of what I'll paint over the four days of the event.


Launch Party: Urban Sketchers 10x10 Bay Area

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Last weekend, the skies cleared just in time for the Urban Sketchers 10x10 Bay Area launch event. We started off with a quick sketch at Mission Bay with the SF Sketchers (who were celebrating their 5th anniversary).

Mission Bay, San Francisco, CA

Then it was on to Arch Art & Drafting Supply, where we noshed on finger foods, shopped, and heard from the workshop instructors. We ended the day at Thee Parkside, where we sketched over drinks and a late lunch.

Back patio at Thee Parkside, San Francisco, CA

There are still spots left in the workshops -- learn more and sign up.