This is how my little 8 x 8 inch plein air painting turned out after I took it back to the studio and messed with it a little…. perhaps there’s a little too much of a warm cast in the lighting but I think I’ve traded some of the freshness of color and application of the earlier stage for a stability and structure of the final version.
It’s still a cute painting but that’s the whole thing about plein air – to learn how to let the immediacy and imperfections of the moment fill the canvas with life and don’t try to beat it to death with notions of what it should look like…… It’s a lesson I have to learn over and over again.
One of our family’s New Year’s traditions is to spend the day seaside hiking at Año Nuevo or Point Lobos. So, while we were skiing in the Sierras this year it seems appropriate that my first painting of the year should be a seascape. Cypress Crescent is a view from Cypress Grove at Point Lobos. I love the blue horse shoe of roots clinging to the rock.
It’s good to be back in the studio painting again now that the holidays are over!
Here I am working on another vista from Point Lobos. In this one I’m interested in the crescent shape that is formed in the corner in the upper right, it seems a welcome contrast to all the lines and angles, much like the contrast between the vegetation and the stone. I really enjoy how the swath of blue ocean seems to bleed down the rest of the painting.
I only had a few hours to work on this painting before breaking for yoga and a sand mandala ceremony on compassion but I feel it’s a good start. It was moving to watch Lama Ngawang sweep up his intricate and painstaking art into a pile while speaking on the nature of attachment and how nothing is permanent.
I hope to capture the precarious nature of life on the margins of land and sea in this painting I began last Friday. I’m using one of the many photographs I took in the summer of the cypresses in Point Lobos as inspiration. It’s just so stunning to see these lone trees clinging to sheer rock face, pummeled by the Pacific! I like how the tree is dwarfed by the massive outcropping of rock on which it clings, rock which has been stripped nearly bare by the ocean. It’s almost a portrait of a landscape in which the skin and muscle has been pulled away to reveal the skeletal structure. Although the cypress symbolizes death and mourning, here I think it is a metaphor for perseverance.
Each painting takes its own path. Some paintings effortlessly appear as you draw your paint across the canvas with your brush. Not so often. More frequently you need to do more than just show up. Usually it’s a process of really looking, laying down what you think you see and then really looking again. Sometimes you need to rethink your approach and paint over or scrape off or even toss out and start again. Mostly you need to be brave enough to push yourself and patient enough to let it all unfold.