I’ve been so busy with updating websites and social media profiles lately while also working on paintings in the studio so I haven’t had many opportunities for outdoor plein air painting. Don’t get me wrong–there have been opportunities–just none that really piqued my interest. I’ve enjoyed painting at the Ramona Grasslands Reserve in the past so when the local painters group suggested it, I made the time to be there for some painting fun.
Here’s a map of the area if you’d like to visit sometime. It’s a great place to hike, walk your dog, ride either a trail bicycle or a horse (no motorized vehicles allowed) or to go and do some art!
There is an ample parking lot and if you get there early (the gate opens at 8:00 am) you’ll get a choice parking spot. Later on the horsey set arrives and their trucks and trailers fill most of the spaces.
The sky was socked in and grey as I drove up the 67 past Mt. Woodson, which is near the Grasslands Preserve. However, It steadily cleared as I hiked around looking for a vista to paint until it finally wound up a gorgeous, sparkling, clear day. In season, there are standing ponds but in late Summer/early Autmn, before the Fall rains come the ponds can be completely dry and caked with cracked mud. There are a couple of loops to hike on and the trails are very well maintained. The Preserve is fenced in its entirety and is an open cattle range so you can expect to see some of the bovine type roaming about. I got some photos of them today, before I started painting:
…and there were several of these little guys, some of which were hiding in the grass… you can just see the head of one on the right side of the above photo.
Eventually, I found a view I liked and wanted to paint. I brought only a small 12X12 cradled birch panel to paint on because I thought it was so overcast, I’d rather do a small one but as I said, the day cleared up very nicely. Maybe I should have brought a larger canvas or panel. Here is the place I set up my easel–you can see how nicely maintained the trails are…
It’s not all open sun, either. There are some nice shady places with wooden picnic tables within easy hiking distance. All in all, I really recommend the place, especially after the rains or in the spring when everything is emerald green and glistening with dew in the early morning.
Here’s an iPhone photo of the little painting I walked away with.
Ronald Lee Oliver is a self taught artist creating plein air, studio, photography and digital art in Southern California. Original and print versions of Ron’s art can be purchased online.