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Padre Dam Plein Air Outing

Padre Dam is the first Dam built in California by Catholic Missionaries.
Padre Dam is the first Dam built in California by Catholic Missionaries.

San Diego has a past that is inextricably linked with the Spanish colonization and works of the Catholic Missionaries that established the first outposts of Western Civilization on the American continent.  In Santee, California, about five miles from Lakeside, CA where I live,  is the site of the first water collection system created by the Spanish Missionaries.  Known as “Padre Dam,” it is now a ruin that is part of the Mission Trails Regional Park system. This dam provided water for agriculture which supported the established Mission de Alcala, about three miles to the West, where the missionaries and the indigenous people interfaced.

The dam, with its water and pools makes a picturesque subject and provides some green relief in this long period of drought we’ve had in Southern California.  Even in the hottest part of this dry year, there is still a trickle of water that flows here in the San Diego River–a river that originates in the Laguna Mountains that rise to just over 6000 feet, some 25 miles to the East.

This plein air painting was finished early in the morning while the air was still cool and the shadows were long.  The temperatures rose above 100 degrees fahrenheit later in the day and it was good to finish this 11 x 14 inch panel before it became truly miserable.

I painted quickly to capture the colors and light of the moment, as well as a sense of place.

I’m quite happy with the result.

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Valentine’s Day #Pleinair Painting at Point Loma

February 14th, 2015 in Southern California.  The air temps got up to over 90 degrees in the inland areas.  I headed West, early this morning to paint at the area in Point Loma known as “Sunset Cliffs.”  It was already warm and not the least bit cold as I painted at the top of a cliff, near waters edge above the surf below…here’s a short video of the beautiful conditions and the painting I made.  11 x 14 inch oil on panel.

…and here’s an example of how it would look in a nice “New Rustic” solid wood frame by Randy Higbee galleries…

This is my "go to" frame to compliment my plein air paintings...
This is my “go to” frame to compliment my plein air paintings…
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“Mele Kalikimaka” Hawaiian #Pleinair Painting Trip

Mele Kalikimaka 2014

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That’s the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway…

I guess after all I was not so naughty this year that I wasn’t able to make a Christmastime excursion with my beautiful wife, Jackie, to the Hawaiian Island of Maui.

This wasn’t a “painting only” trip, so I only made time for two 11 x 14 in. panels but they were both lots of fun to paint.  Even though the Trade Winds were fierce during one of the painting sessions, I managed to finish with no mishaps.

Though probably not the wisest thing to do, I diverged from my usual painting methods on this air travel trip and was winging it (no pun intended) with a color palette and paints I had never used before. To lighten the load and simplify things for flying, I chose to go with a five color palette and used water mixable oil paints for the first time.

It was really surprising how well it all worked out!

The colors I brought along were:

Cobra© Water mixable oils

  • Primary Cyan
  • Primary Magenta
  • Primary Yellow

Sennelier©

  • Mars Black  (a warm and fast drying black without the bluish cast of Ivory Black)

Rembrandt©

  • Payne’s Grey (I find it indispensable)

Gamblin©

  • Flake White Replacement (non-toxic and creamy consistency)

Each morning of painting, I pre-mixed a very vibrant chromatic palette from the three water mixable “primaries” which produced some very convincing greens, oranges, and fuchsias, as well as deeper purples.  I was careful not to “overmix” the paint piles, leaving striations of broken color in the mixes.  A sealable “Guerilla Painter” 9 x 12 in. palette tray kept the paint fresh and protected inside my pochade while exploring for a suitable view to paint.

This color palette worked very well and much to my relief, there was no problem mixing the “oil” paints with the water miscible paints.  The Cobra paints especially were surprisingly “creamy” in consistency and were very easy to mix and move about on the panel. While painting, when I felt I needed a little more “flow,” I used a mixture of my standard recipe medium, transported in an eye dropper bottle that consisted of equal parts stand oil, turpentine, and dammar varnish.  I brought no solvents because they must not be flown over (TSA will confiscate)  and it is an extra trip to the hardware store to get some when you arrive and then there’s nowhere to conscientiously dispose of it when you leave.

Another interesting thing about creating these two paintings is that I used one single brush the entire time!  I brought my brush wallet but became so engrossed in the painting process and not wanting to waste any time in capturing the light that I worked only with a single, quarter-inch “bright” hog bristle brush. I held a paper towel sheet in my left hand and wiped the brush clean between different colored passages.  I was able to make a surprising variety of marks with the stiff but springy little bristle bright. The only other implements I used to apply or mark the paint were my finger and in some few instances I removed paint with a cotton swab, which are essentials that I always pack when I paint en plein air.

All said and done, I had a great time in Hawaii and having the opportunity to paint made the trip just that much more special.

I’d like to say to any reader who chanced here and happened to read this far…

Here we know that Christmas
Will be green and bright
The sun to shine by day
And all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii’s way
To say Merry Christmas to you!

 

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Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach)

Just about any beach in Hawaii is beautiful but some are absolutely heavenly. On the South West side of Maui, there are some little sandy coves between the fingers of lava that provide views of the islands across the channel.

Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach) 24″ x 24″ oil on gallery wrapped canvas.

Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach) 24" x 24" oil on canvas
Kahakai Lani (Heavenly Beach) 24″ x 24″ oil on canvas