San Diego has some great places for the plein air painter to park their easel and capture the beauty of nature with brush and paint.
One of the best places in the county is the nature reserve at San Elijo Lagoon, between Solana Beach and Encinitas. The lagoon and tidal estuaries meander East to West from the inlet at the coast. The tidal flow extends inland for almost two miles, flowing under the I5 Freeway before eventually ebbing to a stop in Rancho Santa Fe. I painted at a place along the Rios Avenue Trail, which is on the Southwest side of the Lagoon, on a peaceful, foggy, October morning. I can recommend the many locations at the lagoon as a places one could return to again and again and find something new to paint, each time.
Here are some photos and video I took to share with you. You’ll also see my completed painting at the bottom of this post.
Birds and jumping fish break the stillness now and again…
Here’s a short video that gives a 360 view.
Here is the painting after about an hour and a half of painting, when I decided to take it home. I made a few small touches and corrections back in the studio.
…and here is the finished piece, “Rios Trail at San Elijo”
I and two other artists will be doing live demonstrations of plein air painting techniques–free to the public. The demos will take place at the annual San Diego River Foundation “River Days,” celebration this Saturday, May 14th in the Mission Gorge Regional Park at Old Padre Dam. The demos happen 8:00am to 11:00am. Here are some “clickable” photos I took on a showery May morning to urge you to come out and see the beautiful setting of the park and learn a bit about how to create scenic art in the open air.
I took the camera and telephoto lens out today and made a visual diary of my stroll along “La Jolla Coast Walk,” which is a short but scenic trail along the top of the cliffs above the La Jolla Caves. It was overcast, which is typical of La Jolla, early in the morning. The sun doesn’t come out there until about 11:00 am, or later, if at all. I was able to get some interesting shots, even in the diffuse light. They’re there if you have the patience to look for them.
Hint: Click on the first image, upper left, then use the navigation arrow in the viewer box to click through the slide show.
La Jolla Cove, Bird Rock, the Cave Shell Shop, and the Oceanfront walk are a great place to spend an early Saturday morning in San Diego County. I went there yesterday with my camera and recorded some images. Here are a my favorite selections from the photos I took.
The geographic configuration of the La Jolla Coast is such that you can’t really call it a peninsula but it does jut westward from the coast to the North, creating not quite a bay but what I would call a “bight”–the La Jolla Bight.
Various species of pelagic birds make their home and spend time away from ocean foraging on the rocks and cliffs of the La Jolla Peninsula. Recently, the city spent lots of public money trying to wash the guano off of the cliffs because it makes the area smell like the sea. The cleanup operation left pools of a disgusting dark sludge instead of the bleached white guano…oops…anyone else have any bright ideas? The rocks in the photo above have not been “cleaned” yet but are slated for “phase two” of “Operation Poop-be-gone.”
This fellow seemed displeased that I had the audacity to get close while he was trying to digest his morning repast. He did not fly away, however as I was using a telephoto lens and did not have to get too close.
It is a beautiful area, especially early before it gets too crowded. Get there early (around 8:00am) to find ample parking, which can be hard to find later in the morning.
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.