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Plein Air at Point Loma

It was a beautiful, early Fall morning for plein air painting in San Diego at the coast.  The area known as Sunset Cliffs Natural Park has many places for recreation, among which is plein air painting.  There is no limit to the choice of subjects found there.  If you come to San Diego to paint, I definitely recommend this as a good place.

Here’s a pic of my painting kit on site.  That’s a 16×20 on the easel. I like that size for plein air because it allows lots of freedom for brush movement, though it is a large space to fill in one session.

The "block in" stage after about a half hour of painting...
The “block in” stage after about a half hour of painting…

…and here’s a short video I made after I finished…you can see the light has changed as compared to my composition on the canvas.

…and of course, here’s the finished piece…

Pappy Point at Sunset Cliffs

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#Pleinair at Santa Fe Trolley Depot in San Diego

I painted en plein air recently in a place that has always intrigued me with it’s dramatic architecture, interesting shadows and reflections and of course the famous red trolleys–that is, at the San Diego Metropolitan Transit system’s Santa Fe Depot at One America Plaza in downtown San Diego.  Here’s a pic of the architecture which previously won an “Orchid Award” in the annual San Diego Architectural Foundation review of San Diego developments and construction projects which either effuse the elegance of an orchid…or the stink of an onion.

The arch of the Trolley weather port at Santa Fe Depot.
The arch of the Trolley weather port at Santa Fe Depot.

I arrived early…before 8:00am and set up my easel in the traffic island at the center of the intersection at Broadway and Kettner.  It was a great place from which to paint and provided the perfect vantage of the trolleys coming and going. Painting the trolley itself was done in fits and spurts as one trolley would leave but another would arrive in minutes and for the most part, with a few exceptions, was identical.  Here’s a pic of my easel, with two trolleys in the station in the background…

Easel and painting of Ronald Lee Oliver
Easel and painting of Ronald Lee Oliver

It was interesting to paint with the traffic rolling by and when the traffic would stop, folks would gawk out the car windows, inquisitively at the patently unusual sight of a crazed plein air painter in the middle of traffic, wearing a big, Guatemalan palm leaf, cowboy hat, pacing to and fro, wielding a long, paint laden brush like a picador, stabbing at a canvas as if it were a snorting bull trying to gore him. Many pedestrians walking by gave the big, “thumbs up” and commented that I was making a beautiful painting, which is always encouraging.  Here’s the result of the morning’s effort–a 16 x 16 inch oil on stretched canvas, titled “Rolling Through.”  Whether it is an “orchid” or an “onion” or the bull won is in the proverbial eye of the beholder…

Santa Fe Trolley Depot as painted by California artist, Ronald Lee Oliver
Santa Fe Trolley Depot as painted by California artist, Ronald Lee Oliver
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What is a Plein air QuickDraw ?

Serendipity ~ 16 x 16" oil on canvas
Serendipity ~ 16 x 16″ oil on canvas

A plein air QuickDraw is an outdoor event where a group of painters, usually invited to the event by a jury selection process, all compete to produce the best painting (as opined by the event judge) in a limited amount of time…typically about two to three hours.

The above painting, Serendipity, was completed in two-and-a-half hours at the April 12, 2014 San Diego Botanic Gardens QuickDraw, which had 16 painters participating. Not all of the time was spent painting…much of it was spent talking with interested onlookers and patrons of the botanic gardens.  There were three ribbons awarded, which included some cash prizes.  No ribbon for Serendipity–but hey–what does a judge know about what is the best, eh? 😉

The important thing is to get a good result and judging by response from patrons and other artists at the event, this one was well received.  I am honored that Serendipity was selected by jury for exhibition in the June 2014 Regional Artists Show at the Museum of the Living Artist at the San Diego Art Institute in the Prado at Balboa Park.

~Buy this Painting~

I also took some photos of the Botanic Gardens and put them in a gallery.  You can have a look at them by clicking on the images, here:

Plein air QuickDraw at San Diego Botanic Gardens