Southern California Scenes

"Last Light"
9 x 12 Chalk Pastel, Water, and Red Wine on Flat Canvas
(Original not for sale)
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One of the benefits of painting familiar things is the freedom to strip them down into their basic elements. In these paintings, I chose to focus on forms, as the strong directional shapes were what inspired me to paint them. I am one of those people who finds comfort in familiar surroundings, which means I spend lots of time studying the things I see every day and looking for patterns and characteristics to help me paint with ease.

For "Last Light," I used a photo taken on my phone at sunset in Oceanside, California as a loose reference. I often get distant photos of people along the water and use their forms in my paintings. I get lots of sunset photos, because I'm not an early morning person. This translates into paintings that typically have a lot of light in the water and heavily shadowed people. The "cruciform" pose of the figure above was the initial inspiration for the piece. I brushed the pastels with a bit of water, and used a little red wine to give that brown tint to the wet sand.

The painting below is a familiar view for me: palm trees and a power pole in front of my neighbor's house. Every time I look out the kitchen window, I just want to paint those trunks! Palm trees are all over the place here in Southern California, and they make frequent appearances in my work. I'm always amazed by their resilience in the face of some of our furious winds. They may lose some fronds, but they don't fall over and break. I also love the sound of wind brushing through them, or the way the greener parts glitter in the midday sun.

On the day I painted these palms, it was fairly cold outside, and a few residual clouds from a recent storm drifted low in the distance. There isn't much in the way of clouds to paint now: it's a dry 91 degrees outside, in the first week of January! What a great way to start the year.

"Neighboring Palms" 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper

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