“Chain of Lakes” revisited

There’s an area of Golden Gate Park called “The Chain of Lakes” that I’ve painted before.  There are a couple of trees there (I still don’t know what variety, although they look like a conifer of some kind) that turn this wonderful combination of red, orange, and bright green in Fall. It’s like the tree is living in both Fall and Spring at the same time.

So, here’s another take on this seen.  Enjoy!


“Chain of Lakes”, Fall (Golden Gate Park) – Oil on Linen – 12×9


Annual Holiday Sale

I’ve just launched my annual holiday clearance sale, with my lowest prices ever! Prices start at just $50. Visit my store at http://store.edterpening.com
This latest painting is included.

It was painted from a reference photo I took at Telluride, Colorado.  The funicular in the valley floor takes skiers in Winter to the top of a local mountain. In summer, it’s a great place to visit.  I was there last year as part of Telluride Plein Air.  The photo was taken in late, late afternoon. I love the light during this time!


Above Telluride – Oil on Linen – 8×10

Our Wedding Day!

No art, today: after almost 20 years together, Mike and I decided to make it official.  Surrounded by friends and family (and CBS News, yikes!) we were married in a civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, where the same-sex marriage in California began.

Ed & Mike, Wedding Day, San Francisco City Hall

I hope you’ll join us in opposing Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.  We were interviewed by CBS News after (and they filmed the ceremony), so who knows, we could become the “Joe the Plumber” of same-sex married couples!
You’ll find our online wedding album here.  Enjoy!

Update: our wedding kiss is part of this CBS Evening News segment on Proposition 8.

Sketches from NYC

While I was in NYC last week on business, I brought a simple pen and ink set.  I draw using a fountain pen with Roting-Brown ink, and a watercolor brush with water to create the wash.  I like to sketch people (for some reason, landscape less so). Parks are a good spot.  People tend to sit a while, or even sleep, as one of my sketches show.  There was also a parade that Monday (Columbus Day), so I was able to capture the crowd.

This woman was reading outside a restaurant, waiting for a table:

This guy fell asleep on a bench in Central Park:

Columbus Day Parade crowd:

Central Park trees:

Lastly, on the plane home, I drew small compositional studies based on reference photos on my iPhone:

Sea Cliff & Monterey Cypress

The Fall is the best time to paint the coast here as there’s usually not as much fog.  I expected to paint an ocean view, but came across this view of a field and cliff (click for Google Map of the location, just north of Half Moon Bay).  I liked the arrangement of shapes and colors, and the division of space. I kept it both realistic and a bit abstract so I get get the viewer to focus on this overall impression, and not focus on detail.

What do you think?


Sea Cliff & Monterey Cypress, Oil on Linen, 12×9

Morning at Crissy Field

Crissy Field is San Francisco’s newest major park, dedicated in 2001.  Originally an airfield in 1919, the field was the site of one of the earliest army airfields on the west coast.

The western portion of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held here, including The Grand Prix.  According the NPS website, “The winning auto reached the dizzying speed of 56 miles per hour.”  In 1924, the first Dawn-to-Dusk transcontinental flight ended at Crissy Field, and the first flight from California to Hawaii started there.

This morning, the area was shrowded in fog (and high, cold winds–brrrr), so I kept color saturation low, and went for harmonious grays throughout.  The building shown here is Crissy Field Center.

Crissy Field (Foggy Morning) – Oil on Linen – 10×8

The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco is no longer an art museum–as you might think–but a park and very fun hands-on science museum called the “Exploritorium” . The complex of buildings was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, just a few short years after the devastating 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire.The Exposition played an important role in art history. According to AskArt:

One of the many lasting effects of the 1915 Exposition was the recognition, both international and national, it brought to artists and their work, and specifically to art activities in California. For the first time, visitors could see a representative exhibition of modern art from all the art centers of the world. In particular, they were exposed to the Impressionists and their use of color, spontanaety, and disregard for rigid scholastics. The stage was set, and seeds were sown for the development of American-style Impressionism, fauvism, expressionism, and all that was to follow.

Christian Brinton, author of the book ‘Modern Artists’ and a visitor to the Exposition, wrote:
The West has a great future in art. Indeed, I go so far as to say the future of art belongs to the West. It is inevitable. The freshness and vitality of your life, the stimulation of the environmental influences—these things must result in big things.
This view is not the usual painted. I’ve painted the domed building before, so decided to try another view.

Palace of Fine Arts (San Francisco) – Oil on Linen – 8×10″

Use of Roads in Compositional Design

Roads and pathwayss are often used as compositional devices by artists (click here for a Google images search result to see some samples).  After all, artist’s use principles of design to lead the eye within a painting, in order to maintain interest.  A road is an easy way to lead the eye, because we’re trained to follow them.  Generally, when I compose a painting, I think first about an eye pathway and leverage (or invent) directional elements that create interest.  Lines that appear in nature like the shape of a tree, or the curve of a roof may be used to direct the eye, as well as roads.
To demonstrate, take a look at this sketch made to prepare for a painting of the French village Simiane.  The arrows I drew to the right of the sketch indicate the kind of eye pathway I think the design will create for the viewer.

The painting below uses both literal and figurative roads to lead the eye.  I believe the viewer will start in the lower right, where the road begins and invites them into the painting.  Where the road ends, the viewer will likely head up, and follow the path of light hitting the distant hills, then head right to follow the mountain tops, then down again to the foreground hill. This is my theory.  I remember years ago while at CNET we commissioned a study that actually showed where the eye first landed on a web page, and its subsequent movement on the screen.  Our test subjects wrote a set of special eyeglasses that tracked the eye’s movements. Obviously, very useful information to websites that make their money on advertising.  Hmmm…but you know, I guess I’m still in the same business.  Is a painting an advertisement?  I guess it is. It’s a product selling a sense of place and distraction from the everyday (like a movie).

Enjoy this 8×10 distraction 🙂


Road to San Luis Obispo – Oil on Linen – 8×10″

Painting China Cove

I think my shadows have been overly dark lately, so I’ve been seeking opportunities to “lighten up”.  An old reference photo of “China Cove” in Point Lobos did the trick. The photograph was over exposed, so everything was lighter than it would have been otherwise.

As I was painting this, the colors in the photo where washed out, so I also thought about pushing them further.  I had a good time with this painting, and very happy with it. It has the sense of light I was looking for.  I also reminds me of somewhat of Camille Przewodek’s colors. I tend to drift between schools of color, from Camille’s light key paintings to the more dramatic value changes of the Russian impressionists school.  I think I’ll stay in this key for a while, and see how things go.

Also, I took photos of the painting in progress, so created a little video (see below).


China Cove – Oil on Linen – 12×9

Here’s a short video of the painting in process.


Click to visit YouTube.  Be sure to click “Watch in High Quality” link, lower right.

The painting adventures of Ed Terpening