Category Archives: Citiscapes

Balboa Park (Last Light)

I am on my way tomorrow to Hearst Castle to paint for an invitational, and taking my time, driving down the coast from Carmel to Cambria with a stop in Big Sur a couple days.  To prepare for painting the castle’s architecture, I got out some reference photos of Balboa Park in San Diego.   I hope to post all week along the way, but my first priority is painting, so no promises!

Click to enlarge
Balboa Park (Last Light), Oil on Linen, 12x9"

Saint i’s from Buena Vista Park

Saint Ignatius is a San Francisco landmark in the Western Addition.  The school was founded in 1855, moved several times, and was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The building in this painting was built in 1914.  Today, it’s the University of San Francisco.

The building is well lit at night, and because it’s on a hill, is visible from many vantage points in the city. When I walk Gracie in Buena Vista Park across from the street from our home, this church is a glowing sentinel.  This view was painted from a photo taken between sunset and dusk.  It’s at this time (before the lights come on) that the steeples just get a beautiful reflection from the setting sun.  Enjoy!

Saint I's from Buena Vista Park
Saint I's from Buena Vista Park, Oil on Linen, 6x8


Brantes, France

In the Summer of 2003 I got to paint in the south of France for a few weeks with Brigette Curt and Jim Smyth.  It was probably the most memorable painting experience of my life.  The smells of Provence (Lavender, Lindent trees, herbs) and light are just incredible. If you’d like to join them, check out their site.

This is Brantes, France, in the Vaucluse area of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

Brantes, France – Oil on Linen – 10×8


More “high-key” painting studies

I continue to experiment with painting in a higher key.  While I’m getting there, I’m not as light as I’d like to be (see Bato Dugarzhapov, a Russian artist I greatly admire).  Here are  a couple more studies, and a YouTube video of the first painting in progress:

Sonoma Road – Oil on Canvas – 10×8


This painting was done from a reference photo I took when Mike and I visited The Mediterranean last year.  It’s Corfu, Greece, a really beautiful island.

Walking in Corfu (Greece) – Oil on Canvas – 10×8


Randall Sexton Workshop

I was privileged to study with Randall Sexton at l’Atelier aux Couleurs, the Henche art academy in Petaluma this week.  The school is run by artist friends Carole Gray-Weihman and Al Tofanell, and is hosting a great line-up of teachers this year.  I’m going back to study with John Ebersberger in July and Peggi Kroll-Roberts in September.  It’s great to take workshops locally and aoid the expense of travel.

I had a pretty mixed week.  Did a couple scrapers, and other days just didn’t produce nearly as much as usually do.  The last day, Friday, I did a lot better.
I had fun with this study, really piling on the paint and using lots of direct, decisive brushwork. It’s a simply study, but I’m happy with it.


On Lee’s Ranch, Oil on Linen, 8×10


I spent a lot of time working on this old Ford truck.  Painting cars is a lot like painting portraits: the proportions and drawing have to be just right. Randy thought at one point it was looking more like a Rambler than a Ford, so he pointed out some drawing mistakes that brought the painting back.  I’m happy with this one, because I was able to balance accurate drawing with the loose brushwork I’m striving for.  It can be difficult to strike that balance. I’m also happy with the color harmony here.


Red Ford, Oil on Linen, 9×12


I think I painted this on Weds…it was 90+ degrees in Petaluma.  I had trouble finding something to paint. One of the things I’m working on is learning to simplify.  Painting an entire house is a challenge, so I found a more intimate scene, and kept it simple, focusing on light and value.  Randy called it “Hopper-esque“, a nice complement.


Simply Light & Shadow, Oil on Linen, 10×8


More to come!

Venice Shadows

It’s not exactly original to say I’m an artist and like Venice!  The water, architecture, interesting shapes, incredible light…it makes it one of the best place to paint ever.  I didn’t paint this plein air, but rather from a photograph.  Last time I was there, it was a family trip, so not really easy (or polite) to take off for hours at a time to paint. I’ll go back someday for dedicated painting time.  Until then, enjoy this one.

Painting in the Presidio of San Francisco

The weather was great Saturday, so spent the day painting plein air, in The Presidio of San Francisco.  Since 1776, the Presidio has been home to 3 armies, starting with Spanish, Mexican and of course the US (starting in 1846). It’s a great place to explore, really caught in time and in a period of big transformation.

The Presidio Yacht Club lies at the Northern foot of the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Baker.  It’s also transformed a lot in the past few years, from on old to fort (now restored) that includes a Discovery Museum and Lodge/Conference center.  This is an odd outer building connected to the club. Obviously, I was interested in the color!  This is a complementary color study (green vs. red).


Presidio Yacht Club (nothing fancy), Oil on Linen, 10×8


This structure is very indicative of the presidio’s old fort structures. I don’t know if it shows in this photo, but I focused on the building’s shadows. The larger shadow was cooler and lighter and the other darker, and warmer.


Presidio Study, Oil on Linen, 8×10


San Francisco in Golden Light

I like to paint cityscapes to practice learning to abstract scenes and focus on big shapes.  This was one such exercise.  There are just a couple of big shapes and values here: the sky, distant hills, buildings in light and the trees.  Once I blocked in the buildings, I added lines here and there to indicate sides, rows of windows, etc.

San Francisco, Golden Ligth – Oil on Linen – 8×10


At the The Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park

Yesterday was an absolutely perfect day to paint.  The light could not have been clearer. It was an orange-yellow, which made the most perfect blue-violet shadows (shadow colors are generally complementary to the color of light).  This is the type of light/shadow that clearly inspired the French impressionists. In fact, while painting, I was reminded of the summer I spent painting in Provence–the light was THAT clear.

I set up in the Temple of Music courtyard, which was constructed with the first M.H. de Young Museum as the Grand Court for the 1894 California Mid-winter International Exposition. The bandstand has a band that plays April – October (126th season!).

This was my first effort. The tops of the trees had a wonderful warm glow, and the fountain was fun to paint, too. I tried to keep the bandstand itself subtle, falling back in space so the fountain and tree tops could lead the eye.

Golden Gate Park Music Concourse, Oil on Linen, 8×10″


I then set up with the light between me and these two trees. Definitely had fun with the light/shadow in this one.  Hurray for sunny days in San Francisco!

Winter London Plane Trees, Oil on Linen, 10×8″