Announcing, the World’s First…


Stop the presses! Call Guiness Book of World Records! The world’s first plein air drone selfie painting has just been created! Enjoy this short video including some spectacular scenes from the California coast, and then read about the adventure below—


Note: for email followers, if the video is not showing, click here.


A lot of you know I purchased a drone several weeks ago, and have been practicing around the south San Jose area. I have been contemplating getting a drone for a number of years, and when I painted the world’s first plein air selfie for “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”, mentioned it in jest as an idea. My drone is a DJI Mavic Pro, and considered one of the best consumer quadcopters in the business. It also folds up so can be easily transported. I wrote a little more about it here.

There is an ever growing patchwork array of rules and regulations for drone owners, particularly where you can fly. I agree with most of it…you can’t fly in national parks and wildlife refuges, close to airports, over stadiums, etc., but leave it to California to spoil the fun with more and more regulations. There are online websites and apps which are good resources on where its legal to fly, plus the DJI drone app also keeps track of where you are and tells you if you are in a no-fly-zone. Much of the California coastal waters from Morro Bay to San Francisco are off limits because it is a marine sanctuary, but if you don’t fly over the ocean, are generally OK.

 
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse area on the San Mateo Coast had some places I could fly, close to the road, and the cliffs were not too high in case I needed to get to the beach. I am a little paranoid about crashing such an expensive instrument, or coming down in a place inaccessible, so have been flying in open areas where there are no fences, etc.

We had a sunny day between two storms here in Northern California, so I headed out to the coast and the lighthouse. What a beautiful day! I was expecting it to be a little cold, but soaking in the sunshine just warms you up. Winds were light which helps in piloting the drone.

I set everything up, my easel and paints first, then the Mavic Pro. I also mounted a GoPro video camera on a tripod to record everything from the ground.

The basic setup
The basic setup

Upon launching the drone, I flew it around a bit to find the perspective I wanted for the painting. This drone has a live video feed to smart mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, etc. I then sketched in the scene by looking at what the drone was seeing through my iPad. I actually did not have the drone in the air a lot while painting. Besides conserving battery life, it was easy to see the values and colors quite well from the ground. I just needed the drone to get the perspective, and to see what I looked like from about 20 feet up in the air. From there on, I basically painted as normal en plein air, but taking the drone up a few times to recheck my drawing, etc.

Some plein air purists may scoff since I used an iPad for part of the process, and a bit gimmicky. The only thing I actually used it for was to get the scene from an aerial perspective and to see what my backside looked like. And so what if it is a little gimmicky! If you can have more fun while having fun, I say go for it!

I was there a little over three hours, about half that actually painting. Every once in awhile, I couldn’t resist taking the drone up and around the area to record some amazing video.

 
Late afternoon, I headed down the coast and made a few quick stops and quick flights to record the amazing California coast near sunset. You can view these in the video above.

All-in-all, I was musing on the way home, this was one of the best painting day-trips I have experienced in a long time!

Almost finished painting on the easel
Almost finished painting on the easel

I touched the painting up just a bit in the studio, and here is the final result…

First Drone Selfie, 12x16, oil on board
First Drone Selfie, 12×16, oil on board

A Bracebridge Holiday

AKA Bracebridge Bucket List
AKA You Win Some, You Lose Some

The Bracebridge Dinner is an extravaganza and theatrical performance in Yosemite Valley’s Majestic Hotel’s dining room during the month of December. A tradition since 1927, for a few weeks, the grand dining room is transformed into a Renaissance scene of Bracebridge Hall patterned after Washington Irvings writings. The four hour event includes a stunning array of singers and actors who tell the story of Lord Bracebridge and people of his household. A number of the cast are from the San Francisco Opera company. All this happens during a 7 course feast. The Wall Street Journal noted in 2006: “Bracebridge is, without much doubt, the country’s, if not the world’s premier Christmas dinner.”

I have long wanted to attend the Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee (recently renamed the Majestic Hotel) in Yosemite Valley. In times past it was so popular, you could only get in by lottery, but now can just make reservations. My wife had never heard of it, so educated her a bit about it, and we decided it would be my somewhat extravagant birthday present.

The official website is here, but you can also read about it here, but the most informative and excellent weblog first hand experience is here.

We booked a package deal, two nights at Yosemite Lodge, the Bracebridge Dinner, and a portrait package, for Wednesday Dec 13-Friday Dec 15, with the dinner on Thursday night.


Monday night prior, I woke up in the middle of the night with what appeared to be a mild case of food poisoning. It continued into Tuesday, and I was afraid I was coming down with something, so took it easy all day. I didn’t want to miss this as it is all prepaid with no refund, and quite pricey! By Tuesday evening I was doing better, and Wednesday morning felt pretty good, so we made our way to Yosemite Valley arriving late afternoon, and checked into Yosemite Lodge.

The late afternoon sun on El Capitan
The late afternoon sun on El Capitan

Thursday morning, I originally was planning on painting, but was still recovering a bit from whatever hit me Monday night so I didn’t want to sit in the frigid cold. The big dinner was tonight and I did’t want a relapse, so just a morning walk was in order. Josie joined me in the 40 degree cold for a walk from the Lodge to Swinging Bridge. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures–

I have been to Yosemite dozens and dozens of times, and I have never seen it this deserted! We encountered not one person on our mid morning walk!

That afternoon, I drove over to the Majestic to get our tickets, and they also gave us two souvenir menus for the event–

If this lounge gives you a bit of the creeps, you might be right. It wasn’t filmed here, but reproduced in the studio for the movie ‘The Shining’. The Majestic Lounge.
If this lounge gives you a bit of the creeps, you might be right. It wasn’t filmed here, but reproduced in the studio for the movie ‘The Shining’. The Majestic Lounge.

I also drove around the valley and took more pictures–


It’s a formal affair, so after getting gussied up, we headed to the Majestic late afternoon to get our portrait taken, and wait to be seated.

At our table were couples from the SF Bay area, Chicago, and Orlando. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the four hour feast, as there is a good write up here which was similar to our experience. We sat at the very back, facing the stage. This is actually a good seat in the house as we were right by the entrance where the performers would enter and exit, plus much of the action was right by us.

No pictures were allowed during the dinner but we could pose with the cast members afterward. There are lots of official pictures on the above mentioned websites.

It was about everything I expected. The performers, costumes, vocals, and everything else was spectacular. The food was wonderful, and was reminiscent of a nice cruise ship dinner, although slightly better. There were lots of courses, but they were all small portions spread out over hours, so by the end of the evening, was just full enough.


Friday morning, once again I passed on painting as it was even colder, below freezing, so took a short walk prior to packing up and heading home. I didn’t get any painting done on the trip, but gathered a few photo studies which would make good studio paintings.

So, I won with the Bracebridge Dinner, but lost on the painting endeavors!


If you are seriously considering going…my overall impression is, if you can afford it and Yosemite fairly accessible, it is a once in a lifetime event to do. It is not for everyone, as it attracts an older crowd and most younger people may not enjoy it. If you are interested in going, the weblog found here is very informative, plus many of the comments are worth reading.

Drops of Color, Everywhere

Carson Colors, 8x16, oil on panel, plein air
Carson Colors, 8×16, oil on panel, plein air

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus


Just returned from my usual annual fall trip to the Sierra’s to paint and explore the fall color. I generally go to Lake Tahoe and Hope Valley, but sometimes over Tioga Pass in Yosemite National Park and around the Lee Vining area along the eastern Sierra escarpment. This year was Tahoe.

I didn’t really have an agenda to do a lot of finished world class paintings this trip, but take it slow, enjoy the colors, do some paint studies, explore, and absorb the surroundings.


Sunday, I drove up Hwy 88 looking for color around Silver and Caples lakes, but color was past it’s prime, so decided to keep going over Carson Pass into Hope Valley. I have painted here many times for fall color. I settled on a spot by the West Fork Carson River and close to where I had painted in prior years. I ended up right under a highway bridge, and painting a scene looking under the overpass.

(Click on a thumbnail picture to see an enlarged version.)

I got about half done with the painting, but was tired after the drive, so headed into South Lake Tahoe to check into the motel.


Next morning, I waited until it warmed up a bit from below freezing to go out. I have painted in rain, sleet, snow, freezing temps, etc. so been there done that, and today it was wait for a little warmth!

It was back out to Hope Valley, which is about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe, and started a painting just across from Sorenson’s Resort, again on the Carson River as it starts to tumble out of Hope Valley. This time I was painting on top of a bridge!

I got about half done, then decided to head back to yesterday’s spot and finish yesterday’s painting. Bonita Paulis, an art acquaintance stopped by for a chat. After living in the area 35 years, she gave me some great out-of-the way places to paint.

The most complete piece I did on the trip
The most complete piece I did on the trip

Tuesday morning I trekked down to Carson City, NV, to have breakfast with an old childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years. After a great time reminiscing, went back up the mountain to Tahoe, and in the afternoon ended up on the Upper Truckee River, which had some great spots Bonita had told me about the day before.


Time to head home Wednesday after stopping at James Harold Gallery in Tahoe City to swap some new miniature paintings with some older pieces.

On an artistic note, I many times have a difficult time painting fall color aspen trees, so this trip was helpful. They are harder to paint than it seems. After trying to faithfully reproduce the color and value of the leaves, it always looks a little too bright and gaudy to me, and I need to tone them down. I did get one painting finished, and two started to finish in the studio. The journey of art never ends!

On a technical note, I have found Grumbacher Cadmium-Barium Yellow Medium is almost the exact color of the aspen at their height of yellow color. Other brands don’t seem to match as well.

Baja Splash

Baja Splash, 5x5, oil on panel
Baja Splash, 5×5, oil on panel

AKA A Mexican Adventure

This is just a little 5×5 painting, and didn’t take long to do, but brought back a flood of memories. It could be on almost any coastline on any continent in the world, but it is actually in Baja California, Mexico.

In 1978, I had recently moved back to Pasadena, California after spending my teens and twenties growing up in East Texas. A friend, Bob Ellsworth, invited me to go down to Mexico with some other friends (forgot who) to go snorkeling. We rented a motorhome, wetsuits, snorkeling gear etc. and headed south of the border to Puerto Kennedy on a peninsula about 20 miles south of Ensenada, Mexico. Here’s a map of where it is in relation to Ensenada”

Puerto Kennedy
Puerto Kennedy

It was the middle of nowhere with dirt roads, no facilities, no other people, etc. We camped right above Puerto Kennedy, and at night we could only see one light many miles down the coast. It was an ‘iffy’ area, and I wouldn’t go there today. Even back then Bob was ‘packing’.

The others took to the water and soon were hauling up fish on their spearguns. Well, I wasn’t much of a snorkeler as it was my first true snorkeling adventure in the ocean, but the water, fish, coral, and surroundings were absolutely beautiful. After getting woozy bobbing up and down in the incoming swells, shivering in the cold water (even with a wetsuit on), loosing a swimfin, which Bob had to go dive for, I decided to spend the rest the of weekend sketching the area.

When we got back to Pasadena, I soon painted several paintings from the trip, including a large painting, similar to this mini, and it won second place in a local art competition.

It was certainly a fun adventure!


By the way, in case you missed them on social media, here are a few more miniatures of Lake Tahoe just completed.

East Side View, 7x5 miniature, oil on panel
East Side View, 7×5 miniature, oil on panel
East Side Squall, 6x4 miniature, oil on panel
East Side Squall, 6×4 miniature, oil on panel

That’s it for now! Thanks for stopping by!

Hot! Hot! Hot!

AKA Painting the Los Gatos Plein Air Festival

My panel at the show
My panel at the show

I was honored to once again participate in the Los Gatos Plein Air Art Festival which is sponsored by the Los Gatos Morning Rotary. It’s a plein air event where we have about 4 days to produce paintings which are then sold off Friday night and Saturday. It is also a charitable event as proceeds help local schools and art programs. This show is a little easier as it is local, and I don’t have to travel, plus have the advantage of my home studio for touch-up and framing, etc.

 


Tuesday

Cowell, 16x8, oil on panel, plein air
Cowell, 16×8, oil on panel, plein air

After getting my canvases stamped, I headed to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I had done a redwood scene for the recent Carmel Show, and it turned out well, so I thought I would do one for this show. I love the backlit giant redwoods with light filtering and spotlighting the colorful trunks. I ended up painting in the exact same spot I had many years ago, however did an entirely different scene and canvas orientation. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

After finishing up, I still had time to make Hakone Gardens in Saratoga before it closes at 5. I had been doing a Japan studio series, so wanted to put in a Japanese like painting in the show. I also wanted to make it a continuation of my recent vertical water series. Another painter buddy in the show, Mark Monsarrat was there. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

Hakone Pals, 24x12,oil on canvas
Hakone Pals, 24×12,oil on canvas

 


Wednesday

The Old Swing, 8x10, oil on panel
The Old Swing, 8×10, oil on panel

Wednesday morning I touched up the prior days paintings, then headed out to Penitencia Creek to a spot I had painted for The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley year long quest a few years ago. The place had totally changed in the last three years! Besides felling some trees, the creek was different, probably because of the record wet winter we just had. The scene I had painted was no longer there! The creek was still there, of course, and flowing well after our wet winter. I did find another spot just up the creek which satisfied my tastes. There was also an old swing, somewhat of a trapeze, which made for a good story. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Silicon Valley View, 12x16, oil on panel
Silicon Valley View, 12×16, oil on panel

That evening I went up the hill behind the house and did a nocturne of downtown San Jose and Silicon Valley. I had painted a sunset at this location not too long ago, and it is just high enough to see all the way across the Santa Clara Valley. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Thursday

Vasona, 11x14, oil on panel
Vasona, 11×14, oil on panel

Thursday morning I touched up the prior days paintings and then headed back to Los Gatos for a luncheon the Rotary was putting on for the artists. The Rotary always treats us artists well, with receptions, lunches, and plenty of wine! Later in the afternoon, I went to Vasona Park to do the final painting for the show. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Friday

Friday morning was touchup and framing time. The empty spot in the lower left of the Hakone painting bugged me a bit, and there were a lot of turtles in the pond, and I wanted more koi…then the thought struck to combine them and re-title the painting. I put the turtle and koi eyeing each other as pals in the pond. Their shadow on the bottom of the pond also gave the water a look of more depth.

My wife also suggested I add some ducks to the Vasona painting, so I put in a Canada Goose, and some goslings, which were all over the place while I was painting.

Ready to hang!
Ready to hang!

Friday evening was a VIP Gala in Los Gatos, so I headed over about mid afternoon to try to beat the Friday rush hour(s). We had to put up our one ‘best’ painting for the event, so I chose the Hakone piece. The gala was at the Los Gatos Hotel. It was outside, and hot, but still had a great time relaxing and chatting with the other artists and collectors. They had a delicious buffet and Hors d’oeuvre, plus plenty of wine! (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Saturday

Today was the main event where all paintings are put up for sale to the public in downtown Los Gatos at the Town Plaza Park. Crowds seemed a little lighter than past years, probably due to the heat wave. Besides discouraging people to come outside to the park, many in our valley head to the coast clogging up traffic going through Los Gatos. I did sell two paintings, however, so I was pleased about that! (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


All-in-all, the Rotary once again put on a wonderful show, and a great big thanks to them for their work!

Some photos courtesy Ron Lykins.

Decked!

AKA Painting Alaska from the deck of a cruise ship

Many of you know I recently took a cruise to Alaska. Since this was our fourth cruise to this destination, I wanted to concentrate on painting rather than touring and sightseeing. We embarked out of San Francisco, and was our first cruise where we didn’t have to fly to the embarkation point, so I considered taking my oil paints rather than the usual acrylics I travel with. In the end I took my acrylics as I didn’t want to smell up the cabin with drying oil paints. I did take a Strada mini easel, which is the first time I have taken an easel on a cruise.

I won’t turn this blog entry into a travelogue, but just concentrate on the painting.

 


Ketchikan

Creek Street,9x12,acrylic on canvas
Creek Street,9×12,acrylic on canvas

Our first stop was Ketchikan, called ‘the first city of Alaska’ because it is always the first stop north. I made a beeline to Creek Street. Creek Street is infamous as being Ketchikan’s red light district during pioneer days and is actually a boardwalk mounted in stilts on a high slope on the east side of Ketchikan Creek.

I painted for a couple hours and then it started to drizzle, so had to pack up. I wasn’t sure it was finished, especially the water. While I was painting, the water level in the creek had dropped several feet! I assume it was the tide but possibly some controlling dam upstream. Here’s a few pictures from the morning. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–

 


Juneau

Douglas, 9x12, acrylic on canvas
Douglas, 9×12, acrylic on canvas

It was a bit of a drizzly day, so in the morning just painted from the Promenade Deck on the ship. Looking across Gasteneau Channel is the town of Douglas, and behind that Mt. Bradley. While I was painting, a crew member told me several humpback whales had been playing around the ship all morning. Sure enough, they were still there, and I would occasionally see them surface, spout, and play around. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–

It cleared somewhat in the afternoon, and the sun occasionally broke out which was first time on this cruise which was already almost half over, so I went into town for a bit, and took a ride up the Mt Roberts Tramway, which gives spectacular views of the ships, Juneau, and the areas beyond.

 


Skagway

Taiya Inlet, 9x12, acrylic on canvas
Taiya Inlet, 9×12, acrylic on canvas

It was another drizzly day with clouds hanging around the mountain tops and valleys so I spent the morning painting from the ship deck looking across the channel to a mountain west of Skagway. The sun was spraying light here and there through the clouds, which make for dramatic scenes, and good paintings. The top of the mountain was obscured by clouds, so didn’t really see it until the end of the painting. By the time I finished, it had mostly cleared off. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–


Skagway, 9x12,acrylic on canvas
Skagway, 9×12,acrylic on canvas

I headed into town, hoping to do another painting before the ship sailed. I walked to the end of the main drag, Broadway Street, found a bench to spread my materials out, and did a painting of a mountain and the street. I mostly finished the mountain, but the buildings were not complete when it started to rain. It was almost time to head back to the ship anyway, so packed up intending to finish the painting later. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture–

 


Even though it was overcast most of the cruise, it was still a great time being on board the ship, visiting a few familiar places, and painting!


Next up is the Los Gatos Plein Air Show June 16-17!


Cleaned Out!

(AKA 2017 Carmel Art Festival)

Perkins Park, 12x16, oil on panel
Perkins Park, 12×16, oil on panel

 


I have been participating in the Carmel Art Festival annually since 2006. There have been great years where I won awards, had paintings bid up twice my normal prices, and sold everything. I have also had bad years where nothing or very few sold. This year was one of the good years! The weather was great…sunny, however very cool. Enjoy this brief day by day post painting and showing at the festival…

 


Wednesday

I headed to Monterey/Carmel around noon for about the 90 minute drive. After checking into my motel, I stopped by the festival around 6pm to have my canvases stamped. In plein air competitions such as this, you have several days to paint at least two paintings, which are then auctioned off. The festival coordinators stamp the back of the canvas to ensure all work is done in the two days allotted.

After having my canvases stamped, I headed to Perkins Park in Pacific Grove. My plan was this: Since I was having relatives from the Philippines coming tomorrow afternoon to visit, I figured I would start a painting here late in the day, and then finish it tomorrow afternoon where they could easily find me.

I have painted here a number of times in various times of day and vantage points. Its a great spot as the iceplants are in bloom this time of year with their bright pink flowers. The common denominator is all those paintings sold, so why not stick with a good thing! I worked a little over an hour before the sun was too low to continue. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

After heading back to the motel to get cleaned up, I finished the day with a dinner at my go-to Indain Restaurant, Ambrosia.

 


Thursday

Vertigo!, 24x12, oil on canvas
Vertigo!, 24×12, oil on canvas

The next morning at the crack of dawn, I headed down the coast. The forecast was to be completely clear.

My morning plan was this: There is a specific cove I wanted to paint in the style of my recent “Vertical Water” series. The cove is on the trail out to Soberanes Point in Garrapata State Park. When I got there, the entire area was closed and a number of crews were working on rebuilding the trails. I asked if I could go out to paint for a few hours and they said no.

Time for Plan B. I went around another trail and found a spot on a bluff overlooking an inlet. You can see Soberanes Point in the background. I worked on the painting for a couple hours, fighting the blustering wind, hoping nothing would blow over the cliff! When I was trying to put in some details, the canvas was buffetting so much, I decided the piece needed to be finished in a more sheltered area. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Palo Colorado, 14x11, oil on panel
Palo Colorado, 14×11, oil on panel

Driving a little further south, I took a turn up Palo Colorado Road to get out of the wind. I have been on this road before, but hadn’t contemplated painting there this trip. The little creek was really flowing, and all of a sudden a redwood scene popped up which I just had to paint! It only took a little less than two hours to get most of the piece done, as I have done a number of redwood trees in this style. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

I headed back north to Monterey, and after a bit of rest and lunch, on to Perkins Park to finish last evenings painting. Late afternoon, my wife Josie and my relatives arrived. After cleaning up, we all went to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Friday

Prior to starting any other paintings, I wanted to touch up and frame the three ‘keepers’ I had, so hung around my motel in the morning doing just that.

After lunch, I headed down the coast again to possibly do another painting. The pressure was off, however, as I had ‘three in the can’, so I just soaked up the atmosphere, scouted out places for possible future paintings, etc.

I turned in two paintings around 6:30 for the show, and hung around for a VIP reception. Part way through the reception, I turned around, and there was my brother in-law and his wife. I didn’t know they were in town, and neither did they know I was until they saw ads for the festival. We ended up going to dinner. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

 


Saturday

After sleeping in Saturday and having a leisurely brunch with my in-laws, headed over to the festival. I was honored with the “Plein Air Magazine Award of Excellence” for the Vertigo! painting.

An award!
An award!

The Palo Colorado redwood tree painting sold at auction.

 


Sunday

Carmel Beach, 10x8, oil on panel
Carmel Beach, 10×8, oil on panel

 

All artists who win an award are requested to participate in the Sunday morning quickdraw. You have 2 hrs to produce a painting, framed and ready to sell. This means you have about 90 minutes to actually do the painting. After I got my canvas stamped, I drove to Carmel Scenic Drive, a mile or so away, found a good spot, and did a painting of Carmel Beach. (click on a thumbnail to see a larger picture)—

The quickdraw auction was well attended. Here are a few pictures, including my painting–

By noon all my paintings had been sold. Normally we have to wait until the show is over at 3pm to pick up unsold paintings, but since all of mine were sold, a little after noon, I packed up and headed home. It was a great week with good weather, sold all my paintings, got an award, re-acquainted with fellow artists, and a little more tan!


Next up is the Los Gatos Plein Air Show June 16-17!


Painting in Japan

Korakuen Morning, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Korakuen Morning, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

 
Most of you know my son lives and works in Maniwa-shi, Japan, a town in the mountains of Southwest Japan about an hour from Okayama. I recently visited him again, for the third time. He had moved to a new location since my last visit, so I was anxious to explore around his apartment in rural Japan for painting practice! It also happened to be cherry blossom time, so was anxious to see that!

On international trips, I usually take a small acrylic paint set. Acrylics are water soluble, and dry in minutes, so they are easier to travel with than oils. Since you cannot take turpentine on a plane, if you want to paint oils, you have to find a place to buy it after you arrive at your destination. Here’s my setup on the road—

My acrylic traveling kit
My acrylic traveling kit

 
I won’t turn this post into a travelogue and go into all the details of the trip, some of which I posted here on Facebook, but concentrate on the painting in this blog entry. In retrospect, I wasn’t satisfied with most the paintings on the trip except the last day, but here goes anyway…

My son’s new place is a little further out of the central town area, mainly surrounded by rice fields. There is a Shinto Shrine close by, so I did two paintings there on different days.

Shinto Shrine 1,8x10,acrylic on canvas
Shinto Shrine 1,8×10,acrylic on canvas
Shinto Shrine 2,8x10,acrylic on canvas
Shinto Shrine 2,8×10,acrylic on canvas

These are not the main shrine, but other structures in the courtyard. Although it was a relatively small shrine, I could have done quite a few paintings in the little nooks and crannies of this small area.


 
We decided to visit Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, and about a 4 hour bus ride away. Our hotel happened to be right by Dotonburi, the most famous district and party spot in Osaka. We kept quite busy around Osaka and a side trip to Kyoto, so I didn’t have time to paint except for one day. On that day while the others shopped, it was pouring rain, so found a place under a bridge on the river to paint. I also don’t usually do urban scenes, and it was a bit smelly as you know what people do under bridges in party areas…even in clean Japan!

The piece was going nowhere, but as it got darker, the lights started coming on, and I put them in as my focal point which helped brighten things up.

Dontonburi, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Dontonburi, 8×10, acrylic on canvas
Dotonburi
Dotonburi

 
Upon returning to Maniwa, the blossoms were still not out, and due to the rain and cold, they kept pushing back the projected blossom open date. I did find one close to my sons place, so painted that…

Maniwa, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Maniwa, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

 
So far I was not really satisfied with any paintings done the the trip and we only had a few days left. We spent the last part of our trip in Okayama. One trip was to Kurashiki Bikan, an old historic district near Okayama. It was a scenic spot, and I started a painting while the others shopped and looked around. There were just a few blossoms, so did a painting of a bridge in the district. We got there late, and I didn’t have much time, so the painting only got about half done.


 
One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan is called Korakuen (Koraku-en). Located in Okayama, Japan, it was built in 1700 by Ikeda Tsunamasa. We saved visiting Korakuen Garden until the last day so-as to catch the blossoms. Although they were not in full bloom, there was enough to paint, so did a painting in the morning, and one in the afternoon.

The morning painting is shown at the top of this blog entry. Here are a few pictures of the area–


 
The blossoms were not fully open yet so I painted the trees a little fuller with blossoms imagining what they will look like.

The afternoon painting was a little more interesting scene and turned out pretty well, but could use some touchup later.

Korakuen Afternoon, 8x10, acrylic on canvas
Korakuen Afternoon, 8×10, acrylic on canvas

Too soon we had to depart for home. I left all the paintings with my son in Japan so he could show them to friends and students.

Fire, Water, and Ice

Merced Reflections, 16x8, oil on panel
Merced Reflections, 16×8, oil on panel

I was accepted into the Yosemite Renaissance show this year, so went to attend the opening reception with a short visit to Yosemite Valley. Of course, I’ll use any excuse to visit Yosemite, as if I need one!

The art reception went well. The show is very eclectic with everything from abstract to photography to textiles to sculpture. It was a strong show, and my painting was probably the most traditional, quiet painting there…which is fine with me!

If you plan on being in Yosemite Valley the next few months, be sure to stop by the Yosemite Museum to see the show!

The weather forecast kept changing, but as it turned out, it was clear sunny weather the entire time, but cold! Upon arrival to the valley, I started the above painting, but after recently recovering from a mild case of pneumonia, didn’t want to push it, so only got about half done and finished it when I got back to the studio. I wanted to do a plein air piece which would fit in my recent ‘vertical water’ series, so did a painting of Yosemite Falls reflecting in the Merced River. This is the ninth in the “vertical water” series, but so far the only plein air piece and a little smaller than the others which you can see here.

I recently wrote a weblog entry about the Firefall I saw while there, so won’t revisit that which you can read here.

The remainder of the visit I just walked and drove around soaking up the scenery.

Here is a short video of the trip. I had posted some pictures to Facebook, and got a lot of comments on how clear the water is, so much of the video is of the water in the valley.



Firefall!!

During my adolescent years growing up in Pasadena, CA, we used to make trips to Yosemite National Park, camping in both the valley and the high country. I remember well, while camping in the valley we would shuffle out in the dark to the middle of a meadow to watch the Firefall. It used to be called the parks most famous spectacle where each evening during the summer months, a huge bonfire was built high above the valley at the edge of Glacier Point. At 9pm the glowing coals were pushed over the edge creating a luminous glittering waterfall of fire tumbling some 3200 feet. Here is a picture I gleaned off the internet —

In 1968 due to a variety of reasons, the Firefall was discontinued. However, today, there is an even more wonderous and totally natural Firefall. Each year for a week or two in February the setting sun beams up the valley and illuminates Horsetail Falls, and when conditions are perfect, it glows orange and red for a brief time. It’s hit and miss because the sky must be relatively clear, and there has to be enough flowing water in the falls. Due to the drought in California there has been no Firefall the last five years.

I happened to be in Yosemite Valley for an art opening, so was anxious to see it if conditions permitted. It was quite a crowd…hundreds of photographers and nature enthusiasts were out. The park service accommodates everyone by blocking off one lane of the road for about a mile of parking. I got lucky and there was an empty parking spot right by the best viewing area.

Of course, I have seen many pictures of it over the years, and always thought the photos had to be enhanced or touched up. Not so…I wasn’t disappointed. The falls were just glowing a bright orange for about 10 minutes. It was like someone hung a giant glow stick over the edge of the cliff. Below are photos taken with my iPhone which are not touched up or enhanced in any way.

Bucket List — Check!!


Stay tuned as I am working on a short video of my quick visit to the valley, along with video of the Firefall, plein air painting, lots of running water, and other wonders.


Just starting to glow.
Just starting to glow.

Really getting going!
Really getting going!
Going strong
Going strong
Almost over
Almost over