I purchased a DJI Mavic Pro drone about a year ago and having a blast ever since! The Mavic is a ‘prosumer’ level drone, that is, marketed to consumers but has many professional level features.
I originally hadn’t considered doing much painting from it, but can’t resist doing some. First, enjoy the very best video segments of a year droning all over the beautiful California coast, painting with art groups, the high Sierras, deep blue Lake Tahoe, spectacular Big Sur, quaint Carmel, Horse Shoe Bend AZ, Springdale (Zion), and maybe a few biker shots!
As the summer morning fog clears along the California coast, many times the crashing waves, spray, wind, and lingering fog create an ethereal atmosphere of a misty soft landscape, or should I say seascape. I live within an hours drive of the coast, and visit often to paint, camp, and ride my Harley.
Many of you know I purchased a drone earlier this year. I bought it mainly for fun and to give a different perspective to my painting, motorcycle, and other adventures. Although my main intent was not to do paintings from a drone’s perspective, I did do a plein air drone selfie you can read about here.
Reviewing the drone footage around Davenport, however, I couldn’t resist painting a scene far above the coast. The video frame I painted from is at about 0:47 on the above video. I wanted to create an atmosphere of morning mist still lingering around the coast and the sun starting to highlight parts of the coastal bluffs. I did sharpen and saturate the colors a bit from the video, and highlighted parts of the cliff more. Here is the frame I extracted and enhanced in Photoshop as my study:
As you can see, I painted it pretty much ‘as-is’. In the distance is the coastal hamlet of Davenport, about ten miles north of Santa Cruz. The drone was 176 feet above the bluff, so probably 250 feet above the ocean.
Perhaps I’ll look at my drone videos again, and maybe produce a drone painting series?!? Stay tuned!
It was a nice sunny day, and I set up my easel across Highway 1 from the coastal hamlet of Davenport. There were a few fellow artists scattered around the area. Later, I drove a few miles up the coast to Davenport Landing, and found most of the artists were painting there.
I wasn’t intent on painting a masterpiece, but more a quick value study in the morning light. I probably spent more time flying the drone than painting, just enjoying the day. Below is the painting on my easel, maybe an hours work…a poor picture as I was photographing into direct sunlight.
This year was different. For the thirteenth year, I participated in the Carmel Art Festival. But this year, I have a drone. So I produced a short video of the spectacular California coast around the Carmel/Big Sur area while I was painting. It is one of the spectacular coastlines in the world. First, enjoy this short video “Dronin’ the Festival”…
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. I won’t go into a detailed diary of the week like I have in past weblogs, but just a synopsis and a few pictures below, some of which are also in the video.
Wednesday evening, after having my canvases stamped, I headed to Perkins Park in Pacific Grove to start a painting of the sunset. I only had enough time to block in the major areas before the sun went down.
At the crack of dawn Thursday, I headed down the coast to Garrapata State Park, one of my favorite places to paint. I decided to do another Vertical Water scene, a bit like the one which won an award last year. The morning sun was lighting up Point Sur many miles down the coast and made for an interesting composition.
Then, in the afternoon, I went up nearby Palo Colorado Road and painted the redwoods. It was nice to get out of the wind along the coast and hug a tree for the afternoon (at lease figuratively!).
Friday morning, an old friend, Scott Loftesness visited, and I did a small piece in Perkins Park again. It was a cloudy day with a little drizzle, but the sun was hitting some spots in Monterey Bay which gave the painting more interest.
That afternoon I spent touching up, and framing the four paintings.
I sold two at the festival…not the best year, but good enough! Click on the thumbnails to see the title and size of each painting.
Perhaps I should have confessed it up front to Elizabeth, but I had had never been in an art classroom in an institution of higher learning. I have been in art classrooms at art schools, but never a college or university. Being primarily self taught the last 45 years of painting, my art comes from what I love. The only ‘formal’ instruction I have had is various workshops from artists I admire the last 15 years.
It was a class of about 10 students, all pursuing different disciplines. After a short talk about “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”, we launched into a demonstration painting. I chose a seascape in Garrapata State Park for my study. I really enjoyed the intimate setting where students scooted up right around my easel to watch me paint.
Here are some photos during my demo, some courtesy of Elizabeth. (Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions)–
Here is the painting about where I left it in class…
I touched up the painting a bit after returning to my studio which can be seen at the top of this weblog entry.
The California Art Club sponsored a paintout at Pescadero Beach last Saturday, March 10, 2018. The weather for Saturday looked iffy all week, but in the end, although it turned out to be a grey, somewhat gloomy day, all we got were just a few sprinkles.
I spent more time socializing with artist friends, and videoing more than painting. I did start a another vertical water scene, but didn’t get very far along. I’ll call it a value study in greys.
Here’s a few pictures…
The scene to paint.
Yours truly enjoying the gloomy day.
The painting about as far as I got for the day.
Now, enjoy this short video of the day, and some scenes along the beautiful California coast.
One of the prominent man made features on the San Mateo Coast of California, along the Pacific Ocean, is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Built in 1871, it is the tallest lighthouse on the western coast of the United States. It is still used for Coast Guard navigation, and a small overnight hostel is now housed in the old light keeper’s housing.
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—
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.
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!
I touched the painting up just a bit in the studio, and here is the final result…
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”
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.
That’s it for now! Thanks for stopping by!
Here’s three more 6×6 mini’s. I started with the Elkhorne piece, then decided to do a few more misty moods. Maybe I should have named them Mystic Moods, after the orchestra popular in the 60’s and 70’s. You have to be pretty old to remember them!
Elkhorn Slough is a tidal slough and estuary on Monterey Bay. It is the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of the San Francisco Bay.
Garrapate State Park is just south of Carmel, CA, and my favorite place to paint on the Pacific Coastline. I actually took a scene in full daylight and changed it to a foggy day…they call it artistic license.
What can I say about Yosemite? I did this painting almost exactly from a photo I took in 2010. This might make a good subject for a larger painting…what do you think?