ThirtyOne: A Setting Sun


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long quest.

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A Setting Sun, 8x10, oil on board
A Setting Sun, 8×10, oil on board

Another Pacific storm blew in for several days last week. Although the forecast was for light rain, we ended up with some pretty good downpours, but not nearly enough to put a dent in the California drought. As the storm was clearing late in the day, we had a spectacular sunset, which doesn’t happen often in Silicon Valley!

This blog entry is more about painting, the painting process, and tonalism. I have mentioned before, sunsets are difficult to paint plein air as by the time the best part comes, it is quickly over, and you are in the dark. You must quickly make color notes, and maybe finish it later from memory. I previously used this technique for painting Thirteen.

I didn’t have time to get out to a creek to paint the sunset, but made some color notes and painted much of the sky portion from my home. I then went out today by Calabazas Creek as it nears San Francisco Bay, and painted the foreground part combining different elements of the landscape on location. While not an alla prima work (done in one sitting, or all at once), which I have been doing for all the other works in this quest, it was done en plein air.

A few photos along Calabazas Creek– Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

A note about the photos– I would have included a picture of the sunset, but the feeble attempt from my iPhone was not representative at all of what it really looked like.

About the painting–Tonal paintings or Tonalism is an art term usually referring to moody paintings with a limited palette and design. I kept the general colors of the sky and sunset throughout the painting, ignoring the colors, but keeping the values I saw before me. I don’t do tonal paintings often, but for a little variety in this quest decided this would make a good one. As mentioned, it is somewhat of a composite of sky, sunset, and Calabazas Creek.

Oh, almost forgot, about the creek, Calabazas Creek originates on Table Mountain in Saratoga, California, and courses through the cities of Saratoga, San Jose, Cupertino, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale prior to emptying in San Francisco Bay. A company called Yahoo (along with a number of Internet companies you never heard of) is about a mile down the road on Caribbean Drive, from where I painted.

Coming next, and painted the same day…California Poppies.


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.


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