Thursday, January 15, 2015

Santa Ana River 5 Vespertine painting

"Santa Ana River 5 (Vespertine)"
watercolor on paper, 2014
6" x 18" (15.24cm x 45.72cm)

This is my painting for the article "The River in Me" by Susan Straight for Orion magazine. See previous post.

The client wanted to see more color than my more urban versions of the river to communicate the lush verdant arroyo and river banks of the author's essay.
If you are not familiar with Southern California's landscape much of it is either desert or savanna, dry most of the year. But the river basins are teaming with green lush vegetation and wildlife year round.

I was happy I visited the site because I learned that at this time of day with the river sitting down in the arroyo the long streaking shadows are gone as the sun drops behind the hills but there was still plenty of light in the landscape.

We originally talked about showing some evidence of the manmade as you can see in the some of the sketches in my previous post but we arrived at this one (sketch 3) and I was happy with it.
When you are down in the arroyo, although there is some of the manmade, you do feel like you are away from the city and the final painting reflects that as well as that same feeling in much of the article.
What did remain was the distant dry desert mountains of Southern California in the background.297

Friday, January 9, 2015

Santa Ana River 5 Vespertine sketches

"Santa Ana River 5 (Vespertine)"
pencil on paper, 2014

This is a recent commission for Orion magazine. Today the thumbnail sketches, tomorrow the painting.
My art is featured in the current January/Feburary 2015 issue.

I was contacted by the magazine after they found my Santa Ana River series while researching an article for their magazine. The article titled "The River in Me" by Susan Straight is about the authors experiences with the northern section of the Santa Ana River here in Southern California.

After some emails back and forth I decided to visit the site in person. The northern section of the Santa Ana River is more rural or natural than my more industrial/city versions I had done previously and I needed to get a feel for it so I could be as true as possible to the site and especially the author's vision of it.

I did some value thumbnails and sent these six for approval.
We decided on number 3.

Vespertine refers to the hour before sunset, not quite dusk or twilight. Poetically it is the magic hour.
While visiting the site I made it a point to really pay attention to the quality and the amount of light and I was surprised how much light is still in the landscape that final hour, more than I expected, much more than dusk but still a different quality than earlier in the afternoon.

As part of my research I took photos of course and although I originally planned to do color sketches on site. Once there I changed my mind.

The alternative was to simply stop and pay attention, make mental notes or write down thoughts. I have found I will remember more when I make it a task in itself.
Photos are good for the technical information and on-site sketches are only good to a point when it is late and the light is changing by the minute. We can get caught up in making the sketches and miss a lot of change. I might get down a color sketch or two but I gained much more by simply observing then committing it and trusting it to my memory.295,296

Thursday, January 1, 2015

E 4th St. Bridge

"E 4th St. Bridge"
watercolor on paper, 2013
10" x 15" (25.4cm x 38.1cm)

Happy New Year!

I recently submitted this painting for Splash 17, the annual book on watercolor.

The solid but well aged E 4th St. Bridge near downtown Los Angeles, a concrete arch bridge built in 1930.

This section is referred to as the 4th St. Bridge split, where it splits south to E 4th Place. It is on the western side of the Los Angeles River and viewed from under E 4th Place.

Often when I paint an older structure I show it as it is today. Here I anchored it in the present by adding the orange fluorescent traffic cone and post.294