” The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

completed oil 11x14

“The Earth Laughs in Flowers”, oil, 11×14

Mustard flowers carpet the rural landscape in the valleys of California in spring. I loved how these yellow blooms seemed to grow to the rooftop of this barn in Livermore, CA. I knew I had to paint this scene. I decided to paint in oils instead of my usual pastels.

Yellow Flowers

Start of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Mother Nature seems to scatter the seeds of the mustard flower with ease. But, the process of painting the scene in oils like pastels requires a layering of a variety of color.

mid process oil

Mid process of “The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

Although Emerson who penned the line “The Earth Laughs in Flowers” may not have seen the golden carpets of the California spring, I think he would be pleased.

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How to Paint in Pastel Beside an Arroyo

ArroyoDelValleP

“Arroyo Del Valle”, pastel, 11×14

Before I set out to paint on location beside an arroyo, I packed all the necessary items. First, I chose mounted UArt 400 as my support and cut a piece of glassine to fit the 11×14 pastel paper and placed it in an envelope inside my messenger bag. Also in the bag I packed my assortment of pastel in my Heilman Box, my zipper kit of tools, a small bottle of denatured alcohol, paper towels, and some water.

 

 


I found a place to paint at at Sycamore Grove Park located on Arroyo Road in Livermore which is close to home. Initially, I was drawn to some wild flowers by a stream, but there was a noisy group of school kids on a nature walk, so I moved to a woodland area beside the arroyo.

StartArroyo

Start of “Arroyo Del Valle”

EaselArroyo

Easel on site at “Arroyo Del Valle”

After blocking in the basic elements of the scene as trees, stream, plants, and undergrowth, I washed it down with alcohol which adds color, but does not use up any of the tooth of the paper. I continued to add color while remembering to use a range of light, middle, and dark values of each hue. It was challenging to represent the tangled web of branches and trees. Since this was a plein air piece, I simplified the stream by omitting a few of the rocks. Although the color of the water was quite a dull olive green, I enhanced the color by adding a bit more blue and some light purples.

After a few hours when the light on the stream had changed, I packed up my gear. Later, I added a few details to the painting back in the studio.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments about painting beside an arroyo.
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