Saturday, July 21, 2012

Little Plein Air Pieces

After days of buried indoors finishing projects I started to miss the fresh, clear air outdoors, the sea breeze and the bright California sunshine. So, yesterday morning I decide to throw a small sketchbook and a couple of brushes into my backpack and go hiking! That was really a lot of fun. I found myself walking along the beach of Point Reyes National Seashore and looking toward Drakes Head after a couple of sweaty hours. The day is overcast and billowing clouds flying overhead, zipping through intense blue sky (it's very windy, as always, in Point Reyes). Sitting down to catch my breath, I decided to capture what's in front of my eyes on paper. Painting in strong wind is very tricky -- color dries instantaneously and your paper may fly away (yes, the whole sketch book flies) at any moment. It's a physical exercise if not anything else, but I really like the final result. Plein air sketches always have such a freshness that's hard to obtain indoors in front of photos. If not for anything else, one just gains such awareness of the subtlety of colors!!! The colors in nature seldom translate well onto films (or CCD cells for digital cameras)...

Across the Bay, 
Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper , 5"h x 7"w, 2012 #38


After a long stroll along coastal sage bushes, I drove back home along the inland highway 101. There are Vineyards and olive orchards all along the way and as the dusk falls, the sky become this surreal transition from deep, saturate blue in the zenith, to a dark, coppery orange along the horizon. The olive trees, back lit by the setting sun, become these haunting purple-black silhouettes. Their outreaching branches look almost like a thousand arms of ancient, earth-bound creatures in fairy tales. I pulled to the road side of the country land and painted this small piece on the car dash-board as the lovely light quickly fainting outside the windshield... 

Dusk over Oliver Orchards, 

Watercolor on Arches 140# Rough Paper , 4"h x 9"w, 2012 #39


As I drove across the bridge into golden city lights, I realized how much I miss hiking and painting outdoors. It's the inertia of habits that prevents me from doing it more often, and I really should! Painting is as much about personal discovery and growth as it is about transfixing what you experience into a finished image on paper, and nothing, I say nothing, makes one more aware of their surroundings and inspire that being close to the source -- nature in its raw state -- and paint in immersion of it! I made a promise to myself that I will do it at least once a week from now on, no matter how busy and overwhelmed I feel before leaving home -- I know I will always coming back totally exhausted by feeling much fresher!...


  1. Hello Arena:) Wow, it was worth to go outside! What a beautiful paintings you made. The colors are stunning. Your first painting is def my favorite!! Great art!

  2. Arena these are both STUNNING! I can't decide if I like the clouds or the sunset better. :) Really beautiful work. You make me want to go plein aire painting like right now? Would be so fun to go together wouldn't it? :D

  3. Such breathtaking pieces, both of them. You have captured rain clouds perfectly and then you captured the sunset beautifully too. Amazing work, Arena!

  4. Truly love Dusk over Oliver Orchards. A lot of what you said to be able to be carried over to photography. I always say "Good pictures don't present themselves very often you have to go and find them." The landscape (and flora) of California is endlessly inspiring to me.

  5. I love your paintings - 'Across the Bay' one is stunning. I am a sucker for a beautiful sky :)


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