Plein Air: Connecting with the Land
While painting at the Land Trust I carried my old painting easel up through the branching trails of Byrne Forest into a redwood grove and to an old wooden pew placed near a creek at Porcupine Hollow. After passing hundreds of redwoods offering only the compositional complexity of vertical stripes, I rested at a bench by a creek. In this well-cared-for forest it is not unusual to come across a sculpture of a bear or bird, a box with a notebook, a place for small offerings, a water bowl for dogs, perhaps even a basket of oranges at a view spot.
Resting at the pew in the forest, I turned to see redwoods of various ages. Light was passing through the older trees onto a young redwood and a patch of ferns and sorrel in the foreground. Interesting diagonals of light contrasted with the verticality of the older trees. And so it became one of the two sites I painted in Byrne Forest. The other scene was a grove of live oaks near the Milliron trail on the other side of the preserve.
Another site open for plein-air painting was the Circle P Ranch east of Watsonville. The first afternoon I got right to work in a grove of live oaks not far from the old ranch house. On the next painting day the ranch opened early and I spent the morning walking and exploring up into its rolling hills. In the afternoon it was back to the oak grove for the second of three painting sessions. Time was more limited here, but after the third session the painting was far enough along for the final touches to be done at home. The Land Trust has preserved several large parcels of ranch and farm land in the Pajaro Valley. Visiting Circle P Ranch felt like stepping back into Old California.
The plein air paintings of local artists were exhibited at the Pajaro Valley Gallery in Watsonville from July 8th through August 15th, 2010. All of the paintings were created on the lands preserved by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. If you would like to become a member of the Pajaro Valley Arts Council or the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, you may join at the links below.
The paintings to the left measure 24.5" x 23.25" and are oil on linen canvas.
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