"Going to the mountains is like going home." --John Muir
I'm going to be the featured artist for May at the Benicia Plein Air Gallery. The theme for the show is "Yosemite", and features a variety of small works done on site in the valley or from studies made in the valley. Lots of fun stuff featuring some icy cold snow scenes, as well as a variety of paintings done with the vibrant greens of Spring.
I'll be manning the gallery for the weekend, concurrent with the Benicia Open Studios. I'll also be hosting a reception there on this coming Saturday, May 5th, from 3-5. For the days that I'm on site, I'll be bringing in a selection of supplementary work as well. Open Studios is usually well attended in Benicia, and it should be fun. If you get a chance, swing by and visit! Everything is for sale, of course, but we can also talk shop if you'd just like to check the work out and pick my brain. ;)
I have a variety of little narrow pieces like these below, which are 5" x 15", as well as various quarter sheets. I'll share more next week.
I must say, also, that painting in Yosemite is a blast. It was very cold in the winter, as you can find out by reading this earlier post, but it was easy to find spots to paint then. The park was practically empty! :) Come Spring, things are a bit busier, but the trails are still pretty quiet down by the river, with just occasional joggers and hikers. All the trees are just starting to pop, there's little bits of snow still here and there up on the mountains, and the wind is shushing up in the pines. Lovely, lovely, lovely!!
I got lucky, and came up a week after heavy storms and snow. By the time I arrived, it was blue skies for the weekend. I had to dress pretty warmly in the morning, as it was down in the 40s, but by the afternoon it was T-shirt and hat weather. I can't recommend the experience enough. I grew up in the foothills of the Sierras, and came to Yosemite many many times as a kid. Coming back here is, truly, much as John Muir said-- like coming home.
The mountains make strong, bold forms to paint, descending down into the trees. The valley runs pretty east-west, so you get a lot of back-lit forms, with the shadow-work dramatically shifting from hour to hour. With (I'm assuming) the humidity in the air from the absolutely roaring falls, the mountains recede into soft blues with ease. It all creates a feeling of vast distance in a relatively compact space. Plus, (perhaps its the high altitude? or the clean air?) the sky there is a rich, deep violet-blue. Often times much darker and more vibrant than the mountains themselves. All told, it makes for a very interesting experience visually!
I painted for three days on this trip, just in the valley itself, but it could have been five. There's so much beauty everywhere you turn.