September 5, 2016: Wild, Wild, Wild Kratts!

It wasn’t too long after the Dolores Park picnic that the family made a trip up to Santa Barbara to visit my wife’s cousin and her daughter. We got to SB on Sunday evening and scouted locations for some landscape painting. My wife lived in SB for five years while she went to college, so she knew the area and suggested I take a look at the courthouse.

We drove by a few times, figured out where I could set up, and were on our way back to the hotel when we saw the most amazing thing! The Wild Kratts were going to be at the Arlington on Monday evening and there were still tickets available!

Now, if you’re like me and my son, you love the Kratt brothers and you would know that being able to see them live in Southern California is almost unheard of! Almost…

So, we ponied up the money and got two tickets, and I have to say, the show was AMAZING! They even wore creature suits!

But I also spent six hours on Monday landscape painting at the courthouse and was pleased with how it turned out.

FullSizeRender (1) There are so many beautiful locations in the Santa Barbara area, I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay away, so be on the lookout for another Central Coast beauty soon…

August 1, 2016: Dolores Park Picnic Panic!

I finished my MFA on Friday, July 29, 2016 and after all the work, the fourteen-hour days and interpersonal development, nothing sounded better to me than spending the entire weekend painting. There was going to be a class picnic the following Monday and I thought, “I’ll get my painting in Saturday and Sunday and just spend Monday shmoozing and hanging out…”

And then on Friday night, my friend asked if I would help him seal his concrete garage floor.

That sounds easy, right?

By Sunday night, I had outrageous blisters and hadn’t painted a stroke, so there was nothing for it but to bring my paints to the picnic.

I settled into the crook of a large tree and, except for the constant smell of burning marijuana, it was a lovely time.


A huge thank you to Matt Silady for recording my progress!

PleinAir_DoloresParkI gave the finished painting to my friends as a thank you for letting me stay at their house for an entire month! Couldn’t ask for better friends, although I’m kind of hoping that the next time we hang out, we can avoid blisters. I think we’ll just get a pizza.




June 17, 2016!?: Low Oxygen Painting

Have I really not landscape painted in two years?? Well, let’s get to it!

One of the lesser talked about benefits of getting married is inheriting new family. In June, we went up to Big Bear, California to visit my wife’s aunt and uncle, and with three adults to watch the kids, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get some landscape painting done.

There is nothing like the threat of failing in front of loved ones to motivate a person, so I hiked up to the top of the closest mountain overlooking Big Bear Lake and got set up.  IMG_1536

My first thoughts were, “How do I do this again?” and “Why is this canvas so big?” Not having painted in so long, I kept telling myself, “Get it all laid in! You don’t have TIME!”

It might have been the lack of oxygen up there, or maybe it was the peaceful surroundings, but I managed to calm down enough to remember the process. And if we’ve learned anything from bumper stickers, it’s that the worst day of landscape painting beats the best day of work!  I mean, I think that’s a bumper sticker.  If it isn’t a bumper sticker already, it should be! Anyway, all in all, I managed to turn out a nice little, uh, big painting:


March 11, 2014: What time does this place close?

We had planned to head out early, around 10a, to make the drive to the LA Arboretum.  The wife and I had been looking forward to this excursion for days, since we had gotten married at the arboretum and couldn’t wait to share the beautiful scenery with the boy.

But then we had to eat breakfast.  And then the boy had to take a nap.  And then we had to get ready, pack a cooler, find a decent pair of jeans.

So, we got on the road at about 1:30p, got to the arboretum at 3p, and promptly asked, “What time do you close tonight?”

The answer: “We close at 5.”

If you’ve been to the arboretum, you know it’s 80 acres of well-maintained nature with paintable views everywhere, but I was looking for the right view, one I could faithfully render in the 2 hours I had till closing.  So, we wandered for about twenty minutes until I found a location that met the need and I set up.

Ryan_atArboretumLooks like the middle of nowhere, right?  The truth is it was about 10 feet away from paths on three sides.

And this is what I came up with:


Moral of the story:  A car ride is the perfect time for babies to nap.

February 22, 2014: Staring at the Sun

On a gorgeous midwinter Sunday, I swung by and picked up Hyeg and we headed out to the old plein air stand-by, Palos Verdes.  It was the first plein air painting I had done since the new year, but more important, it was the first painting with my new hat.  Can a hat come in handy when you’re in the field?  More than I knew…

Turns out the place I had chosen, although beautiful, was also facing due west, which meant that for the last two hours of our session, I was literally staring into the sun.  I had to keep adjusting my hat as the sun was setting, finally settling on a head tilt/low brim combination.

One other note about this momentous day: this was the first time I had ever painted a bougainvillea, and painting a bougainvillea is a lot easier than cleaning up after one.


December 29, 2013: Backwoods Phoenix

While in Phoenix, the wife and I decided to get some quality time together, so we left the boy with his Grandma 7 and took a drive out into the wilderness.  We trekked to a secret, undisclosed location, arriving around 1p.  It was an absolutely perfect day, about 75 degrees, a strong breeze blowing, and nothing but singing birds and rustling eucalyptus leaves. The wife wrote while I painted and we only took a break to snack on the last three Reese’s Christmas Trees we had and share a bottle of Coke Zero.


The wife said this is her favorite one so far, but I think that’s just the Reese’s trees talking.


December 21, 2013: Up to Prescott

On the Saturday before Christmas, Dad and I took a drive up to Prescott (pronounced “press kit”).  The high was 56 degrees, a little chilly for landscape painting, but we braved the weather and planted ourselves right in the main square.

To be honest, we went into the Palace Saloon first to grab a hot chocolate before setting up.  The Palace is known for providing libations to such Wild West characters as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and Big Nose Kate (who is buried in Prescott).

Below is a photo of the square from the steps of the courthouse.  If you look to the left of the Rough Rider statue, you can see where we set up.  That statue and the courthouse are  over 100 years old.InPrescott_12-21-13

We got there around noon and painted until it was dark, then packed up and headed back to the Palace for dinner and a pint.  It was a great day.



December 18, 2013: Dam it!

We’re back in Phoenix for Christmas, and Dad and I had the chance to paint near the Adobe Mountain Dam.  We hiked 1.25 miles before we found the right spot, which also means we had to hike 1.25 miles back to the car…

But it was worth it.

We were on our own for all four hours; not one person walked by.

001I have to admit, though, the painting I got out of this trip was dam fine work.

FromRyan'sPhone_12-23-13 047What is most precious about this experience is that I was finally able to tell my dad what I’ve always wanted: “Quit taking breaks and wiggle that brush!”

December 14, 2013: A Day at the Beach

My sister is in town, so we made a trip down to a new spot in PV.  As I was setting up my painting paraphernalia, my sister, wife, and the kiddo decided to take a walk and leave me to the sun and waves.  It was an absolutely perfect day.

ADayinPVDefinitely feeling better, and hopefully the painting is proof of that.  I, and the many friendly people who stopped by to say hello,  didn’t think I was going to be able to pull this one off, but in the last five minutes, the whole painting came together.


Made it out of this one alive!

December 8, 2013: Beware Polliwog Park!

“No, no… it’ll be fine.  I’ll take some DayQuil.  And sure it’s a windy day, but it couldn’t be that cold.  I mean, it’s still in the 50s.”

Famous last words.

On Sunday, we took a jaunt down to Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach to paint the oldest house in MB.  It was built in 1905 and was originally a beach cottage nestled in the sand dunes.  It was moved to the park in the 70s.

Funny enough, it turns out that the house was moved into a frisbee-golf area.  One would think this would make it a dangerous place to keep a 100 year old house, but it also turns out it is an incredibly dangerous place to paint, or jog, or walk, or visit.


All this to say that the frisbee golf, the lingering illness, the wind and the DayQuil all conspired against me and this composition is not what it should be.  But who knew the sun set so early?