Category Archives: Southern California

All plein air paintings done from Santa Barbara to San Diego.

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 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?



November 24, 2013: Back to PV (Round 2 – FIGHT)

Hyeg and I had such a great experience up in PV last weekend, we decided to go back for Round 2.  This time, the wife and kiddo were with us, and the four of us wandered until we found “the perfect tree.”

The Perfect Tree

Is that a stunning view, or what?  Yep, that’s Malibu off in the distance…

We got there at 2p and stayed until it was nearly dark.  Our setup was a little less dangerous this time around, and a lot of people stopped by to see what we were up to.

OurSetup_11-24-13We were both pretty happy with ourselves today.


November 17, 2013: Painting in Palos Verdes

On November 17, my friend Hyeg and I went up to PV to paint.  It was a  crisp fall day, but there was a surprising number of people who had ventured out into the sunshine.  The park we went to overlooks the ocean.  The vista is amazing, with views from the tip of Malibu to the Hollywood sign to downtown L.A. and all the way over to Redondo Beach.  It is the perfect place for plein air.

When scouting for a good vantage point, we decided to stay close to the parking lot (a logistical decision more than anything).  Even so, we had some great views of the cliffs and city.


We picked a precarious spot; Hyeg had only two feet of cliff before a rather sudden drop.  I, on the other hand, was safe and in the perfect position to watch Hyeg fall if he slipped.  Needless to say, he kept very close to his easel.