Friday, January 9, 2015

Santa Ana River 5 Vespertine sketches

"Santa Ana River 5 (Vespertine)"
pencil on paper, 2014

This is a recent commission for Orion magazine. Today the thumbnail sketches, tomorrow the painting.
My art is featured in the current January/Feburary 2015 issue.

I was contacted by the magazine after they found my Santa Ana River series while researching an article for their magazine. The article titled "The River in Me" by Susan Straight is about the authors experiences with the northern section of the Santa Ana River here in Southern California.

After some emails back and forth I decided to visit the site in person. The northern section of the Santa Ana River is more rural or natural than my more industrial/city versions I had done previously and I needed to get a feel for it so I could be as true as possible to the site and especially the author's vision of it.

I did some value thumbnails and sent these six for approval.
We decided on number 3.

Vespertine refers to the hour before sunset, not quite dusk or twilight. Poetically it is the magic hour.
While visiting the site I made it a point to really pay attention to the quality and the amount of light and I was surprised how much light is still in the landscape that final hour, more than I expected, much more than dusk but still a different quality than earlier in the afternoon.

As part of my research I took photos of course and although I originally planned to do color sketches on site. Once there I changed my mind.

The alternative was to simply stop and pay attention, make mental notes or write down thoughts. I have found I will remember more when I make it a task in itself.
Photos are good for the technical information and on-site sketches are only good to a point when it is late and the light is changing by the minute. We can get caught up in making the sketches and miss a lot of change. I might get down a color sketch or two but I gained much more by simply observing then committing it and trusting it to my memory.295,296


  1. You're proficient in the area that I lack in - landscapes!

    Of the artwork posted on your blog, I love "Vincent Thomas Bridge #16 (Tribute)" the most - which makes sense reading how much effort you put in... It's going into my inspiration folder. Having ashes mixed into the paint is a very weird idea to me though...

    - Iris

  2. Thank you Iris,
    The Vincent Thomas Bridge painting was a challenge for sure but despite the struggle I was happy with the finish and thank you for your comment.
    Fortunately the ashes were mixed into the paint the bridge painters painted the bridge itself with (hundreds of gallons I'm sure) not in the paint I painted the painting of the bridge. Whew!

    Keep drawing...