Shady Business on the North Yuba

With my discovery of starting a painting in the shade, I scurried up to the North Yuba to plein air paint once again. The day for this excursion was on October 31, 2015, I am getting current! well, almost! I hope to get up to speed soon. I might be posting every day in order to start current postings.

This spot on the North Yuba is between Indian Valley Outpost and Goodyears Bar in Sierra Co. I live about 25 minutes from here, not bad living so close to my favorite painting locations. As you can see, it was dark.


I like having the extra time to set up because plein air is a “by the seat of the pants” experience and I cherish a breather now and then. Not having to hurry because of the optimum light is passing you by is a real treat. Problem with this particular morning it was quite chilly. I was amazed by the colors of my scene, the blues, purples and that large bank of bushes across the river were an unusual reddish color. My dilemma was to distinguish between the subtleties of all the colors and to choose the correct values.


I struggled with this painting and I decided to stay loose and more abstract and also to punch up the color. The background gave me fits and I decided to retain the busyness and yet push it back with colors that were hopefully worked. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the river on that top section on the right side is not set down properly and rises rather than being anchored down. I actually decided to work it later in the studio and of course I ended up fixing it too much and now I have a stylized painting rather than a plein air. Sigh… happens every time I decide to make the painting better (in my mind) or finish it later.

I am wanting to learn when and if I should finish a painting or simply leave it alone.  I truly consider a plein air valuable not just for a reference but as a sellable item. Obviously this is sometimes not the case and it is better left alone. I am in a constant learning curve in this area.


Light is coming! what a glow! I always get excited about light, just like a little kid.


Now that I had light hitting the river, I decided to paint one more painting. This time I used rubbing alcohol and using a brush, I swiped in the darks on my paper which was a small 9 x 12 section of Wallis paper and using my pastels, I went with even more of an abstract view and very loose. This is a miracle for me, the person who strives for perfection and the “correct” color. I envy those artists who can let their imagination fly. I have to work hard at it and my way of working hard at it is to pretend I am one of those artists and I fling my arm in there and don’t think about it.


My photo here doesn’t show the blues of the high lights in the water correctly, so keep that in mind. Those blues are rich and more of a cobalt blue. I tried looking for a better photo but I couldn’t find it. Once I framed it I of course found areas that bug me. I don’t care for that very exact line of white rapid smack dab in the center of the painting and I still wonder if my painting is too dark. Some day I hope to be completely satisfied with a painting, like I said, someday that will happen!

Very interesting, you know how I chase light and wait for it, drool over it? Once the sunlight hit that large bank of reddish brush, the color totally washed out and my scene was more beautiful in the shade rather than in the light. The rocks turned dull even with shadows present. The only time that I liked what I saw in front of me (with light) was what I captured in my painting.  And here….in this photo!


Of course once I am ready to pack up I see a beautiful scene like this one and than I am left wanting more! Never satisfied am I? Plein air is always different each time I venture out. Sometimes it is frustrating to the point of tears, yes I have cried! Some days it is heaven and you want to sing and dance. I would suppose if it was perfect each and every time you venture out to paint, it would turn into a boring experience. I have decided that I need to embrace even the bad days, after all, a good day is always around the corner!


3 thoughts on “Shady Business on the North Yuba

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