Bullards Bar Gold


I haven’t been able to paint for weeks because either it is snowing or raining or it is a holiday or I am too busy. I have been waiting for a slot in the weather and when I saw how the lighting was turning out to be and having that certain glow, I grabbed my equipment and headed for Bullards Bar Reservoir which is located within 5 to 10 minutes from my house. I had originally spotted this exact spot while on a hike with my grandson, Rollin and my daughter, Amanda and her dog. I knew I had to paint here as soon as possible.


This is my painting just about finished. I always like to take a picture of both my painting and my scene. Today was no different in my approach though I keep thinking that my new found breakthrough won’t last but I am happy to say, I felt the groove as usual. I had to go back and remember how long I have been painting plein air and I do believe it has been 10-11 years. I didn’t always pursue it with passion so some years I was lucky to get out 5-10 times. I have been picking up steam for the past two years. It is a very difficult and vulnerable pursuit but it is worth the struggle.


I am not sure if this painting is done or not but I’ll take it back to the art room and work it to a finish. I am always reluctant to mess with a painting too much away from the initial painting session because plein air has a magic and look of its own and it is not intended to be “perfect” There is a sensitivity and liveliness that occurs naturally. I have to be careful that I don’t mess with that liveliness.


Now looking at where the shoreline is far below. This is the lowest I had seen the water level at Bullards. The water is very unique here because it has such a rich green color. I remember years ago before the current dam was built, I had gone with my Grandfather and Uncle down to the bottom of this valley which was called Garden Valley at the time to fish.


This is my scene for my second painting. This photo is bringing out that tree to be more blue than it actually is. I decided to make the background dark to highlight the mid and foreground and bring more colors into the subtlety of that tree.


My second painting. I will take it and work on it a bit more, perhaps crisp it up and bring out more depth. That white spot on the other right is from my camera. I am always a bit tired on my second painting and usually it is always on a smaller piece of pastel paper. I struggled a bit with that tree because of the colors were very difficult to match with what I was seeing.


Looking out further while the sun was really bringing more warmth to the area. Simply beautiful! Thank you for joining me. All I can say is that I was so happy that I decided to paint today because I would have missed an opportunity to paint this beautiful scene in my most favorite lighting.

Yuba Blue in November


On this fine sunny cold day I decided to paint once again along the North Yuba river. I was hoping for fall colors but as you can see all the leaves are gone. Bringing in some color in a scene like this can be difficult especially with this much sun. The surrounding foliage did have touches of reds and orange that I knew would be perfect for getting the creative juices moving. I appreciated the rich blues in those far mountains but I wanted the river to be my focus.


When I have so much going on in what I am looking at I grab onto what interests me at the moment and start setting up my composition. Today I wasn’t too concerned on a focal point but rather I allowed the focal point to “come forth” and sure enough it did.


My painting approximately 75% done. I have some work to do on those rocks, especially the rocks to the right, I don’t want them to look like muffins. I decided not to finish the rocks to completion on the bottom left to give more of an impressionistic look because I feel that the water is the star.

I worked on Sansfix pastel paper and I had forgotten how much I love it. I can’t find it anywhere except in Canada. I have already contacted the company to see if or where I can buy it. The color of the substrate is charcoal gray and has an extremely rough texture like sandpaper. I especially enjoyed painting the water. As I painted I saw a Blue Heron fly right past me and down the river, what an exciting moment!

12291979_10207996612695255_2838526044876238516_o Stepping back to give you the view of my easel and scene. I was excited when I discovered this spot which is handicapped accessible. I have been down to this area on the river but not to this spot and I was pleasantly surprised by the view. I couldn’t ask for better weather. By 1 pm the cold starting rolling in and by 2 pm it was changing quite a bit. Sundown on the river is earlier than most places because of the canyon.


My second painting of the day. This is new for me in plein air painting and that is to paint two paintings in a session. I start out with a larger painting which is about 11 x 14 and my smaller painting is usually about 9 x 12. I paint the larger one first because I am fresh and because usually the lighting is better. The second painting is always just as fun but thank goodness it is smaller because by the time I am done, I am tired.
All my areas I paint I have to lug my equipment at least several hundred yards but never more than a 1/4 mile. With this scene, it was tricky because of the shadows of the rocks and that alcove was subtle. The trick was to make the foliage stay back even though there were some highlights. As I painted I had to make decisions on how to bring my scene to life amid such shadows and limited lighting. I threw myself into the task and allowed the painting to “pave” the way. This view here was very dark and had touches of light hitting and I had to get a move on it before it was in full sun!


My painting. I will decide on how much I want to work on the background and to work more on those rocks, especially on the left because there was little light on that spot even though my photo shows quite a bit.