Wow, seems like we're already well into 2009 and I've hardly drawn breath since Christmas!! Here's a mammoth posting of a couple of recent sites, and, (in the spirit of new year countdowns) my personal 10 favorite plein air sites!
Firstly, here are a few sketches from a hastily organized hike and sketch in Joseph D. Grant Park that took place on December 31st. We had originally organized this for the 30th, but that day dawned foggy and gloomy and totally uninspiring, so we chickened out until the next day. To our horror, Dec 31st dawned even foggier and gloomier. However, a contact informed us that the fog was absent in the valley we were going to, higher in the hills, so off we set with trepidation. True enough, once we drove higher we emerged from the fog into blue sky and sunshine. The view down into the valley was spectacular. White fluffy fog stuffed the valley below and the blue tips of the Santa Cruz mountains rose in a long wiggly line above it. Unfortunately there is nowhere along that road to stop and paint so sadly no sketch of that.
Joseph D. Grant Park is sufficiently off the beaten path to be very quiet and empty, especially at this time of year. The site was originally home to the Ohlone Indians, but the land was granted to the Bernal family in the early 1800's and the Grant family acquired it in the late 1800's. Joseph D. Grant was a successful and prominent business man with interests in numerous large companies of the time, including the Central Pacific Railroad. The mans' influence was such that he was able to have the only area road moved further from his home so that he had more privacy! Above is my quick sketch of the ranch house and water tower.
Above is the view from the Ranch garden, where we had lunch, looking up towards the Lick Observatory. We rambled on towards the Snell Barn and stopped at a water station to capture the view. Some of the trees are still looking very fall-like with their bright foliage. A couple of horse riders stopped while we were there and let their horses slurp the water. It was a very gentle rural scene, wanting only a yodelling goatherd on the hillside to complete it!
Despite the sunshine, it was a little chilly in the shade, so we hiked on. For our final stop we found a lightening blasted tree which looked interesting against the backdrop of the hills. We set up and sketched until we got cold. When we moved off down the hill a bit we found an even better view of the tree - but we were chilled by then and didn't stop to repeat the sketch!
Our most recent paintsite was Las Palmas Park, Sunnyvale. This pretty park, with its ring of large Palm trees has fun stuff for children and dogs and is a great meeting place for mums and dog owners. Unfortunately the water pool was dry - so no reflections for us to paint this time, but the trees and people were challenge enough.
Using artistic licence (!) I made the trees somewhat shorter than they really are so that I could do the people at a reasonable size. This was sketched to the accompaniment of screaming as a small child threw a temper tantrum. The screaming lasted for some considerable while, until the poor mother eventually gave up and took the child home! I felt bad for her, remembering back to when my children were small and had inconsolable screaming fits for no apparent reason!
I moved closer to the dog park to draw the trees beyond the picnic tables. From the dog park came shouting as a couple of dogs got into trouble (must have been something in the air that day) and "No, Ginger" and "Bad Dog" echoed around the trees. This day the weather was glorious to start, then got cloudy and cooler. By the time we had lunch, we were all frozen, so we drifted home quite early. I had intended to put some color on the trees, but didn't wait around to finish it.