Point Isabel Dog Park Plein Air

Oil on canvas panel, 6″x8″ (Larger)

We’re expecting a series of big storms for the next week but the weather today was comfortable, no wind and in the 50s. Although I’ve been working on another painting and wanted to keep going on it, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get outside and paint before the storm hits.

I headed down to nearby Pt. Isabel, an enormous park along the bay that is designated as an off-leash dog park. It has spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge but smog, fog and clouds made the visibility so bad that I picked a closer view.

I’m really excited about the breakthrough I had yesterday with oil painting, and how I was able to apply it to this little painting. Up until yesterday I’d been using various oil painting mediums to thin the paint and what I kept ending up with was thin, washed out, chalky, greyed, paint; stickiness and smell from alkyd mediums and smell (and toxins) from turpentine. I’d heard people say they used little to no medium and I couldn’t understand how that was possible. It seemed like the paint would be too thick and hard to manipulate without first thinning it down.

I finally tried it and was shocked to discover it works! Of course it means using a lot more paint, especially on this coarser canvas, but I was able to put down one layer of paint, and leave it. If I made a mistake I could scrape the paint off of that section and repaint it, no problem. Before when I tried to do that, there wasn’t really anything to scrape off because my paint was sooooo thin.

I did this painting in about an hour. I know the dogs look a little dorky, but it’s just a little oil sketch, so who cares. Then I was able to go home and continue working on the painting in progress in my studio. That painting is almost finished and I’m just so excited that after all the work and study I’ve put into oil painting it at last feels as if I’m getting somewhere. And I still have 5 more days of vacation!

Animals, Art theory, Landscape, Oil Painting, Outdoors/Landscape, Painting, Plein Air
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Join the conversation! 8 Comments



  2. Yes, it is wonderful and exciting when things finally click! How exciting this has happened for you with the oil paints. And the little dogs are cute! 🙂


  3. You can just feel that a storm is coming in this painting.


  4. You have a special touch when it comes to water and skies…which are usually under the the most difficult parts in a painting, since they play such a big role in conveying atmosphere. Here, you once again used your sky so beautifully to create atmosphere. I enjoy your oil work. You have now REALLY finally woken up that urge in me to pick up my oil brushes again…thanks!


  5. You sound excited, made me grin…It’s so cool when you “get it”…I’ve had company and been traveling the past couple of weeks, can’t wait to get back to painting…


  6. I love this mood you’ve conveyed…it’s like pent-up excitement in the dogs and they are running for cover under the tree (but can’t resist jumping out and daring the rain to fall – all within close proximity of the tree’s safety). It says “Can’t Catch Me”!


  7. If you were to sit down and paint this again (without losing the spontaneity of the sketch) may I be so bold as to suggest that the dog on the left face left – looking towards the water and sky? I say this because I am drawn to the beautiful distant trees and that stunning sky – so I can’t help but think that at least one of your subjects should be drawn to it also.


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