Oil on panel plein air (mostly), 12×9″ (Larger)
After working at my “day job” most of Monday, a day I usually don’t work, I grabbed my painting gear and headed to this field covered in brilliant mustard grass. I’d driven by the field the day before and was desperate to paint it. By then it was about 4:30 and the sun, which had been shining brightly all day, had disappeared behind clouds on its way down. A chilly, foggy breeze blew in from the nearby Bay but the mustard grass was still glowing.
I set up in the parking lot of the Ocean View Elementary School in Albany, looking through a chainlink fence at the field. It is part of U.C. Berkeley’s Gill Tract, a 14-acre agriculture research field owned by the university. Until recently the field was a pine forest, but the university just cut down all 314 Monterey Pines because they were infected with pitch canker and were deemed hazardous.
Several children who were being picked up from after-school activities dragged their moms over to see what I was doing. One little boy told me that my trees looked “so realistic!” He made my day because I’d been thinking they were awful. Another little girl said she liked to paint too. I asked her what she liked to paint with (thinking watercolor? acrylic?) and she said, “purple….and orange….and yellow…you know, colors!” acting like I was really dumb to be asking that question.
With the light fading fast I packed up and went home after about an hour and a half. Tonight, with the workweek finally over I returned to the painting. From memory I made a few adjustments, lightening the hills a bit, adding more dimension to the field and trying to do a little something with the trees, which maybe I should have just left alone since they looked better before like the little boy said.