Sketchbook Pages

Blake Gardens Redwoods & Assimilating

Blake Gardens Redwoods

Oil on panel, 10″x8″ (larger)

I’ve been playing hooky from my blog, while trying to assimilate what I learned at my painting workshop last week. (I checked Websters‘ online dictionary to make sure assimilate was the word I meant to use and it was perfect:

a: to take in and utilize as nourishment: absorb into the system
: to take into the mind and thoroughly comprehend

Friday when I was painting with my plein air group at Blake Gardens I felt like I was on the verge of a breakthrough. But I was shocked when I moved out of the shady grove where I was working to join the group for critique. I’d been in the “zone” while painting, feeling really good about my work but in the bright light it looked awful.

I put another two hours into it at home and liked it much better. Here are pics of the steps along the way:

Blah photo of the scene:
Blake Gardens Redwoods Photo

Initial blocking in of the big shapes, remembering my teacher’s saying: “You can tame a wild stallion but you can’t bring a dead horse back to life” — so start with vibrant color (while still trying to get the right temperature and value) and then tame it.
Blake Gardens - Step 1

Blake Gardens - Step 2

After two hours plein air:
Blake Gardens - 2 hours plein air

8 replies on “Blake Gardens Redwoods & Assimilating”

I have to tell you when i first clicked on your post in my reader I thought WOW I really like this. And I do. Amazing how you started with such bright colors and how you tamed it.

Thanks Toni!


Jana, yours is one of the first art blogs I began following, over a year ago. I enjoy reading about your constant efforts to grow as an artist, and some days, as in this post they really hit home with me. I have just begun trying to paint outside, and your reports of how you work, with whom, give me heart to continue. BTW, I think your scene reads quite well and does a good job or representing the dappled sunlight of your scene.

Sherry, Your message really made my day. I’m so glad my struggles (or efforts as you so nicely said) and writing have contributed in a small way to your efforts as well. It’s so great to know we’re all on this path together!
~ Jana


Yes, I had the same reaction as Toni(above); you seem to be getting the knack of oils as opposed to watercolour.And thanks for the “steps” I would not have known where or how!

Thanks Diane,
Sometimes I’m not sure I really know where or how either. I did another painting last night where I seemed to have forgotten everything I learned! I’m hoping that someday soon I feel comfortable enough with oils that I can be ambidextrous, using both comfortably. I don’t want to give up watercolor, but am focusing on oils until I feel like I’ve got it.


You do love messing around with thick paint don’t you! Nice result, but actually I liked the very first one you did when you just blocked in the shapes. Abstract.
Here’s a quote:
I hope with all my heart there will be painting in heaven – Corot 1796
I understand what you mean about painting in the zone. Playing music, writing a story, fiddling with paint – these belong in the realm of heaven I reckon.

Wendy I love that quote! It’s true I do like messing with thick paint but I agree that I really love the look of that first block in too. At some point I may find a way to make that first block in good enough to be the final painting. ~Jana


Jana, I love this painting! Love how you added so much rich texture with the paint, and projected such atmosphere and richness. I looked at it the day you posted it, but didn’t have time to comment, so had to come back and enjoy it some more. The variety of your work is so admirable, and all of it has strength.


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