Sketchbook Pages

Smoky, Sunny, Windy Day at Albany Bulb

Windy Day at Albany Bulb

Oil on panel, 10×12″ (larger)

With over 1,000 wildfires burning in Northern California, the air has been smoky, reducing the visibility and giving everything an eery pinky-grey tint. Instead of sunsets, a small, fire-red sun slowly sets behind curtains of gray. Even the moon appears small and red.

On Sunday morning there was a breeze blowing in from the ocean which seemed to clean the air a bit so Peggy, Dennis and I went to paint down at the “Albany Bulb” (a small chunk of land that sticks out into the San Francisco Bay). About 1:00 the sea breeze turned into a wild wind. The gusts were so strong that brushes and palette knives blew out of my painting box and the wind kept jerking my arm, making it hard to paint any details (maybe a good thing, in my case?).

Before the Albany Bulb became a waterfront park, it was a landfill (euphemism for dump). Years later,  artists used the area to create sculptures (like these below) from driftwood and drift-trash that floats in from the Bay or was dumped there during the landfill years. Now it’s a rough-hewn park and a sort of outdoor anarchist art gallery and a part of part of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

These sculptures at the Bulb were created by Oakland artist Osha Neumann. If you click to enlarge and look closely you’ll see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Jason was just finishing the sculpture of the dog on a roof(?) when I took these photos last year.
Dog sculpure woman and dog Woman sculpture

14 replies on “Smoky, Sunny, Windy Day at Albany Bulb”

Ooh! I LOVE stuff like this. It’s the sort of thing kids build with fallen branches and bits of cardboard. Funny how” kids’ stuff” draws praise while “grown-up sculpture” is often condemned as unworthy.

And as long as those fires burn, you’ll be using a somewhat limited palette!


What a beautiful landscape, Jana. You do such an amazing job conveying atmosphere. Wendy’s comment is spot-on – there’s something clean and pure about this.
I love the sculptures too! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.


Whew – you are brave to paint in such weather!..but with such a beautiful result, so soft and atmospheric.
I’m surprised those sculptures weren’t blown away – they are wonderful.


I’m back again…reading Wendy’s comment, I just opened a Gauguin book and yes, I can see what she means.


I know what you mean about the smoke. I’m grateful for the Petaluma wind tunnel – the regular winds funneled from the ocean every afternoon.

But what a great painting! Very brave of you to stick it out in the wind.


Jana, I like the atmosphere in your recent oils. Although I am sorry that it’s the result of fires.

BTW, I’ve spent the last couple of ideas with your painting teacher, Elio. Our paintings look kind of similar but it’s a result of the Oregon clouds, thankfully and not fires.


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