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Lifting Fog: Painting at Miller/Knox Park

Lifting Fog, oil on canvas panel, 8x10" (plein air painting finished in studio)
Lifting Fog, oil on canvas panel, 8×10″ (Sold) 

When I arrived at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline the sky was gray and cloudy but even in the fog the park had so many great views: a salt water lagoon, Mt. Tamalpais across the bay, a fishing pier, an abandoned ferry landing, beautiful trees, and across the road, a railroad museum and a squat yellow building that houses a motorcycle club.

Miller Knox thumbnail
Miller Knox thumbnail

I finally picked a spot and got started with the above thumbnail sketch. I set my ViewCatcher to 8×10 and looked through its “window” to choose the composition. Then I put the ViewCatcher on my sketchbook and traced around the inside of the window to outline a box in my journal of the same proportion. By the time I was ready to add watercolor to the thumbnail sketch most of the fog had lifted except over the hills, and the sun was shining.

After 2-hour plein air session, oil on panel
After 2-hour plein air session, oil on panel

Above is how the painting looked when I brought it home. The composition needed work: the picture is evenly divided in half with 2 trees on left, 2 trees on right and an empty center. The lagoon and bay should have been different colors. Too bad I’d ignored my thumbnail once I started painting because it had a much better composition.

I tried to continue the painting from a photo but the photo didn’t match my memory of the colors and light, even after Photoshopping it (below). But it did at least offer some clues for fixing the composition, like adding the sailboats (duh!).

Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline photo
Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline photo

Maybe I should add in the little “No Swimming” sign (only putting it on the left side as I did in my thumbnail). What do you think?

9 replies on “Lifting Fog: Painting at Miller/Knox Park”

dear Jana thank you for giving us a superb oil picture(I prefer oils)
I will not comment on technical matters but I will venture my opinion.:
you are one of a small group of artists who make poetry out of nature.Picasso said anyone can paint a yellow dot and think its a sun but the artist takes a yellow dot
and turns it to a sun!


Beautiful painting!!! And thank you so much for sharing your process! You are so generous with your information and it’s a good day when I have a Jana Bouc entry to read. I have your blog feed tied to my email so I never miss a post!

Carol C.


Hi Jana, Congrats on your Urban Sketchers designation. I was looking at that posting, then started scrolling down and stopped here. Then, my mind had a little brain spark. I think your idea of the sign is a good one, one worthy of exploration if it’s not too late. It might facilitate movement from the bottom, foreground horizontal land shape up through to the upper, fore/mid ground horizontal land shape. And, you could play with the placement of the line that is the sign pole. Depending on where you put it, it could provide some linkage to the bottom portion. Tricky, though, since it will change the balance you’ve achieve. What do you think?

I’m inspired by all of your hard work!


Thanks Peggy, I think you’re right and it’s definitely not too late (that’s the great thing about oils, endlessly adjustable). It wasn’t until I saw how well it worked in my little thumbnail that I realized how important it was for movement through the painting. I was trying to omit detail as I’ve been told so many times but in this case the detail was actually a helpful part of the painting.

Remember how I was telling you about wanting a painting mentor–well I found one! I received a notice for an upcoming show and loved the artist’s work (though it’s really different from mine). I emailed her and she said yes. Yay! I meet with her for the first time Friday and we agreed to give it a try and see how it works out.


Sketchblog: Website: UrbanSketchers-BayArea,


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