In early October I flew out to northern California to surprise my mom on her birthday. She was.
This is where I went to high school, college and was a place that I loved for it's natural beauty and
rural atmosphere. Though it's now surrounded by the expanding Sacramento and the suburbs, the area
has maintained it's rural atmosphere and landscape for the most part. Of course there are the mansions,
McMansions and all. But the land cannot be subdivided in the Loomis Basin into parcels smaller than five acres.
That has done a lot to allow one to stll see the oaks, California quail, and pasture present in abundance, that make up the early California landscape of this area. Being in the shadow of the Sierras, and in the transition zone between the Foothills Belt and the Yellow Pine Belt means a great variety of trees and vegetation not to mention an increasingly aggressive topography.
As you can tell, I love this landscape.
And you probably can tell that I wasn't going out there empty handed concerning painting equipment! Due to earlier flying difficulties last spring, I decided to travel light and only bring what I could carry on in my "two" bags, a laptop computer bag and one small backpack. This meant a small painting kit and just the minimum number of paints, brushes and painting supports.
I have a little 6x8 pochade box that I made a few years ago, brought a palette of paint that included W/N Griffin Alkyd white, cad lemon yellow, perm red medium, perm alizarin, trans oxide red, ultramarine blue, and Holbein viridian hue, a small air tight thinner container, and linen mounted to 8-ply museum board and some loose pieces to be taped down for use. My brushes and paints fit into a small plastic tackle container and that all went into the shoulder laptop bag, along with the appropriate MSDS sheets to try to persuade the TSA agents if need be. That was the good part, only one TSA agent spent more than 10 seconds examining my bag. All the paints made it through security just fine, but in order to avoid the 'stress', I sent them home via UPS.
Here's how I painted, on a 5 gallon pickle pail and my set up.
There's something about being familiar with your equipment that's true, I found out. First thing I did of course, was a walk around the area, to see what was there. Oh, I found this 88 acre bird sanctuary not far from my mom's house that was ideal to paint at. A preserved slice of the Basin as it was long ago. There are still acorn grinding stones that the Nisenan native people used to process the acorn harvest for flat bread.
Anyway, I was excited to paint so sat down on the ground until later when I had a bucket, and went to work. First thing I realized was that I had left the paper towels back at the house! So I drove to a convenience store about a mile away and came back to get to work.
What is the second most used dispensable item on a painters list of supplies, the one that you can't fly with but always have a gallon of on hand? yep...Paint thinner! I had forgotten to buy some when I arrived and until I opened the little thinner container hadn't thought about it. I wasn't getting up now again, so I painted without it. I was using a very fine oil primed linen for the studies. It made painting with out thinner manageable. In fact it taught me a lesson. I probably thin paint out too much and should paint with less thinner anyway.
So here are the results, three small 6x8's. It was a great stay and now I'm heading back this May to hold a workshop in this place of inspiration to me. I think it will be for the painters who come along with me too.
'Valley Oaks'- oil- 6x8....the first one without thinner. I went later to get some to clean the quick dry white out of the brushes, and for the other two paintings.
'Traylor Ranch Oaks'- oil- 6x8
'Horton Iris Garden'- oil- 6x8...this is just down the road from where I lived in Loomis and typical of what most people have to supply the property with water. The water comes off of a PG&E concrete ditch, straight from the Sierras. Everyone then has to get it pumped to the house where it's filtered and chlorinated. I think that this is the chlorination tank. We had a series of 5 tanks that the water went through on our house before it was drinkable. Very good water though! The owners of the Iris Garden have hosted plein air painting events in the past. It's a gorgeous location.