Plein Air @ Villa Moltalvo Saratoga CA 加州風景寫生

Happy 重陽節 Double Ninth Festival!
Today is Double Ninth on Chinese calendar, traditionally we usually 出遊賞秋 enjoy the autumn, 登高遠眺 overlook the high, 觀想菊花 admire the chrysanthemum, 遍插茱萸 insert the Cornus, 吃重陽糕 eat the heavy Sun Cake, 飲菊花酒 drink the chrysanthemum wine, and especially respect all the elders.

It sounds a little bit complex, certainly we couldn't do much here. Came to paint Villa Montalvo was ideal to overlook the high. It was a perfect day for hiking, and I was always amazed by the creation of nature. Only saw a few people on the trail. What a great place to look at Silicon valley from the top of the mountain. It has been nineteen years since I have been living in the valley and this country. I never liked here for a long time, until I started painting outdoors I guess. I enjoyed visiting and painting here. Light had changed, roughly finished my painting, will be back again for sure.

Plein Air @ Portola Vineyards Portola Valley CA 加州風景寫生

My first time to paint this gorgeous hidden winery. After the owner Vivian showed us around with her friendly, four-year old super active border collie dog, I decided to paint grapes hanging on the vines, actually left on the vines. It was quite hot in the sun, I had to use my umbrella though it was only 45 degrees before I left home in the morning. This cute dog was sitting not far from me, one of his paws sat on small sticks. Of course I understood all he wanted was to find a way to play. I tried focusing to my painting. After a while, he lost his patience and started barking. Couldn't stop at the moment, watercolors dried on paper so fast, I had to continue... Roughly finished, on the way back to my car, I saw him was all wet, just swam or did something fun in the pond I guessed. I picked up a small tree branch from the ground, didn't throw away very far, than I found a small piece of wood chips to throw. He was so happy to pick it up, and carried it inside his mouth runni…

Plein Air @ Sempervirens Point Los Gatos CA 加州風景寫生

It was beautiful in the mountains, moistness in the distance felt connected with the dramatic clouds. The temperature suddenly dropped down overnight from a hot Indian summer to winter, under 60 degrees. Luckily I brought my winter jacket, didn't feel even a little bit hot after I put it and while painting till 1pm. After the first painting, I noticed that there was a composition problem so I had to paint the second one. I didn't bring extra water, using the dirty water to paint my second wasn't easy in watercolors. I painted directly on the paper with with a brush and the left over dirty water, thought it would help me paint loosely. But it ended up another painting with a compositional issue... Time to go home, I drove the wrong direction in the mountains, but my car GPS and Google map didn't mention to me, only the time and miles showed me the extra minutes and extra miles. Maybe I should start hibernating, lol...

Plein Air @ Pigeon Point Pescadero CA 加州風景寫生

Over 100 miles and about 3 hours driving around trip, just because I was caught in a little bit traffic in the morning.

Thinking to paint the lighthouse for a long time, it was too windy or it was raining... But today was a hot day. After my dental appointment, driving on windy CA highway route 84 in the hills, I really did want to arrive the Pigeon Point as early as I could.

There was an SUV Volvo car in front of me driving only 15 miles/hr. I was very patient at the beginning, because usually I am a slow driver, always let most of the cars pass by me if it is possible. After a couple of miles, I realized that his brakes were on all the way, so I sent him flashing headlights since there was only one lane, with the occasional shoulders. But this guy would not let me pass. After a while, I started honking gently with flashing, he still drove very slow for miles... Finally he pulled his car on the shoulder, so I was able to arrive the location past 11am. Beautiful breezy day around 80 …

Plein Air @ Casa Grande San Jose CA 加州風景寫生

Planned to paint at the The New Almaden quicksilver mine. Curious about the location when I was driving by the Casa Grande, a historic building dating back to 1824. Turned around and found a perfect shady spot to paint. It was very quiet, saw a couple cars parking there. The museum was closed. Only birds were singing loud...Saw a huge green pine cone. I had to take a selfie to compare it with my head. Still felt hot near noon...

Plein Air @ Allied Arts Guild Menlo Park CA 加州風景寫生

Gorgeous morning but caught in traffic. Arrived at the location almost 10:30am. Instantly love it, another very paintable and must come back location. There were a group young age kids learning music next to where I was painting. Was fun to hear their singing, made painting go through with joy. Ended up shopping at the Stanford Shopping Center. Came home with traffic all the way too... That was why I don't like going out during rush hour.

Plein Air @ Santa Cruz CA 加州風景寫生

Excited to experience the first rain in our location, it started at least one month earlier than usual. Even raining when I drove through the mountains all the way to Santa Cruz. Local people still brought their dogs for walks in the rain. During the time I was trying to figure out where to paint rain stopped. The lighthouse again of course, because I didn't like the one painted last September. Struggling with the rocks for a long time, sun came out, the harbor looked so beautiful instantly, I had to paint another one for sure, though I felt tired.

Sat down on a bench, set up my Best Brella umbrella, enjoyed the ocean breeze while working on my second painting... Suddenly, there was a strong wind that blew my umbrella out of the connecting tube, it was blown across a steep ledge and into the ocean. Almost at the same moment I put down my brush, jumped off the bench and ran down the ledge of the water. But the umbrella was sinking fast, my arm wasn't long enough to reach it. I…

Plein Air @ Alviso Marina County Park San Jose CA 加州風景寫生

So quiet and empty, I felt lost and confused while driving on the the same road in the same town. Everywhere looks much better without traffic doesn't it?
I really like this little historical place, very paintable. Did a quick sketch, but it didn't help to lock my painting into a better composition. What I enjoyed painting directly on the paper with my watercolor brush without drawing, so my painting came out loose.
Happy Labor Day! Hard to believe it is the beginning of September already. Hope everyone enjoy today and have a great month!

Plein Air @ McClellan Ranch Park Cupertino CA 加州風景寫生

Another interesting new place I went to paint that used to be a horse ranch owed by the McClellan family in the 1930s, and still preserves the original ranch house, a working milk barn, livestock barn, and a replica blacksmiths shop, along with a natural reserve in the middle of the park. So many new ideas for painting, could not manage all in one small outdoor work. My inspiration is from nature, painting outdoors helps me feeling meditative and alive, though I usually am exhausted after it all.

Plein Air @ Los Gatos Vasona Lake trail Los Gatos CA.加州風景寫生

Started a little late. There wasn't a real nice spot for me to paint this bridge. Some people exercising on the trial, running, biking, walking... It was a good exercise for me moving my stuff around to paint, sunshine was too bright on the paper. I really have to get ready for Alameda Plein Air event, no doubt! But my allergies are killing me these days.