Oil painting on location in coastal California.

….on a beautiful day in Laguna Beach, Ca. I painted the scene below on location. I like to paint small studies/paintings to get ideas and good color for larger paintings later on. It is fun and challenging to see if I can get accurate color and the “feeling” of the  place on canvas.

It was late afternoon and the sunlight on the bluffs inspired me to paint this scene. The warm sun and light ocean breeze felt so lovely as I stood there and painted. When I paint on location I am always reminded how important it is to paint quickly. The light and shadows can change completely. When I started this oil painting the sun light was on the cliffs and by the end of the painting the sun had gone down and it was a more muted color seascape when finished.

In above photo I have begun the oil painting by sketching/drawing the seascape with thin paint and then I begin to put in the darks and ocean colors.

…..within a few minutes the light changed, a few clouds appeared, and colors needed to be adjusted. The setting sun was muted by the marine layer and clouds. I tried to get the essence of the cliffs, ocean, and sky, without getting into detail. …..the movement of the white water….the clouds floating by…..blocking in distant gray-blue bluffs….

In the final photo above you can see that the painting turned out much darker than the original scene I started with. I may finish this painting at home with more detail or I may just save it, as is, and use it as a color and mood  reference for a larger painting. Also, my mind has recorded the experience of being out there in nature …looking at the ocean, feeling the wind, seeing clouds float by, all of this will affect the way a final, larger oil painting is executed.

Wildflowers 16×20 oil

I was inspired  to paint this scene because, after some spring rain, there were wild flowers everywhere in Southern California. Hillsides along freeways had beautiful displays of wild color. Near my home we had fields of yellow and purple flowers that lasted about a month before they faded. A lot of that dry bushery (not a word) stuff that looks like soon to be tumbleweed got deeply soaked and produced wild flowers and new color in unusual places. Dried brush and chapparel sprouted wild flowers that popped with color. In this painting I used thick paint and a palette knife to “cake” on the colorful folage. I wanted to create texture and the feeling of some of the plants. Some felt soft and billowy and others were brittle and dry. This oil painting has vibrant colors; mustards, browns, pinks, salomon, yellows, and many shades of green. It was a hazy or cloudy day so I kept the blue hill dark to suggest a cloud hovering over it. I noticed on cloudy days the ground colors  look lusher as if the contrast of grey skies intensify the local color.  This original oil painting has a slight suggestion of a walkway or trail though the flowers and traveling up the distant hillside. Keeping this oil painting loose, expressive, and impressionistic I chose to simplify the trees and foliage to their basic organic forms. The blues in the background  hill have some of the sky color in it…so I added some light grey mauve, greens, and purple to it.  It’s so amazing how a little rain water can turns a hillside into a glorious fiest for the eyes. I am hopeful that next years rains will bring many more luscious and juicy scenes to paint. This oil painting has a nice feeling of natures’ bounty.

“Tuolumne River” 24×30 oil painting

1920 tuolumne riverPainting of beautiful Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park. Lots of greens and raw sienna in this depiction of a flowing river.  Hiking in the meadows and along the river is gorgeous. I painted this for the 100th year anniversary show for the national parks of California. The exhibit is at Wildling Museum in Solvang, California. The exhibit is up until October 3, 2016.

available  $2800

“Bocce Ball?” Nay…..me neither”


Painting of my daughters relaxing and conversing at the beach. Too hot and lazy to get up and play bocci ball. Simplifying the figures I chose to focus on their relaxed gestures in the beach chairs. Pretty pastel colors and juicy, thick paint in this original oil painting make you long for a beach day of your own.

Available.  12×16 unframed oil painting $595


Balboa Park, San Diego 30×40 oil painting 

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This painting of beautiful Balboa Park, San Diego shows the hustle and bustle of tourist season. Lots of vibrant color with the back drop of Spanish-Moorish architecture in the buildings. Keeping the painting loose and painterly I show some details in the buildings while staying impressionistic. Rich ochres in the building hues, blues and olives in the water, and lively pastel colors for the pedestrians.

Available $2400

“Desert Gold” 24×30 desert oil painting


Available oil painting

This original, desert oil painting, “Desert Gold” is an impressionist painting of a California desert near La Quinta, California. My family and I visit this desert several times a year and go hiking with my sisters’ family who lives there. I live on the coast, so I love the contrast of the warm and relaxing desert air. When hiking in this desert area, you can almost hear the native drums. So peaceful, quiet, and mysteriously healing. On this day the light hit the mountains and bushes in a way that felt soft and airy. I put this feeling of softness and atmosphere in the painting with loose brushwork and thick paint. This original desert oil painting has a variety of vibrant colors: golds, purples, blues, pinks, earth tones, and yellows. I painted this original desert oil painting from a series of photos I took on this day of hiking with family.

“I have always loved the desert, one sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…..” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

“Clementine Skies” 12×16 oil painting of a sunset

sunset cc

Love clementines! You know the little tangerines. So I called this one “Clementine Skies” because it was so juicy to paint! …….Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darrrrrrling Clementine…,you were lost and gone forever, oh my darling Clementine. Sing it! Wow I just had a flashback to my childhood girl scout troop. We sang that song over and over I  think to get a singing badge to put on our uniform. Just a pretty sunset at Crystal Cove State Beach, CA. The purple island is Catalina, California.  Sunsets are amazing if you live on the coast. I hope you enjoy them often. What is amazing about them, to me as a painter, is that in the span of 20 minutes, as the sun sets, there are hundreds of different color combinations to paint. As a painter the possibilities are endless. This particular painting, Clementine Skies, has many varieties of the color orange: tangerine, coral, peach, clementine, rose-orange, cantaloupe, apricot, bittersweet, carrot, salmon, titian, and red-yellow. This oil painting has thick paint in the white and yellow area and thin paint in the dark area. When the lights are out the painting glows…it creates its own light!

“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.”      Carl R. Rogers





Laguna Palm Tree, 12×16 original oil painting

laguna palms

Available oil painting

This palm tree painting has thick paint and a pastel color palette.  Impressionist painting of Laguna Beach, California. I painted this on location, plein air, at noon-ish. The texture of the paint makes the palm trees look like they are moving in the wind. Impressionist in style allows room for loose, juicy paint. I like to get the gist of the scene and let the viewers finish the painting with their own eyes. When I first started out painting, one of my favorite books was Oil Painting Workshop by Ted Goeshner. The author instructs how we should not paint down to the viewer. Everyone knows what a tree looks like. We don’t need to paint every leaf. I like this approach because it gives more room to focus on atmosphere, mood, and texture. Laguna Beach is gorgeous 365 days a year, even on the gloomy days. With palm trees everywhere swaying in the wind and the sounds of the surf pounding the shore one feels (if you’re a local like me) as if you are on a mini vacation.

Palm trees grace landscape                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Burst of pink laughter invades                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Blue sky and water

Dorothy (Alves) Holmes   #192 Haiku Palm Trees




“Before the Sunset”, Laguna Beach, 12×16 oil painting

dusk blog12x16

Available oil painting

In this oil painting I  used lots of blues, purples, and periwinkles for the waves and water. Yellow, pink, and orange for the sunset and  water highlights. I was out walking and photographing the ocean when I decided to do an oil painting of this beautiful dusk-ish scene. I remember feeling a lot of anxiety and angst before taking a beach walk. Then the sunset turns into this drama in the sky with the dark clouds almost suppressing the setting sun. On this day before the sunset there were lots of surfers waiting for the next wave. Just floating out there wading in the ebb and flow. Such a peaceful scene of humanity just waiting in the waves. So zen…so one with nature. The ocean often reminds me of how small we humans are in the bigger scheme of things. It is kind of relaxing to think we are just another part of nature. There is a particular safety in the thought. Our lives are not such a big deal…….we can just float along with nature and relax…..that is….until the next big wave comes.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”–Rabindranath Tagore