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.

Malaga Cove 16×20 oil

Impressionist oil painting of Malaga Cove, Palos Verdes, CA. I painted this scene on location a few years ago and this is a larger version of it done in the studio. I am glad I painted it on location first because the direction of the waves and the way the white foam flowed back into the sea is very different from other surfs I have painted. This is a famous surfing spot because of the height and length of the waves. The colors in it are sea foam green, pthalo blues and greens for the ocean, and ochre and burnt sienna for most of the hillside. The focus of this scene is the waves and action of the white water. There is dappled light on part of the hillside where the clouds parted.

How Art Collectors Place Art in their Homes

How do experienced art collectors arrange art in a home? Without a professional interior designer, it can be a bit difficult to know the perfect places to hang your art on your. Placing art of all types throughout your home is a learned skill. Below we have some beautiful examples and practical tips for making your home a place of balanced beauty and art.



In this art collector’s home, above, a Laguna Beach seascape graces the entrance of the home above a table. The reds throughout the rustic table match the flowers in the painting, while the shell lamps go with the beach theme. It works so well because the painting is low enough to create a unit with the table. And the items on the table and shelf keep the eye moving around and back up to the painting. There is balance with the two lamps evenly placed and the painting centered over the table, and there is asymmetry with the way the rest of the items are placed on the tabletop and shelf. This creates a full and visually interesting look.



In the above photo the art collector chooses simple modern frames to go with the clean lines of the room. Both paintings are spacious in imagery complimenting the large window view of a lush backyard. Beautiful woodwork throughout the home makes a perfect setting for the landscape and seascape.


In the sunset painting placement, above, the art collector is making a dramatic statement. They put it above an antique family heirloom dresser in the entrance of the home. Placing the painting above the dark furniture with low lighting makes the painting “glow”.


Available painting “Big Sur” 40″x60″

The above is an example of being bold in the placement of art. In this small living room the huge painting (available, big sur, 40×60) makes the room feel larger by placing it over a dining bench. This room has a neutral palette with bronze/black accents which makes the greens and blues of the painting pop.



An oversized piece of art can create real drama and complete the room. Putting a painting above the fireplace finishes the room nicely and gives it a centerpiece. This piece works well with the darks in the room without competing with the florals.



Creatively displaying all original art in the home, the top image shows how well beautiful glass art on tables tops mixes well with original oil paintings. The second image shows an example of beautiful color combinations in the room  with original art on walls completes the total look.

“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


Big Sur 40″ x 60″ Oil Painting

Big Sur

Original oil of Big Sur, Ca. This painting was painted from small studies on location and photo reference. This piece depicts the quintessential northern California cliffs of Big Sur. Big lush green pastures and brushstrokes give this piece a feeling of grandeur. Done in the plein air style this landscape capturing the beautiful pastures of coastal cliffs.

Dusk, Avalon, Catalina 12×16 oil

20131015-161912.jpgThe perfect time of day! Certain times of day can transport you in a meditative way to another place and time. This Catalina scene remains me of my Irish ancestry. On my mother side they were from Cobh, Ireland. It’s a town on the south east side with a small cove and harbor a lot like Catalina in that the hilleside meets the sea and the town is all about the harbor. A must see town with great Bed and Breakfasts.

Catalina Lights 12×16 oil

Wow the night scenery in Catalina is breath taking! The lights look like jewels
Against the dark sky.

20131015-161319.jpgTwinkling white, yellow, and gold lights………lit like a Christmas tree!

The Zen of Surfing

The sky was pink this sunset. Pure pink. Surfers look so completely relaxed walking out of the water.

Sunset Surfing 16×16 oil

Watching my son surfing at a distance I captured the sillouetted figures against an intense sunset. I feel I captured the awesome peace of the ocean and how small us humans are in the massive ocean.

El Morro 24×30 oil


Gorgeous view of beach from Crystal Cove parking lot. I painted a few small plein air paintings in this location and used them to create this larger 24×30.