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Oct 27, 2011

"There's no place like home, Toto..."

Okay, I am finally home from my 2011 plein air season and (almost) rested up. All in all, I competed in eight major events starting last May, and added three side trips for various commissions and exhibitions, taught two workshops, and judged one event. After crawling out of bed this morning I discovered I had posted a Laguna museum video from the gala soiree. (When and how the heck did I manage to do that? Man, the memory is going...)

So here is some of the work from the 2011 Laguna Beach Plein Air Invitational. But not all. Unfortunately something on my camera was set wrong when I shot the paintings so I had to torture them back into an approximation of what they actually look like. With one painting being completely overlooked (the QuickDraw), and one painting not surviving digital triage. (So you won't see it here. If I get a better shot someday, maybe then.) In any case, thank goodness for the digi-magic of Photoshop™.

"Comes with a View" Crystal Cove Cottages
20 x 16  |  oil on linen

These cottages were erected during the early part of the 20th century and are now part of the Crystal Cove State Park. Unincorporated and quasi-legal at the time, a rich bohemian culture sprung up within this enclave until the state of California shut the place down in the '70s. Hard to find anything like it anymore in America.

"The Great Stone Church, Mission San Juan Capistrano"
18 x 24  | oil on linen

A different kind of structure. Erected in 1776 and destroyed by an earthquake soon after, the great stone basilica of Mission San Juan Capistrano was briefly the largest buildings of its kind in America. It is still something to see as it is constructed of mortar, field stone, and plastered with adobe. The structure you see here is the only (semi-) surviving dome out of seven that made up the church. The people in the painting are to scale.

"Inspiration Point" near Corona del Mar
20 x 16  |  oil on panel

A stunning view along the coastline which ignites when the sun drops in the west.

Nature: One Echo after Another" (Victoria Beach, South Laguna)
24 x 18  |  oil on linen

I give credit to my wife for the title of this painting and I hope I have not wasted it. Been saving it for years. I once came home from a painting trip and mentioned how I kept discovering similar forms repeating themselves in the landscape, shapes and movements which spanned rocks, water, clouds, trees, and so forth, but never appearing in quite the same way. She looked at me like I was stupid and said, "Yes Thomas, that's Nature for you – one echo after another." 

Duh. So Zen, eh?

"Palms and Pickets" Crystal Cove
16 x 20  |  oil on linen

This was my final painting during the competition week. At the end I was burnt out producing 10 large paintings and felt physically exhausted. I had three competition pieces in the can, and four reserve paintings for the second sale day, so I thought, "What the heck, everyone has left Crystal Cove for other locales so why not throw down a 'What the h*ll painting' and call it a day?" What is a WtHP, you ask? It's a painting you wouldn't normally do, and you just do it to see what happens. The subject was impossibly complex, I was fried, and well...what else are you going to do in that situation? Go home?

A little backstory: my wife has been after me for years to throw down more paint as I work and I was sitting in the bar sipping a Mojito, looking at the view, and reflecting upon her point. (When it comes to art she is always right.) I was also thinking how close I'd come to exceeding American Airline's suitcase weight allowance on my fly-down. I'd packed a bunch of big tubes of oil paint which totaled about 30 pounds, and when I checked my suitcase it was a mere 1/2 pound under the limit. So that afternoon I decided to paint a WtHP – and use as much paint as could be stuck to its surface, if only to lighten my load home. There is approximately 2/3 of a tube of Old Holland™ lead white on this canvas, plus the other colors you see, so this painting is thick. It's more frosted than it is painted. (On a rigid panel, okay? I'm not an idiot...) 

How thick is it? When I checked my suitcase in at the AA counter on the way home it weighed 3 1/2 pounds less, and everything had been packed the same as it was on the fly-out. (I'm meticulous with my packing. It's an obsession.) I hadn't planned to exhibit this painting but decided to do so after a few of my plein air friends said I should. Up it went on the wall to a great response. So that makes it my heaviest painting, not counting the support and frame. Maybe I should try selling my art by the pound... (Ha!)

"The Adobe Garden" 
Mission San Juan Capistrano
20 x 16  |  oil on linen

Another painting at the mission. I could have stayed within the walls all week. There were so many paintings within a few feet of each other.

"The Bell Tower" Mission San Juan Capistrano
20 x 16  | oil on linen

Yet another painting in the mission. A few feet from the one above.

 * * * * And my personal favorite from the week . . . * * * *

"The Sentinel", Aliso Creek, South Laguna
20 x 16  | oil on linen

Wasn't even going to paint it. Went to look at a place a friend painted the night before, saw the difficulty in setting up on a muddy flat, and creek that flowed out from the local sewage plant, but once I got in place I  knew the scene would ignite once the sun sank low on the horizon. My favorite piece o' the week. Did I mention that?

And finally, even though I have already posted a video from the gala, apparently on the night of the gala, here are some more pictures for anyone who wants to see the tony event. We all looked so 'simply mahvelous'. We were all such 'dahlings . . .' 

Some of my best friends are in it. It was a fine night.

Coming up next: A painting currently on exhibited in the 12th Annual American Impressionist Show in Carmel, California. The last trip of the season.

That's all for Laguna, folks. It's good to be home. My wife thinks so too!


3 reader comments:

J. Kevin James said...

Great job on these wonderful paintings!! I particularly like The Sentinel and The Bell Tower. I took your Plein Air workshop in Aug. and just want to say thanks for all you do!

Brenda Boylan said...

Ooohweee! Great eye candy. Liking them all, and all look so Californian....(What? No fir trees?) I'm with you on The Sentinel. It's a beauty with great composition and striking color harmony. Yummy in my tummy colors. Is is still available?

Thomas Jefferson Kitts said...

Thanks everyone for your kind comments. I like the Laguna work too and am proud of it. I attribute the bump up to two things: working at a larger size than I have in a decade, and a return to an older way of painting that even precedes that. I am going to pursue both aspects for a while to see where it takes me. Mostly because working larger is a challenge and I find that exciting. I really want to put my shoulder into the canvas and stop flicking my wrist . . .