Watercolor painting – Orange Storefront

watercolor san fernando road
San Fernando Road, 8×10 watercolor (sold)
About ten years ago, I went on a plein air painting excursion in Old Town Newhall, a historic western town not far from where I live in California. My artist pals and I scoped out paint-worthy architecture and cityscape scenes, and set up easels along sidewalks, under the shade of awnings, with our paints, cameras and water bottles. Some of my friends wrestled those plein air sessions into a regular activity, honing their skills with habitual, all-weather, outdoor painting adventures.  A few of the hardiest souls stuck with it long enough to get very, very good at chasing sunlight while bracing an easel against the wind, or rendering verdant greens along a mountain path while dodging curious cows and fire ants, etc.



As a studio girl, I have enormous respect for the determination and fortitude of plein air painters. ¬†Have you seen¬†Joaquin Sorolla’s (1863-1923) plein air masterpieces¬†on huge canvases? Take¬†a look at the historical photos, posted by artist/illustrator¬†James Gurney. The images¬†of Sorolla, capturing the scene¬†in front of him with¬†determined carriage, put me in my place when I have an un-successful day in the studio. There are no bugs, and it’s not windy where I paint. I have a temperature controlled room, with no visitors interrupting, and I can listen to a book while I work. ¬†Sorolla¬†was a rock star painter, and I am a tad pole in an ocean of online artist practitioners. ¬†I’ve chosen an easier path to practice watercolor painting & printmaking, so¬†I have no excuses to¬†pout when a piece I’m struggling with ends up in the shredder. I love my job. And as I tape a new sheet of paper down to start over this afternoon, I raise my tea cup¬†towards my plein air friends and studio painters, and the artists¬†before them who marched on, hurdling every sort of obstacle – real or emotional – along the way. Here’s to you; Just Keep Painting.
What do you do when a day of art-making¬†leads to frustration and you need a “get back in the saddle” pep talk?
 Art Quote
Yesterday afternoon I was able to do quite a lot of work on the picture, so that I hope to finish it today, the feast of St. Peter. That will be the end of more than six years’ work, of suffering and struggle, with so much that was good and bad, especially at this stage.
Joachin Sorolla
(Note: Sorolla was commissioned to paint 14 murals, now installed in the Hispanic Society of America building in Manhattan, and this was the last in that series, all but one of them painted plein air)

3 thoughts on “Watercolor painting – Orange Storefront”

  1. I love Sorolla too and your painting and post. Can’t seem to get my comments to show here. I hope this one does. Love your work.
    XOXOXOXO Barbara

  2. I saw the Sorolla exhibit in San Diego, I loved the beach scenes. It was very illuminating to see some of his on-site sketches on cardboard where he worked out the figures and drapery movement. They also had several small, plein air quick sketches which did not look any better than what I can paint (it gave me hope!). Thanks for the link to Gurney’s site showing Sorolla at work in the field. Painting in the wind is a constant challenge.

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