Yosemite with Friends

Heather Martin

When you're given an opportunity to paint alongside six great artists in one of the most beautiful places in America...YOU TAKE IT! Sure, my hair was on fire a little bit trying to figure out how to pack for a three day trip in Yosemite, but you do what it takes!

Before I get too far into the post, let me introduce the "team" to you. They are all well known professionals in the Bay Area that you should know!

First is Nancy Takaichi, an amazing artist I had the pleasure of getting to know over the years since we met in Capitola. Her oil paintings are so dreamy, and paint application is so rich and generous. Not only is she a great painter, but she has a heart made of absolute GOLD.

Next up is Richard Lindenberg. We first met up in Tahoe, as he was a judge for the plein-air event that I was in. It was great to get to know him more, and see his beautiful work in person. I hope we paint together more in the future!

The unofficial ringleader (he denies it, but it's true) was Paul Kratter. He organized everything, and knew the park like the back of his hand. A very clear pro, he painted numerous stellar pieces during the trip.

This is Cleo Vilett, my roommate for the trip, and an artist that I also first met at the Capitola Plein Air event. Her work is bold, and fearless which matches her admirable personality. I really enjoyed our art conversations, and am really inspired by her.

Here is Charity Anderson, SUCH a strong artist and beautiful soul! There's plenty photos of her painting too, but this one was a personal favorite. We've been painting together more regularly now, since she only lives a couple miles away, and I have really enjoyed getting to know her better. This is an artist that has truly nailed down the California landscapes (especially the COLORS), and her work feels so effortless. 

Last, but certainly not least is Ellie Wilson. The type of artist that almost makes you mad...because she's SO good. I didn't know her at all before the trip, but am glad to have met her. During this painting session we painted side by side and had so many wonderful and deep art conversations.

Now on to the paintings!

The first thing that caught my eye (well, AFTER seeing all these beautiful landmarks around us) was how these black oaks still had their rust colored leaves. In the sunlight, they glowed a beautiful red-orange and shimmered in the wind. You know me, a sucker for back lit scenes and painting large. 20"x16", AVAILABLE HERE.

Credit to Paul, he was the one that spotted this breath-taking view of the Lower Falls. This composition seemed too good to be true. We had to work quickly to catch the light, but I just loved painting this piece from start to finish. 14"x11" AVAILABLE HERE.

We were pretty tired from the long drive and a day of painting, but some of us were hungry for more. Half Dome gets the dramatic evening light that cuts across the top, but I didn't have the patience to wait for sunset. This is a golden hour scene, and those trees were definitely gold in my eyes! 9"x12" AVAILABLE HERE

After a warm meal, and regaining consciousness, we rolled out bright and early the next day for another paint fest.

What I hadn't planned for were the freezing painting temperatures, and how the gouache would react. So the first part of my morning was spent ruining a 20"x16" paper, and feeling frustrated at the paint slush I was creating. Knowing that even if I were able to get a decent painting it might melt into something different, I gave up and painted the view from the car. Luckily the light was coming over the Bridal Veil Fall in an awe-inspiring way. 12"x9" AVAILABLE HERE.

This next spot was exciting, but I fell victim to trying to paint it all! Half dome was a soft blue in the distance, and I just had to try to get that perfectly still and clear water in. 14"x11" AVAILABLE HERE.

Feeling a little frustrated, I went over to this spot but it was cut short since no one knew where I was and I could hear them shouting for me. While I was painting, there was a class of kids sitting behind me calling me Bob Ross, haha. What I loved about this scene was the water. It was so still and just had hints of sparkle where it met the land. 10"x7" AVAILABLE HERE.

For the last painting of the day, we went looking for a different spot, but ended right back at the same parking lot. I practically ran to this scene to get the light blocked in on the paper. Nancy set up next to me, and we had the most deep and honest conversations. I did take this one into the studio to raise the contrast and refine some things. 20"x16" AVAILABLE HERE.

We had one more dinner together before calling it a night. This photo is actually from the night before, but it still counts. :P 

The following morning was much warmer, and was less of a threat of freezing water (although I was very prepared to use Tequila to keep it from freezing). This scene was calling me, even though it started out completely in shadow. Luckily the light seeped through in a mesmerizing way. Those subtle value and color shifts in the background are deceptively hard to do in gouache, and took so much concentration! 16"x12" AVAILABLE HERE.

For the last painting, I chose to zoom in on some of these monumental rock structures in the distance. The snow zigzagged down the slope in the shadows, and it was a great challenge to try to apply the paint in a way to make it feel like the granite. 14"x11" AVAILABLE HERE.

All in all, this was an incredible trip, and a much needed change of scenery. Being in the company of such passionate artists was an absolute pleasure, and made the trip one to remember. I hope you enjoyed the painting tour! Do you have a favorite? I'd love to hear in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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