Spring is in the air, and wildflowers are popping up everywhere. Since we did not have much rain, this is not a record bloom year. However, don’t let that deter you from venturing out into the verdant beauty of our parks.
Though there may not be wall to wall flowers this year, there is great variety. In this recent hike we saw Footsteps of Spring, Indian Warriors, Owl Clover, Poppies, Lupines, Johnny Jump ups…. and many more.
“Spring at Toro Park” is the result of another fabulous day spent in this park, painting on location with friends. We drove up towards the guided nature trail, finding this glorious vista with oaks and lupines. Little did I know I signed up for a VERY demanding composition. Like many creative ideas, this inspiring view turned into a challenge fast!
The layered montains and distant views that lend such beauty to this site, are a BEAR to express with paint. What a lesson in values and atmospheric perspective – I thought my eyes would give out before this painting session was over! So grateful for my painting buddies, without them I probably would have given up much earlier. Another great reason to paint with others! There has been many an occasion when the weather turned nasty, the wind put up a fight, or my stamina ran out, when painting with friends saved me from my perceived limits. Painting plein-air is character building for sure!
After I brought this study home, the values still needed work. This piece is a classic lesson in layers, and taught me a lot. The dark trees and brighter colors in the foreground, contrasting with the gradually lighter, more bluish-grey rows of hills, are key to creating that 3 dimensional illusion of space – on a two dimensional surface. All part of the great life-long challenge to become a better painter!
If you’d like to check it out, Toro Park is located six miles from downtown Salinas, and 13 miles from the Monterey Peninsula. With 4,756 acres, the park has over 20 miles of hiking trials, as well as an abundance of picnic areas and wonderful facilities. You can bring your family for a lovely afternoon playing in the park, or venture on the many trails leading above the “valley” portion, to amazing vistas of the surrounding mountains. Hikes lead you through Oak covered hills and meadows, with hawks, turkey vultures and the occasional Golden Eagle soaring above. A true California experience!