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Watercolor Landscapes

I've enjoyed painting scenes from the beautiful California landscape, its lakes and seashore. You'll find my cityscapes and buildings separately.

Click on the thumbnail picture or title to see a larger image. To inquire about purchasing a painting, please contact the artist.

tranquil-tahoe.jpg Watercolor: Tranquil Tahoe (10.5" x 12.5")
From northeast Nevada shore at Lake Tahoe State Park, looking south towards Sand Harbor July 30, 2013.. Transparent watercolor. 10.25x12.5" Accepted for exhibition in the juried 2013 WASH Open Show at the Sacramento Fine Art Center, September 3-28, 2013. Exhibited at the Placer County Fair, June 25-28, 2015, where it won third place in the watercolor category. In a private collection: J. Wilson.

point-reyes-lighthouse-140701.jpg Watercolor: Point Reyes Lighthouse (22" x 15")
I visited Pt. Reyes on a beautiful day in May 2014 and was struck by the beautiful isolation -- and wind -- of this point of land sticking out into the Pacific. Watercolor, 22"x 15".

fingers-into-the-pacific.jpg Watercolor: Fingers into the Pacific - the Sonoma Coast (14.5" x 10.5")
From a photo taken on a family gathering at the Russian River in 2013. My son David and I took a birthday day trip. This view looks south with Bodega head in the far distance. The painting was exhibited as part of the Auburn Art Walk at the Placer County 'Domes' administrative building Oct 13 to Nov 16, 2017. In a private collection: D. & T. Wilson. 131231. Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

tar-river-bald-cypress.jpg Watercolor: Dappled Bayou (10.5" x 7.5")
Tar River Bald Cypress Swamp, Greenville, NC, October 2012, 10.5x7.5 watercolor by Ralph F. Wilson. Finished Nov 2012. Exhibited at the Snowflake Show (a juried art show), January 26-27, 2013, sponsored by Rocklin Fine Arts.

delta-afternoon.jpg Watercolor: Delta Afternoon on Sutter Island (15" x 11")

Sutter Island on the Sacramento River Delta, across from the Grand Island Mansion, about 5 pm. Transparent watercolor, 15x11 inches. In a private collection: J. Wilson.

felucca-nile.jpg Watercolor: Felucca on the Nile (10.5" x 14.5")
The felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in protected waters of the Red Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, Malta, and Iraq -- and particularly along the Nile in Egypt, and Sudan. Its rig consists of one or two lateen sails. Watercolor, 10.5 x 14.5 inches.

fort-ross.jpg Watercolor: Fort Ross Chapel and Cove (12.25" x 8.25")

This is the reconstruction of a Russian Orthodox Chapel on the Northern California coast, originally built in the early 1800s for a colony of Russian fur traders. From a photo I took on June 20, 2013. Watercolor. In the collection of First Baptist Church of Nevada City. 12.25" x 8.25". Not for sale.

no-hands-bridge.jpg Watercolor: No Hands Bridge, Auburn Ravine (14" x 20")
You're looking downstream at the so-called "No Hands Bridge," built 1910-12 by the Mountain Quarries Railroad to connect a limestone quarry to the Southern Pacific mainline in Auburn. It was built over the South Fork of the American River, just downstream from the Highway 49 bridge. When it was built it was the longest concrete railroad bridge in the world, abandoned about 1940. It got the name "no hands bridge" because local horseback riders would ride across it without using the reins -- 150 above the riverbed without handrails! Transparent watercolor. 14x20 inches.

rainbow-bridge-donner.jpg Watercolor: Rainbow Bridge above Donner Lake (20" x 14")
This bridge was built in 1926 as part of the old US 40. It was restored in 1993 and overlooks Donner Lake from near Donner Summit. Watercolor was completed on August 1, 2013. Exhibited in "Along the Lincoln Highway," A juried art show by the Auburn Arts Commission, Dec 12, 2013 to Feb 7, 2014.

3-rocks-at-tahoe-130810.jpg Watercolor: Three Rocks at Tahoe (9-1/8" x 6-3/4")
Granite rocks in the shallows at Memorial Point Scenic Overlook, Lake Tahoe State Park, south of Incline Village, NV. August 10, 2013. Watercolor, 9-1/8"x6-3/4".

asilomar-beach-sunset.jpg Watercolor: Asilomar Beach at Sunset (20" x 14")
Painted from my photo taken at sunset at Asilomar Beach on Jean's and my 40th Anniversary in 2008. It records one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. Watercolor, 20" x 14". Exhibited in the WASH "Go with the Flow" Open Show at the Sacramento Fine Arts Center, September 2014.

pt-reyes-beach.jpg Watercolor: Point Reyes Beach - 14.5" x 10.5"
This view of the long Point Reyes Beach is from near the end of the point, beyond the parking lot. I really like the angles, with the beach extending on into the distance. Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

forest-brook-muir-woods.jpg Watercolor: Forest Brook, Muir Woods (14" x 14")
In May 2014 I saw this brook that ran through the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument. I was trying to catch both the dark mood of the forest and the patches of light beyond. Watercolor, 14" x 14".

Watercolor: American River Confluence - 14.5" x 10.5"
Bill, Tim, and I went plein air painting May 8th at the confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the American River, east of Auburn. We followed that by lunch in Cool with watercolorist Steve Walters. A great day! Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

sattley-cattle-barn.jpg Watercolor: Sattley Cattle Barn - Sierra Valley - 14.5" x 10.5"
On a road trip in August 2015, I saw this cattle barn just south of the crossroads known as Sattley, CA. In the background you can see the flat high Sierra Valley, along CA-89 and CA-49. Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

sierra-buttes.jpg Watercolor: Sierra Buttes - 10.5" x 10.5"
A view of Sierra Buttes from the east side. Watercolor, 10.5" x 10.5"

yuba-river-no-fork-canyon.jpg Watercolor: Yuba River Canyon - 9.5" x 20"
The canyon of the North Fork of the Yuba River from Hwy 49, south of Sierra City, north of Downieville. Watercolor, 9.5" x 20".

cliffs-of-drakes-bay.jpg Watercolor: The Cliffs of Drake's Bay - 14.25" x 7.75"
Jean and I took an anniversary trip to Pt. Reyes National Seashore. This view of the white cliffs of Drake's Bay reminded me of the reference in Sir Francis Drake's account: "This country our generall named Albion, and that for two causes; the one in respect of the white bancks and cliffes, which lie toward the sea: the other, that it might have some affinity, even in name also, with our owne country, which was sometime so called." This painting was exhibited in the juried "Go with the Flow" WASH Open Show at Sacramento Fine Arts Center, September 6 to October 1, 2016. Watercolor, 14.25" x 7.75".

green-valley-novato-hills.jpg Watercolor: Green Valley, Novato Hills - 29" x 16.5"
Coming back from an anniversary trip to Pt. Reyes in February 2016, Jean and I screeched to a halt to photography this beautiful valley in the Novato Hills. It was actually this green. Watercolor, 29" x 16.5". This painting won Honorable Mention in the WASH Member Show, "Awash with Color" at Sacramento Fine Arts Center, April 26-May 14, 2016.

rice-harvest.jpg Watercolor: Rice Harvest - 11.5" x 8.5"
As Jean and I were driving north on US-99 to Yuba City in early October I was fascinated to watch the rice harvest taking place with combines off-loading the grain to trucks while they were working. In other fields tractors were already disking harvested fields, raising large plumes of dust. In this painting, I tried to include it all one scene. The rice field is done in Quinacridone Gold with highlights of Quin Burnt Orange. Of course, the equipment was John Deere. Watercolor. 11.5" x 8.5"

so-fork-yuba-river-hwy49.jpg Watercolor: South Fork of the Yuba River at Hwy 49 - 10.5" x 14.5"
In early November 2016, Jean and I were photographing the So. Fork of the Yuba River just upstream from the 1920s rainbow bridge where Hwy 49 crosses the river. The river flowed between huge granite boulders. In early January 2017, the river was so high and raging that none of the boulders was even visible! Watercolor, 10.5" x 14.5".

SecretRavinecreekatOlympusPoint-11.5x8.5..jpg Watercolor: Secret Ravine Creek at Olympus Point, Roseville - 11.5" x 8.5"
Bill Hersom, Tim Sloan, and I spent a pleasant couple of hours painting at Secret Ravine Creek, at the northwest corner of the parking lot at Olympus Point Theater in Roseville. Watercolor, 11.5" x 8.5".

SherrysPondRocklin-10.5x6.75-170713.jpg Watercolor: Sherry's Pond, Rocklin - 10.5" x 6.75"
If you go to the end of Aguilar, then turn right and go to the end, then get out and walk 1/4 mile, you come to Sherry's Pond, a small, peaceful reservoir surrounded by trees. Here's a quick rendering of one scene there. Watercolor, 10.5" x 6.75".

DrakesBayfromtheWest-21x8.25-171026.jpg Watercolor: Drake's Bay from the West - 21" x 8.25"
Jean and I visited Pt. Reyes National Seashore after a church leadership retreat in nearby Inverness. This painting is of Drake's Bay from the west, a view from near the trailhead to Chimney Rock. The cliffs must have reminded Sir Francis Drake of the cliffs of Dover half-way around the world. Displayed in the WASH Board Members' Exhibit, July 2-31, 2019. 171026. Watercolor, 21" x 8.25".

Clouds over the Colorado Prairie Watercolor: Clouds over the Colorado Prairie - 14" x 10"
I'm trying to learn how to render the glorious cumulus clouds that tower over the mountains. Here I've spliced together a couple of photos and some imagination. 180215. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

Footprints to the Snowed-in Barn Watercolor: Footprints to a Snowed-in Barn - 20" x 14"
My goal was to render shadows on snow. I put together several photos I found, then added some footprints to add a narrative and direction for the eye. 180208. Watercolor, 20" x 14".

SandyCoveBeachatFortRoss-20x14-180425.jpg Watercolor: Sandy Cove Beach at Fort Ross - 20" x 14"
Several years ago on a day-trip with my son David on my birthday, we drove up the Sonoma Coast as far as Fort Ross. Just below the historic Russian fur-trading outpost is a wonderful beach that caught my imagination. I can see myself there on the lonely beach enjoying the ocean, the sound of the breakers, the sun, and the peace of the place. 180425. Watercolor, 20" x 14".

AngoraPeakandFallenLeafLake-9x12-180725.jpg Watercolor: Angora Peak and Lily Lake, Tahoe - 9" x 12"
I discovered Lily Lake in 2017, and couldn't wait to paint it again on my 2-day trip to Tahoe in June 2018. I sketched the painting on-site, but realized as I began to paint that the stiff wind wouldn't allow me to flow watercolors; they would dry almost instantly. So I finished it at home. Such a beautiful lake, dominated by Angora Peak above. This was painted on a Stonehenge Aqua cold press pad of 140# paper, my first time trying it out. Nice to work with! One of the 31 paintings in the 31 days of July challenge that I painted during the 2018 World Watercolor Month. Watercolor, 9" x 12".

GlenAlpineCreek-14x10-180710.jpg Watercolor: Glenn Alpine Creek - 14" x 10"
Glenn Alpine Creek feeds Lily Lake, and then rushes down the mountain into Fallen Leaf Lake, near the entrance to Stanford Sierra Camp. This is from a photo taken on my 2017 Tahoe painting trip. I tried to capture the energy and joy of the water as it tumbles over rocks. As Bob Ross might say, "It's a happy little creek." One of the 31 paintings in the 31 days of July challenge that I painted during the 2018 World Watercolor Month. 180710. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

Mt.TallacfromCampRichardsonCorral14x10180712.jpg Watercolor: Mt. Tallac from Camp Richardson Corral (14" x 10")
I spent a couple of days at Lake Tahoe during the third week of June 2018, in time to see the snow on Mount Tallac that forms the characteristic cross on the mountainside. This view is from the side of the road, near the entrance to the Camp Richardson corral. It was painted on-site in a stiff breeze, but a beautiful morning. 180628. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

TahoeRocks-14x10-180731.jpg Watercolor: Stunted Trees on Tahoe Mountain (14" x 10")
As I was driving north on Hwy. 89, somewhere around Sugar Pine Point, I passed a series of rocks marching up to a stunted conifer. I had to stop and go back to photograph it. Later, while I was painting, I added Lake Tahoe in the background. Artist's license! One of the 31 paintings in the 31 days of July challenge that I painted during the 2018 World Watercolor Month. 180731. Watercolor, 10" x 14".

WharfonFallenLeafLake-14x10-180718.jpg Watercolor: Wharf on Fallen Leaf Lake - 14" x 10"
From a photo taken on Fallen Leaf Lake on my Tahoe painting trip in 2017. An empty wharf jutting out into a still lake seems to say summer relaxation and peace. One of the 31 paintings in the 31 days of July challenge that I painted during the 2018 World Watercolor Month. 180718. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

PalisadesofLakeChamplain-18091911.5x8.5.jpg Watercolor: The Palisades of Lake Champlain - 11.5" x 8.5"
In early September 2018, Jean and I spent a wonderful week at the Basin Harbor Club and Resort near Vergennes, Vermont, on the banks of Lake Champlain. This was part of a reunion of Girl Scouts that had attended one of the national encampments called Roundups. When Jean was 16 she was one of 10,000 girls encamped at Button Bay State Park, just a mile or two south of us. From our "honeymoon cottage" right at lake's edge we could see a rock formation on the New York side known as the Palisades, depicted here. Watercolor, 11.5" x 8.5".

CarmelBeach-14x10-180828.jpg Watercolor: Carmel Beach - 14" x 10"
In February 2018, Jean and I celebrated our anniversary at Asilomar, Pacific Grove, CA. I photographed this beach scene as we drove along the Carmel coast to the Carmel Mission. Catching the feel of the foam was the most difficult part of this painting for me. 180828. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

GiraffesatMountTanzanaia-20x14-181201.jpg Watercolor: Giraffes at Mount Kilimanjaro - 20" x 14"

What interested me originally was the Umbrella Thorn Acacia trees seen in the distance. I saw some of their acacia cousins in Kenya, and consider this tree the iconic tree shape of the savannas of Africa. My resource materials combined a couple of photos. Pictured is a family of the Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) which populates central and southern Kenya as well as Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 19,452 ft., looms in the distance. It is an extinct volcano. 181201. Watercolor, 20" x 14".

TetonsintheSnow-14.x10-181216.jpg Watercolor: Tetons in the Snow - 14" x 10"
This was an experiment in painting a snow scene on blue tinted Bockingford watercolor paper. By contrast, the lit snow is supposed to look white. Oh, well. 181216. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

LastRaysofSunset-14x10-190321.jpg Watercolor: Last Rays of Sunset - 14" x 10"
A fun exercise in spectacular skies. I wet the 140# Arches Cold Press on both sides, which kept it wet for nearly two hours. Then in about 20 minutes, lay down colors and let it blend on its own. 190321. Watercolor, 14" x 10"

CloudsovertheGreatRiftValleyKenya-14x10-200117.jpg Watercolor: Clouds over the Great Rift Valley, Kenya - 14" x 10"

As my driver took me around the western shore of Lake Nakuru on October 31, 2019, I spotted a wonderful acacia tree, in front of an amazing bank of cumulus clouds. Later in the afternoon, we encountered rain from the storm. Won 3rd Place in the WASH September 2020 Painting of the Month. 200117. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

GlenAlpineCreek-Yupo-14x11-191201.jpg Watercolor: Glenn Alpine Creek (Yupo) - 14" x 11"
I had painted this view of Glenn Alpine Creek previously, as it cascaded down the mountain to flow into Fallen Leaf Lake near Tahoe. But this time I tried it on Yupo. 191201. Watercolor on Yupo, 14" x 11".

JoshuaTree-10x14-191112.jpg Watercolor: Joshua Tree - 10" x 14"
My parents used to camp in the camper at Joshua Tree National Park. Perhaps this Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia) can represent all of its brothers scattered over the arid landscape of the Mohave Desert in Southern California, Arizona, etc.. I masked all the spines using the edge of a palette knife before beginning. 191112. Watercolor, 10" x 14".

Sunset on the Savanah - 14 Watercolor: Sunset on the Savannah - 14" x 10"
To get my mind ready to travel to Kenya in October 2019, I painted what I consider the arch-typical tree of the African savannah -- the Acacia Thorn Tree. I masked the tree, then painted the colors of sunset. Finally, I removed the mask and painted the tree and the pair of zebras grazing to the right. Exhibited at the WASH Member Show "Awash with Color," April 7-26, 2020. 191014. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

Dawn Breaking over Tomales Bay - 14 Watercolor: Dawn Breaking over Tomales Bay - 14" x 10"
Early Saturday morning before dawn I left the St. Columba Episcopal Church Retreat Center in Inverness, CA, in search of photos with my Sony A5100 camera and a long zoom lens. When I took this photo along the south shore of Tomales Bay, almost to Point Reyes Station, the sun was just rising above the mountains. I love the delicacy of the trees; I hope I captured it. Exhibited in the WASH Member Show, "Awash with Color," April 7-26, 2020. In a private collection, T&S Heck. 190912. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

North Carolina Tobacco Fields - 10 Watercolor: North Carolina Tobacco Fields - 10" x 14"
When I visited my son in Greenville, North Carolina, a decade ago, you could see tobacco barns dotting the countryside. Tall barns in the center of fields that would be used about three weeks a year to dry the newly-harvested tobacco. When I visited again in 2019, there was hardly a tobacco barn to be seen. So I constructed this painting from three sources, a typical red tobacco barn, a tobacco field, and a wonderful storm-cloud sky. (I'm trying to learn to paint grand cumulus clouds.) 191005. Watercolor, 10" x 14".

Bodega Headlands, Mussel Point, California - 21 Watercolor: Bodega Headlands - 21" x 8"
In mid-March 2019, Jean and stopped by Bodega Headlands on our way home from the coast. This painting is of the Bodega Headlands looking north to Mussel Point, which forms the north end of the headlands. I love watching the breakers roll in from the Pacific. 191011. Watercolor, 21" x 8".

Mt. Kenya - 14 Watercolor: Mount Kenya - 14" x 7"
I used pen and ink, then watercolor to paint this view of Mount Kenya, second highest peak in Africa after Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft) in Tanzania. Mt. Kenya has three peaks. Batian (17,057 ft), Nelion (17,021 ft), and Point Lenana (16,355 ft), all three of which are seen in this painting. I painted it as a gift for my pastor friend in Eldoret, Kenya. 190902. 14" x 7".

Sailboats at the Palisades, Lake Champlain - 14 Watercolor: Sailboats at the Palisades, Lake Champlain - 14" x 10"
When Jean and I attended her Girl Scout Roundup Reunion at the Basin Harbor Club and Resort near Virgennes, Vermont, in early September 2018, we could see a rock formation called The Palisades, just across Lake Champlain on the New York side. It was quite visible from our cabin, so I painted it as a memory of our week there. 190801. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

Santa Cruz Harbor Walton Lighthouse - 10 Watercolor: Santa Cruz Harbor Walton Lighthouse - 10" x 7"
Santa Cruz has two lighthouses, one at the north end of Monterey Bay, and the other the entrance to the Santa Cruz Harbor, protected by the breakwater, depicted here. It was built in 2002. 190801. Watercolor, 10" x 7".

DonnerSummitRainbowBridge1926-7x10-190727.jpg Watercolor: Donner Summit Rainbow Bridge - 7" x 10"
If you take old US 40 over Donner Summit you come to a beautiful concrete rainbow bridge built in 1926. Here's a view looking up at it. 190727. Watercolor, 7" x 10".

DonnerPeakNorthFaceele.8019-10x14-190710.jpg Watercolor: Donner Peak - 10" x 7"
From the Donner Peak Rainbow Bridge on old US 40 is a great view of the north face of Donner Peak (elevation 8,019). First I drew an intricate sketch with pen and ink, then colorized it. 190710. Watercolor and ink, 10" x 7".

SunnyRocksontheEastShoreofTahoe-14x20-200410.jpg Watercolor: Sunny Tahoe Shore - 14" x 20"
In July 2013 I was taking photos of the sun-drenched granite rocks along the east shore of Lake Tahoe. I didn't have the confidence to tackle painting it then, but I tackled it in April 2020. Juried into the WASH “Go with the Flow” 2020 Open Show, August 25-Oct 25, 2020. 200403. Watercolor, 14" x 20"

carnelian-bay-tahoe.jpg Watercolor: Carnelian Bay, Lake Tahoe - 12" x 7.5"
I took a couple of days in the Sierra at the end of summer to do some plein air painting and absorb God's great creation. This is a view from Carnelian Bay looking southwest past Dollar Point. Watercolor, 12" x 7.5".

LavenderFields-14x20-201222.jpg Watercolor: Lavender Fields - 20" x 14"
My friend Ken sent me a photo of some of the lavender fields he and his wife enjoyed at Washington Lavender Farm, Port Angeles, Washington. Here's my interpretation. 201222. Watercolor, 22" x 14", in a private collection: K. Welch.

LaginatasCreekandTomalasBayatDawn-14x10-210401.jpg Wetercolor: Tomalas Bay at Laginatas Creek at Dawn - 14" x 10"
One morning just before dawn I left the retreat house in Inverness to photograph dawn rising over Tomales Bay. It was very still that morning with no breeze. As I saw this reflection in Laginatas Creek as it entered Tomales Bay at its south, I was struck by the peace of early morning beauty. I hope I was able to capture it for you. 210401. Watercolor, 14" x 10".

LilyLakeandAngoraPeak-14x20-210711.jpg Watercolor: Lily Lake and Angora Peak - 14" x 20"
One of my favorite spots in the Tahoe region is Lily Lake, above Fallen Leaf Lake. In this painting you can see Angora Peak rising behind it at 8088 ft. I began this painting in late-May, but just finished it, so it counts as part of my 31 Paintings in July Challenge. 210711. Watercolor, 14" x 20", 300 lb. cold press paper.

MorningMistoverHiddenValleyLake-7x10-210721.jpg Watercolor: Morning Mist over Hidden Valley Lake - 7" x 10"
In January 2018, our church's quarterly men's group met for an early breakfast in the clubhouse at Hidden Valley, a development in Granite Bay, CA just off Auburn-Folsom Road. One morning about 8 am I was fascinated by the mist in the background and the almost perfect reflections of this swim slide raft in a completely still lake. 210721. Watercolor, 7" x 10".

Ralph F. Wilson Watercolors
P.O. Box 565, Loomis, California 95650
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