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Plein Air Paintings - Ralph F. Wilson

In the summer of 2015, I began painting each week or two with friends in the South Placer area. These paintings aren't great, but I've had fun with them and learned from them. I make it a point to complete them -- from composition, drawing, to final painting -- in three hours or less. I seldom make changes back in my studio. I see plein air painting as a discipline that will make me better at drawing. And the discipline to paint quickly will (hopefully) help me loosen up my style.

south-yuba-cisco-grove.jpg Watercolor: South Yuba Spring Runoff - 14.5" x 10.5"
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Tim and Bill and I went plein air painting in late May along the South Yuba near Cisco Grove in the High Sierras. Watercolor, 10.5" x 14.5".

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".

commercial-st-old-town-auburn.jpg Watercolor: Commercial St., Old Town, Auburn, CA - 14.5" x10.5"
This was painted plein air on an overcast October Saturday morning. About 11:15 am I got rained out and finished at home. These are brick buildings built in the 1880s, with the Placer County Courthouse towering in the background. Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

egret-american-river.jpg Watercolor: Egret Fishing in the American River. 7.5 x 11 inches
This is a small watercolor from a plein air expedition to the American River at William Pond Recreation Area near the rapids. A Great Egret (Ardea alba) is fishing from a small island in the river. Watercolor, 7.5 x 11 inches.

monserrat-vineyards-loomis.jpg Watercolor: Monserrat Vineyards, Loomis, CA - 14.5" x 10.5"
Here's an early morning view of Monserrat Vineyards in Loomis, from Rutherford Way, looking west towards Monserrat Ln. I was painting plein air alongside Bill Hersom, followed by a few touch-ups at home. Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

maidu-center-playground.jpg Watercolor: Maidu Park Playground, 14.5x10.5".
This painting was the result of a couple hours of plein air painting with Bill Hersom at the Maidu Center Playground -- a great place to bring kids to play with their imaginations! Watercolor, 14.5x10.5".

Watercolor: Old Blue Oak - 9" x 12"
Tim and I were out plein air painting in Johnson-Springview Park in Rocklin. This old blue oak, near the first tee of the disc golf course, had a wonderful shape that attracted us. Watercolor, 9" x 12".

traylor-ranch-rocks.jpg Watercolor: Traylor Ranch Rocks - 12" x 9"
Bill and I went plein air painting on Saturday morning at Traylor Ranch Nature Reserve in Penryn, California. It's getting green and warm and almost spring, but these oaks by the rock outcroppings hadn't leafed out yet. Watercolor, 12" x 9".

Watercolor: Victorian House, Rocklin
Tim and I went plein air painting early one Friday morning to capture this Victorian house at 5204 Fifth St. and the corner of Rocklin Rd., Rocklin, CA. It was a challenge to draw! About this house, the newspaper records, "Matt and Molly Moore built the Queen Anne-style house on the southeast corner during 1905, the year of their marriage. Matt was the Southern Pacific Railroad station agent; Molly was a schoolteacher and the pianist at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church" (Placer Herald, March 3, 2013). Watercolor, 14.5" x 10.5".

Watercolor: Yellow House with Red, White, and Blue - 8.5" x 8.75"
This house was across the street from Old St. Mary's Church at 5274 Front Street in Rocklin, CA. I was struck by the cheery American Flag flying in the breeze above the inviting porch. I was out plein air painting with Bill, Tim, and Rose. Fun! Watercolor, 8.5" x 8.75".

palms-on-english-colony-way.jpg Watercolor: Palms on English Colony Way, Penryn
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Bill Hersom and I went out plein air painting one morning to capture these trees, marching up the hill. They were planted more than a century ago to attract easterners to California. Watercolor, 12" x 9". In a private collection.

old-town-auburn.jpg Watercolor: Old Town Auburn - 8" x 10.5"
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On Saturday morning, Feb 11, 2017, Placer Art League sponsored a "sketch crawl" in old town Auburn. Here's my two-hour plein air product, with the Placer Co. Courthouse at the top of the picture. I think it is perhaps the most beautiful building in California. This is my fourth attempt to paint it. Watercolor, 8" x 10.5".

tahoe-club-auburn.jpg Watercolor: Tahoe Club, Auburn, CA - 12" x 9"
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On April 2017 I went to a "sketch crawl" sponsored by Placer Artists League. Most of the half-dozen participants painted one view or another of the Tahoe Club Building. This unique Spanish mission revival style with a cupola was built in 1914 when citizens pledged money to build a "men's social club" at 900 Lincoln Way. I spent about an hour and a half on this sketch, on a beautiful Saturday morning. Watercolor, 12" x 9".

SecretRavinecreekatOlympusPoint-11.5x8.5..jpg Watercolor: Secret Ravine Creek at Olympus Point, Roseville - 11.5" x 8.5"
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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".

FlowerBed-12x9-180414.jpg Watercolor: Flower Bed - 12" x 9"
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The Placer Art League sponsored a "sketch crawl" at Horton's Iris Garden in Penryn on in mid April 2018. I was attracted by the rusty bed frame at the edge of the iris fields, which had a few iris plants growing in it. Of course, a bed frame is a metaphor for a flower bed. 180414. Watercolor, 12" x 9".

Mt.TallacfromCampRichardsonCorral14x10180712.jpg Watercolor: Mt. Tallac from Camp Richardson Corral (14" x 10")
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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".

BankofLoomisTownHall-12x9-181025.jpg Watercolor: Bank of Loomis - 12" x 9"
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I sketched this painting on-site, and after beginning to paint, three-and-a-half hours had passed. I came home to have lunch and finish. The Loomis Bank Building was built in 1918, so it is 100 years old this year. It was built in a Neo-Classical style, and is doubtless the grandest old building in Loomis. It has been occupied by several banks since then, then the Placer County Water Agency, and in 2010 the Town of Loomis. The rather gaudy blue, aqua, and yellow paint wasn't original, but accentuates the numerous architectural details. 181025. Watercolor, 12" x 9".



Ralph F. Wilson Watercolors
P.O. Box 565, Loomis, California 95650
phone (916) 652-4659
E-mail Ralph