Rocky Shores of Bodega Bay - Art for Sale - Beach Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - Beach Painting - Coastal Art - Beach House Art

"Rocky Shores of Bodega Bay" | 9" x 12" Oil on canvas panel

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek


This was my second painting for the day when I was part of the Sonoma Plein Air event in August. I'd finished a painting earlier that morning( see the post Beautiful Bodega Bay for more information about the earlier piece). What you see here, "Rocky Shores of Bodega Bay" was also completed en plein air in the afternoon a few miles north of my morning location.


I chose this spot because I liked the rocks, bluffs and color of the distant hills. When painting bluffs and/or coastal rocks I try to keep some sharp edges and straighter lines to give sense of hardness to those elements. Too many rounded curves tend to make rocks look like potatoes and turn craggy bluffs into gentle rolling hills. I stated most of the foreground pretty simply with the rocks rendered in one dark color and the bluff in three. There are a few variations in value here and there but, I find that for the most part these elements look better when kept simple and stated with a strong hand.


The mid-ground bluff required more effort and detail since I designed the composition to lead your eye there. It's tempting to paint the shadow areas of a distant bluff as dark as my eye sees them but what happens if I do that is the picture plane flattens out and the look of distance becomes lost. Therefore, the shadow shapes on that mid-ground bluff need to be lighter than the darkest darks in the foreground bluff as well as a closer value to the highlight shapes on the mid-ground bluff. The entire bluff is more muted, bluer and less saturated than the one in the foreground.


The distant hills are again a little lighter and less saturated than the mid-ground bluff with soft edges where they meet the sky to help reinforce the atmospheric feel.


In this painting I was faced with a choice about how to handle the water. This is usually the case with an ocean painting since the ocean is constantly in motion. There were crashing waves at times as well as moments of calm between sets. For this piece I chose to keep the water pretty calm for two reasons, one, this is a small canvas and adding a bunch of waves in such a small area wouldn't necessarily make the painting any better and two, adding a lot of detail to the water would steal the focus away from the rocks and bluffs which isn't what I wanted to happen. Also, it's helpful to have quiet, less detailed passages in a painting because they highlight, in a sense, the areas that contain more detail.

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Storm Building - Impressionist Painting - Art for the Home - Original Painting - Wall Decor - Art for Sale

"Storm Building" | 16" x 8" | Oil on canvas panel | Available at Hillside Fine Art

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek


This piece was painted in the afternoon during the Sonoma Plein Air Festival. I'd gone out painting early in the morning and there was a passing storm that brought intermittent showers. Luckily not enough rain fell to force me to pack up my easel and head for shelter though. After lunch most of the storm had passed leaving behind lots of dramatic clouds in the sky which I was determined to paint.


Unfortunately, I didn't find an ideal location but I was running out of time to get to work on an afternoon painting and I had to set up in a spot that I didn't find particularly inspiring. When that happens I've learned to use my artistic license and do my best to create a strong painting. The image below was my actual view and as you can see it wasn't very exciting.



I decided turn my 8" x 16" canvas vertical to allow me plenty of room to create big storm clouds in the sky. With the sky as the main subject I kept the land pretty simple, including the distant hills for atmosphere and keeping the eucalyptus tree on the right which gives the painting a sense of scale. I chose to shape the tree a bit differently because I wasn't thrilled with the shape of the real tree and I eliminated the telephone poles because I felt they would steal the focus away from the clouds with their straight lines and hard edges.


Paintings like this that require more thought to put together are both challenging and freeing. Challenging in that I can't rely too heavily on the landscape for information and liberating because I am free to make significant edits without worrying about rendering the scene exactly.


Some might would argue that this isn't true plein air but, I don't agree because I still use the landscape as a source of inspiration. I feel it's part of my job to create the strongest painting I am able to even when the view isn't painting worthy. Besides, if the plein air police stop buy to check on me I'll be sure to flash my artistic license at them.

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Night Dwelling - City at Night - Nocturne Painting - Impressionist Painting - Art for the Home - Original Painting - Wall Decor

Night Dwelling" | 9" x 12" | Oil | Not For Sale


While participating in the Sonoma Plein Air Festival I took some time for myself one night to paint a nocturne. I began this painting with no expectations as to how it would turn out, I simply wanted to explore the subject and work on my nighttime plein air painting skills.


An interesting thing happens when painting at night, color becomes almost irrelevant because I can't see what paint I am mixing very well, even with my headlamp on and surrounding light. That might seem like an exercise in frustration but, it was quite the opposite. The painting became all about value (how light or dark each color is).


When I decided to mix a green, for example, it really wasn't hard because I knew exactly where each paint color is located on my palette. That's because I place them in exactly the same spot each time I paint. So when I wanted a green I was able to mix that color by dipping my brush into the right piles of yellow and blue.


The tricky part wasn't getting the correct color (or hue), like I said it was mixing the right value (how light or dark a color needs to be). Even with diminished light I was able to see well enough to tell when a value was off. That's because when the values were too similar to each other I wasn't able to see any edges or differences between the shapes, they all would blend together.


For example, if the gray on either building was too dark it blended right into the midnight blue sky in the background even though their colors are different. Now, I might see the color difference if I had been painting in daylight, but at night those value relationships are critical simply because I couldn't see the colors of each element at all.


It was surprisingly liberating to paint without worrying about what color choices I was making. Plus it's always a surprise to take a nocturne painting home and look at it under better light to see what I end up with. This time I was really happy with the result. I have to wonder if that is because I started the painting without any expectations, if it was because I didn't over-think my color choices, or was it simply because the stars aligned and everything came together for me in that particular moment? Either way, I really enjoyed painting this one, it's a great memory for me and because of that I am keeping it in my own personal collection.

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Beautiful Bodega Bay - Art for Sale - Beach Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - Beach Painting - Coastal Art - Beach House Art

"Beautiful Bodega Bay" | 11" x 14" | Oil on panel

Available through Chemers Gallery

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek


It took me an hour to drive to Bodega Bay in the dark before the sun came up to get the colors and light you see here. While I'd normally say that any time of day is the perfect time to paint at the beach, I do really enjoy starting a painting before dawn so that I can take advantage of the warm light and dramatic shadows.


I've painted at this location several times and this view is always a little different. Mostly it's the ocean that changes. I've seen it turquoise, silver, deep ultramarine blue and once it even had hot pink streaks because of an algae bloom. One day the water was very calm with small waves lapping at the shore and another day the waves were so large they created a deafening crash each time they hit the rocks lining the shore.


This particular day the waves were strong and created a lot of foam on top of the water. I planned to have a large open area of ocean in the foreground of my painting because I wanted to take advantage of what the ocean was doing an include some of the foam swirls. The foam was the very last thing I added to the painting (except for my signature, of course) and when I got to that point I thought if I designed them just right they would create a nice visual path into the painting.


Up until that point I wasn't sure how well this painting was going to turn out. All the other elements looked fine and all but the excitement and magic of the scene was still missing. As soon as I added those foam lines all the work I'd put into it that morning really came together.

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Dinner Time - Art for Sale - Country Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - Cows in a Painting - Farm Painting - Barn Painting - Family Room Art

"Dinner Time" | 8" x 16" | Oil on canvas panel

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek


I made a rookie mistake when painting this one. What's worse, is I know better too.


When I pulled up to this spot in Petaluma, California and saw these cows peacefully grazing in the field with the farm buildings in the background I knew instantly I had a potential painting just waiting to happen. The cows were really close to the fence I was next too and for once, they stuck around for a while.


What mistake did I make you ask? In spite of the close proximity of the cows, I didn't paint them in right away, instead, I painted everything around them first. By the time I started putting the cows in they were much farther away and heading to the barn for the night. The result was a rushed job which I wasn't happy with.


The cows you see now are not the original ones I had quickly painted in. I ended up taking the painting home, letting it dry and using photographs of cows as reference to paint them in a second time. I much happier with them now.


My plein air students always ask me what they should paint first when beginning their paintings and I tell them to put down anything that is going to quickly change. Ironically, I should have taken my own advice.

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Ribbons of Light - Original Vineyard Painting - Art for Sale - Wine Country Art - Wall Art - Art for the Home - California Vineyard Painting - Sonoma

"Ribbons of Light" 16" x 20" | Oil on canvas panel | Sold

Framed prints available CLICK HERE

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek


Quite often when I'm out painting I'll spot a beautiful view that has the potential to become a strong painting but the light just isn't right. That was the case with this painting that I created during the Sonoma Plein Air Festival in September which is an outdoor painting event held in Sonoma County, the proceeds of which go toward funding arts programs in the public schools there.


When I first found this view it was midday and there were no shadows or highlights since the sun was at its highest. Fortunately, I knew I had several days worth of painting still to go for the event and I vowed to return early one morning when I thought the light might be right. This can be a gamble but in this case it paid off with magnificent dawn light cascading across beautiful vineyards and encircling the oak trees growing in the valleys. The rolling hills of Sonoma Valley, California created a dynamic Z shaped composition which was a little different in reality and I chose to take some liberties and arrange the large hill shapes for the painting's sake.


Dawn is my favorite time of day to paint not just for the breathtaking light but because it's usually very peaceful and I typically have more energy for painting in the morning. What is your favorite time of day to paint?

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Passing the Point - Sailboat Painting - Sailing Art - Yacht Art - Living Room Decor - Wall Art

"Passing the Point" | 11" x 14" | Oil on canvas panel

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

While visiting the town of Oxford in Maryland, I stopped to paint in the area during an outdoor painting event in that took place in nearby Easton. There was enough of a breeze past the point for sailboats to go sailing but in the cove the water was mostly calm with lots of reflections. Since it was a hot and humid morning the sky turned a wonderful shade of pink. That's something that doesn't happen very often in California and when it does it's usually at sunrise or sunset. In Maryland I've see that unique shade of pink in the sky at all times of the day.

I feel very lucky to be able to get to know an unfamiliar place through painting outdoors, I always experience and learn new things. It's led to some wonderful adventures and unforgettable moments.

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Handcrafted History - Wooden Boats - Handcrafted Classic Boats - Sailing Art - Yacht Art - Living Room Art

"Handcrafted History" | 16" x 20" | Oil on canvas panel

©2014 by Kim VanDerHoek

This was painted on location in July during the Plein Air Easton event. Since it was very hot and humid I was searching for a spot to paint that had some shade as well as something interesting to paint. I wandered over to the Cutts and Case Shipyard in Oxford, Maryland and found this scene just inside their showroom. It took me two painting sessions to complete this one. The first session I spent almost all of my time drawing, stopping when the light changed because a storm blew through the area. The second session involved paint application and once again it began to rain when I was a couple of hours into it. Fortunately, the staff that works there appreciates art (which is understandable since they create art in the form of beautiful wooden boats) and invited me inside the showroom so that I could finish working.

While I was there I took a few moments to look around and read some of the materials about the history of the boats. The boat in the back with the flag on it is the historic Foto chase boat once owned by Morris Roselfeld who photographed the heyday of yachting in 1920s and 1930s. The owner of Cutts and Case bought it when it was in disrepair and restored it.

The perspective in this painting was the most challenging part to get right and like I mentioned I spent a whole lot of time drawing. Out of all the artwork I created during Plein Air Easton this painting was the one I enjoyed working on the most because it was so challenging.

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Balboa Classic - Original Oil Painting of Sailboats - Yacht Art - Sailing Art - Living Room Art - Family Room Art

"Balboa Classic" | 8" x 10" | Oil on canvas panel

This was painted on location during the week-long Just Plein Fun event on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California. The event is an invitational outdoor (plein air) painting event arranged by Debra Huse Gallery. The show features work by 13 artists who painted on the Balboa Peninsula over the course of a week.

The Just Plein Fun Exhibition and Sale will run through Sept. 1, 2014.

Debra Huse Gallery - 229 Marine Avenue, Balboa Island, CA

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Colorful Morning Walk - Original Oil Painting of Balboa Island - Yacht Decor - Wall Decor - Living Room Decor - Balboa Island Art - Just Plein Fun

"Colorful Morning Walk" | 8" x 16" | Oil on canvas panel

This was painted on location during the week-long Just Plein Fun event on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, California. The event is an invitational outdoor (plein air) painting event arranged by Debra Huse Gallery. The show features work by 13 artists who painted on the Balboa Peninsula over the course of a week.

The Just Plein Fun Exhibition and Sale will run through Sept. 1, 2014.

Debra Huse Gallery - 229 Marine Avenue, Balboa Island, CA

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