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3948 Valley Vista Dr
Camino, CA, 95709
United States

Plein air landscape artist David Yapp paints scenes of California in oils. Subjects are as diverse as the California landscape itself and include the Sierra Nevada mountains, the oak covered hills and scenic coastline. David uses palette knife and brushes in a style that is reminiscent of impressionism.

David Yapp Blog

David Yapp's blog of plein air painting in oils of the California landscape.

Snow, Ice and Sunlight—Painting the American River

David Yapp

The interplay of sunlight and ice on the American River

The Saturday after New Year's Day I headed east on Highway 50 and pulled over 6 miles west of Kyburz to paint the South Fork of the American River. A layer of frost covered the ground, much of the river was frozen, and overlaid on the ice was the remains of the first of the season's snowfall. The early afternoon sun caused the bank on the north side of the river and its trees to glow with light, bringing into sharp contrast the cool ice-bound river and the deep shadows of the cliffs above it on the river's southern side.

I scrambled down the bank, found a secluded spot overlooking the river and set myself up to paint.

I worked swiftly with a palette knife, gradually building up thick swathes of paint. The blade enables me to apply paint quickly and to manipulate it on the canvas to create form and movement.

The light that had so inspired me began to shift and the illuminated branches soon became enveloped in the encroaching late afternoon shadows.

I wrapped up around dusk, pretty pleased with my afternoon's work. Then off I drove up the mountain to Strawberry, for dinner at the lodge that was once a stop on the Pony Express. 

At work on the river bank.

A snapshot of the final painting.