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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.

Filtering by Tag: California

As I walked out one Sunday morning

David Yapp

The last shreds of morning fog were progressively evaporating, beckoning me to explore the valley below. The sun’s rays threatened to consume the last remnants of mystery hidden within the valley’s forested recesses.

I descended down the south facing grass slope, through oak and buckeye that had been stripped bare by the winter winds. Arriving at the valley floor, I followed the trail that accompanied the course of the creek. The watercourse was overgrown with oaks, brambles and the discards of last year’s vegetative exuberance.

In the distance two shabbily dressed individuals with dirty cloth sacks were scavenging amongst the winter brambles—for what I assumed was pine cones to fuel a nocturnal campfire. Like fearful feral animals sensing danger they progressively moved on as they saw me approaching. As if to give them respite from my imminent approach, I stopped for a short while and contemplated the sunlight filtering through the the fretwork of winter-sodden branches and the rushing creek below.

I resumed my walk and on turning the bend of the trail, I discovered the man on his haunches, a weathered, pewter-colored pan in his hand sifting through the alluvial deposits of an insignificant gully that ran alongside the trail.

“You panning for gold?” I asked reticently, not wanting to sound too inquisitive. “Yearp” he replied in a slow drawn out way, hoping that his lack of eye contact, arched back and broad shoulders would deflect any further questioning. “You ever find any?”, “Yearp . . . in the creek below.”

I moved on, aware that my gold panning friend was not in any hurry to share his secrets of mining in the El Dorado county hills. Above on the slope his partner, a girl with bleached blonde and vermillion hair continued to scour the slope for a more combustible treasure.

Further down the trail I suddenly became aware that the creek had now been replaced by a deep emerald green pool, morning mists rising off its surface, intermingling with the purple, yellow and gray of the winter branches that grew along its periphery. The bright white head and flanks of a buffle-headed duck acted as a beacon in the shadowy pool.

Traveling on, the now sandy, ochre-colored trail was intermittently pierced with pools of rainwater collecting in its gullies and ruts. Shadows of the winter branches diffusing into the water like pigment suspended in an encaustic painting. Above the trail two spotted towhees clowned in the leaves, seeking to unearth some slumbering invertebrate. Flanking the trail were the jade leaves and oxidized metallic branches of manzanita bushes—water droplets from the previous night’s rain encrusted the edge of each wedge of jade like crystalized sugar.



A boxy Labrador jolted towards me on arthritic limbs, ball in mouth, coughed his friendly welcome. An old man on rickety legs soon followed, drooping mustache and stout staff in hand. “Where is it? Where is it? Where’s the ba-ull? he groused in a hoarse, uncongenial voice. “It’s in his mouth” I replied. “Humph” he retorted and off he went erratically splashing through the puddles in pursuit of his hound.

I continued onward and eventually I noticed an offshoot to the trail descending down to the lake through a corridor of trees. And there in the distance, facing towards the lake, stood one, sun-bleached, white deck chair—placed as if to invite me to a time of quiet reflection, to come away and rest awhile.


“I come here to commune with the wood nymphs.”

David Yapp

Mt Tamalpais from the Eucalyptus trail

The last remnant of the morning’s fog shrouded the sun making for a cooler ascent up the Oakwood Valley fire road. A short hike brought me to a widening of the trail, and turning back towards the way I had come, a view northwards to distant Mt Tamalpais framed by eucalyptus trees.

The afternoon drew on with an assortment of dog walkers and joggers passing by. A thin olive-skinned guy—blue bandana restraining tousled black hair—ascended the trail and soon retraced his steps as if not finding what he was looking for. A lady with a blissful smile sauntered by as if in some dreamlike state.

“You’re being productive.” It was Jerry the animation guy whom I had met earlier in the week. He stopped for a chat, his row of earrings catching the sunlight as we talked about the painting process. Our conversation was abruptly broken by a loud discordant ringing, and Jerry was off, alerted by his cell phone to attend to some more pressing matter.

“Wow, its come along!” It was the blissful lady on her return down the trail. “It was all red before.” We discussed the aesthetic benefits of having a red underpainting and how it interacted with the later paint layers and brought unity to the picture.

“I’m Tara, Green Tara. She was a goddess you know, perhaps from Tibet, I’m not sure. She may be around here now”. Tara gestured with her head to indicate that this wood was perhaps the Green Goddess’ latest stomping ground.

“I come here to commune with the wood nymphs.” I feel my throat tighten as I fumble for an appropriate response, not wanting to corroborate on the report of diminutive woodland folk. Instead I fished in my backpack and pull out a postcard with one of my previous paintings of Mt Tam on it. Perusing the card, she lightly traced her fingers over its surface, mirroring the brushwork in the painting.

“This is a very spiritual path” she continued. “Can you feel it? You can feel it too—that’s why you’re here.”

“This is a very special place" she said "and I am moved—and now I have this.” Tara gazed at the postcard, then suddenly clutched it to her chest as if rediscovering some long-lost keepsake. With a parting smile, she turned and then resumed her journey down the woodland path.

I continued my painting until the light faded. I mused on my earlier interaction—the ethereal intangible quality of woodland nymphs, and the meaning of a “spiritual path.” Then I considered the man foretold in Hebrew writings, rooted in history, flesh and bone, yet divine. Who lived a life of suffering for us and affirmed “I am the way” the spiritual path for weary travelers. In reflective mood, I packed up my easel and made my way home in the dwindling light of the woodland path.