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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: plein air

“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. 

Painting Pinnacles

David Yapp

Painting the peak—working with a palette knife.

Pinnacles National Park is a group of rock spires and crags that rise out of the Gabilan Mountains in central California. Tectonic plate movements and the subsequent erosion of of the rocks caused these monolithic forms.

I camped on the eastern side of the park and on the Friday morning with backpack, canvas and painting paraphernalia, I hiked the gradual ascent up the Condor Gulch trail. About a mile along the trail I found this view of Hawkins Peak framed by some raggedy pines.

On the first day of painting the weather was slightly overcast, which lent a brooding atmosphere to the scene. On the second day, in which I resolved the painting, the sky was a more typical Californian clear blue sky. Fortunately I had pretty much laid down the sense of light I was after on the first day, so the second day was more about refining the details. Below you can see the stages as I worked on the painting.

I met some interesting folks on the trail, including some mountain climbers, a park volunteer and a photographer. But the grand finale to the painting trip at the end of the second day was the sight and sound of the california condors as they flew over the gulch which is so aptly named in their honor.

The painting in process

Blocking in the composition.
Adding the color masses.

Refining the forms.

The final painting—Hawkins Peak from Condor Gulch.