Sergio Lopez - North SF Bay Area Fine Artist

Upcoming Shows and Events

•Spoke Art: April 7, 2016. "The 5th Annual Moleskine Show." San Francisco, CA.

•Bakersfield Museum of Art: April 9th, 2016. "Kern County Plein Air." Bakersfield, CA.

•Christopher Queen Gallery: May 1st, 2016. "The Golden Hour." Duncans Mills, CA.

•Abend Gallery: May 13th, 2016. "Contemporary Figuration." Denver, CO.

•Paso Arts Fest: May 26th, 2016. "Signature Exhibition." Paso Robles, CA.

•Los Gatos: June 18th, 2016. "Los Gatos Plein Air." Los Gatos, CA.

Sonoma Plein Air: September 10th, 2016 "Sonoma Plein Air." Sonoma, CA.

•Modern Eden Gallery: September 17th, 2016. Beautiful Bizzare Invitational Show. San Francisco, CA.

•Christopher Queen Gallery: October 2nd, 2016. "A Splendid Journey: 40th Anniversary Show." Duncans Mills, CA.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sierra Pack Trip 2013: Lake Ediza

Last week was one of the best times I've had in a really long while. At the last-minute, I was able to get a spot with this group that included Paul Kratter, Pixar artists Bill Cone and Ernesto Nemesio, Julia Lundman, Eric Merrell, Jeff Horn, and Michele De Branganca. Every year, this group makes a mid-August trip to the High Sierras for camping, painting, and lots of laughing. I have always jealously looked on the sidelines at the blog/Facebook posts about these trips, so when I was asked to join this year, I was so happy to have the opportunity to go. Never knowing what my money sitch is going to be from month-to-month however, I couldn't pony up the money in time to get a spot... until last-minute circumstances opened up a slot for me, and a ratchet-up in sales/commissions afforded me the chance to join. Paul let me borrow some camping gear, and we were off to Mammoth Lakes on August 10th, 2013.
Nighttime at Mammoth Lakes. Get a good night's sleep before the big hike!
We celebrated Bill Cone's birthday at Nevado's with some strong margaritas (or was it just the altitude?) because what better way to aclimate to the 7000ft. elevation than with lots of alcohol?

The Hike Up

Ernesto and Eric waiting for our gear to be packed on the mules.
We were going to hike 7 miles into the wilderness and stay there for 5 days. Imagine lugging all of your painting supplies, tent, sleeping bag, and food up for a 2000ft. hike? Better yet, don't. Hire a pack station to load 10 mules and a cook instead. Makes things sooo much better!
To find Lake Ediza, head through Shadow Lake.
A view of Mammoth Mountain from a tough switchback part of the trail.
Paul and Michele surveying the scene.
A pretty outlet of Shadow Lake about a third of the way up. Catch your breath, and maybe check your email for the last time...
Traversing the stream to get to the last leg of the trail.

We made it! There is no way to convey the difficulty of this hike in words, but there are some rough spots. Especially for those who aren't regular avid hikers, but I will make sure next time to do some more hiking beforehand to warm up. The scenery is spectacular! I really didn't do much for the rest of the day than rest and get used to being that high up on this Earth.

Getting Adjusted

The next morning was spent exploring this beautiful area in the morning. I wasn't quite ready to paint yet, but I was feeling better about walking around and assessing just what we had to work with up here.

An incredible sunrise.
Paul getting ready to paint the morning light on the Minarets.
Mountain penstamons.
Beautiful trees in the morning.
Some of the interesting flowers of the area.
A waterfall in front of Mt. Ritter.
An alternate view of Ediza.

Figuring Out How To Paint These Things

Much of what I dedicated my brain power to as I painted up there was to figuring out just what sort of color I was really looking at on these rocks. Although from a distance they look like a uniform bleached gray, you can imagine how incomplete the depictions would be if you painted them so simply. There is a wealth of subtle color in these rocks, mainly because of a little principle called reflected light. A lot of warm color gets bounced into the ground-facing planes because of the warm green/yellow grass and sunlight-facing rocks. I found that I was using a lot more cobalt blue than usual as well. That primary blue color turned out to be very useful in the shadows.
Oil #1. 6x8"
Oil#2, 8x10".
One of the neat things about going up there with so many other artists was watching everyone else's approaches to painting this exotic scenery. Take Eric Merrell here for instance. He had a very deliberate methodical approach to painting outdoors. I don't know if he always does this, but he staked a place that had a variety of subjects to paint, and did multiple studies from the same area, rotating his easel for every new painting. He found some very interesting designs and colors out there.
Oil #3, 11x14".
Later on in the day I returned to a meadow I found higher up along the river which I believe is the San Joaquin. I had warmed up from the day's painting and went a bit more ambitious on this one. This was one of my favorite paintings of the trip. I think I captured some of the early evening light in it and got a decent sense of scale and distance in it.

Switching Medium

If there is one thing you can rely on me to do on every trip is forget at least one thing. It's a crap-shoot as to what level of importance this thing will be. Well, this time, in my rush to catch up to everyone before the hike, I didn't give myself time to double check that I loaded up my wet panel carrier with any canvases. This means that I was missing 6 oil painting panels. I was very much considering going all the way back to my car to get them, but I had made the good judgement to throw my gouache supplies in my bag.

Gouache is a medium that I really enjoy using but I don't use very often as of late. It took some time to ramp up to speed with it (and about 3 bad paintings) but after a while it started to come back to me.
Gouache #1
I hiked up a stream that led out of Iceberg Lake that had an interesting waterfall at the end of it. I don't yet have a photo of the painting I did there, but here is a video I took of the area.
Gouache #3
This may be my favorite painting I did of the area. I think I captured the atmosphere and light of the area the closest to life in this one. I plan on using it as a study for a larger painting.
Gouache #4
I tried to paint a study of this little tree that fascinated me. Who knows how old the tree is, but it couldn't grow very high in this type of climate. Trees are hard to paint. Here is a video of it coming together.
This merganser stayed there for over an hour. I thought there would be no way I'd have time to paint him there.

Hiking Up To Iceberg Lake

Oil #4, 10x8".
This was my sole attempt at painting the sunrise there. You need to work fast!
My view from my tent in the morning
Oil #5, 6x8"
My study of the endlessly fascinating and beautiful color of the water.

I did some oil paintings in the early part of the day, then I decided to follow in Bill and Ernesto's footsteps from a few days before by hiking up to Iceberg Lake. The hike up would be death if I had all of my oil painting gear on me, so I took my lightweight gouache with me instead.

The lake was interesting and beautiful, but looked different than Ediza. Not quite as big but larger than I expected. The water was freezing cold! Maybe that's where the name came from? I did two studies of what I found up there, but could have painted tons of studies up there.
Gouache #5
Gouache #6
An adventurous person at the top of the cliffs surrounding Iceberg Lake.
As I made my way back down at the end of the day, I took photos of this beautiful phenomenon.
An end to a tiring but productive day.

Last Day Of Painting: Making It Count

I paced out my panels to be able to spend my last day using up my oil paints. As much fun as I had with gouache, oil painting is where it's at! Time to show what I had learned in the 3 days of painting before.
Oil #6, 8x10.
I sat on the rocks near the shore to paint this one. I actually had to position so that I was reaching upward to paint on my canvas. This let me experiment with different types of brushwork, some of which I liked a lot.
Oil #7, 8x10.
I thought this was one of my best paintings I did up there. I was working on the water for the most part, but it turned out that I got some pretty solid rocks out of the study too.
Oil #8, 16x12.
This was one of the most ambitious paintings I did up there. I wanted to try and do a study of one of the peaks. It was hard to keep the shadows simple and atmospheric perspective emphasizing the distance and scale. This one definitely needs some work still, but I had fun painting it.
Oil #9, 7x12.
This was the last painting I did. It was in the evening with just enough time to block in the light portions of the planes facing the light. I tried to keep the simplicity I practiced with my gouache set. You can see that I kept my strokes simple with flat brushwork. I mostly tried to focus on the color in the planes, because I knew the light was fading fast.

The Way Down

This was the last day to enjoy the scenery. Most of us were too pooped to paint anymore, and so we ate a hearty breakfast, packed up our gear, and started to make our way down the mountain.
A beautiful morning before we left camp.
The mountains sitting behind Shadow Lake.
Just before the last leg of leaving the trail home.

Conclusion

As I thought, this trip was a ton of fun. Everyone was great, the scenery was amazing, the food was good, and the painting was awesome. I found that this was a great way to work at my own pace with zero distractions. This was a much different experience than participating in a paint-out. As beautiful and as much fun as Telluride was, at least here I didn't have to worry about framing stuff, didn't have to worry about being in a certain place at a certain time, no pressure to paint a certain amount of paintings, no cares in the world. It was fun to check out of civilization for a few days. I found it sort of hard to check back in!

If you have the money and time to afford to be able to do it this way, I highly recommend getting a group of your favorite friends and doing something like this yourself!

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