California Central Coast Plein Air Paintings

Below are some paintings from the Central Coast of California over the last ten days. I was based in Carmel Valley, but moved down the coast quite a bit.

Plein air painting of Green Valley, Cambria.

Green Valley, Cambria. 32 x 40 in.

Plein air landscape painting of Big Sur, California.

Big Sur. 32 x 40 in., oil on linen.

These first two paintings were quite large so I tied the canvases to the ubiquitous barbed wire fences to keep them steady in the high winds. I picked up a lightweight rope-and-plastic-carabiner combo from Nite Ize at a local camping store and the system worked perfectly.

Plein air landscape painting set up in Big Sur, California.

My set-up in Big Sur.

Plein air painting of a model standing in rye grass.

Rye Grass. 40 x 32 in., oil on linen.

One great thing about painting in the Monterey area is that there is a handful of world-class plein air artists who live there to paint with. On the above painting I worked with John Burton, and the sketch below is of Mark Farina, who we painted with one morning south of Carmel.

Plein air painting of an artist working in Carmel.

Mark Farina painting at Monastery Beach, Carmel. 8 x 12 in.

Plein air painting of the hills near Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle Hills. 11 x 14 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of San Carpoforo beach.

San Carpoforo Beach. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Plein air painting of Notley's Landing, Big Sur, California.

Cows at Notleys Landing. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

I’ve always felt I became a landscape painter because of growing up surrounded by the beauty of California, so it’s great to get back there and paint when I can.

Plein air painting of a patio in Carmel Valley, California.

My Folk’s Patio. 8 x 12 in., oil on linen.

Update: We stopped and painted for a bit in Lake Tahoe on our way out of California. Here are a couple images:

Plein air oil painting of the Tahoe Princess on Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Princess. 8 x 12 in.

Plein air painting of a street in South Lake Tahoe, California.

Street in South Lake Tahoe. 8 x 12 in.


  1. You are a big inspiration to me, thanks for that. Any tips on taking decent photos of paintings?
    Nice to see you update the blog so frequently, I have a hard time following anything via facebook.

  2. Beautiful paintings, Marc. I paint in Cambria every Wednesday with the Wednesday Irregulars. There are quite a few memorable early California painters in their 80’s and 90’s that paint with our little group (mostly watercolor). After traveling this summer the central coast is the place for us to grow old!!

  3. Hello Marc,
    Regarding the Big Sur 32×40 oil on linen at the top of the page….
    What is depicted in the distance on the horizon? Is it a fog bank, or an island?

  4. Hello Marc,
    Wonderful paintings!
    Can you relay to me the mixture for the light yellow grass color in the middle ground of “Hearst Castle Hills”? Or maybe if you’ve the time, the pallet of colors you used for the painting? I’m struggling with a painting of Gaviota CA at the moment, and can’t quite finish without your help.
    Many thanks!

  5. My grandparents were CA sheep ranchers when I was a child. Your Green Valley painting makes me homesick. Is it available?

    Thank you.

    Susan Gendreau

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