Grass moon

Grass Moon
Grass Moon

We’re just coming off the April full moon (last night, gleaming through the slats in the blinds, she woke me; though waning gibbous, she still left me breathless) . Her names are hopeful: the Pink Moon; the Full Sprouting-Grass Moon; the Egg Moon; the Full Fish Moon.

Here in the Bay Area I think she’s best called the Grass Moon. It’s a name that celebrates the luxurious growth of plants reveling in moisture at the end of our short damp winter.

This is a painting from Russian Ridge (right now one of my favorite places in the Bay). On the day I painted this, the marine layer (aka fog) covered the mountains, hugging the ridge in the drippy embrace of the not-too-distant ocean. The grass raved viridian, turquoise, and shining wet jade green around this little outcropping of rocks.

In just a few weeks the grass will yellow and turn white-gold in the California sun. Even now the poverty grass is silvering, turning the color of a new moon.

Lupines in the afternoon

LupinePainting

It was a rare weekday afternoon that I was able to spend painting at Russian Ridge, just before a late spring storm. Last weekend I realized this little patch of lupine was about ready to pop into full bloom, and if I wanted to paint them in their full glory, I’d have to get out there soon. Wildflowers fade fast.

Such is the life of a plein air painter. Time and flowers wait for no man or woman, and I wanted to capture the feeling I got on this trail that a person could step from the edge of the lupine-purple earth into the glowing sky.

Lupine

I love these hazy days with lots of high clouds in the sky. We don’t get enough clouds in the Bay Area. And soon we’ll have the eternal sunshine of the spotless California summer, with no cover from the sun for months and months. But for now, we’ve got clouds a-plenty.

Fog

Of course, we’ll always have the fog rolling over the ridgelines, even on most summer evenings.

Painting outside: Mindego Hill

RussianRidge500pxMindego Hill #1
Oil on canvas board
© 2013 Margaret Sloan

For the last 3 Saturdays I’ve been at Russian Ridge, painting Mindego Hill. It’s an iconic view from the ridge: Mindego Hill rises over the coast range of mountain ridges rippling all the way to the sea. On a clear evening from the ridge, you can watch the sun set into the Pacific.

A few years ago, this hill was saved for all of us by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSP), organizations that have protected many acres of the Bay Area from the rampant cancer of development that afflicts the Bay. It’s rather miraculous that we have these open spaces where we can all savor the landscape that makes the Bay Area so beautiful. For many of us, getting away from the city streets is a necessity for our health and sanity.

The world is full of coincidence. (If you don’t believe me, check out This American Life’s recent show on coincidence) While I was writing this post, a young man rang to ask me to take a survey about POST and MROSP. I guess they are trying to put together a bond issue to raise some dollars. Would I be willing to pay more taxes to fund the necessary luxury of having open space available to everyone?  I’m not a fan of more taxes, but for this, I’m not sure how I could refuse.

To read about the GoMindego campaign (which was successfull in preserving the hill), as well as some history and facts about the hill, go to this newsletter: http://www.openspacetrust.org/downloads/newsletters/Landscapes-WI07.pdf