Saturday, July 21, 2012

Four Days In Murphys - Day One

On Sunday July 15 I drove to the Gold Rush town of Murphys, California to meet up with friends for a four day plein air painting workshop.  We gathered Sunday evening to discuss the upcoming itinerary and several of us wandered the little town to explore possible painting subjects.  The evening was exquisite.  Summer was full on and twilight lasted until after 9 PM.  Murphys is often called the Queen of the Sierra.  

Murphys Historic Hotel  

  Scenes like these old buildings were everywhere.  A plein air painters paradise. 

We stayed in Murphys Historic Hotel.  Previous guests include  Mark Twain, Horatio Algiers Jr., John Jacob Astor, Thomas J. Lipton, J.P. Morgan, and former President Ulysses S. Grant. It's been in continuous operation since 1856. 

The next morning I set out to paint.  I had spotted my first location the night before:  the side of the Murphys Hotel, right where I was staying!  I set up along the side street, only a few feet out of the traffic and painted happily away.

Murphys Historic Hotel   Oil on 12 x 16 Canvas Panel 
I spent longer on the painting than I realized, but I was very happy with the result.  I managed to stay loose and use expressive brush strokes. I interpreted rather than copied, changing the overall color from a washed out pink to this much warmer and more dramatic color.  Perhaps most importantly, I resisted coming back and "fixing" things!  hallelujah!!  I'm learning!  

After lunch, I wandered down main street to the Hovey Winery.  The owners were nice enough to allow us to use the grounds for our daily afternoon critiques.  And of course, we drank lots of their wine.  I set up on the walk just outside the grounds and painted a portion of their beautiful wine tasting room.  I like the sense of reflected light in this painting.  And the flag and hanging basket of flowers added just a touch of color.  I was pleased with the overall result.  The owners expressed interest in using my painting in their marketing.  We'll see.  That would be great. 
Hovey Wine Tasting Room at  Murphys   oil on 12 x 16 panel 

Our first full day in Murphys could hardly have been better.   I'll include pictures of the others who attended the workshop in the next post.


  1. Bruce, I love these two paintings. Murphys was definitely the place to be. What great scenes to paint. Fabulous!

  2. Hi Ruth...thanks for your nice comments. I wish you could have joined us for the whole trip, but at least we got to see you Tuesday and at the BBQ. That was fun!