Hike and Learn – Cloud Sketching

Cumulus Clouds at Presidential Range

Free slide talk and hike! Learn to identify clouds and get tips on how to and practice sketching them! Clouds are fascinating and learning more about them will open up a whole new world to you.

Slide Talk
Friday May 26, 2017, 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Guanajuato Room, Ashland Library

Hike and Sketch
Saturday May 27, 2017
Meet at Ashland Shop N Kart parking lot to carpool at 8:30 am.
We will drive up to parking area at Hobart Bluff. You’re welcome to meet there as well. The caravan should arrive around 9:00 am.
To Hobart Bluff:  Take Highway 66 almost to the Greensprings Summit. Turn Right on Soda Mountain Road and follow the gravel road 5 miles to the parking lot. There is a pit toilet here and plenty of room for cars to park.

Hike is 1 – 2 miles, and we will be sketching for about two hours.
Bring Hat, Water Bottle, Snacks, Sketching Supplies.

Come and enjoy the talk, even if you are not going on the hike.

The event is free but they would like people to register.  Click here for more info:

Hike & Learn: The Science of Sketching Clouds with Artist Sarah F. Burns
by Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

Neighbor’s Tree

My Neighbor’s Tree just keep giving and giving.  It’s suuuuper convenient to paint it because I can just walk out to my front driveway and if it’s too cold, rainy or SNOWY(!?), I can paint while looking out the studio window.


I’ve mostly moved inside the studio for the winter – here are a couple of paintings from back in the fall.

Neighbor's Tree
Neighbor’s Tree


Tree at Scienceworks
Tree at Scienceworks

Barrel 42, Medford, Oregon

Barrel 42 Medford, Oregon 12″ x 16″

Brian Gruber Winery

It started with this composition for a smaller panel, but decided to move to the larger panel with more background info, which gave me a chance to play with an idea I’d been kicking around for a while.  I had been looking at the “Classical” landscape painting formulas and wanted to make a painting that used these principles.

claude lorrain pastoral landscape

Classical Landscape by Claude Lorrain – there are a million billion paintings made with this formula in the 18th and even into the 19th century.  The Ecole de Beaux Arts clearly taught this was the way you had to do it.  Nobody cares now, but it’s interesting how many paintings were made this way.

Google “Classical Landscape” here

claude lorrain pastoral landscape spiral

The composition spirals to for you to enter the picture on either side, the bottom is always darker value.

claude lorrain pastoral landscape zig zag

They always zig zag with close distance object on one side, going nearly top to bottom, then swing over to the opposite side for middle distance subject and then swing back for the far away view.


Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns

The close middle far is obvious in my painting.  I elected not to try to make spirals with clouds etc, because after all, my work is more about stark, aging American landscapes instead of fantastical ideal pastorals.  I did look for stuff to point to the subject, which was the green building, though, as well as the secondary subject of the far power lines.  I don’t always take time to carefully compose a plein air landscape, but it’s pretty satisfying when I do.

The location for this painting has a story too.  The green building houses a business called Barrel 42.  Brian Gruber and Herb Quady make Rogue Valley wines here, including the fabulous Quady North wines.  This is of particular interest to me, a native Southern Oregonian with an agricultural family history, because wine is overturning pears as the dominant agricultural product in Southern Oregon.  The big aqua building (so many of the old pear buildings are painted aqua –???) is called SOS – Southern Oregon Storage, or something like that.  The walls are super thick and maintain cool temperatures year round, perfect for storing barrels of wine, pears etc.  Of course these interesting places are always along railroad tracks because they used to use rails to ship things.  Not much anymore, as you see the side track to get close to the building to load up the goods is overgrown with weeds.  Time marches on, and it’s nice that the railroad tracks are seldom used, because they offer a quiet place to paint, and the tracks always have nice lines to play with.

Roseburg Paint Out

I usually resist paint out competition weekends, because they are never really very productive; I wind up usually making paintings in places I don’t have an affinity for and there is not enough time and there is the added pressure of knowing your work will literally be judged.  Umpqua Valley Arts Association hosts a paint out in Roseburg that lasts a few days and is in a generally good time of year for weather, so I signed up.  We had two full days of painting and I was able to connect with some really excellent Oregon painters. So, it was worth going to.


Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
This dying oak tree was the painting I liked the best out of all I made that weekend. 7.5″ x 10″


Gray Day Roseburg Hills web Sunny Day Roseburg Hills web

Two days in a row, different weather, slightly different composition.
Each measures 10″ x 16″.


Roseburg Valley Ranch

12″ x 20″  Maybe I liked this one best.  I don’t know.



City of Portland

Oil on Panel 10" x 16"

Oil on Panel
10″ x 16″

City of Portland from the Bluff — University of Oregon campus

Recently I got to paint a spot I’ve been dying to paint for a couple of years and I got to paint out with a  Portland artist I’d been dying to meet in real life — Gabriel Liston.  His work is fantastic, he documents life and history and the news in a contemporary Rococo influenced style.

Pilot Rock

Pilot Rock

Pilot Rock – As seen from the Pacific Crest Trail near Hobart Bluff, in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

I painted this in September after the smoke cleared out of the valley.  (We had a terrible, terrible smokey summer from all the wild fires this year.  This is the only bummer about living surrounded by wilderness.  Avoid the Rogue Valley in August.)  Painting here involves a bit of a drive and a pretty short hike.  Interstate 5 is tucked in between the more distant ridges.

This painting is for sale on my Etsy shop — 50% of the purchase price will go to the Friends of the Cascade- Siskiyou National Monument.  They put on nature hikes with scientists (and artists), help maintain trails, do butterfly counts and all kinds of fun stuff.  www.cascadesiskiyou.org

Plein Air Painting Video

I participated in a paint out event in Roseburg, Oregon and while there, Michael Sullivan, photojournalist at the News Review created this little video profile.

Thanks Mike and check out his work at http://www.michaelsullivanphoto.photoshelter.com

Hike and Learn

The Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument hold a monthly event called a Hike and Learn, where the invite someone to enhance participants’ experience of the monument with their expertise. They have invited me to lead a Hike and Learn on the subject of Landscape Sketching!  The monument is pretty neat because it has some of the greatest bio-diversity in a concentrated area in the United States.  I’m a big fan of using my art as a tool for documentation, so I’m looking forward to documenting this significant location this week and weekend.

The Hike and Learn is open to all, and is free to attend.  On Friday evening I will give a slide talk that goes over the basics of sketching the landscape.  Then Saturday morning, we will all meet up and head to Hobart Bluff to hike a little and sketch out in the wild.  We’ll meet back around lunch time and share our successes and struggles.

And the local paper – Ashland Daily Tidings has done an article on the event — check it out here.

bpennell sarahfburns
Photo by Bob Pennell for the Ashland Daily Tidings  – That’s me with the crazy grin, pretending to be on my way to do some landscape painting.

Details and Further Info:


Hike and Learn — FREE
Limited space, please sign up as space is limited by sending email to: event.cascadesiskiyou@gmail.com.  Email title: Hike & Learn SKETCH  Email body: Your name, email, address, phone

Friday, August 21, 6:00-7:00 pm
Slide Talk at the Ashland Public Library

Saturday, August 22
Hike – Meet at the Shop-N-Kart Ashland Parking Lot at 9:00 am to caravan up to Hobart Bluff
Hike and Sketch from 9:30 – Noon

Hanley Farm

I came to Hanley Farm to paint and had a hard time choosing a view, because I liked so many views, so I painted one

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Experimental Lavender Patch at Hanley Farm

and then painted another

Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
Hanley Farm

and that one was painted in the same scale and basic location as the first, so they both fit together, which made me motivated to make the third view

plein air oil painting
Roxy Ann

so they all fit together like a puzzle.

Hanley Farm Panorama

I often listen to audiobooks when I paint.  Whenever I look at a painting I made, I think of the book I was hearing while I worked. The middle and the left painting make me think of Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. The painting on the right makes me think of The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. And maybe the beginning of The Maltese Falcon by Dashiel Hammett. The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon feel so similar that they kind of mentally flow together.  I recommend all three books.