Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tahoe Sketches

School's out for Presidents' Week, so we spent a few days up in Lake Tahoe with friends and family. Everyone went skiing but I opted to go painting instead. 

This first one was done on the side of the highway,  around 2:30 - 4:30pm. It was fairly warm (50F) until the shadows reached me. Then the temperature plunged. But I had most of it done by then so I didn't suffer too much. 

The foreground is actually a golf course. Boring to look at in the summer, but right now it's pristine and gorgeous. Gotta love those bright blue cast shadows! 

Next morning, I drove around the East side of the Lake, into Nevada. I'd forgotten the difficulty in finding painting spots around Lake Tahoe; There are plenty of views, but parking is a big problem. To find a spot which offers both view and parking is a real chore. 

I was getting more and more frustrated as I drove around. It got to a point where I just told myself to find any place I can park, and I'll paint whatever's there. If it's a bunch of thick pine trunks or a garbage can, so be it. 

I was faced with this view of the town below - not the easiest thing to paint - in fact it was kind of intimidating. But I had promised myself I'd paint it, so I did. There's no trick to painting these types of views. You just have to take your time to get your drawing right, and make sure to pick out a few elements which are recognizable. Easier said than done, but there's no way around it!

I'm glad I tackled it, though. To watch a picture emerge from a bunch of fuzzy blobs was very satisfying.

After the last sketch, which was pretty complex, the pendulum swung in the opposite direction and I painted this view. The simplest statements often has the most impact, and this is a good example, I think. 

I was actually trying to get to Fallen Leaf Lake, but I found the road closed for the season. I parked the car on the side of the road, contemplating what to do. I looked over my shoulder, and I saw this dark creek running through the meadow. I thought, well, that's kinda zen...

Later that afternoon, I headed over to Emerald Bay. This is a view of the rocks above the Bay, seen from one of the turnouts along the highway. The afternoon sun gave me a great pattern on the boulders but it was getting cold quickly so I rushed through the sketch. I really like parts of it, but I'll have to work on it some more to bring it to a satisfactory finish. 

All in all, I was pretty happy with the set of sketches I got done during these few days. I was really feeling the need to paint outside after my last sketching trip with da guys. Guilt often drives me where inspiration is lacking. But in Tahoe, there was no shortage of either, and I had a good time painting away on my own while my family skied away~


  1. Amazing post. Thanks a lot for sharing with us !!

  2. Nice paintings Terry. I especially like the crisp light and colors in the first one. You sound like me finding opportunities to paint while on vacation...I usually get up early and paint before the "vacationers" awake for the day.

  3. The painting of the town is thought provoking. I love that the abstractions in the center are carried by the more recognizable background and foreground. Great stuff.

  4. Great sketches!
    Good for you!
    Glad you didn't crop the photos.
    Nice post Terry!

  5. I really like all of these. I'm impressed anytime someone paints outside in the snow. It was definitely worth your while.

  6. Terry - on the east side is Sand Harbor - just south of Incline Village. If you come up this way again and want to know some good painting spots, email me - carolynjthompson@att.net. I started a little plein air group called Reno Tahoe Plein Air Painters - I have a blog for it - http://www.renotahoepleinairpainters@blogspot.com

  7. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments!

    Stephanie, Yes, me too. To tell you the truth, this was the first time I'd ever painted in the snow. Or painted snow as a subject matter. (excepting a little patch of distant glacier in the summer time) I usually stay inside the studio with a warm cup of coffee during the winter. Haha~ *Not* one of them intrepid plein air painters. But I'm glad I went out.

    Carolyn, thanks~ I love Sand Harbor. I only got to Castle Rock before I turned around because I was supposed to get back to Heavenly for lunch with the fam. But perhaps next time I'll make it a destination.

  8. This is beautiful. Really enjoyed catching up with your blog. What a great painting.

    There were so many amazing views - I could have painted many more too
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  9. Terry I enjoyed it very much to look at these paintings. Where I live it rarely ever snow. The only way in which I could get a glimpse on your painting trip was to look on Google Maps and "drive" around Lake Tahoe and look at Emerald Bay - unfortunately it is "summer" on Google Maps. Thank you for sharing these images with us and sharing where you paint them - They are great paintings in themselves as they seem very "fresh and on the spot" to me.

    Kind Regards Johan

  10. Thanks Johan~! Lake Tahoe is beautiful any time of year, but winter is pretty special. It was the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics!

  11. Wow your a busy man .... And your work is Devine ....