Painting the Santa Ynez River

Six Area Artists Capture the Waterway from Origin to Outlet

'Scorched Riverbed', by Libby Smith

Courtesy Photo

'Scorched Riverbed', by Libby Smith

For 92 miles, the Santa Ynez River winds its way west through mountains and watersheds, originating thousands of feet above sea level in Los PadresNationalForest and terminating at the Pacific Ocean in the crashing waves at Surf Beach on Vandenberg Air Force Base. It’s one of the longest waterways on the Central Coast, and six area artists spent one year capturing the river on canvas.

Painting in the gouache (pronounced “gwash”) style —an opaque watercolor that uses a mix of pigments, water, and a thickening agent —Connie Connally, Holli Harmon, Libby Smith, Nicole Strasburg, Nina Warner, and Pamela Zwehl-Burke have created 20 works that depict characteristics such as seasonal changes and devastation caused by wildfires, as well as still pools and waterfalls. An abundance of fauna is also represented, including trout, mule deer, bear, and coyotes. Riverside ranches, farms, and structures are also depicted. Although the subject matter is expansive, most of the paintings are less than eight inches in length.The exhibit, The River’s Journey: One Year, Six Artists, Ninety-Two Miles, opens February 17, with a reception at 5:30 p.m., and runs through July 9. See

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