Fall Sunset


I was painting on a canvas prepped with turquoise one afternoon, when purple and cadmium yellow started calling to me.  I was intrigued to see where this was leading me.  Orange, yellow ochre and brown seemed to be circling one patch of turquoise to the center-left.  It seemed to be telling me a story of Fall’s cascading colors and a setting sun peeking through in the distance.  There’s so MUCH life and vivid colors in falling leaves before the cold of winter (on Mainland) settles in!

Joseph Ramirez

Sparkling Sunrise


Early one morning I was already set up to paint at Magic Island before the sun came up.  It’s so peaceful here listening to the tiger doves calling to each other as the day begins!  Suddenly the sun broke above Diamond Head and the incoming surf turned countless shades of blue, gray and white, flecked with brilliant splashes of stunning yellow!  I had to squint from being nearly blinded by the dazzling colors, as Diamond Head became just a blurry gray background to the clash of color and waves in the foreground!  There is so much unexpected beauty to see when plein-air painting!

Joseph Ramirez

Orange Hibiscus in Shadow


I love the unexpected beauty hiding everywhere here in Honolulu, like this fancy, hybrid orange hibiscus bloom growing on someone’s front-yard hedge!  This wild mix of color was in the shade, which deepened the orange center with purple hues, while the edges in sunlight appeared almost YELLOW!  It was too beautiful to pass by, and luckily I was already heading out to paint at the beach so I had everything at hand!  It’s amazing how I can get absorbed by a simple flower… the more I look, the more I see!  I hope you like it!

Joseph Ramirez

Surfboard Indigo Shadows


One bright, sunny afternoon I was headed toward Queen’s Surf beach to paint.  On the way was Waikiki Beach where surf instructors give visitors a REAL taste of Hawaii with their first surfboard lessons!  A bright yellow beach umbrella caught my eye as I passed, and I stopped to take it all in.  I became fixated on how deep purple and indigo were the shadows cast by rows of stacked surfboards, and set up my easel.  So many contrasts to capture…. sultry pale blue waters, deep indigo shadows, “mixed-plate” of surfboard colors against stark yellow-white sunny sand!  What a joy to paint this unexpected beauty!

Joseph Ramirez

Golden Path


One day I was prepping new 16×20 canvases by covering them with a single-color wash… pale yellow, another in pink, and a third in light orange.  I’m not sure what triggered off what came next!  Something about the orange must have stirred me up… before I knew it my palette knife was whipping swaths of cerulean blue and pale yellow ochre in opposing zig-zag patterns!  A sketchy golden-yellow path close at the bottom and farther way at the top seemed to guide my hand for a little structure.  And then a flurry of wide-ranging colors hit the palette and the piece took a complete U-turn!  I wasn’t even planning to paint today but am very pleased with how much energy and whimsy were captured!

Joseph Ramirez

Lavender Sunset


One plein-air afternoon I was working on a scene of choppy water crashing on a man-made breakwater of piled boulders. I was focused on how much the waves were stirring the water to frothy turquoise and whites, which made a stark comparison to the dark boulders.  But as the daylight started fading at sunset there were the most amazing changes happening before my eyes!  In the dimming light I could now see the shades of gray covering the boulders not soaked by the waves.  And then a beautiful lavender tone covered the sky and started reflecting in the water, changing the balance of colors from blue/black to a warmer green/gray palette! I mixed the new colors and worked furiously before it was too dark to paint any longer.  What a way to end a glorious painting day!

Joseph Ramirez

Mountain, Falls, Meadow

The same day I painted “Water Lilies in a Breeze” I was swept up in creative energy and couldn’t put my palette knife down!  So I grabbed another canvas and used the same turquoise background and went in a completely different direction.  I love to use a blended secondary color for backgrounds so that wherever I use primaries they really POP!  Several HOURS passed as I was swiping, blending, making mountains and valleys of color rise and fall!  What I love most about this piece are the small blocks of bolder color contrasting against the busy, mixed background!  I hope you see something in it that you like!

Joseph Ramirez