Dorland Mountain Arts Colony

We had the pleasure of attending an art residency in February 2019 at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in Temecula California. Dorland is located on a 340-acre nature preserve in the mountains of Riverside County, 60 miles north of San Diego and 100 miles south of LA.

With blue skies and weather in the 60s, we spent each day traveling to a state park or ecological reserve for hiking and painting en plein air before heading back to our residency cabin to watch the sunset. While much of California is, as expected, sprawling with development, we found an abundance of public lands that preserved the state’s raw and natural beauty.

Wild Horse Peak, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts. Painted from Sunset Point at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Wild Horse Peak, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts. Painted from Sunset Point at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

We enjoyed hiking the 8,300 acres of Santa Rosa so much, we went back a second day to explore the trails leading to the top of Monument Hill, which had panoramic views of grasslands, rolling hills and distant snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see .    Monument Hill, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

We enjoyed hiking the 8,300 acres of Santa Rosa so much, we went back a second day to explore the trails leading to the top of Monument Hill, which had panoramic views of grasslands, rolling hills and distant snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see .

Monument Hill, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

View from Horton Cottage, 8x10 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

View from Horton Cottage, 8x10 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

Reading in the Grove, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts.

Reading in the Grove, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts.

Watercolor study of a mountain range by Brad Betts, painted from the front porch of Horton Cottage at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Watercolor study of a mountain range by Brad Betts, painted from the front porch of Horton Cottage at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

Cactus, 6x8 oil painting by Brad Betts.  This was a fun study as four artists painted this cactus at the same time, resulting in four unique paintings of one subject in varying and diverse styles.

Cactus, 6x8 oil painting by Brad Betts. This was a fun study as four artists painted this cactus at the same time, resulting in four unique paintings of one subject in varying and diverse styles.

Poppies on Dripping Spring Trail, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

Poppies on Dripping Spring Trail, 11x14 en plein air oil painting by Brad Betts

On our last day, we hiked the trail to Wild Horse Peak in the Agua Tibia Wilderness. At the end of the hike, we rock-hopped across a stream and as we started heading to the car we realized we were being passed by butterflies, dozens at a time. We sat down on the stream bank for over an hour as hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies flew by, on their journey from Mexico to the north. An amazing moment at the end of an incredibly inspiring trip, we hope to return to Dorland in the future for another nature-inspired artistic retreat.