Archive | Available California Coast Paintings

“Silent Conversations: Long Departed” $926

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $926
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes:
Desolation row out here. Didn’t see a single soul for the few hours I spent on these cliffs a good distance from any of the more visited headlands in this region. I’ve been told this is the site of one of the oldest human settlements in North America. Long departed now, nothing remains but a man made hill of shells and refuse surrounded by the windblown dunes built up around it. That and the wind. The wind has always been here.

As I was scouting the headland doing the legwork of composing this painting there was a large platform of bare rock extending just below the vegetated bluff that was begging to be explored. The views from this platform were suitable as they were, but as with any time you find yourself in a spot like this, you have to walk out to the furthest edge as well. A finger of rock with a maybe 10 foot flat area extended from the platform a good 30 feet or so, sheer cliffs dropping straight to water on either side. From this vantage out on this ledge these 5 seacaves became visible while from just 20 feet back on the broader platform none of them could be seen.

If you’ve followed my notes about painting these on-site paintings, you know what an issue strong winds can be, and the difficulties they can bring. The wind this day was already blowing steady with undertones of far greater force to come and it was still only mid morning. It takes about 3 hours to set up my gear, tackle a painting this size, and pack it up again, so I knew that by the time I would finish a painting here, I’d be dealing with a fairly tense situation.

Now I had a dilemma. I forgot to mention that the broad platform from which the finger extended was rimmed by ten foot eroded dirt bank that provided excellent wind block at many locations. The view I sought was out on that finger though, and as it was the wind was blowing from off the open water directly behind the formation, slamming into the face creating all sorts of turbulence, and rushing onward toward these caves.

In these times of decision I always take a moment to seek direction from the Silence around me. Even in the noise of life there is always Silence around each of us, and within that Silence, a Voice, easy to miss, but impossible to ignore.

Go out to the edge and paint. Beauty is never without risk. I am with you.

Ok then. It was quite a chess match getting set up here, requiring total concentration on each movement and considerations of weight and flight risks for each element involved in my painting process. Rocks were gathered. One item at a time moved into place while the rest remained weighted down until bit by bit, all was in order and the painting could begin.

In the midst of all this, other voices were present in the wind. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. Not threatening voices, but not welcoming either. The Silent Voice seemed to be speaking back to them and something in me was in awe of the conversation taking place around and within me while standing out on this precipice unknown and unseen by a single soul. They were ancient voices, but not as ancient as the Silent one. I couldn’t understand their conversation but continued on unsure of what to expect. I began to wonder if this was a sacred site, and my presence was in some way violating an unspoken boundary.

I noticed mists of white blowing past me as I painted, always passing between myself and the headland to the left, as if to separate me from the land I came from. They’d blow over the finger I was standing on and swirl down seemingly into the cave below. At first I thought they were stray bits of marine layer caught up in the wind but then looking back to see in the direction of the wind and seeing nothing but bluebird blue skies out there I figured maybe they wisps of moisture from the breaking waves below. It wasn’t until I was nearly finished painting that they began to hit me directly and I was a bit surprised to find myself being pelted by sand. From where? The nearest dune around was literally the base of the mound left behind by the ancient civilization just a few hundred yards behind me. That gave me a moment of pause in appreciation of nature’s poetry.  A more appropriate body for these voices I’d been hearing could not ever be found.

I also took it as my cue to wrap it up out here and proceeded to methodically deconstruct my mobile studio in reverse order. If there ever was a windblown disaster in the making (thing gear flying off cliffs, painting blown out to see, artist vanished) this was it. I attribute this painting surviving to be enjoyed today (sand embedded in the paint and all) to the One who is with me always. Many thanks to Silence.

“Quiet Water” $510

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $510
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes:
I’d been painting a lot around town the few days prior to this one. To be honest, Santa Cruz stresses me out a bit. Crazy, crazy place… but I like it. That said it was great to get out of the hamster maze for a bit on this day. A friend treated me to some epic midday views up a private road way up the coast and I followed that up with this quick afternoon sketch from a path less traveled overlooking a place I’ve enjoyed visiting (although infrequently) for years. The wind howled pretty good while I painted this, but looking down on this pond nestled into a hook of coastal bluffs you wouldn’t know it. Smooth as glass, and quiet as could be. Something in me needed this today. Thankful to have the opportunity to walk this earth, life is beautiful. Find some quiet water and reflect when you have a minute. You won’t regret it.

“Home Renovation” $460

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $460
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes:
Bunches of quail, several deer, otters, and even a fox on the beach. They were all very gracious hosts. Even though I’m sure I smelled pretty bad to them, none of them said so. They live in a beautiful home. The park was closed for trail maintenance, but having a good friend who’s been working for the parks for years on trail projects meant that it was closed to everyone except me on this particular day. This was a very relaxing session. The wind was a bit hectic at times, but manageable. There’s just nothing better than beauty and solitude sometimes.

“Everybody Has Been Burned” $481

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $481
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

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Notes:
Those brown clouds in the distance are actually plumes of smoke from a wildfire burning as this was painted.

“Milk and Honey” $452

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $452
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes: Plein air from the van.

I tried to leave this area after the last one, I was beat, dirty, and looking forward to a hot shower and my family’s faces once again. But just as I was mentally plotting where I might find the nearest cheeseburger before making the 5 hour drive home, there was a fork in the road.

To the left was food and the prospect of being home tonight, to the right was a road that would take me further out on this headland, already an hour’s dogleg from highway one. I’d never been this far out here before and not knowing when I’d be this way again it was an easy choice. I’d have to sleep in the van one more night.

Then 5 or 10 minutes down that new road there was another fork that headed to the leeward side of the headland. I thought I would just take a look and then continue to the end of the main road. I never made it past this view. I literally used the side door opening on my van as a viewfinder for this one.

Nothing in me felt like painting except for the sense of awe and opportunity that this beauty presented, so I ate a bit of dry bread for fuel and pushed through this one as quickly as I could and moved on.

By now the exhastion and hunger had the best of me and this time I chose the cheeseburger over the end 0f the road. Still had to sleep in the van though.

 

“Her Answer” $603

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 16″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $603
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes: I’d hiked this windswept beach for hours through the midday heat when the sun is at its shadowless peak. I was looking for a few things- a painting mostly, but also a wave or two. What I found was mostly wind. Lots of it. Blowing hard offshore early in the hike, then sideshore as the coast gradually bent to meet it.

Just once the wind let up briefly, then switched gently and met me face to face, greeting me with a holy sprinkling of sand, curiously examining this bearded fellow with the funny backpack. Not threatening but not welcoming either, whispering a cautious reminder of what she did to those Spaniards the other day who attempted to sail her waters. I told her what I was looking for but she said nothing and flew violently back to her Maker, leaving me to search in vain for a spot to paint that would convey the desolate beauty here.

Even if I’d mustered the mojo to scramble up the cliffs for a better view, my gear would have surely blown off and out to sea before getting too far. Still early in the afternoon, I was resolved to find some sort of windblock in or near the next ravine.

The steep wall that sheltered me there would surely cast its shadow soon. The tide would fill in and cover the wet and rippled sand along the rock wall on which I perched. I would wait patiently and go after it when the time was right.

After a long while 3 things became clear. First, the afternoon brought a shift in the wind and I was no longer sheltered, canvas bouncing like a kickdrum at a punk rock show, and my heavily weighted easel threatening to set sail with each gust. A brush in one hand, my easel in the other attempting to ride this bull to completion. Secondly, the tide had peaked and the water would not crest the berm today. And thirdly, the coast here hooks so unusually that I had no bearings on direction when staring at the overhead sun and grossly miscalculated its arc. This ravine would remain lit up and shadeless for hours to come.

I’d already blocked the painting in, anticipating these changes and really enjoyed the way it was looking, so I did what any fool that speaks to the wind might do. I kept on going, and that was her answer.

 

“Welcome Home” $484

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2016

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $484
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes: Had to charge my dead phone at a small bar in an even smaller town the night before I painted this. Open mic night was raging for a handful of locals and passers-throughs. Nursing my beer in the corner by the pool table (only spot near an outlet), and watching a few Mexican fellows play their game, I must have looked a bit too interested because next thing I knew a local had me lined up to shoot a game with him. He chose a poor opponent, I nearly didn’t sink a single shot even after he cleared his from the table.

We got to chatting a bit and I mention I’m down from Humboldt, and he says he knows the guy that painted the Humboldt Surf Company sign years ago when they were on the plaza. I’m tripping cause he doesn’t even seem slightly familiar to me but he described the sign I painted for them pretty well. At one point he turns to me and for some reason says “welcome home”. He was fairly stoned too I reckon, he said so himself anyway.

Had a few other fun conversations as well, one with another artist who saw me painting at the path down to the beach earlier in the day. During that conversation one of the Mexican pool players took to the mic with a guitar while a gringo joined in on piano and belted out some numbers that had the whole room hooting and hollering.

Once they wrapped up, I checked my phone and it was charged, checked my beer and it was empty, checked my social interaction comfort level and it was as non-existent as ever, so I promptly checked out for the night and hit the road at first light and arrived not too much later to this desolate beach I’d been wanting to explore for years. Up on the bluff looking back over this pristine piece of Califaornia that I’d never laid eyes on before, I noticed my van in the carpark, and I welcomed myself home.

“Free Range 12: Elevation” $434

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Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2015

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $434
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 628.7 miles
Notes: Was hoping to knock out two paintings today, but after watching south swell lines bending around the sandbars in the distance, groomed by the north winds, well… tomorrow is another day.

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