Archive | Verbals

“From the Overflow of the Heart, the Mouth Speaks” $515

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $515
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Notes: 8th day on the road, 23rd painting completed, 2nd one on this day. Last one of the trip. I’m exhausted.

There’s something about a rivermouth sandbar that really holds one’s attention. I wanted to get the whole scene here: the inland valley leading to the now hot and dry“heartland” this river flows from, the coastal coolness of rugged rock and sea stack shrouded in fog and cloud, the beach, the driftwood, and the sand piled up creating a focal point for bending lines of swell approaching from deep water. I wanted to show it all.

Perhaps I took on too much and maybe this one lacks a clear focal point. It happens. But then again, it’s all in there and if I’m gonna roll by and paint one painting here, I’m stoked this was it.

The biggest dissappointment was the extended time it took to finish this complicated composition eating into rapidly closing window to go surf a few down at that sandbar. I maybe could have swung it still, but this was my last one in this area and had a long drive ahead of me that night. I was also considering the burger that I was looking forward to that might be out of reach if I pushed it any longer (everything closes pretty early on this coast).

Excuses, excuses… it was now foggy and getting dark and bobbing around a sharky rivermouth lineup alone and barely visible for marginal but fun looking two foot waves for some reason just didn’t sound as fun as it did when I’d started the painting.

I paused to enjoy a celebratory beer for a week of hard work, and thought I heard the river speak. “Next time” she said, “Next time.”

“Russian Interference” $372

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $372
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Notes:
8th day on the road, 22nd painting completed, 1st on this day

The Russians are planning to claim this coast for themselves. It’s true. From San Francisco to Trinidad Harbor, they’ve left secret signs, “possession plaques” buried at various strategic locations.

This painting is located near the first of these plates, and within a year or two, they will be back to stake their claim, renaming this location as Mouis Rumyantsev (Point Rumyantsev) after the current Russian Minister of Commerce.

Alarmist political phrophesy? Hardly. These are just the facts. I have proof.

Besides, it’s not like this location has been claimed by Spain yet.

Did I mention it’s 1810?

“Soaring with Griffin” $710

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $710
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Notes:
7th day on the road, 21st painting completed, 3rd one this day

Painting the California coast is something that rose out of my admiration for the California Impressionists of the early 1900’s.

Before that I was painting skulls and bones and waves, which rose out of my admiration for Rick Griffin (1944-1991) and his artwork. I learned of his art when he passed away and the Surfer Magazine ran a tribute to his life and art featuring his mindblowing works from the psychedelic era.

If I hadn’t started surfing after my big brother did 7 years earlier when I was 11 or so I wouldn’t have been reading Surfer at age 16 and likely not encountered Rick’s art in the same life-altering way.

In a similar vein, if my brother and I hadn’t been so keen to explore and surf the California coast from junior high onward, I wouldn’t have appreciated the California Impressionist’s work nearly as much when I encountered later, as it was my connection to the coast that was triggered by those paintings and made me want to explore that direction in my art as well.

So here I am today painting up and down the California coast, exploring, still hunting for waves I haven’t seen yet. Whispers here and there, accidental discoveries, pure curiousity, whatever leads around the next bend, it’s all fair game.  I’d heard of this wave for years, but only recently learned it was one of Rick’s favorite waves to surf when he lived in the Bay area.

Standing over the cove, watching the windblown lines clean up around the rocky headland, it was a full circle moment thinking of the maker of so much influential art hooting and hollering on the waves below.

A hawk soared past as I painted, circling the cove repeatedly, at times hovering just to my right or left on the updraft before diving and riding the wind tunnels down and around the cliff faces below. I don’t normally add flying birds into paintings as they are so ephemeral to the landscape. This one seemed different.

“Ticks are Evil” $757

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $757
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Notes:
7th day on the road, 20th painting completed, 2nd one this day

This is another place I’ve wanted to paint for a long time, but it’s quite a walk from the road and just hadn’t had the time on previous trips. I knew the angle I was looking for, but it would require an extensive bit of off-trail work to get there. Fortunately it was pretty much open grassland I’d have to cross, though the signs warning about ticks were a bit unnerving considering I the amount of shoulder high grass I was about to wade through. These paintings don’t happen without some effort though, so a tuck of all the loose clothing, a quick prayer, a few deep breaths, and I was off.

I made it through the grass and to the vantage point I was aiming for, but off by 100 yards or so to the south.The wind was howling as it does in these parts and unfortunately the vantage I was looking for faced it directly and the cliff face below even magnified it. I could head back through the grass or traverse the sandy cliff face over to the better angle. Ticks being evil, I went with the cliff face. With the gusts of wind and all my gear flapping about it was dicey at best. And straight down 100 feet or so to rocks below at worst.

Did I mention these paintings don’t happen without some effort? Well, they don’t.

I was happy to get back to the van after this one. Nothing blew off the cliff, I didn’t fall off either, I didn’t even see a single tick after an entire afternoon of constant checking. Had to sacrifice my socks though on account of all the little pricks and burrs that they collected on the tromp.

“A Reluctant Admission” $424

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $424
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Notes:
7th day on the road, 19th painting completed, 1st one this day

After collecting an official “Vehicle Immobilization and Potential Arrest Notice” on this private development the day before, I was careful on this day to stay in the designated public access area. It’s always odd to me to encounter these pay-to-play private coast mentalities. I’ve even read interviews with the developers where they talk dismissively of the area locals who felt they had the right to cross the land to get to the beach to dive for abalone, as they had done for literally years before this development came along. But that is another story.

Speaking of another story, as I was heading back to my van to get my gear after scouting my location for this crisp morning painting, I saw a whole herd of fire trucks rolling across the meadow and watched with amusement as firemen, piled out of their trucks and headed to the stairs with their frisbees in one hand and walkie talkies in the other. Must be nice to have “emergency vehicular access” privileges. I figured without my painting pack full of loose straps dangling rusty buckets I didn’t yet look like a misplaced hobo, so I made sure to enquire if they had a permit for this “operation”. Sheepishly they all deflected to one another and scattered down to their frisbee games, eager to get on with their fun.

Busted.

If I’d been a little better dressed and grayer in the hair they may have been a bit more nervous about brushing me off so easily, but it really was a beautiful morning, and I’d have done the same in their shoes… er, boots… er, sandals… whatever.

“Tea and Oranges”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:
6th day on the road, 18th painting completed, 3rd on this day

I had this place pinpointed on my map for months. Not for it’s beauty, though it doesn’t lack in that area, but because it’s a place that means a lot to a friend that commissioned me to paint it on my next trip through. This is located in a long stretch of heavily regulated private development. Not knowing where the nearest public access was for this beach, or if it even had one, I figured I’d just pull up to the private road that led down to it and accept the risk involved.

I scoped the place on foot after leaving my van in the clearly not-for-public car park. When I returned to get my gear a few minutes later my plan was to leave an apologetic note on my windshield explaining what I was up to and hope for mercy. Instead I found a security guard already writing up an official “VEHICLE IMMOBILIZATION AND POTENTIAL ARREST NOTICE”  to go where my note would have been placed. These guys worked fast. I proceeded to explain myself and he explained this was the first notice after which (if I was found again on the property) I would face fines and further consequences. Realizing this was just a warning then, I read between the lines that this was my free pass to go paint and enjoy this private slice of earth for the afternoon and rub shoulders with the upper class of beachgoers. Nobody brought me any martinis though.

For that matter nobody brought me any Tea and Oranges that Came All the Way from China either, that title being a reference to a Leonard Cohen song of a different name that played as I pulled onto this private lane, and a sneaky double reference to the security guard who may or may not have gone by the name of Leonard.

“Get Off My Lawn” $592

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $592
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Notes:
6th day on the road, 17th painting completed, 2nd one this day

A big inspiration in my art life came from an unlikely source. It makes perfect sense in hindsight, but at the time when my older brother got the book “Surfing California” when we were teens, I had no idea the years of exploration that would follow, and that would lead naturally into what I do today, travelling and painting this state’s coastline from border to border.

One spot in that book eluded me for years until this trip. I’m embarrassed to say it’s the only one that I recall being listed by it’s actual address on Highway 1. Why I never thought to look for the address sooner (maybe, you know on a map or something?), I have no idea. But here I was on this trip armed with a fully functioning map. Nothing could stop me now. Except I couldn’t remember the address. I must have stopped and hopped around the bushes at 3 or 4 different properties before almost accidentally arriving here. In fact I nearly drove by it, except for seeing the wave from the road. What? It’s even visible from the road?  Good grief. I’m not nearly as observant as I sometimes pretend to be.

Sure there were NO TRESPASSING signs every 10 feet on that fence, but then why did that one spot have a clear trail leading away from the fence and along the bluff and down to the water, hmm? Methinks I’m supposed to go over this fence. Only problem was my nerves while painting in full sight of house and highway 1 out in the open on clearly marked private property. Never looked over my shoulder so many times in one painting. Kept expecting old man McCrakker to come out of his house yelling, “Get Off My Lawn!”  Never did though…

And what a setup! I hope to be back, looks like a fun little slide out there.

“Open Lanes”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Notes:
6th day on the road, 16th painting completed, 1st on this day

I was hoping to paint the view north from this location, but when I got here I wasn’t feeling it. The linear elements of this reef meeting the microscopic 8inch lines of windswell wrapping around it were of interest though, especially with the backlit morning light peeking around the hillside I was on.

I did have to walk around a locked gate through an opening to a private lane where I noticed a large NO TRESPASSING sign spray painted completely black. I think that means visitors are welcome then, no?

At any rate, the few folks that came and went through that locked gate either didn’t notice me lurking with my easel in the ferns, or they just didn’t care, as nobody said a word.

“Fault Lines” $575

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $575
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Notes:
5th day on the road, 15th painting completed, 2nd one this day

I’ve scouted around in this cove a few times looking for an angle to paint this place, but never bothered to find a way out onto the cliffs that overlook it. Glad I finally did, I could spend weeks painting out here. What really stands out up here is the geological forces that have shaped this cove. I believe the San Andreas fault line runs right through it, and I was drawn to the linear elements of the scene before me.

It was a longish walk from the road to get out here, often on game trails through tall grass that had me tucking my pant legs into my socks and checking for ticks religiously. I was relieved to never see a single one, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking of those little bloodsuckers nearly the whole time.

When I was nearly finished with this one, some ladies came walking by on the nearby trail. They stopped and made note of the waves they thought I’d added (I’d seen a few). At first I thought they were just friendly walkers out to chat on a nice afternoon. Then they wanted to know where I was from, and who I was with, and let me know they noticed my van back at the carpark. I assured them I was alone, not part of a group and not connected to any other artists that have passed through these parts.

Maybe I read them wrong, but they sure seemed to be putting out some territorial vibes in that short conversation. But I understand, they live in a very small town, in a very beautiful place, in a state whose coast is being bought and sold at an alarming rate. Protectionism isn’t all their fault. It’s also their virtue.

“In a Different Light” $307

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $307
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Notes:
5th day on the road, 14th painting completed, 1st one this day

Occasionally when I mention to folks that I travel up and down painting the California coast, folks will suggest that I paint all the lighthouses. I usually think that’s because someone once gave them a calendar with a different lighthouse on each month. I have nothing against lighthouses, in fact, I truly appreciate a bit of the symbolism that I think people like to put on them- guiding lights, light in the darkness, etc…  but personally I’m more a fan of the rocky gnarl that usually surrounds them. I guess I just see the coast in a different light.

“We All Stand Alone” $299

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $299
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Notes:
4th day on the road, 12th painting completed, 3rd one this day

I came around a bend on the winding highway 1 a bit south of here today and a large RV was heading toward me in the oncoming lane. It wasn’t swerving or dangerous, we were both moving slowly and within our respective lanes. What stood out was the clear view I had of the driver of the vehicle. She looked just like my sister who we lost to cancer several years ago.

It was a head on collision.

I’m not one to grieve outwardly too much so these things take time to slowly boil out over the years. I cried around the next few bends remembering her, all while laughing about the prospect of her driving around the country in a big RV.  (If you knew her, you know of the humor present in that thought).

This painting was later in the day, I first surfed here on a road trip with my dad a long long time ago. It could have been that family connection, or the old church standing tall across the river in the distance that had me recalling her again as I painted this one.

The solitary beachgoer that waded out to the sandbar island that had formed in the rivermouth was a reminder for me, that at least on this side of life, we all stand alone on the face of the earth.

One day we’ll stand together, but I’d like to get a few more waves first.

“A Change is Brewing”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:
4th day on the road. 11th painting completed. 2nd one this day.

Often the main challenge in painting a location is finding an angle that condenses the story of being there into one frame. I’d surfed here years before with a friend, repelling down the steep cliff on a wet, gray day. I’ve been fond of the place ever since. That personal connection can make a painting even more difficult since I’m also trying to pack all those memories onto the canvas as well. After scouring around, I settled on this view. I knew it was a little dicey parking on this narrow road, but I needed the elevation provided by the van to see down the bluff to the beach below. If I’d pulled up just another 50 feet or so, I’d have been in a wider section designated for tourists to park and take photos of the view (or themselves). But this particular spot had the magic I was looking for- perhaps more than I had first realized as it was here I learned of a particular approach to my art that would impact every subsequent painting. No joke, and I’m not telling either.

It was a quiet week day and any ordinary car could still easily drive around my van so I figured I’d be fine. In my time there, I learned there are a lot of folks that drive really nice ordinary cars, likely to pair up with really nice ordinary houses that overlook the ocean. Then a large truck rolled up with a trailer, perhaps full of gravel by the look of it, and after a minute he got out and approached my van. I’d already started putting loose items away and closing open containers and generally stabilizing anything that looked precarious for the impending move, so I was ready for him and offered to move before he could ask. He was real nice about it., so I asked if he was going to be making repeated trips down this lane, and he said it was his last of the day. I pulled forward and let him pass, then backed up into position to complete the painting. As I was finishing, a lady in one of the nice cars drove by and said something out her window about my van being in her way… as she easily drove around it. Go figure.

“Heard from Across the Valley” $500

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $500
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Notes:
4th day on the road, tenth painting completed, first one this day

Some paintings I’ve seen for a long time before I painted them. When painting plein air it can take awhile since you’re not pulling images out of your imagination, if there’s a painting rumbling around in there, you have to wait until you put yourself in the place at the time of day that painting is asking for.

This was one of those. I’d seen this rambling creek, this cove, this shaded valley in the morning light for awhile in my mind. I had a few different locations I was hunting for it on this foggy morning. The first two were beautiful, but the angles were wrong and the fog was thicker than usual. Pressing on to this last option I thought had potential, the clouds breaking and lifting just as I arrived, I was a bit giddy at the site before me. It looked even more like the painting than the one in my mind.

The freshly mowed poison oak/berry patch lining the road here provided adequate space to pull over and work from the van, which was great since I didn’t want to set foot on all that chopped poison oak anyway. The passing cars shook the van each time they roared by, the shoulder wasn’t quite as large as I’d have liked, but one can’t have it all, can they?

Nothing about this painting ever really felt like work, it was just a pure joy reacting to the scene before me and listening to the steady crack of breaking waves on the sandbar that built up around this rockstack. I could hear them clearly from all the way across this valley.

But I saw this painting coming from much further than that.

“Glass at Dusk” $379

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $379
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Notes:
3rd day on the road, 9th painting completed, 3rd one this day

Not so long ago, and prior to the age of plastic’s dominance, one coastal town decided it’s beautiful bluffs overlooking the sea would be a great place for the town dump. It made all sorts of sense, what with the flat ground being suitable for simple pushing the refuse over the cliff onto the rugged beaches below for the ebb and flow of the ocean to magically make it all go away.

Well, it’s almost all gone, but what’s left behind is a bit of a wonder. All the glass bottles (this was before recycling was seen as a worthy endeavor) simply broke up, and worn by the sea and sand, filled entire beaches with translucent fragments. At first glance it just appears gravel, upon closer inspection it seems entire coves are made of glass.

I’d wanted to attempt a painting at beach level with afternoon light pouring through the beach glass, but the weather turned and I was left to wander around in the thick overcast evening air looking for a suitable cove. The first one I had in mind was blocked off from public access. No worries, I’d find another. Cove after cove was blocked and/or inaccessible. I came to the end of the trail and still no way down. Well now, I’ve hopped fences for paintings before and on account of the quickly fading light, I saw no reason not to add one more to the list.

It’s a perplexing conundrum this town faces now that it’s marketed this beach as a destination for tourists, needing to keep them away from the best coves so the tourists don’t remove all the town’s old trash. Wait, what? Hard to believe that’s a real sentence, but there you have it.

“Untouched” $435

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $435
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Notes:
3rd day on the road, 8th painting completed, 2nd one this day

Well “Untouched” may be a misnomer, this place has seen a lot of action being as close as it is to town. That said, it’s been amazingly spared from development and remains an unconsumed and pristine open space. A refuge for many from the trials of small town life.

She was dark and gray today, that open space expanding to the point where you feel you don’t belong, no one belongs. Like the earth there is unsure of her beauty and just wants to be alone. The footpaths in the meadows yearn for healing, and are in the process now, but the scars run too deep. They will not heal before the sun returns and brings the wounded from town back to these paths in search of joys, wonders, stoke and revelries.

She will open up to them, soothe them, give of herself for their betterment. But she will let not let them have her, she will send them all back after their brief dance. Some will return smiling, some in tears, but all will be changed by their encounter in some way.

On days like this, when she is dark and gray, she is also happy. It is these days she can be herself and wait upon her own healing. These are her sanctuary times, and they usually only come on moonless nights. Here on these dark days she can see herself better and she knows beyond the doubt of night that indeed she is beautiful.

“The Wind Blows Where it Wishes” $431

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $431
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Notes:
3rd day on the road, 7th painting completed, 1st one this day

The wind was blowing lightly onshore this morning but the fog was moving out to sea and back again on a seemingly different program altogether.

You never know what or who will blow in with the wind.

Besides fog, here’s what else the wind blew past me while I worked on this one on the side of the road:

A chain smoking man in a cowboy hat in a white ford 350 and a good dose of country music.

A couple in a rusty blue minivan who appeared to be looking for something in the bushes right beside me, pulling out all sorts of random roadside detritus including but not limited to one busted chair and a pair of ladies jeans that they nearly kept but finally decided not to.

An old friend from Humboldt who spotted me at work and stopped for a quick minute to say hi.

A road walking 20 something guy with a backpack who feigned interest in the art while scouting my bags for food (or whatever else he was looking for) and finally left with my Cliff Bar.

A grown man on a bmx bike asking directions to the next market north of us.

None of that happens in the studio. Well, not very often anyway.

“No Vegetarian Options”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:
2nd day on the road, 5th painting completed, 3rd one of the day

There’s a chunk of reef out here that I’ve always enjoyed pulling over for and watching when passing through this area. I’ve never seen it look truly rideable, but I wouldn’t put it past some nut to give it a go on the right day. Heaving peaks onto dry rock reef. Mindsurfing was never so fun.

It’s not just the water that’s compelling here either, it’s also the landscape leading up to it. The open space of these tall grassy (ticks!) meadows is part of the California coast experience that just makes you happy to be alive. The sky is bigger. Your body is smaller. The rolling hills lead down to rocky canyons with micro pocket beaches.

Sea lion locals stare you down the moment you peak over the grass into their private cove. They seem always on edge, even as they bask in the sun. A reminder of the food chain at work in these waters. No vegetarian options.

“Nothing is Easy”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 6″ x 8″
Year: 2017

Notes:
1st day on the road, 2nd painting completed

I pulled off the highway here on my first day down the coast. The light was of the flat midday sort where the shadows are still hiding underneath their rocks staying cool in the heat of the sun, waiting till things cool off to come out again in the afternoon. I wanted to paint here but the light was not working for me yet. That said, the color of the water up the coast with the distant haze of the morning marine layer hovering was interesting enough so I settled on a quick small one, figuring it would be easy to just paint real quick and move on.

2 hours later, what am I doing? I’ve painted 16×20’s faster than this little 6×8.

Nothing is easy.

“The Usual Difficulties” $485

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $485
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Notes:

First day on this road trip, first painting completed.

I’ve driven past this dirt road for years, knowing that it was there, but a bit wary of taking my large sprinter van down it’s length, not wanting to get stuck in a situation where I’d need to reverse a half-mile of dirt road with no turnaround.

But it offers a such a great glimpse of a rather lost-in-time stretch of coast that I keep thinking one day I’ll just borrow someone’s truck and just go daytrip the thing. Why I haven’t done so yet is beyond me, but on this trip south I figured I’d take just a peek after scouting on the maps for a good turnaround for the van and seeing what looked like one only a half mile in.

It turned out to be a great spot with a real good view from a little knoll above the turnout. The morning light was crispy and lent a sense of urgency to the piece that I rather enjoy seeing in it now, though at the time I felt it a bit frantic.

Now that I’ve gotten a glimpse of this zone firsthand, perhaps I’ll be fired up to make the actual trip happen to go explore the length of it.

But alas, such is California’s coast that so often we peer down on these amazing zones with fun little waves from cliffs high above, yet with no way to access them beyond risking life and limb, and possibly even getting hurt.

This was no different. So inviting, so close, but so far away. Just the usual difficulties.

SDSFF 2017 Skip Frye Tribute: The Glider

This year the San Diego Surf Film Festival hosted a heartfelt tribute night to San Diego’s Skip Frye, who has been building beautiful boards and outsurfing everyone for over 50 years. The hall was packed with legends of the surfing world there to honor Skip with the SDSFF Lifetime Achievement Award. As each speaker stood to speak about Skip they would mention what an honor it was to honor such an inspiring individual. If they could have read the mind of the painter standing in the back of the hall busy crafting this visual tribute to Skip based on an old Ron Stoner photograph, they would have seen that there was nobody in the room that felt more unworthy of the honor of being there than him. Of all the amazing artists in San Diego, this fuzzy kid from Humboldt rolls down and is asked to perform his trade for the audience to admire, heckle, mock, or cheer (all of which happened in spades). Beyond stoked. This one was for Skip.

“After a Long, Dark Winter”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

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Field Notes:
After months of winter darkness soaking us all well and truly, we finally had a nice weekend of bright spring sun. And of coarse that would happen to be the one weekend I had booked on the calendar months ago to perform my live art nonstop at a weekend long music festival. This entire glorious weekend of sun would be spent indoors, having a great time and all, but still… indoors.

Nuts.

But then came Monday, it was all over, everyone was back to work, school, and all that and the sun was still with us for at least another morning by all appearances. Managed to sneak out and paint this one in the brightness of midday before the blue sky hazed over gray.

After a weekend of painting with nonstop live music, practically more as a form of dance than typical visual art, with nothing to reference but time, rhythm, and melody, it sure was refreshing to get back to earth for a spell. Thank you California, I love you.

“Off in the Distance” $432

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $432
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Field Notes:
We had some good sunny weather a few days ago, and I got it in my head that I’d go up to Trinidad, to the top of the headland there and paint the view looking north. I had the exact vantage point in my mind with vertical rock faces framing one side of the painting but deep atmospheric distance plummeting away up the coast on the other. It would take some scrambling to get all my gear to the little zone with the view, but nothing too problematic. Well… except for the wind. I was just so excited to see a clear sky forecast after all the rain, that I ran out without thinking of that pesky wind factor. Needless to say, it was a no go. Howling north winds were slamming full force into the promontory I wanted to perch upon. I figured since I live around here, I can always come back on a calmer day and kept going around the leeward side of the head to see what views were on offer on this winter afternoon.

I’d thought of doing a studio piece from this perspective years ago, I even have a file full of images taken with a zoom lens to get this unusual angle of one of my favorite surf zones. I never considered painting it in plein air as the entire frame of the composition is only about two finger widths at arms length due to the distance across Trinidad bay. Not a lot of visual information to work with, a rather flat atmosphere (again due to everything in the painting being a long distance away), and a really awkward compositional problem with no real foreground to work with made this one a bigger challenge than I had expected. I could have included some plants from the side of the trail I was on and peering over, but thought it would distract from this near aerial perspective, so instead I just hammed up the swell lines and foam trails in the water down there to give the eye a bit of enjoyment down there.

While I did have higher hopes for this one (I think I always do for all of them), I am pretty stoked to have come away with a different perspective of a familiar spot.

“NO RANCHO”

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

Notes:
Plein air from small boat

Yup. By boat. A lot of times I’ll set up to paint a spot that I just know has seen a steady stream of painters like myself over the years. Not this one. I wouldn’t be too surprised at all if this was the only painting ever completed on site right here.

I’m always stoked when the opportunity arises to paint from a different perspective. This one came with some pretty unique challenges, particularly the constant movement of the boat, even on a calm day. When I tried to put the brush here, it went there, and vice versa. Frustrating at times, but it seems to have given a certain life and movement to an otherwise quiet compostion.

What’s with the title? We pulled up to a buoy with stenciled letters around it that read NO RANCHO. Wondering for a second who or what Ranchos were, we figured either way we didn’t have any so we’d be good. Then as we came around it we saw the first R of Rancho dissappear and show up at the end of the word, like the first in a series of waves dies out only to rebuild at the back of the line. Ah yes, no anchor. Of course. Im sure our fearless captain piloting the vessel knew all along, but us Ranchos aren’t always the sharpest tools on the boat. And there you have it.

Big thanks to our captain (who shall remain anonymous in case word gets out that he brought a full on Rancho out to this spot) and also the folks at Save the Waves for facilitating this little voyage. You bet I’m donating back from thus one. Also thanks to Dramamine. That was awesome.

“Wedding Chapel in the Church of the Open Sky”

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

Notes:
My hosts on this road trip were hesitant to accept a painting from me as a gift for generously offering me a place to stay throughout my tour of this stretch of coast. I think our long friendship had them not feeling right about being paid for something that they would have offered freely anyway. But policy is policy, and hosts receive art whether they like it or not. The fact we’re long time friends just makes the exchange that much more enjoyable for me. But still, it’s hard to do one of these for someone when they won’t tell you where they want you to paint. So when I discovered the beach site where they were married through a conversation with a mutual friend, I knew what I had to do.  But holy moly, the wind did too. This was the only vantage point I could find where painting this location was feasible on this afternoon. The makeshift rock lined fire pit up against the leeward side of this cliff face speaks to me of hearth and home and the many fine conversations we shared in their current home sitting around their unlit wood stove as the weather never did call for an actual fire to be lit. Thanks you Anders and Stacy. Wishing you many more years of life and love together.

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