Archive | Art Notes

“Tide Falling”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
One of the most iconic waterfalls in all of California and one of only two year-round falls that land on the beach. This one used to land in the water, but a landslide deposited so much sediment up the coast that the gradual drift of currents built this beach where none previously existed.

I’ve heard stories of repeated rescues of tourists who get the wild idea to climb down to the beach here get stuck on the cliff face halfway down and have to get lifted, dragged, or otherwise hauled out.

I was cognizant of that as I edged around some fencing to a private perch of my own so as to paint this scene without disturbing anybody’s selfie backdrop, which is unfortunately what a scene like this is often reduced to in our age.

During my short time there I saw repeated groups of tourists go half-stomping/half-sliding through the brush and poison oak down the hill in search of some better view. I often thought to say something about the oak, but then figured the deed was already done, why ruin their moment?

This overcast daylight was fading fast and I had to work a little more frantic than usual to make this one happen, but I’m glad I stopped and made the effort. Even on a gray day, the color of that water stops you in your tracks.

“Some Things Money Just Can’t Buy” $694

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 24″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $694
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Notes:
Like most surfers who’ve visited the area, I’ve collected some great memories of this place over the years. I’d wondered about painting this rock outcropping overlooking the beach for a long time. The last time I drove through (years ago, prior to the landslide and bridge collapse), I scouted it for views, and somehow came away feeling like I couldn’t find an angle to paint it from. That could be because I don’t recall there being a developed trail here -it was all bushwack and poison-oak dodging back then. But still, kinda boggled my mind on returning and seeing how easy it was to stroll up to this scene that was practically served on a platter.

People walking by are usually quite friendly when they see a painter, sometimes overly so. This day was different. Maybe I smelled bad from car-dwelling, who knows? All I know is 5 out of the 6 groups that walked by while I painted here seemed utterly annoyed at my presence. I was baffled, but it was refreshing too, because it meant they didn’t want to stop and chat much.

One group in particular is worth mentioning. 4 guys, young, college age, or just out of college walk up and see me painting. They all have their phones out to take photos of the scene, taking turns walking up and shooting from right beside me, as if I was in the only spot with a view on this trail. Ok, whatever. But then they turn to leave and one of them walks back. He seemed friendly, and I thought it would be a typical out-in-the-field conversation- (How long you been painting? Is this your hobby? Do you sell these? Etc) But no. He explains that he went to design school and seeing me paint reminds him of a cartoon he saw where a photographer walked up to a painter at work and held up his camera, pointed in the direction of the artist’s subject (at the same time he pointed his cell phone at the scene I was painting) and pressed click (at which point he took a photo) and turned to me and said “Done.”  Then he turned and walked away in a mic drop sorta way. I hope he didn’t pay too much for his “education” there.

“If These Walls Could Speak”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2018

Notes:
It’s a busy spot. I wanted to paint from a higher vantage up on the new bike path, but due to the narrowness of the space I thought better of setting up there and having to suffer the wrath of irate spandex bikers- an easily annoyed species if there ever was one.

I ended up down below and this little driftwood shack ( a satellite shack from a much more complex and heavily used complex of impromptu structures) made for a nice contrast to the beachfront homes that line the shore here.

Then there’s the point itself, it was a small day, but not hard to recall better days with the walls wrapping down the point in a mesmerizing and machine like fashion.

The things these walls have seen. All of them. The stories could fill volumes.

They won’t be told here.

The walls themselves are the only story I saw today.

Oh and the squirrel that nabbed my trail mix from my bag… and the very oddly placed cooler full of Coronas that was set next to the driver door of my van when I returned. Was that intentional? No other cars in the lot. I figured if they were left accidentally, someone might return for them and be bummed to find them gone so I left them where they lie. But still… a nice gesture if it was meant to be one.

“Time Waits for No Man… And Neither Does the Boat” $586

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $586
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Notes:
I’ve heard it said that “time waits for no man”, well… neither does the boat.

It was a pretty rushed scramble taking on this scene just before the boat was to depart for home. I was half-tempted to “miss the boat” just to stay a bit longer, but thought better of it.

When I started this painting of the entire scene before me, I may have bit off a bit more than I could chew in such a short time and wasn’t able to quite finish this one on location, but a bit of studio work at home from memory and I think it conveys the place pretty well.  

They say visiting these shores is like going back in time, to an older California… well, there you have it.

“Moonlit Echoes” $451

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $451
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Notes:
5th painting completed today… well sorta today. Technically I only did four during the daylight hours but then snuck this one in the late hours of night.

The moonlight falling on the crushed gravel paths made walking the trails at night a beautiful experience. The reflective white surface of the path glowed in comparison to the grass on either side. The old building here are relics from the previous era of sheep and cattle ranching- of which the cumulative effects on the islands native species and coastal topographies are still being studied today.

In the daytime it gets apparent pretty quickly that these old buildings are no longer used, but in the quiet of night it’s somehow easier to imagine them resting from the noisy activity of a long day’s work, only to rise at first light and go about it all over again. Each clanking chain blown in the wind creates another echo from a not so distant past.

In reality though, the sun has set for good on these operations. These moonlit echoes are a reminder that each day has its own dawn and its own sunset. But the moon comes and goes as it pleases

“Torrey Pine Sentinel” $566

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $566
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Notes:
When most folks hear the words “Torrey Pines” they think as much about a rare variety of pine tree as they do a very specific location in San Diego- the state park named for the tree and often touted as the only place in the world where these trees grow.

But don’t worry, I’m not naming locations here, this is nowhere near San Diego, and just happens to be the only other place on earth where these pines are found.

I had hoped to march further up the hill and get a more expansive view of this grove, but sometimes when I see a painting before me, it’s hard to pass up. Especially if the day is getting late and I still have a 3 mile hike ahead of me. In this case I was battling a sense of urgency and perhaps over rushed this one. I had been out on the hills in the late afternoon the day before and really enjoyed the way the sun set behind them but still illuminated the flat alluvial plains that sweep out and form this long crescent bay. I went after it a bit prematurely, anticipating the changing light shift to come, but it wouldn’t happen for another hour or so after I was done with my shift standing watch beside this old Torrey Pine sentinel.

Some plein air paintings are created by reacting to the moment, but sometimes they are a reaction to a memory as well. That was this one.

“Our Farther” $611

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $611
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Notes:
I usually grumble about my heavy pack whenever I have to hike more than a mile. This turned out to be a six mile round trip to make this painting happen. But I could not complain about the heavy pack this time. My hiking companions on this morning sunrise walk were a couple of scientist fellows intent on monitoring frogs on the far side of this island, which somehow required them to carry a massive metal post and post-driver. (I’m no scientist, so don’t ask me). I guess we all have our crosses to bear, but theirs was definitely heavier today. And they were traveling twice as far. I made it back to our cabin with time for a dip in the ocean and another quick painting before dinner. We didn’t see them back until several hours after dark.

Along the way this morning, I kept seeing plenty of places to stop and paint, but something kept driving me farther along the path.

I think it was simply the desire to go farther itself. There’s something about spending yourself to get out there off the beaten paths and be alone on the face of a wild earth that gets in your blood.

The scientists and I approach this place from completely different angles, but we have a lot of common ground as well, it’s just a bit farther out.

“We Must Keep Our Eyes Open”

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
We must keep our eyes open. First two syllables: We-muh. Wordplay for the name of the tribe that lived here for thousands of years before they were scooped up and sent away to make room for sheep and cattle and now a national park.

The opportunity to come visit this place was part of a program through CSUCI that brings students here to study this unique natural environment. This trip was designed with an emphasis on “seeing the landscape”.

That’s my bread and butter. Happy to join these wide-eyed kids who get excited about the announcement of an “ethnobotany hike” in 30 minutes.

I lasted about 20 minutes on the educational hike and then my need to see the landscape from the top of this hill won out and they sent me on my way.

What a joy to set up an easel and paint on this hill, where not many feet travel, and even fewer easels get dragged up and put to use.

Life is hard to predict, so keeping my eyes open, I know this opportunity may not come again. How thankful I am to be here today. And this is what I saw…

“The Gambler’s Fallacy”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
One of California’s prized state parks. I arrived early, knowing the park fills up to capacity nearly every day with a line of cars waiting to enter. I’d made it on time, but my van was too long. Denied.

I had a long way to drive that day, and a boat to catch tomorrow that I could not, and would not, miss. But I’m here now, and there’s parking on the road. A 2.5 mile hike would swallow a fair bit of time, as would the painting itself. I gambled it and hoped for the best.

A frantic fast-paced hike across the entire length of the park, heading straight for a zone I thought would be ideal, but when I arrived, I found that due to heavy foot traffic, every piece of trail in this park is roped off with steel cables and the rangers mean business. No big deal for a photographer to hop over and get the shot, but for a 3 hour post out on a rock in plain view was a bit more than I was willing to wager. I’d follow the trail along the entire northern perimeter of the park and find a suitable view from the trail itself. Given the natural beauty, I liked those odds better.

3.5 miles round trip for this one. But my gamble was nothing compared to the one-time owner of this land who gambled it away to a troop of soldiers in one failed hand of cards. At least I got a painting out of my gamble, and a pretty good workout as well.  Oh, and I did not miss the boat either…

“Pure and Simple” $591

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2018

Price: $591
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Notes:
One of my favorite things is finding a new trail to access a piece of coast I haven’t seen before. I’d seen some newer trailheads on a previous trip and made a mental note to return when the opportunity arose. Today it arose because the surf was no good but the weather was nice, a great day to go paint and I happened to be in the area. I’d looked up the trail on a map and saw that it ran for miles on the edge of the coastal bluff, fields of artichokes on one side, the deep blue sea on the other. A pure and simple distillation of the essence of this coastline.  I was disappointed to find the trail closed on weekdays. Nuts! I’m sure they have a fine reason for this, but it boggled my mind. Fortunately, it wasn’t closed at the road, but all the way down by the ocean. The view from the locked gate was nice… but it was a little nicer just a little further.

“Keep Out: Side B”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 24″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Notes:
Painted from the deck of a small cottage on a controversial stretch of beach. A billionaire bought this land from a rancher a few years ago. Lots of folks live in these cottages that have been here for decades, and lots more have enjoyed this beach for generations. In recent times the new landowner has engaged with the state of California in a battle that is pitting the public’s historical coastal access rights against more general individual private property rights. Nobody knows just where it will all end up once the dust settles. The folks that rent these cottages are caught in the middle of it all. They love this place and have called it their home, or getaway home, for years. Before the new owner arrived and the controversy began, this place was quiet as could be. Even though lots of folks enjoyed this beach for years, they did so as a slow and quiet trickle of visitors.  It’s off the highway, hidden from view, the surf is mediocre at best (despite how it’s depicted in these paintings). All of this suited everyone just fine. Once the recent hullabaloo put the place on the wider public radar, it’s seen a constant stream of visitors, and a LOT more surfers. Even the bad days seem to have a few people out now, where the good days often went unridden before. My friend who’s owned this beach cottage for 15 years has watched it all go down. He’d like to stay as long as he can and I don’t blame him. But then again, the next day I stayed with an old friend down the coast who’s grandfather used to take his dad here to go fishing- quite possibly before the billionaire was even born. All that aside, it’s a beautiful place. I actually painted two views from this deck, looking both ways…

“A Wide Range” $454

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2018

Price: $454
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Notes:
The 4th painting of a long day spent in solitude, hunting views and painting in one of the most beautiful parts of California I can think of. I’ve driven past this little ranch nestled along a finger of this estuary and always thought it would make a nice painting. The sun was already starting to set when I pulled over, but I don’t make it out this way too often and thought it was a good opportunity to take a crack at it. I had to work fast in the fading light. Watching the wide range of evening colors fall on the expansive landscape before me was a joy, the trouble was trying not to be tempted to chase them all and end up with an utterly confused painting. I went with the pre sunset warm glow illuminating the scene from directly behind me casting it’s soft shadowless light on all the eye could see (and the hand could paint).

“Nova Albion” $861

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $861
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Notes:
I could see this painting, or something much like it, long before arriving. Just looking at this place on a map reveals a tantalizing thin finger of land extending out to the shelter of a sweeping bay- the roaring Pacific one one side and calm waters on the other. That sort of thing gets me fired up, and why not? There’s not many places one can stand in California and get this two-sided dynamic in one frame.

This bay is the site where an english explorer first claimed this land for England over 400 years ago, dubbing it Nova Albion- latin for “New England”. This was before that term had come into use for the Northeastern United States. England never followed up on the claim though, and Spain continued it’s expanding rule of the region they called Alta California. Nova Albion would be lost except to the history books, and a few old maps.

This painting could have also been lost had I not used every ounce of weight in my pack to keep my easel anchored in the howling wind on this exposed headland.

“Her New Road”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
I imagine it was only a seasonal closure, something about nesting birds on the sand dunes, but it rattled my whole game plan. This isn’t a place one just passes through on the way down the coast, you have to really make the effort to get off the beaten path to find yourself out here. Once you do, especially if it’s on a quiet weekday, it’s one of the most amazing places in California. But even so, if your whole plan was to march up on to the dunes to capture the beach scene here for a dear friend from your youth, it’s a bit frustrating to be met with signs and fencing marking everything off limits except the parking lot and the beach itself. I like to be outside of a place and looking at it from a decent distance when I paint a location, so sitting on the beach wouldn’t cut it. I found the only vantage point that offered a distant perspective was from the side of the freshly paved road that led to the beach here. As I took in the scene I realized the road was boldly part of the landscape and it gave me a moment to reflect on the different roads we take in life. Hers and mine parted many years ago. This was her new road. I’d never been here before, and probably wouldn’t have come at all if she hadn’t asked me to. Realizing this, I made it part of the painting on this beautiful morning.

Later that night, I’d end up sleeping in the van illegally in this carpark at the end of the road. Restless at one point in the early evening, I got up and walked this road by starlight. The wide road providing an easy stroll in the dim light as the night mists hung over the low vegetation on either side. Not a soul around. Just a painter alone with his thoughts, passing through in the night, and gone again at first light.

“The Light at the End”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Notes:
I’m here to paint the coast, but I can’t see the coast on account of thick fog. Just back from the coast it’s clear enough to see through this tunnel of Cypress trees. Behind me there is blue sky and it’s early in the day- a good sign.

Even though the fog gets thicker before finally lifting, at one point causing large drops to fall from the branches scooping it from the air overhead, the view down this tunnel remained fairly constant for the hour or so that I stood and painted it.

The light at the end of the tunnel was a constant reminder to keep hope alive that the sun would prevail over this foggy haze and I would indeed so the ocean today.

Post edit:  I did indeed see the ocean, the fog burned off and this ended up being the first of four paintings I’d complete in the area today. And possibly my favorite…

Art for a Good Cause: A Collab with Jeff “Doc” Lausch

September 07, 2018
By Matt Beard
Surfboards on Parade 2018:
Final Auction: October 07, 2018

Lots of scattered thoughts on this one, not sure how to tie it all together… bear with me.

I’ve been surfing nearly all of my life, and painting nearly even longer. Back in 2011/2012 I had the idea to invite some of my favorite artists to team up with shapers and create unique art boards and sell or auction them to benefit SurfAid International. We called it the Board Art Benefit and to be honest it was really just a bit of a scheme to have some fun but we ended up raising over $30,000 for SurfAid by the time the dust settled. I was also an unlikely culprit to spearhead such an event, being that I’ve only painted a handful of boards in my life and prefer my boards to have no art on them. I truly see the surfboard as functional art already and when used for its highest purpose it is immersed in Creation itself and needs no further adornment.

After we concluded the Board Art Benefit, I was done with organizing artists. We’re nuts, in a good way of course, but still I was a  little burned out from all the work and effort. But I wasn’t done with using my art to raise money for nonprofits and great causes. I went on from that experience to launch AidCurrent (aidcurrent.com), an experimental online tool designed to track an artist’s fundraising efforts. Since I began using it in 2013, I’ve seen my art raise over $44,500 for over 70 different nonprofits.

When Surfboards on Parade began it was exciting to see someone taking the idea of surfboard art for a good cause to the next level. Many of the original artists and shapers from the Board Art Benefit were recruited from the start and produced amazing pieces for the event. In fact if you scroll their facebook photo feed, you’ll see the third photo they posted was actually a cropped flyer for the Board Art Benefit showing the original boards we made for our event. (Linky:https://www.facebook.com/441816709261122/photos/a.450305098412283/450304915078968/?type=3&theater) I wasn’t asked to do a board at the time, but I was still proud to see the work going forward.

As the first Surfboards on Parade event unfolded, raising money to support Hoags’ Hospital Cancer Institute to further education and research for skin cancer, my sister was losing the final battle of her ten year war with skin cancer. We buried her body in Long Beach, CA not far from Huntington Beach where Surfboards on Parade took place.

Did I mention I grew up in Long Beach? The early years of my surfing life took root all over Orange County, from Seal Beach, to Huntington, to Newport, and beyond. I’d go wherever my older brother wanted to go. Surfside Jetty mostly. Or I’d lie to my folks and tell them I was riding my bike to the beach with a friend in order to go alone and find my own peak on the miles of empty stretches between the focal points of the piers and jetties and parking lots. This is where I fell in love with surfing marginal waves in total solitude.

No wonder then, that when I was 18 I went off to school as far from the metropolii of LA and Orange Counties, and fled north to the remote northern coast of Humboldt which is where I reside to this day. Since moving north 25 years ago I’ve pursued my path as an artist relentlessly and regular travels across the entire length of the state eventually became the foundation for my life’s work, painting the entire California coastline, from border to border.  At this point, I’ve painted over 500 paintings of the state’s coast with an average of less than 2 miles between each painting. A life of looking around the next bend in the coast for surf has led to a life of painting every bend in the coast that I can. California is my home. It’s what I know. So it’s also what I paint.

When I was asked this year to paint a board for Surfboards on Parade, it meant a lot to me on several levels. First, it meant the most to me to have this opportunity to honor my sister and use my art to battle the beast called cancer that stole her (and countless others) away from us far too soon. Secondly, for all the shows and events I’ve been part of all over California, this would be a homecoming of sorts- the first major show I’ve been part of along the stretch of coast that shaped my early surfing life. And thirdly, with my background organizing an event that was in many ways a precursor to Surfboards on Parade, returning as a participant is a true honor.

The next question after being asked to participate was what shaper would I work with. I have a tremendous respect for the art of shaping, and like I mentioned earlier I truly don’t think a surfboard needs “art” on it, it’s already a complete work of art. That said, this event was about painting a board so finding the right shaper to collaborate with was important. If I was going to paint a board, maybe only the 4th I’ve ever done (and possibly the last, who knows?), I knew I didn’t want to just paint any old board. I wanted to find a shaper who I could connect with and pursue a vision together.

I chose Jeff “Doc” Lausch to work with for a few reasons. He had done a board in our Board Art Benefit years ago with a different artist and I always appreciated that. But mostly I knew I wanted to work with a Huntington area shaper, and for years my brother ordered boards from him and we’d see him in the water from time to time so there was a personal connection as well. On top of that, he’s a true artist and had even done a board in the past for Surfboards on Parade as a shaper AND artist. Say no more. I was stoked to hear he was willing to work with me.

I wanted this board to be an homage to California, my home. I chose artwork that would epitomize two classic California elements: poppies, and pointbreaks. And since this year’s Surfboards on Parade event was being held in conjunction with the Surfing Walk of Fame, I compiled a list of previous inductees that were from California, and printed their names directly on the fiberglass that the board was glassed with before I painted it in order to highlight this state’s contribution to the sport and culture of surfing.

After the painting was completed the board was returned to Doc for a gloss coast, pin lines, and a hand-made glassed-on fin. The finished piece is ready to be ridden, and I hope it will be at least once. After all it’s a fully functional work of art already… it just happens to have a paint job under the glass.

 

 

 

 

 

“Sarah’s Lemonade” $835

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $835
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Notes:

I scour the coast looking for views like this. They don’t always reveal themselves right away. This one took years of following hunches and calculating the risks of trespassing on these multi-million dollar properties. If they can afford real estate here, they might have other homes elsewhere as well, so what are the odds of them even being home at all, right? Besides, even if they were home, if she caught you painting on or near her property, she might just invite you in for a cold glass of lemonade and give you a tour of her house on the hill while showing you the paintings she’s made which adorn her walls.

I have to admit I was hoping for a stronger drink after a long day painting in the heat, but a cold glass of lemonade is nothing to scoff at.

Thank you, Sarah. It was great to meet you and your family. I think you’re really going to love painting in “plein air”. I look forward to painting with you from your front deck with an even-better view one of these days.  I hope your trip to Italy is simply marvelous.

“Vaudevillian Cartoon”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
Vaudeville [vôd(ə)ˌvil] noun. a theatrical genre of variety entertainment, typically made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill.

Act one: The rugged beauty of a pristine corner of California’s coast.

Act two: Tourists peering out from beneath beach umbrellas while shouting a their kids and inadvertently feeding seagulls who are smart enough to know a distracted parent when they see one.

Act three: Perpetual novice surfers who have all the time in the world to learn to surf, owing to wealth generated from any means other than actual work, but who just bob and paddle around as the wind of their joyously clueless whims blows them.

Act four: A testosterone-fueled circus act where the slightly more experienced surfers demonstrate their skill level by insisting on sitting and taking off closer to the rock than you and thereby botching 4 out of  every 5 set waves.

Enjoy the show.

“One Last Chance”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
I’ve wanted to paint this one for a long time. Not sure why it took so long, but it was fun to finally take the time to make it happen. It’s not a place I’ve spent a whole lot of time at, but I’ve driven past it dozens of times and made a few memories here and there. Everytime I see this place I remember one of the first times I was here, over 20 years ago. I was maybe 21 years old, just a kid really. I wound up staying in a hostel tucked away just at the bottom of this hill. I arrived at the last light of day and was looking forward to getting up early and enjoying some of the small clean waves I saw out front before heading on to wherever I was going the next day. At first light I awoke and slowly, quietly, gathered my belongings and softly made my way to the door so as not to disturb the other travelers still soundly sleeping. Well, all but one. She was at the door before me, perplexed and fumbling with the handle. In hushed tones she explained to me the door was locked, with no way to unlock it without a key, which was not to be found. Really? Together we strategized the finest plan ever put into action. Running out of options, it was likely our One Last Chance to break free. We did what we had to do.  We climbed out the window. I know you were hoping for something more dramatic, but what can I say? That’s all there was to it. After a quick embrace, like captives about to go our separate ways after a daring jailbreak, we parted into the misty morning. The waves did not disappoint and to this day I have not seen it as good since. But still I always look forward to seeing it again, and marvel at the hostel that locked it’s visitors in at night.

“California’s Dream”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

This is what the California Coast dreams about while she’s sleeping in during the May Gray/June Gloom…

She sees a distant marine layer and no other clouds in the bright clear sky. She sees the shade of an old Eucalyptus. The tree itself both invasive, and beautiful, and loved – a rare combination. Indeed, she is saddened by the thought of life without the mighty twisted Eucalyptus growing from her earth and part of her hopes it never comes to pass.

She sees the memories of her adolescence, the old rail, the lifeline that connected her various towns and settlements when she was just coming of age and didn’t know the difference between a scoundrel and a gentleman.

She sees the running barbed wire fence placed to keep the cattle in place, another reminder of her adolescence when shots fired from a rider on horseback could signal fear, or theft, or love, or life, or all of them at once.

She sees a couple of painters standing over this vista scribbling away at their canvas, while sipping cold beers as a herd of cattle is moved down the road behind them.

In a moment of lucidity, she wakes within her dream to wonder what it means. She asks a man who smiles beside an old faithful Toyota truck and offers her a beer as well. It is then she hears the answer coming from the open cab of the truck and spoken to the wind through the crackling voice of a young Bob Dylan.

“From the Grave to the Cradle” $985

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $985
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:
A funny thing about life, that you don’t really ever consider the miracle of your birth until you’ve truly reckoned with the reality of your impending death. Standing here, two feet planted firmly on the path to the cemetery (let the reader understand), this is the first time I ever laid my eyes upon the moment of conception (again, let the ready understand). When confronted with metaphor of this proportion there is no need of a horizon line, that usual separator of the known and unknown is no longer relevant when faced with this stark reality. There is nothing really to do now but just stand here and look back at your life and face the rushing wind as it hollows out the spaces in your soul that turned to stone while you were busy dreaming of the points in between the Grave and the Cradle.

“Endangered Spaces”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

It had been a long time since I’d explored these trails. I don’t recall them being quite so constricting. I was looking forward to spending the day out here, associating the open space with solitude and quiet freedom. A relaxing day, maybe find a little nook in the sandstone with a view and some shade. But it was not to be. This was a far busier place than I’d expected. Constant streams of visitors flowing over the clearly marked paths, some of them park volunteers with the authority to smack you with a fine for the slightest violation or stepping off the path. But I do understand the need to regulate the space. The sheer volume of human foot traffic here would be a disaster without regulation. These cliffs erode at the slightest suggestion and the hardy coastal scrub can only handle so much trampling before giving way to bare dirt and accelerating the already alarming pace of erosion.

The irony is the folks coming here to find solitude in nature are finding beauty, but that beauty is surrounded with more restrictions than an average shopping mall. Fitting then that this painting location featured a steady stream of teenage girls taking selfies, having me take their selfies, talking about their selfies, good grief… where is the food court already? Oh wait that’s right, no food allowed here. Really. It’s a rule I found out later. One group of girls sat on a nearby bench talking for almost an hour weaving a conversation of spanish and english and laughter. As this painting neared completion one of them became very excited, “Oh my gosh, this was sooooo amazing watching you. I’ve never seen anyone, you know, paint, like, what they see, you know? I don’t know, it just makes me feel soooo calm, you know?”  I do know, and it does make one feel calm, but I am very glad she noticed and thought it was pretty cool that she’ll see art differently from this day forward…

“Walking a Fine Line”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

My work takes me to remote locations way off the beaten paths, other times it sends me right into the most crowded shoulder to shoulder tourist zones you can find. If this particular state park is as serious about keeping folks on the trails and preventing erosion as they say they are, its only a matter of time before these trails are replaced with a fixed raised boardwalk to prevent a foot from ever falling on the fragile earth. But I digress… back to this day… Due to the high volume of traffic arriving at the overlook, I thought it would make sense to not set up in the small area, often crowded with visitors jostling for a view, so I set up just outside the railing, standing on the concrete footing the park had poured around the fencing, not tromping around, no harm, no foul, and everyone had a great view. After about 30 minutes I was approached by a park volunteer who threatened a $400 fine right off the bat for my standing outside the railing. No conversation whatsoever, just apparently thrilled to have a reason to exercise his authority, but I don’t get it. I’m on the team! I’m with you, not against you, man! Look where I’m awkwardly standing to avoid any appearance of tromping around out here? No? No. Ok, I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself and relocate my whole apparatus. Thanks. No, I don’t want your help.  Later up at the car, I’m enjoying a beer on my tailgate as is my custom after a long day painting in the sun nearly everywhere when a lifeguard truck rolls by, clearly eyeing my van. I quickly replace the beer with a water bottle and chat with him as he informs me casually that technically no food or drink is allowed in the park. I offer him some chips and salsa. After he leaves, a park ranger truck pulls into the now nearly empty lot and sits idling just 20 feet away directly facing me. Not moving, not taking notes, just full on mad-dog staring me down. What have the people done here to make this place so insane? It’s beautiful, but it’s like walking on a razor’s edge trying not land on the wrong side of another rule or regulation or just an old-fashioned imbalance of power. Think I’ll go now. All this nature is stressing me out.

“Succulents, Rust, and Enlightenment”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

No matter what our goals in life, if they are worth pursuing, there are barriers set in our paths that can hinder or prevent us from attaining them. Bear with me while I get symbolic here, I don’t do this very often, but in hindsight this painting practically demands it…

The first barrier is represented by the cactus. It is a natural barrier, bursting forth from the dry earth on its own accord. We tend to go around it rather than through it, and for good reason. This is the barrier of our natural limitations, our bodies, our hunger, our strengths, our weaknesses.

The second barrier is the rusty barbed wire fence. Designed to keep us in place, we might look for a gap in the fence, but much like the cactus, we don’t mess with the barbed wire. Tetanus is no fun. This is the barrier the world sets before us. It’s not a natural thing, it’s the stuff we create as humans, money, jobs, status, etc. These things can all derail us from the desires that have been placed on our hearts that define who we truly are.

And now for enlightenment, although I may not be going where you think with this. The house on the hill here belongs to a Self Realization Fellowship. These folks have enlightenment on speed dial. Good for them, but that is no virtue in my book. In fact they are the ones that put up the damned fence in the first place. Too much enlightenment seeking can ruin a man.

Each of these can be a hindrance to a life well lived, tread carefully and get after what matters. You’ll know it when you find it. Cheers.

“Guns and Flowers” $820

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $820
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Notes:

A brief stopping point in the middle of one of California’s Coastal military bases. Access is difficult in these zones so I resorted to painting from a roadside viewpoint, just a quick row of parking spots for travelers to pull off the highway and snap a photo or two of the sunset, or themselves, or both. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to explore, just a narrow fenced in strip around the perimeter of the carpark. I contemplated painting the cars themselves and thought better of it as this place is really for me defined by the open space carved out for military purposes and not so much a civilian destination. Miles of rolling hills, many now alight with blooming mustard flowers of spring, have been left in a more or less natural state here, free from the certain development that would cover this prime coastal real estate with just so much of the same as everywhere else, and for this, I salute our armed forces. Speaking of the military, those helicopters are loud. The first 45 minutes were fairly quiet while painting, but then came the thundering skybirds in steady and rapid succession for the remainder of the session. I had the distinct sense they had noticed what appeared to be a very curious hobo lurking near the carpark with an odd array of equipment strewn about the ground around him. I’m never quite sure how my program looks to an outside observer, especially from the air. But either way, I could see them staring out as they circled periodically. I waved a few times, but never saw my gesture returned. It’s quite possible, and highly likely they were just doing their flight practice and training completely oblivious to me down below, but either way I was glad of their presence, as it gave me ample opportunity to observe their hovering forms in the sky and sneak one into this painting of an otherwise idyllic pre-development scene of coastal southern California.

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