Archive | Paintings

“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” $857

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

Price: $857
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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.

“Car Trouble” $465

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

Price: $465
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Notes:
I seem to remember several occasions over the last 20 years where my van wouldn’t start after a surf here. Probably because it was just an old Volkswagon and that’s kinda how they work. It was as good a place as any for the old van since the road makes a gentle descent to beach level just past the little carpark on the top of the bluff. It was never hard to get it pointed down the hill and pop the clutch to get it going. The day I painted this one, in my fancy big sprinter van, I noticed a foul smell just before arriving. I had hoped it was another car on the road, but it followed me a little longer than I’d liked. Just as I pulled up I saw the old Check Engine Light on the dash. Nuts. Ah well, let’s hope it’s nothing major. At any rate, nothing to do about here anyway, may as well paint the place.

“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
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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.

“Almost Home” $960

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

Price: $960
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Notes:

I haven’t spent much time on this stretch of coast, but the short windows I’ve been blessed with have been spectacular immersions into one of the most well-preserved portions of an older California still remaining.

Some folks call this place their home. This is the view they see coming home every time they leave and return.

When I see this scene playing out before my eyes, I realize I must have left a bit of my heart out here on a previous trip. Everything about this place speaks to me of coming home- the deep canyon, the old rail trestle, the scattered eucalyptus, the naturally smooth diatomaceous shale cliff faces, all overlooking a vision of a finely foiled California point break.

I sometimes call the entire California Coast my home, and if the whole coast were a magnificent house on a hill, this is the entryway to it’s Great Room, it’s focal point, where all of the architectural nuances used to great affect elsewhere culminate to a sublimely perfect crescendo of the Architect’s true genius.

It’s not likely that I’ll ever live here in the normal sense, but still, when I consider this scene, I feel I am Almost Home.

“Dielectric Union”

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

Notes:

The dielectric union is a fitting designed to connect galvanized and copper water pipes. Without this specialized connector, the flowing water would create a subtle electric current around the joint, something to do with the different types of metals, I cannot explain just what, but the end result is that the pipes would quickly corrode at the joint.

It’s a fine metaphor for this whole little micro-region- a mostly laidback and welcoming sort of wealth culture with a mindset that yearns for deeper roots seems to be just the specialized buffer needed between the galvanized working class communities to the north, and the fancy copper neo-coastal ritz to the south. Folks from either culture can find themselves at home here. At least that’s my take as an occasional outside observer. Plus they have great pizza and donuts. I can hang here happily myself when the opportunity arises.

It’s also a fine metaphor for a strong marriage, the healthy relationship required to keep two different and unique souls together without bursting at the joint. So I found it appropriate to paint this one for a married couple who met here years ago, right down this very path.   

“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.

“The Way it Was”

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

Notes:

I was on assignment here, asked to paint this iconic Southern California headland The Way it Was before the highway and houses came along,  without any signs of human presence. It would require some careful editing of the developed landscape. Speaking of careful handling of the landscape, it would also require some careful stepping through a plant rehabilitation zone WAY off the main trails. I would ordinarily avoid such questionable practices, but when the state park folks decide inexplicably to lace the entire hillside with trails and NONE of them lead to the rim of the bluffs that overlook this white-sand beach and scenic headland I can only scratch my head in wonder. Give the people a trail and they may well stay on it if you ask them too, but take away the trail and you’ll fight a losing battle with the masses intent on finding their own path to the view. I try to be good really, I do. It was quite a tip toe, avoiding stepping on any sign of life as I picked my way through the scrub and out onto the rim, finding a nice clearing between some high shrubs that would conceal me nicely from the eyes of all, especially the eyes of the rangers, and double especially the eyes of the ranger that I had just asked about which trails would lead to a good view of the headland. I knew right then, that something was up because of her awkward uncertainty. Really? You’re a park ranger and you can’t tell me with conviction where the best views can be found in your park? Get out. I’ll find it myself. With or without a trail, thank you very much. And that’s what I did… not to make anything more or less of it, it’s just The Way it Was that day.

“Drip Castles” (Thinking of Chris Lundy)

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 24″ x 18″
Year: 2017

Notes:
I was scheduled to do some live art today at a local event here in Humboldt, a culinary event celebrating… well, Spam, of all things… but also with some live music so I figured I’d zone out, angle for some free beers (which were kindly provided) and figure something out as I went. Shortly before heading out the door, I learned of the passing of one of the greatest surfing artists of all time, Chris Lundy.

I never met the man, Chris Lundy, but I’ve been met by his art many times over the years. It’s an experience. It rushes up to meet you face to face with a spray of salt and mist. Electrifying, and dazzling, somewhat disorienting. Like a seriously complex jazz number made of water frozen in some off-beat time signature that only the great jazz minds can comprehend.

I’m on the outside of this jam session. A good old punk rock 4/4 guy standing in the back of the hall, admiring the real magicians who can play along to this strange melody- artists like my friend Spencer Reynolds, who seems to have studied the genius of Chris Lundy’s songs and internalized their syncopated rhythms. He’s one of the only artists I know of, who could jump into a Lundy performance and play along, adding to the song in his own way, without distracting from it all.

It’s appropriate then that as I painted this piece thinking of Chris Lundy, praying comfort for his family and friends in their time of loss, that this personal meditation on his visual music contains distinct undertones of the work of my friend Spencer Reynolds. Not that this painting of a wave cracking on a white sand beach in a slightly different dimension does either of their work justice, its just a sort of personal homage to two amazing artists, one of them gone from us too soon. The other is only in Oregon.

Look them both up if you aren’t familiar. You won’t regret it.

 

“Who’d a Thunk?”

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

Notes:

After months of working on a book project and endless late nights preparing for an online pre-sale campaign, the business side of the art life was getting to me. I needed a break.The forecast was favorable so off I went to reconnect with the real world for a surf and a paint session on my own without any thoughts of business. Checking the campaign right before leaving, I saw that there were 176 backers who had pledged a total of $17,706 which just happened to be 176% of the total amount I was shooting for in this US only presale campaign.  Hooray for the USA, 1776, freedom and all that! Let’s go! Who’d a thunk that I’d be at this point just 5 days from launching this 32 day campaign.

This country’s history has never been a smooth one, though, and this day was no different. I embraced the freedom the day offered and found it was a different sort of freedom than expected. It was the freedom to flounder around indecisively between breaks, nitpicking the tide and wind, finally skipping a surf altogether to just get some painting done, only to be faced with an interview with two very nice young ladies who had a lot of questions about art which I was happy to answer, but kept me so distracted that by the time they wandered off I was ready to throw the painting off the cliff and go home, but I didn’t because I was also free to push through and bring it to a better state, which I think I did, and you’d agree if you could’ve seen it before I pushed it through, which took a lot longer than I’d hoped, which left me completely free to realize that as I was muttering at this painting in the bushes here, just behind and to my right the tide has switched and some fun waves were being had and at the same time I was realizing this I also realized it was packed with the crowds that always show up at peak low tide here and I missed my favorite pre-crowd window, which left me completely free to chat with a few friends and just call it a day.

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