Archive | Plein Air

“Marine Layers”

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

Notes:
Painted for a friend, but the weather was not my friend today. I made the most of it, and I’m real happy with the light drama that developed, but I’m not sure this was the beautiful day that he and his wife had in mind, so I just quietly rolled through town, did the painting and moved on. I hope he at least digs it as a deposit until I can do the painting he really wants at a later date.

In the meantime, I was mostly disappointed as I was really hoping to get in the water and ride a few waves, but it was not to be today. Surf was pretty bad (I lied in the painting), but on the bright side, another friend in town showed up with a giant sandwich for a quick lunchbreak on the side of the road. That doesn’t happen everyday and it was delicious.

Thanks Mike.

And Mike.

“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”

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

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” | Miles Hiked: 0.6

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018
Miles Hiked: 0.6

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.

“The North Shore” | Miles Hiked: 4.4

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018
Miles Hiked: 4.4

Notes:
After two days of painting one stretch of coast in this off-the-beaten-path outpost of California, I was eager to see a different part of it before leaving later this day. It would require 2.5 mile hike, while carrying a ton of art supplies up and over the low hills without a soul in sight to bring me to a completely different shoreline, facing nearly due north- an unusual arrangement on California’s coast.

I knew there were waves down below, but the trail remained steadfastly set back from the water, leaving only the unbroken lines of swell visible. Though I had not seen anyone out here, I did see a park ranger’s truck nearby at an old cattle gate. I assumed they might be out here somewhere.

What to do? Go off trail and find the view of breaking waves that I knew would await, but risk a good talking-to for my transgression if I was caught?  Or be good, and paint the nice view from the trail further up?

I really enjoyed painting these waves. Nothing spectacular, but the wind stayed light and the yellow bloom of succulents on this typically wind-swept hillside was pure joy to take in, and paint. Plus I was far enough down the hill that I don’t think anyone could have found me even if they tried.

I tread as lightly as possible and hope the beauty it shares with you offsets the trouble I may have caused to the fragile landscape. Besides, I weigh much less than a cow, and didn’t eat a single plant along the way, so there is that…

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