Archive | Plein Air

“Motel California”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:

This is not a motel, nor is it painted from one, but on a map it shows this zone as the Motel District, so I went with it. On a personal note, that’s my wife and youngest daughter holding hands at the tide line, my son with a boogie board, and my oldest standing on the rock watching.  I really wanted to get down there and join them, but by the time I was finished they got cold and were ready to leave. Ah well, gotta work sometimes I guess.

“Hallowed Ground”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:

William Wendt is widely considered one of the founding fathers of California Impressionism, a distinct school of impressionist art forged in the California landscape back in the early 1900’s. One of Wendt’s most iconic paintings is called What Nature’s God Hath Wrought and features a boldly centralized view of this very peak. Wade and I spent an afternoon scouting the countryside, climbing under fences, walking through high grass, fumbling our way around holding pictures of Wendt’s masterful painting up to the mountain before us, comparing views to determine roughly right where he stood and painted the scene from. We pretty much nailed it down one afternoon and decided to come back to paint it ourselves in the morning light. Too be honest, I wouldn’t have bothered if it wasn’t for Wade. The whole ocean thing. Hard to motivate. All that. But once we got going I was hooked. And also blown away all over again at Wendt’s masterful work. It’s just some rocks sticking out of the ground, but he gave them majesty. I kept thinking his composition with that mountain smack in the middle of the canvas just shouldn’t work, and yet it does. Neither Wade nor I were trying recreate Wendt’s painting- we didn’t even look at it once we had the spot figured out, our goal was just to stand where he stood and respond to the scene before us like we would with any other painting. I can’t speak for Wade, but I’m pretty sure neither of us felt like we had done half a lick of justice to the scene as the morning wound into afternoon and hunger took over. But still, we’d walked on hallowed ground.

“Grounded”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
I painted this boat over a year ago, grounded hopelessly on the rocks here after learning that it had previously belonged to my friend Colleen Gnos’s grandfather for years. It was even named after her brother until it was sold and the new owner gave it a new name and ran it aground in short order. This is where it’s been since. Except it’s spun around 180 degrees. It’ll eventually break into pieces here, but not for awhile. Part of the landscape now. I wanted to revisit it. It’s a great reminder that no boat stays at sea forever, and for each of us our day will come sooner or later, and often unexpectedly.

“Meet Me in St. Louis” $562

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Price: $562
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.

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Matt Beard Art- Plein Air Original Painting Documentation
_________________________________________________________________________

Artwork Title: Meet Me in Saint Louis
_________________________________________________________________________

Price Breakdown:

Base Price:
$240 – ($1.25 per square inch)

Travel:
$151.5 – Approximate distance from Eureka, CA ($0.3 per mile)
$50 – Overnight Travel
$25 – Sleeping in Van
$0 – Tricky Urban Camping

On the Ground Logistics:
$0 – Paid Parking
$0 – Illegal or Questionable Parking Required: Nope
$0 – Parking Ticket or Citation Issued

$0 – Painted from Roof of Van (that platform wasn’t cheap)

$0 – Painted from Private Land: No
$0 – Posted ‘No Trespassing’
$0 – Harassed by Authorities/Told to Leave
$0 – Citation for Trespassing Issued
$0 – Fence/Gate Hopping
$0 – Barbed Wire
$0 – Blood

$66 – Hauling Gear on Foot ($30 per mile)
$0 – Off Trail Wilderness Tromping
$0 – Climbing or Vertical Scrambling Requiring Use of Hands: None
$0 – Full On Bushwhacking: None

$0 – Poison Oak Observed: None
$0 – Bee/Wasp/Other Painful Insect Bites ($15 each)
$0 – Mosquitoes: None
$0 – Ticks Observed on Skin or Clothing: None
$0 – Tick Bites ($125 each!!)

$30 – Wind ($2 per mph)
$50 – Shade/Sun: Cooking in the Hot Sun
$0 – Heat/Cold ($1.5 per degree farhenheit above/below 65)
$-25 – Crowds/Questions/Human Element: Distracting, but Nice

$-75 – Sustenance Provided by Others Before, During or After Painting: Cold Beer and Snacks
$0 – Fun Surf At Location Before, During, or After Painting: Nothing, if it looks good in the painting, I probably lied.

$50 – Other: Required paddling 2 miles with gear to access location
_________________________________________________________________________

$562.5 – TOTAL COST

Notes:

My friend Colleen Gnos is a great artist. You might want to check out her work sometime. She studied in Italy. There may be a theme developing here, but I’ll save that for another day. In the meantime it’s enough to let you know this painting could not have happened without Colleen. She generously agreed to provide kayaks and paddleboards and accompany Wade and I on a one-mile paddle to paint this beach that is generally only accessible by water. If you’re up to speed on your 1940’s film history (and I’m not) you might get the subtle references going on with this title- the family that is the subject of the film Meet Me in St. Louis shares the same name as the family that once built houses for themselves out on that small rock island just off the shore here. It doesn’t hurt that the whole area is named after another Saint by the same name as well. Offbeat and obscure coincidental poetry for sure. Back to this day, though- any day that involves hauling paint gear and returning with an artifact from the edge of a place that few painters would bother to venture with easels and paints is a good day in my book. Thanks Colleen!

“A Pier Then Disappear”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:
Back to the Italian dairy farms that took root here in 1860’s…  I painted this small dairy farm building one afternoon from beside an old ranch house where a not-so-Italian friend of Wade’s was living. Another not-so-Italian fellow had long ago purchased this land and setup operations here back in 1867. He first lived in the small ranch house set in this picturesque valley, and began overseeing the dairy operations behind the house with a mind toward something bigger than the dairy. A former ship captain himself, his interest was in shipping and commerce and not long after settling here, he built the town’s pier straight down from this dairy (along with a fancy new house right beside the pier that still stands today as a landmark that leaves the small ranch house and its dairy in its historical shadow). You can’t see the ocean or the pier from here anymore, the new coast highway has been laid on an embankment built across the valley, separating it from the coast from this small dairy farm that has long since ceased dairy operations altogether. But their past’s are inextricably linked together. The isolation provided by the highway severing this ranch from the small town has also helped to preserve this piece of history. On this bright summer afternoon I couldn’t resist attempting to tell its story. I’m sure I botched parts of it, but I tried to keep it straight.

“The Devil at My Heels”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
Considering the miracle of his survival and his boldness to share his faith in God, one could make an argument in favor of nominating Louis Zamperini (the author of book The Devil at my Heels) for sainthood, or at least make him a bishop or something. It’s quite a story and well worth reading, but aside from some overt wordplay subterfuge, it’s not the story of this painting. The devil that was at my heels this day, wasn’t a devil at all. But he worked for one, or at least a nuclear power plant that has taken the devil for its name. I’d hiked the 3 or 4 miles out on this windy day to see the furthest reach of this coast that I could legally access. It’s not public land, but is open during limited hours for public use with strict regulations about staying on the trail. These situations can make my work difficult. The best views are often a bit off the beaten path. I’d have to settle for a trailside setup today and was fortunate to find a spot that featured both the only view of the power plant itself from the legal trail system, and a nice windblock from the hill behind it. Painting here was a no brainer. After completing this, I hiked the rest of the allowable distance on the trail to it’s end, always followed by a white truck. I’d walk around a bend, and he’d pull up to a lookout on the road above the trail. Everywhere I went. For the next 2 hours. There were points where the road was right beside the trail, but he’d never stop there to chat. He’d go on a head to another lookout and wait for me to pass. His watchful eyes and lack of interaction had me wanting to mess with him and wait for him to go just out of view, then turnaround and backtrack and wait for him to follow, then do it again and again until he gave up or finally approached me. But I was tired (my outdoor studio travels well, but it’s not the lightest pack in the world), and if I hurried at a good clip I’d have time to paint another little painting before being locked behind the closed gate. I’d already scoped a perfect patch of poppies over a beach with a flowing creek, so there would be no fun and games today, just a mad hike into the howling wind with the devil at my heels.

“Red and Gold”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
Corralina, it’s the Italian word for coral, and though no coral is found in this cold water, there is a red seaweed with a hard calcerous surface named corralina that does grow in the rugged tidepools. There’s also poppies that bloom in the spring here. I had a strict 25 minutes to paint this one before getting locked in for the night with the devil in the white truck. Not an option, so I worked fast, got what I needed done, then did a bit of work at home later to bring it through.

“La Meccanica in un Momento de Pace”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
High tariffs in the newfound Kingdom of Italy in 1865 led to a large number of dairy farming Swiss-Italians to come to the US and eventually settle around this town. This coincided with the massive droughts that had just collapsed the large cattle ranches that dominated the California coastal landscape until that point. After the drought, small dairy farms became a viable reality and by 1880, Italian was the dominant language in this small town. And to this day the Italian influence can still be seen with icons like the Borradori Garage standing watch over the pier that was built to facilitate shipping of the local dairy products. It’s a peaceful setting, not at all what today’s prominant Borradori namesake, philosopher Giovanna Borradori writes about in her volume Philosophy in a Time of Terror. The title of this painting, La Meccanica in un Momento di Pace, is Italian for Mechanics in a Time of Peace, an inverted nod to both Borradori’s. What is more opposite of terror, than peace? What is more more opposite from philosophy than mechanical repair? Maybe that one’s not as obvious as the first, but I’m sure a case could certainly be made over a beer or two while standing on top of my van in the soft summer evening light. Disclaimer: I hold a minor degree in philosophy so standing around on an incredibly useful mechanical vehicle while arguing about incredibly useless subjects is something I consider not only good sport, but also an art. Cheers.

“Sir Francis Drake Was a Pirate”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:
It’s true, he was. The Spanish navy hated the guy. But that’s history. And according to some amateur historians it is believed he may have hidden treasure in the caves on the headland at the end of this cove. Joined by my friend Wade Koniakowsky, we were stoked to walk up to this scene on a crisp sunny morning after the days of fog I’d been battling previously. We thought that was like walking up and discovering treasure. Finding the beach below empty was a great discovery as well, especially since it’s a notorious nude beach. Empty was just fine for us, thanks. Did you know they call the creepers on the cliffs “scalleywags” or “rock monkeys”? They have so many folks creeping up to oggle the nudies that they have names for them. I don’t know if that’s true, I read in a paper once though. Could be fake news, who knows these days? But what we do know is that even if those caves weren’t used for Drake’s treasure, they were at least used for smuggling moonshine during the prohibition years. The smugglers even carved steps into the rock face out at the end of the point to help run the rum up and down coast. Oh, and Francis Drake was a pirate. We know that too.

“The Back Road”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
Thwarted by fog on the coast, I found myself scouring the hillsides and back roads on this otherwise bright and clear morning for something to paint. Once I’m off the coast I get a little bewildered and find inspiration an often fleeting thing. But I was here to paint so I kept on and this little ranch road caught my eye leading up toward one of the rocky peaks that dot the landscape. I didn’t realize it at the time but this would be a significant piece to kick off this tour of the area, the peak itself being one of the most personally meaningful locations I’d paint on this trip- hallowed ground for sure. But that’s a story for later on…

“A Dissonant End”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:
I’ve got no ear for harmonies, seriously. I might not be tone-deaf, but I am certainly tone-dumb. But I have heard that in the language of jazz, the end of a song is often signaled by a dissonant chord. I couldn’t really pick a dissonant chord out of a crowd, but I understand it to be one that isn’t in tonal harmony, whatever that my mean. It doesn’t quite fit in, it’s jarring, and out of place. But it works I guess. The end of this trail was kinda like that for me. An abrupt end at a barbed wire fence plastered with signs warning the would-be trespasser (me) to go no further. Of course I had wanted to go further, that was the plan all along. A quick lunch break while assessing the feasibility of proceeding would see a ranch truck come and go and come again in the span of about 20 minutes. Nuts. I could be wrong, but I was sure I saw some beady-eyed stink-eye being cast my way as well. I think these guys can smell it on me sometimes. So I figured I’d buy some time and just paint this little vista safely on the public side of the fence then see if things might quiet down. And they sorta did, but the ranch truck guy hadn’t left yet, so I figured it best to hop along the cliff edge out of view of the road. I made my way quite a good distance up the coast this way until two things happened. First, I reached an impasse where I could go no further without heading up toward the road and all the risks it would bring. And second, while pondering my predicament, the fog bank finally rolled in and made my decision for me. No point going further if there was nothing to see, so I turned back and called it a day. This place just didn’t fit in with my plans for the day, but such is life on the coast. The hard to reach places are just that, and that’s what makes them so special to finally reach when everything lines up, and that works fine for me.

“Backside of the Dunes”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2002

Notes:
I’d forgotten about this painting entirely until a collector notified me it was up for sale on craigslist. Once I saw it, I immediately remembered the day I painted it, scouting around for hours being all kinds of particular about the view not being what I wanted. I probably passed up 35 great paintings before settling on this one. I’m pretty sure my thinking then was that it was getting late in the day and I’d better not go home empty-handed. I don’t recall what came of the painting or who bought it, or if I gave it away or what, but I was pretty stoked to see it once again. When my collector friend bought it and brought it over to my studio for some touchup, varnish, and framing it was a little like being reunited with a long lost child that had gone off into the world and lived a life of its own now back to say hello to Dad once again before heading out on another chapter. I wasn’t so sure of it when I painted it, but now after all these years I reckon it turned out alright after all.

“The Dining Room”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:
My last painting from the US and THEM event. For this one, I had a good friend and collector offer to cater a meal for the 4 out of town artists and 4 local artists. She brought enough to feed 40 artists, and several who weren’t officially part of the event joined in and feasted magnificently with us all. She is a saint. This is where we ate and drank happily under a bright midday sun. I was so taken with the scene that I had to paint it after we broke it all down and scattered about for our afternoon session. Lots of memories here too, glad I finally painted this angle.

On a separate note, when promoting this event on social media, my website, the local papers and the local radio (yes, I went nuts) I specifically encouraged local artists who wanted to join us to bring some donuts or beers or something to share if they chose to paint alongside the crew. One of them did. Thank you Richard Stockwell, your generosity did not go unnoticed. Other than Richard, the only other artists to bring shareable sustenance were two on the US team- particularly Steve Taylor who procured an amazing assortment of local pastries and a thermos of hot coffee the first two days of the event. Ken Jarvela went above and beyond and managed to coral a beach bonfire oyster feast that everyone was too tired to enjoy, but still (he also passed his whiskey bottle around often, which was appreciated by many, if not all).  All that said, what in the world is up with the local folks that showed up and smiled and high-fived and chatted us all up and set up easels and painted away alongside us but alas- not ONE donut was shared. I’m not naming any names here, but come on. Step it up next time.

“It’s Never Like This”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2019

Notes:
On the third day of the US and THEM event, the out of town artists were moving a touch slow in the morning. I’d been pushing them for two full days of action with very little rest. The weather had been beautiful, but gray in the mornings with brief patches of brilliant sun and light winds. This morning was different though. Coming over the hill to see the coast for the first time, I don’t recall ever seeing the ocean so smooth. If I’d been looking for waves, I’d have been disappointed, but as it were, we were here to paint and to see the ocean so sheet-smooth, no swells or ripples of texture at all was a real unusual treat. The crew from San Diego may not have realized just how special this was- they have clear, sunny, flat days on the regular down there I reckon. But for us, it was a pretty big deal. All morning as were painting, folks were walking up and telling us “you know, it’s never like this here”. Yup. Got it, but thanks for drilling it in for those guys. The last thing we’d want is for them to head back to SoCal and tell everyone it’s like this all the time here. Cause it’s not.   Oh and also, on the first morning of this event I painted with oils, and while I usually enjoy my forays into that grown-up medium, that morning I did not. It took me awhile to realize it wasn’t the paint though, it was the scene- I just wasn’t all that into it, so I struggled and struggled with that painting until finally making peace with it at the end. This morning was so beautiful, I felt it appropriate to go for a “redemption” session and broke out my oil palette and had a great time from start to finish. Much better. Thanks for asking.

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