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“NO RANCHO”

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

Notes:
Plein air from small boat

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

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

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

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

“Wedding Chapel in the Church of the Open Sky”

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

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

“Silent Conversations: Long Departed” $926

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

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $926
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes:
Desolation row out here. Didn’t see a single soul for the few hours I spent on these cliffs a good distance from any of the more visited headlands in this region. I’ve been told this is the site of one of the oldest human settlements in North America. Long departed now, nothing remains but a man made hill of shells and refuse surrounded by the windblown dunes built up around it. That and the wind. The wind has always been here.

As I was scouting the headland doing the legwork of composing this painting there was a large platform of bare rock extending just below the vegetated bluff that was begging to be explored. The views from this platform were suitable as they were, but as with any time you find yourself in a spot like this, you have to walk out to the furthest edge as well. A finger of rock with a maybe 10 foot flat area extended from the platform a good 30 feet or so, sheer cliffs dropping straight to water on either side. From this vantage out on this ledge these 5 seacaves became visible while from just 20 feet back on the broader platform none of them could be seen.

If you’ve followed my notes about painting these on-site paintings, you know what an issue strong winds can be, and the difficulties they can bring. The wind this day was already blowing steady with undertones of far greater force to come and it was still only mid morning. It takes about 3 hours to set up my gear, tackle a painting this size, and pack it up again, so I knew that by the time I would finish a painting here, I’d be dealing with a fairly tense situation.

Now I had a dilemma. I forgot to mention that the broad platform from which the finger extended was rimmed by ten foot eroded dirt bank that provided excellent wind block at many locations. The view I sought was out on that finger though, and as it was the wind was blowing from off the open water directly behind the formation, slamming into the face creating all sorts of turbulence, and rushing onward toward these caves.

In these times of decision I always take a moment to seek direction from the Silence around me. Even in the noise of life there is always Silence around each of us, and within that Silence, a Voice, easy to miss, but impossible to ignore.

Go out to the edge and paint. Beauty is never without risk. I am with you.

Ok then. It was quite a chess match getting set up here, requiring total concentration on each movement and considerations of weight and flight risks for each element involved in my painting process. Rocks were gathered. One item at a time moved into place while the rest remained weighted down until bit by bit, all was in order and the painting could begin.

In the midst of all this, other voices were present in the wind. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. Not threatening voices, but not welcoming either. The Silent Voice seemed to be speaking back to them and something in me was in awe of the conversation taking place around and within me while standing out on this precipice unknown and unseen by a single soul. They were ancient voices, but not as ancient as the Silent one. I couldn’t understand their conversation but continued on unsure of what to expect. I began to wonder if this was a sacred site, and my presence was in some way violating an unspoken boundary.

I noticed mists of white blowing past me as I painted, always passing between myself and the headland to the left, as if to separate me from the land I came from. They’d blow over the finger I was standing on and swirl down seemingly into the cave below. At first I thought they were stray bits of marine layer caught up in the wind but then looking back to see in the direction of the wind and seeing nothing but bluebird blue skies out there I figured maybe they wisps of moisture from the breaking waves below. It wasn’t until I was nearly finished painting that they began to hit me directly and I was a bit surprised to find myself being pelted by sand. From where? The nearest dune around was literally the base of the mound left behind by the ancient civilization just a few hundred yards behind me. That gave me a moment of pause in appreciation of nature’s poetry.  A more appropriate body for these voices I’d been hearing could not ever be found.

I also took it as my cue to wrap it up out here and proceeded to methodically deconstruct my mobile studio in reverse order. If there ever was a windblown disaster in the making (thing gear flying off cliffs, painting blown out to see, artist vanished) this was it. I attribute this painting surviving to be enjoyed today (sand embedded in the paint and all) to the One who is with me always. Many thanks to Silence.

“Quiet Water” $510

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

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $510
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes:
I’d been painting a lot around town the few days prior to this one. To be honest, Santa Cruz stresses me out a bit. Crazy, crazy place… but I like it. That said it was great to get out of the hamster maze for a bit on this day. A friend treated me to some epic midday views up a private road way up the coast and I followed that up with this quick afternoon sketch from a path less traveled overlooking a place I’ve enjoyed visiting (although infrequently) for years. The wind howled pretty good while I painted this, but looking down on this pond nestled into a hook of coastal bluffs you wouldn’t know it. Smooth as glass, and quiet as could be. Something in me needed this today. Thankful to have the opportunity to walk this earth, life is beautiful. Find some quiet water and reflect when you have a minute. You won’t regret it.

“For Miles and Miles…”

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

VIEW PRINT OPTIONS

Notes:
This particular stretch of California coastline intrigues me. Miles of coastal bluffs lined to the edge with artichokes, and dotted with sculpted points and coves so abundant you always feel like you’re maybe missing something up the coast a bit. It’s gonna take more than a few trips to really sort this zone out in my mind, but I’m looking forward to all of them. Beauty for miles, but not without challenges. The wind was howling at my back as I painted this one. Rarely did my hand leave the easel for fear of losing my gear off the cliff into rocky tidepools below, which would have been doubly troublesome due to the audience of surfers that sat just about in the middle of the painting (I somehow don’t always include them…)  I can’t imagine the grief if I’d lost my gear off the cliff in front of that pack. I’d get run out of town most likely. Always a relief to survive a windy session and return with the painting in tact.

“Protected”

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

Notes:
There’s coves like this all over the California coast, tucked away and protected from the predominant winds creating clean conditions when elsewhere the sea is ragged with wind chatter. This coast is certainly worth protecting and I’m thankful for all who have worked to preserve the natural beauty of our state’s coast. Cheers to you all.

“Home Renovation” $460

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

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $460
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

Notes:
Bunches of quail, several deer, otters, and even a fox on the beach. They were all very gracious hosts. Even though I’m sure I smelled pretty bad to them, none of them said so. They live in a beautiful home. The park was closed for trail maintenance, but having a good friend who’s been working for the parks for years on trail projects meant that it was closed to everyone except me on this particular day. This was a very relaxing session. The wind was a bit hectic at times, but manageable. There’s just nothing better than beauty and solitude sometimes.

“Losing his Mind While I Lost the Plot”

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

Notes:
After several long days of painting I sometimes hit a wall. Pushing through it where I can, sometimes this art gig becomes work. Fun work, but still work. I wanted to paint this spot just because I’ve had some fun wavess here over the years, but didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to put it all into a functional composition. That and the sunlight being directly behind my back creating a sort of flat shadowless light. Somewhere in the tired struggle to convey a sense of this place I felt like it got away from me and even looking at it now I dont really know where I was trying to go here. Just sorta lost the plot I guess. Maybe it was in the air, a hobo kid that must have just eaten all his drugs wandered incoherently in and out of my world while working here. Are brain frying loopagenics contagious? Most likely not, I think I was just tired…. I hope the kid makes it through, theres a fair bit of lostness in the eyes around parts of this town, but thats a whole different story. I need some sleep. Good night. Love the ones around you, we all need each other.

“Everybody Has Been Burned” $481

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

Free Range/Outdoor/Plein Air Price: $481
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for specifics on this piece.

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Notes:
Those brown clouds in the distance are actually plumes of smoke from a wildfire burning as this was painted.

“There Used to be Two”

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

VIEW PRINT OPTIONS

Notes:
When I rolled up to paint this location I was thinking it would be a simple thing to pull up and paint from the back of the van as there is a carpark directly overlooking these rock formations.  My first curve ball was when I realized it was posted as a 20-minute zone with the state park there. Instead of getting part way into a painting I figured I’d ask the park staff what they thought. They seemed ok with it, but couldn’t promise I wouldn’t get the boot, especially if a “certain” ranger showed up. That was more assurance than nothing though so I figured I’d be alright and headed back to wait for the spot I’d scoped out to become available (shouldn’t take long, 20-minute zone after all). After about a half hour I realized this little truck in the prime spot just wasn’t moving. Due to the angles of the other spots, this really was the one I wanted and figured it was worth waiting for, but now the day was getting long and upon closer examination, the fellow in the truck appeared to be napping, headphones on, eyes closed, t-shirt tucked in his visor to block the sun from his face (and the view as well). Really?  I mean he could do that anywhere he wanted, why choose this spot? Oh well, I figured some parking lot diplomacy was in order and proceeded to politely tap on his window and apologize for disturbing him, asking if he could move his rig, and offering him the two beers I was saving for later in exchange for his troubles. He was pretty stoked about the whole thing. They were just plain old Sierra Nevada’s but he must have been more of a watery/coors/budweiser fellow as his eyes lit up and he said his mom always told him to try these beers, he’d heard they were all natural, really great beers.  I wasn’t one to argue, I pulled into his spot and got to work. Never did see the ranger. But it was a hot day, I could have enjoyed those beers.

Oh and notice the wisps of cloud on the right, and the yellowish haze?  I was facing west the whole time I was working and noticed a shift in the light and thought perhaps there was a fire somewhere. It wasn’t until I’d finished and went to leave that I looked east and just beyond the town of Santa Cruz, over the first small ridge it looked like a warzone with a massive multicolored plume of smoke raging forth from a fresh wildfire that would burn for the next several days.

“Redgate Ranch Afternoon”

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

Notes:
Painted in the early afternoon just as things were getting started at the Redgate Ranch Music Festival near San Gregorio, CA. It was a hot day out there, I found the only shade I could and figured I’d make the most of it. I was nearly finished when a food truck rolled up, their generator exhaust vent just steps away. I thought I’d rush it to completion when I realized I was dizzy and very much felt like taking a nap. Fortunately I got out of there and breathed some real air for a bit instead of curling up in the corner and carbon monoxiding to my end. I moved the easel a bit forward out of the way of the poison burger fumes and wrapped it up. It was purchased on site with half the sale donated to Save the Waves Coalition.

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