Archive | San Luis Obispo

“Stick a Fork in It” $475

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2017

Price: $475
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

I’ve been on the road for a week and a half. I’ve slept in my van in grocery store parking lots, picking ticks off my face that must have crawled out of my painting gear as I slept. I’ve wrestled the sun and cursed at the wind. My back is tired, my feet ache, my lips are chapped, and the distinct itch of poison oak is catching up with me from a week of exposure. I’m heading home tomorrow, but today I am here.

The sun had grown tired of my grumbling and refused to join me for this last effort. The waters will not be illuminated today. The air is full of mist. My mind is full of other places I’d like to be. Home, mostly. But today I am here.

One last round with mother nature. It’s not a victory song, it’s funeral march, as Leonard Cohen would say, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

I long to see this coast in another light, on another day, and perhaps I will in the not too distant future. But today I am here, and I cannot deny this moment. There is joy in the muted earth, joy in the slow passage of time, joy in the rumble of ocean below.

But I also cannot deny the joy of completion. Stick a fork in it. I’m done.

“More or Less” $540

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $540
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

I saw an old man reciting poetry to the seagulls here. They waited on his every word, looking for any morsel of wisdom they could read between his lines. Or potato chips, those would work too. One seagull perched on my van. He wanted to know what I was doing in there. I was painting the scene he calls home. He didn’t like my painting because it didn’t include all the people and towels, umbrellas and bikinis, but mostly the paper sacks resting in open backpacks near the skinny awkward kids. Those contained the best poetry in this literary ave’s opinion. Poetry written in love by lonely mothers giving their lives for their young and wrapping their words in plastic and tin foil to keep them fresh in their child’s time of need. Yes, the finest verses ever written, penned from kitchen counters, awaiting their day to be read aloud for the young to hear. My winged friend above asks for silence. The recital is about to begin.

Not sure where that came from, but on a sidenote, I did include a bit of my childhood in this one, the yellow VW bus my folks got in 1976 when I was just a year old. In fact this whole area is permeated for me by memories of exploration as a teenager here in that old van. My grandparents moved just over the hill behind the coast here in those years and I would borrow the van and head out in all directions to see what waves I could find. I’d often end up right here after being too chicken to surf anywhere else alone at that age. I’d probably eat a sandwich wrapped in plastic and foil afterwards.

Fastforward to now, and here I am eating a sandwich and some chips out of the back end of the big white sprinter van (also in this painting), while talking to seagulls about life. Full circle, more or less…

“Mourning and Remembrance” $437

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $437
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

By day they theorize, philosophize, and lay their eyes on this predicament from old lawn chairs behind a makeshift barrier of plastic tape. By night they await the higher tide under the spotlight, searching for answers, but generating none. Once a proud vessel, named for nobility, now on the rocks, without the gin, or perhaps because of it if the wind spoke truly. Each morning brings a new revelation, coffee and binoculars the potent ingredients of this daily visionquest. She is a solar eclipse, her shining brightness now darkened by the lesser light. Shucked like an oyster, removed from her shell of open water, she now sits waiting for the ocean to swallow her hull.

The heiress watches on, a mix of rage and longing, as she carves an homage of color to the one she once knew. All the while they watched this maiden work and no one said a word.  It is no different with you or I. While our voyages may end differently, still every voyage must end and we can only hope there is a daughter by our side to mourn and remember us when our day arrives.

True story.

The boat that got stuck on the rocks here was still stuck on the day of the solar eclipse, and over a meal of oysters with an artist friend in the area I learned the boat used to belong to her grandfather and was originally named after her brother. I told her I wanted to paint it, and convinced her to come with me the next day and we stood on the bluff and painted while the captains came and went. I could have just told you this plainly right off the bat, but the whole thing was too poetic to introduce like that.

Apologies if what I wrote was no good.

I’m just a painter.

 

“A Matter of Convenience” $419

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2017

Price: $419
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

Chumash land: just the way it always was…

Spanish imperialism: all of your earths is ours now

Mission San Miguel: we graze our cattle on all your lands now

Mexican land grant: all of your ground is Mr. Pico’s now

George Hearst: I found gold, I buy your dirt from Pico.

Willam Randalph Hearst: Thanks dad, I like big castles

California state parks: Thanks king Hearst, we like beaches.

That’s my nutshell of the entire human history of this piece of coast dating back as far as we can know. Well, that and the Portuguese whaling community that made use of this convenient bay and the deepwater beyond to manhandle 370 whales into lifeless economic commodities in just 10 years. Bay of blood?

All told, it’s a very sheltered beach on a rugged windswept and swell-pounded coastline. A convenient place to build a wharf for offloading materials to build, oh say… a castle, or something like that.

Now there’s still a wharf there today. And ghosts from other eras still linger beside the towering Eucalpytus. History has unfolded at a different pace here than most places on the coast, and it’s tangible.

“The Sea Before Dark”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 12″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

A focal point for those just passing through. After miles of inland panoramas the road opens up to a view of the ocean here. But only for a moment or two. Then it’s back to the cows and the farms and the country music.

It’s hard not to stop once in awhile. It’s just so easy. And when traversing the entire state north to south in a hurry, it’s often the last chance for a quick dip in the sea before dark.

Also, this place scared the jeebies out of me when I was about 13 and paddled out in front of these cliffs thinking it looked small and fun. Visions of coast guard helicopter rescue attempts thwarted by the setting sun drifted faster than the sweeping current through my panicked mind as I realized the error of my judgment.

It’s a lesson all ocean going people learn the hard way, and not just once, but usually on multiple occasions before it really sinks in. Looking down at waves is very different than looking up at them.

“Leave No Trace: Side A” $583

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: (diptych) Side A: 12″ x 12″  Side B: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: Side A and B together- $583
Side B (right) only- $439
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

Arrival: Late Afternoon. Look west, hike to bottom of trail. View from top was better. Plus creepy creepers lurking in the reeds everywhere down here. Trash strewn. Beautiful place, but yuck. Back to top. Look east, hike toward cove on that side of this headland. Trash strewn. Starting to feel guilty. Might head back to the van and dump some beer cans and toilet paper around at random to blend in better with all the creepers crawling all over this place. Continue on, decide not to add my own trash. Arrive at fork. Turn right, holy mackaroly, that’s a neat cave. Spend some time enjoying this marvel of nature. And graffiti. Because that’s what I feel like doing when I see a place this beautiful. Quick! Write my name on something, pronto! I Still prefer the view from the top though. Head back up the trail. Am I being followed? Creeper country picnic down here. Scope view from top. Neat granite rock formation in foreground. Like an  arcing wave. Covered in graffiti, of course, because names need to be written here. Go back to van, retrieve supplies return to paint. College girls smoking weed and giggling. No thanks, but thank you for offering. They leave and another couple shows up and picks up where the girls left off. But they don’t offer me any. I don’t hold it against them. One more group of kids show up, and climb over directly in front of where I’m painting. But they leave because it smells like piss down there. Because after writing your name on a rock, you usually need to pee on something… like the rock you just wrote your name on. The day gets late. A cute young couple expecting their first child shows up with a photographer to take pretty sunset photos. Probably going to crop out the beer bottles and graffiti. Not me. They are part of the story. When I am done I drink a beer of my own while the sun finally sets. I ponder smashing the bottle and pissing on it before I leave, but instead I take it with me and leave no trace. I guess I don’t belong here.

“Leave No Trace: Side B” $439

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: (diptych) Side A: 12″ x 12″  Side B: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: Side A and B together- $583
Side B (right) only- $439
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

Arrival: Late Afternoon. Look west, hike to bottom of trail. View from top was better. Plus creepy creepers lurking in the reeds everywhere down here. Trash strewn. Beautiful place, but yuck. Back to top. Look east, hike toward cove on that side of this headland. Trash strewn. Starting to feel guilty. Might head back to the van and dump some beer cans and toilet paper around at random to blend in better with all the creepers crawling all over this place. Continue on, decide not to add my own trash. Arrive at fork. Turn right, holy mackaroly, that’s a neat cave. Spend some time enjoying this marvel of nature. And graffiti. Because that’s what I feel like doing when I see a place this beautiful. Quick! Write my name on something, pronto! I Still prefer the view from the top though. Head back up the trail. Am I being followed? Creeper country picnic down here. Scope view from top. Neat granite rock formation in foreground. Like an  arcing wave. Covered in graffiti, of course, because names need to be written here. Go back to van, retrieve supplies return to paint. College girls smoking weed and giggling. No thanks, but thank you for offering. They leave and another couple shows up and picks up where the girls left off. But they don’t offer me any. I don’t hold it against them. One more group of kids show up, and climb over directly in front of where I’m painting. But they leave because it smells like piss down there. Because after writing your name on a rock, you usually need to pee on something… like the rock you just wrote your name on. The day gets late. A cute young couple expecting their first child shows up with a photographer to take pretty sunset photos. Probably going to crop out the beer bottles and graffiti. Not me. They are part of the story. When I am done I drink a beer of my own while the sun finally sets. I ponder smashing the bottle and pissing on it before I leave, but instead I take it with me and leave no trace. I guess I don’t belong here.

 

“Machine Work”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2017

Notes:

A bit of Old California here. Not too many places are left like this along the coast. An old industrial building, built back when even those were made to be beautiful and long before the man/nature dichotomy narrative had reached it’s current crescendo and even man’s industry was a thing to be celebrated as a wonder of nature itself, placed right above a small fishing pier on a pristine stretch of coast. It’s a wonder to me that it’s survived all these years and not been replaced by an upscale restaurant, or hotel, or both.

I don’t know of the history of its survival, if it’s current existence has been won in a series of hard fought battles from preservation minded locals against outside monetary interests, or it’s just been simply overlooked in it’s quiet corner of the coast, but I hope it doesn’t just sit here as a reminder of a past, I hope it thrives in all it’s grease and glory for generations to come.

Oh and I was approached by the police while painting this one. I was in the back of the van, doors open to the view. They pulled up slowly, just enough to see in the back and watched for a minute or two.  They never got out, never said a word, and slowly backed up and left. I guess I wasn’t the one they were looking for that day. I know that wasn’t much of a story for you either, but I always get a kick out of the events that unfold when painting out and about in public. I’ve never had a police officer approach me while painting in my home studio.

“Economy of Scale” $627

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $627
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

Geology trips me out. They always say that the large rock formation at the mouth of this bay is some sort of plug in a volcano. Okay…  well I guess that’s pretty convenient. Maybe that’s why they are so strict about not letting climbers set foot on the thing- don’t want to risk any climbers setting bolts on a weak spot and causing the whole thing to blow. No good when that happens.

But yeah, I wanted to get a good view of this landmark so I scouted a nice short trail up a nearby peak and made my way to the top. Upon arrival, I spun two things. First was a full 360 or two, taking in the panoramic view from the top. Pretty epic, but lacking foreground interest up there. So the second thing I spun was a 180 back down the trail to a large granite boulder I’d passed on the way up.

I thought there was a certain visual poetry in painting this boulder in the foreground, with a distant view of a downright massive rock formation that would make this boulder appear but a pebble if they were to sit side by side. An interesting economy of scale, to misuse a phrase.

If that one is some sort of volcano plug, maybe this one is plugging up an epic hot tub. I’ll have to file a complaint with the geology department. Hiking around with a studio on one’s back, one needs all the hot tubs one can find. Preferably without giant rocks on them.

“Most Wanted”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 20″
Year: 2017

Notes:

I’d been wanting to paint this stretch of coast for years. It’s not a place I’ve visited much, but even driving by as a kid learning to surf years ago, this area called to me. The deepwater reefs and powerful surf was out of my league and for the most part probably still is, but the angle of the coast looking nearly due east to the place of the rising moon (no moon at this time, it was around the time of the solar eclipse, so if you’re a moon person, you know that happens around a new moon, but you should see this place when the full moon rises… oh my, but I digress). As much as I am drawn to this area, it seems the police are drawn to me here as well. I’m a slow cautious driver and don’t get pulled over much, but I was pulled over right here, maybe 8 or 10 years ago, driving an old GMC van. Pretty sure my muffler fell off just prior to being pulled over, but that’s not what the officer said I was pulled over for. He said my license plate light bulb was out… I think he just wanted to take a look in the van and scope it out all the contraband. He started by asking for my driver’s license. I handed it to him and in the photo on the license I was actually clean shaven, and he looks at my big old bushy beard and back at the photo and says “I don’t see a beard on here” to which I say “no, no it’s on there officer” and proceed to point to my last name. (These days I’d have likely been pulled out of the car and pinned down for reaching out the window like that, but like I said it was awhile back.) He laughed and changed his hole tone after that and let me go. Didn’t even write a fix-it ticket.  Fast forward to this day, and while painting up on this hill, a police car pulls up just at the base of the hill and I see the officer in the patrol car watching me up here. I knew it was fine to be here, but it stirred some fun memories. Then, I kid you not, even as I packed it all back down to the van, another officer pulls up and watches me load my gear back in the van. Not sure what that’s all about. Matt Beard. Fugitive van driving art guy.

“Maybe Another Time” $362

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $362
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

I have hazy memories of this place. Possibly dreams even. In those recollections the surf looks fun, but not good. Ragged, gray, a bit crowded. I’m hesitant. I never get in the water. It sure sounds like dreams I have, but the odd part is I don’t remember actually being here before. It just struck a chord as I drove by. I know this place. And all of it’s details. It’s odd. Could have been a trip with my brother when I was young, maybe just a quick surf check. But it sure feels like an awkward dream when I recall it now.  

Anyhow, this day looked completely different. Summer carefree day, blue skies, warm air, no crowd, but alas no waves. Once in awhile a line would stand up and threaten to break. In the white shimmering glare it looked tempting and I kept thinking I’d maybe paddle out on the log after painting this and see if they were rideable or not. But I never did. Good sense got the better of me and it really was more wishful thinking than anything else.

Maybe another time.

“Hole in the Fence” $487

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Price: $487
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

Under the barbed wire, across a bluff top meadow, promising lines appeared bending around the nearshore reefs. In a still moment, it was a vision of perfection, but taken in the 4th dimension of time, it was nothing more than a broken promise. At least today. Broken lines, appearing, shifting, disappearing, reappearing at random across the reefs.

Except that one section, time and time again, it would suck out and rifle off a short makeable line before chaotically disembarking itself on the scattery dry rocks inside. I still don’t think it was truly rideable except perhaps with the right company and a certain state of mind, maybe not drunk on wine, but perhaps a bit intoxicated with old fashioned fun. And a beat up board. Maybe a helmet.

But whether the waves ever shape up or not, something happens here, as the worn path under the barbed wire fence testifies. Sometimes hunting for waves is high tech, satellite imagery and swell forecasting. Other times it’s a bit more primitive, scanning the ground for broken twigs and tracks not well covered, tracking an elusive prey. The hole in the fence certainly falls under the latter category. Though it could just be good fishing grounds. I’ve got a lot of mental notes on places like this up and down the coast.

It doesn’t matter too much to me if the clues lead to good waves or not though, it’s the process that I’ve come to love. This holy fence led to a 2 hour surf check in the early morning standing alone on a remote piece of coastline while studying the color and spacial relationships of the land and sea with paint.

“B.Y.O.B.” $605

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $605
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:

We came in search of gold. We’ll leave with pockets full of solitude. We speak to the wind. We live here now, everything else is dreamtime. The cars and houses, the monies and the media, the interconnected web of information that ties us all together… none of that can truly exist at all. We know because we’ve listened to the quiet that raged so loud our ears bled. We know because we’ve stood on the edge and peered over and seen everything we ever held on to smashed against the rocks and washed away, only to be returned as the treasures of small children on the outgoing tide. We know because, if we didn’t know, there would be condos and pizza parlors, cotton candy and neon lights, the insatiable camera lens devouring all… but there is not. There is nothing out here. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear.  It is belongs to us all. It is all of us. Dream on, dreamer, but when you awake, you’ll find nothing here. And that will be all that you really need.

Ok, bring your own beer if you like, just don’t forget to pack out your empty bottles when you leave.

“Free Range 22: Third Try”

8-2-15-Free-Range-22---Mile-1039---2000x1500px

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2015

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 1038.8 miles
Notes: Sometimes it takes a lot of driving around spot-checking before settling on a spot to paint. The morning light was fading quickly to noon day brightness, so I jumped on this one after scouting two other locations. Any one if them would have worked, not sure why I was so hesitant, but at least I didn’t go back to the first one and then second guess that before heading to a fourth spot. That happens too. I’ll call this a win.

“Free Range 21: The Beginning of the End”

8-1-15-Free-Range-21---Mile-1030---2000x1600px

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2015

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 1030.2 miles
Notes: Every trip comes to an end sometime, and this one ends in southern California. Although I still have many miles to travel in the next few days, with the live music and party vibe emanating from the pier while I painted, this was my first taste of the end of the line. Tastes kinda like country music.

VIEW PRINT OPTIONS

Scroll Up