Archive | Santa Cruz

“Jim Denevan’s Gift” $604

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

Price: $604
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.

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Matt Beard Art- Plein Air Original Painting Documentation

Price Breakdown:

Base Price:
$400 – ($1.25 per square inch)

$104.7 – Approximate distance from Eureka, CA ($0.3 per mile)
$50 – Overnight Travel
$0 – 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 – Harrassed by Authorities/Told to Leave
$0 – Citation for Tresspassing Issued
$0 – Fence/Gate Hopping
$0 – Barbed Wire
$0 – Blood

$0 – 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!!)

$16 – Wind ($2 per mph)
$50 – Shade/Sun: Cooking in the Hot Sun
$9 – Heat/Cold ($1.5 per degree farhenheit above/below 65)
$-25 – Crowds/Questions/Human Element: Distracting, but Nice

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

$ – Other:

$604.7 – TOTAL COST


Jim Denevan is an artist whose medium is the beach. I mean that in a very littoral way. And no, that’s not a misspelling. Look it up if you need to. I’ve been aware of his work for years, but haven’t had the opportunity to watch him at work in his studio until today. I was in town for a quick visit and looking to paint somewhere along this stretch of coast when I spotted him down there raking sand into perfect alternating spiral patterns (his were far more perfect than I drew them on my canvas). The minute I saw him and the patterns he was making on the low tide sand I knew I had to paint this homage to a hero of an artist, whose work washes away daily with each incoming tide.

“The Long View”

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


Bones of old ships baking in the sun

The mast of an ancient whale

That swallowed the sailor’s son

Observed, measured,

And duly noted

In the book of numbers

That’s being written now

But never will be done


The allure of the sea

The stairway to heaven

The ticket rendered

For breaking the number seven


The distant ship

On the horizon

The tunes of college dorm rooms

In search of the front lines

In a battle

Waged within


All of it here to see

If you slow down

And separate the many from the few

And take the long view



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

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”


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

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


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.

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


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.

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…”


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

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.

“Losing his Mind While I Lost the Plot”


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

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.

“There Used to be Two”


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

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.

“Free Range Tour 16: Oh the Humanity”


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

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 800.1 miles
Notes: This town is nuts. Lineups crawling with surfers of all skill levels. Surfed one wave about 3 feet from the cliff with 2 other surfers in front of me on a soft top and a stand up paddle board. I don’t think they even knew I was there. Watched soft top’s board get washed into a hole in the cliff and dissappear a few waves later. Never saw if he was able to retrieve it or not. Hopefully it want a rental. And possibly on the best wave of my trip so far, took a high line to gain speed to drop around a long section, getting excited for the wall stretching out ahead and BAM! Hit by a board out of nowhere, never saw it coming. Fortunately it was just a good crack to the thigh, not the head. I held on and made it around the section, but then I realized what had happened and wondering if I was hurt or not and dug a rail cause I wasn’t in the moment anymore. Came up grumbling, mostly mad that I blew it for no good reason after holding on through the worst of it. The guy who bailed his board asked if I got that wave when I paddled back out. I wasn’t super happy and did kinda let him know. Mostly just to hang on to his board better, but I wasn’t so mad at him as myself for blowing it. Any apparent disgruntlement was likely just leftovers from yesterday’s run in with the cherry slinger. Anyway, I figured it was appropriate to share all that as this is the first piece of this art tour to include people in it. They could not be avoided. Literally.

“Free Range 16: Sweet Cherries for Sale”


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

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 766.8 miles
Notes: Was digging this roadside view near a produce stand selling “sweet cherries” and had just gotten set up when the cherry slinger walked up and told me I’d have to move. Says I was blocking his sweet cherries sign. I wasn’t, but I could see how from over at his stand it might look that way. I began to tell him about my road trip, which he took as a challenge and interrupted to inform me bluntly that he’d driven all the way from Modesto, so he wasn’t impressed, and furthermore that he had a permit to set up there, and even furthermore that since he was there first there was no point finding a mutually beneficial solution. He was real good at cussing too. His parting shot was that I had to move or he would call the sheriff and have me forced to relocate.

After he left I was wondering if it was really worth the hassle when I see a uniformed official approaching on foot. Shocked he had the pull to get an officer out that quickly I resigned to pack it up as I hadn’t even started painting yet anyway. The official comes around to the back of the van and starts right off telling me I wouldn’t be able to park there… then his face came into focus and it was none other than a long time friend and college housemate who had been working with the state parks doing trail construction for years in this area. Apparently he’d driven by, saw me and was just stopping to say hi and joking around. He had no idea about cherry man’s problems.

We talked for a bit in full view of cherry guy and resolved to just move the van a few feet and carry on as I was safely parked, not blocking his sign, and permit or not he didn’t own the highway. Pretty funny to think of cherry guy seeing me talking it over with a very official looking park ranger and staying put. I wasn’t finished painting when cherry man closed down and when he came over to get his sign, he backed up as close as he could to the back of my van and made a great effort to spray me with gravel as he put all the horse power his Chevy astro could mister on the line. It was sad. Barely kicked up any dust. I’m still embarrassed for him. Oh well. Just bummed he bailed before I finished. I was going to buy some cherries.


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