Archive | Sonoma

“From the Overflow of the Heart, the Mouth Speaks”

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

Notes: 8th day on the road, 23rd painting completed, 2nd one on this day. Last one of the trip. I’m exhausted.

There’s something about a rivermouth sandbar that really holds one’s attention. I wanted to get the whole scene here: the inland valley leading to the now hot and dry“heartland” this river flows from, the coastal coolness of rugged rock and sea stack shrouded in fog and cloud, the beach, the driftwood, and the sand piled up creating a focal point for bending lines of swell approaching from deep water. I wanted to show it all.

Perhaps I took on too much and maybe this one lacks a clear focal point. It happens. But then again, it’s all in there and if I’m gonna roll by and paint one painting here, I’m stoked this was it.

The biggest dissappointment was the extended time it took to finish this complicated composition eating into rapidly closing window to go surf a few down at that sandbar. I maybe could have swung it still, but this was my last one in this area and had a long drive ahead of me that night. I was also considering the burger that I was looking forward to that might be out of reach if I pushed it any longer (everything closes pretty early on this coast).

Excuses, excuses… it was now foggy and getting dark and bobbing around a sharky rivermouth lineup alone and barely visible for marginal but fun looking two foot waves for some reason just didn’t sound as fun as it did when I’d started the painting.

I paused to enjoy a celebratory beer for a week of hard work, and thought I heard the river speak. “Next time” she said, “Next time.”

“Russian Interference”

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

Notes:
8th day on the road, 22nd painting completed, 1st on this day

The Russians are planning to claim this coast for themselves. It’s true. From San Francisco to Trinidad Harbor, they’ve left secret signs, “possession plaques” buried at various strategic locations.

This painting is located near the first of these plates, and within a year or two, they will be back to stake their claim, renaming this location as Mouis Rumyantsev (Point Rumyantsev) after the current Russian Minister of Commerce.

Alarmist political phrophesy? Hardly. These are just the facts. I have proof.

Besides, it’s not like this location has been claimed by Spain yet.

Did I mention it’s 1810?

“Soaring with Griffin”

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

Notes:
7th day on the road, 21st painting completed, 3rd one this day

Painting the California coast is something that rose out of my admiration for the California Impressionists of the early 1900’s.

Before that I was painting skulls and bones and waves, which rose out of my admiration for Rick Griffin (1944-1991) and his artwork. I learned of his art when he passed away and the Surfer Magazine ran a tribute to his life and art featuring his mindblowing works from the psychedelic era.

If I hadn’t started surfing after my big brother did 7 years earlier when I was 11 or so I wouldn’t have been reading Surfer at age 16 and likely not encountered Rick’s art in the same life-altering way.

In a similar vein, if my brother and I hadn’t been so keen to explore and surf the California coast from junior high onward, I wouldn’t have appreciated the California Impressionist’s work nearly as much when I encountered later, as it was my connection to the coast that was triggered by those paintings and made me want to explore that direction in my art as well.

So here I am today painting up and down the California coast, exploring, still hunting for waves I haven’t seen yet. Whispers here and there, accidental discoveries, pure curiousity, whatever leads around the next bend, it’s all fair game.  I’d heard of this wave for years, but only recently learned it was one of Rick’s favorite waves to surf when he lived in the Bay area.

Standing over the cove, watching the windblown lines clean up around the rocky headland, it was a full circle moment thinking of the maker of so much influential art hooting and hollering on the waves below.

A hawk soared past as I painted, circling the cove repeatedly, at times hovering just to my right or left on the updraft before diving and riding the wind tunnels down and around the cliff faces below. I don’t normally add flying birds into paintings as they are so ephemeral to the landscape. This one seemed different.

“Ticks are Evil” $757

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

Price: $757
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:
7th day on the road, 20th painting completed, 2nd one this day

This is another place I’ve wanted to paint for a long time, but it’s quite a walk from the road and just hadn’t had the time on previous trips. I knew the angle I was looking for, but it would require an extensive bit of off-trail work to get there. Fortunately it was pretty much open grassland I’d have to cross, though the signs warning about ticks were a bit unnerving considering I the amount of shoulder high grass I was about to wade through. These paintings don’t happen without some effort though, so a tuck of all the loose clothing, a quick prayer, a few deep breaths, and I was off.

I made it through the grass and to the vantage point I was aiming for, but off by 100 yards or so to the south.The wind was howling as it does in these parts and unfortunately the vantage I was looking for faced it directly and the cliff face below even magnified it. I could head back through the grass or traverse the sandy cliff face over to the better angle. Ticks being evil, I went with the cliff face. With the gusts of wind and all my gear flapping about it was dicey at best. And straight down 100 feet or so to rocks below at worst.

Did I mention these paintings don’t happen without some effort? Well, they don’t.

I was happy to get back to the van after this one. Nothing blew off the cliff, I didn’t fall off either, I didn’t even see a single tick after an entire afternoon of constant checking. Had to sacrifice my socks though on account of all the little pricks and burrs that they collected on the tromp.

“A Reluctant Admission”

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

Notes:
7th day on the road, 19th painting completed, 1st one this day

After collecting an official “Vehicle Immobilization and Potential Arrest Notice” on this private development the day before, I was careful on this day to stay in the designated public access area. It’s always odd to me to encounter these pay-to-play private coast mentalities. I’ve even read interviews with the developers where they talk dismissively of the area locals who felt they had the right to cross the land to get to the beach to dive for abalone, as they had done for literally years before this development came along. But that is another story.

Speaking of another story, as I was heading back to my van to get my gear after scouting my location for this crisp morning painting, I saw a whole herd of fire trucks rolling across the meadow and watched with amusement as firemen, piled out of their trucks and headed to the stairs with their frisbees in one hand and walkie talkies in the other. Must be nice to have “emergency vehicular access” privileges. I figured without my painting pack full of loose straps dangling rusty buckets I didn’t yet look like a misplaced hobo, so I made sure to enquire if they had a permit for this “operation”. Sheepishly they all deflected to one another and scattered down to their frisbee games, eager to get on with their fun.

Busted.

If I’d been a little better dressed and grayer in the hair they may have been a bit more nervous about brushing me off so easily, but it really was a beautiful morning, and I’d have done the same in their shoes… er, boots… er, sandals… whatever.

“Tea and Oranges”

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

Notes:
6th day on the road, 18th painting completed, 3rd on this day

I had this place pinpointed on my map for months. Not for it’s beauty, though it doesn’t lack in that area, but because it’s a place that means a lot to a friend that commissioned me to paint it on my next trip through. This is located in a long stretch of heavily regulated private development. Not knowing where the nearest public access was for this beach, or if it even had one, I figured I’d just pull up to the private road that led down to it and accept the risk involved.

I scoped the place on foot after leaving my van in the clearly not-for-public car park. When I returned to get my gear a few minutes later my plan was to leave an apologetic note on my windshield explaining what I was up to and hope for mercy. Instead I found a security guard already writing up an official “VEHICLE IMMOBILIZATION AND POTENTIAL ARREST NOTICE”  to go where my note would have been placed. These guys worked fast. I proceeded to explain myself and he explained this was the first notice after which (if I was found again on the property) I would face fines and further consequences. Realizing this was just a warning then, I read between the lines that this was my free pass to go paint and enjoy this private slice of earth for the afternoon and rub shoulders with the upper class of beachgoers. Nobody brought me any martinis though.

For that matter nobody brought me any Tea and Oranges that Came All the Way from China either, that title being a reference to a Leonard Cohen song of a different name that played as I pulled onto this private lane, and a sneaky double reference to the security guard who may or may not have gone by the name of Leonard.

Scroll Up