Archive | Free Range: A Rose by Any Other Name

“Time Waits for No Man… And Neither Does the Boat” $586

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $586
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Notes:
I’ve heard it said that “time waits for no man”, well… neither does the boat.

It was a pretty rushed scramble taking on this scene just before the boat was to depart for home. I was half-tempted to “miss the boat” just to stay a bit longer, but thought better of it.

When I started this painting of the entire scene before me, I may have bit off a bit more than I could chew in such a short time and wasn’t able to quite finish this one on location, but a bit of studio work at home from memory and I think it conveys the place pretty well.  

They say visiting these shores is like going back in time, to an older California… well, there you have it.

“The North Shore” $638

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $638
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Notes:
After two days of painting one stretch of coast in this off-the-beaten-path outpost of California, I was eager to see a different part of it before leaving later this day. It would require 2.5 mile hike, while carrying a ton of art supplies up and over the low hills without a soul in sight to bring me to a completely different shoreline, facing nearly due north- an unusual arrangement on California’s coast.

I knew there were waves down below, but the trail remained steadfastly set back from the water, leaving only the unbroken lines of swell visible. Though I had not seen anyone out here, I did see a park ranger’s truck nearby at an old cattle gate. I assumed they might be out here somewhere.

What to do? Go off trail and find the view of breaking waves that I knew would await, but risk a good talking-to for my transgression if I was caught?  Or be good, and paint the nice view from the trail further up?

I really enjoyed painting these waves. Nothing spectacular, but the wind stayed light and the yellow bloom of succulents on this typically wind-swept hillside was pure joy to take in, and paint. Plus I was far enough down the hill that I don’t think anyone could have found me even if they tried.

I tread as lightly as possible and hope the beauty it shares with you offsets the trouble I may have caused to the fragile landscape. Besides, I weigh much less than a cow, and didn’t eat a single plant along the way, so there is that…

“Moonlit Echoes” $451

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $451
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Notes:
5th painting completed today… well sorta today. Technically I only did four during the daylight hours but then snuck this one in the late hours of night.

The moonlight falling on the crushed gravel paths made walking the trails at night a beautiful experience. The reflective white surface of the path glowed in comparison to the grass on either side. The old building here are relics from the previous era of sheep and cattle ranching- of which the cumulative effects on the islands native species and coastal topographies are still being studied today.

In the daytime it gets apparent pretty quickly that these old buildings are no longer used, but in the quiet of night it’s somehow easier to imagine them resting from the noisy activity of a long day’s work, only to rise at first light and go about it all over again. Each clanking chain blown in the wind creates another echo from a not so distant past.

In reality though, the sun has set for good on these operations. These moonlit echoes are a reminder that each day has its own dawn and its own sunset. But the moon comes and goes as it pleases

“Recent Deposit” $434

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $434
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Notes:
A quick one before dinner, followed by a much needed quick dip in the sea. When we arrived on this island, I heard a bit of excitement about this little sand dune that had formed just up the beach. Apparently it was a very recent deposit, and being that I was here with a bunch of college students who study coastal processes, there was quite a buzz about this pile of sand. Anyway, on this evening I thought the light was wonderful and I felt like painting so I figured the shaded dune would be a fun contrast to the sharp light on the hills behind it. I kinda misjudged the composition a bit and didn’t mean to be so bold. I though the dune would just be one part of the painting, sort of a nod to the company I was in on this trip, but due to a quick initial sketch with very little thought I realized that the little dune was taking over the entire painting. Oh well, these things blow in with wind on their own time, and move as they please apparently. By the end of the trip I even heard a calculation of just how many cubic feet of sand were contained in this dune. I wish I’d wrote it down. Tape measures were involved. I mean seriously, who does that? I love these kids.

“Torrey Pine Sentinel” $566

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 12″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $566
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Notes:
When most folks hear the words “Torrey Pines” they think as much about a rare variety of pine tree as they do a very specific location in San Diego- the state park named for the tree and often touted as the only place in the world where these trees grow.

But don’t worry, I’m not naming locations here, this is nowhere near San Diego, and just happens to be the only other place on earth where these pines are found.

I had hoped to march further up the hill and get a more expansive view of this grove, but sometimes when I see a painting before me, it’s hard to pass up. Especially if the day is getting late and I still have a 3 mile hike ahead of me. In this case I was battling a sense of urgency and perhaps over rushed this one. I had been out on the hills in the late afternoon the day before and really enjoyed the way the sun set behind them but still illuminated the flat alluvial plains that sweep out and form this long crescent bay. I went after it a bit prematurely, anticipating the changing light shift to come, but it wouldn’t happen for another hour or so after I was done with my shift standing watch beside this old Torrey Pine sentinel.

Some plein air paintings are created by reacting to the moment, but sometimes they are a reaction to a memory as well. That was this one.

“Beside Clear Waters” $836

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $836
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Notes:
This irresistible cove is overlooked by a rare Torrey Pine. I find myself today among the only grove of Torrey Pine trees that exists outside of San Diego. The hillside behind me contains a dense grove. Do trees travel in herds?

I was drawn to this one, standing alone beside these clear waters. It seemed to me a bit of a fragile metaphor for an artist’s life. There’s safety in the herd, the job, the career, the retirement funds, stock options and all that. But the view from that office just looks at another office.

The art life is often about stepping away from the pack just a bit. Safety and comfort are traded for meaning and beauty. Like this tree by the ocean, the artist remains exposed to the battering winds that life brings. The salty air may even stunt our growth and cause our beards to whither, but out here we are alive.

Until we aren’t.

Whatever. Stop painting. Go swimming.

“Our Farther” $611

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2018

Price: $611
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Notes:
I usually grumble about my heavy pack whenever I have to hike more than a mile. This turned out to be a six mile round trip to make this painting happen. But I could not complain about the heavy pack this time. My hiking companions on this morning sunrise walk were a couple of scientist fellows intent on monitoring frogs on the far side of this island, which somehow required them to carry a massive metal post and post-driver. (I’m no scientist, so don’t ask me). I guess we all have our crosses to bear, but theirs was definitely heavier today. And they were traveling twice as far. I made it back to our cabin with time for a dip in the ocean and another quick painting before dinner. We didn’t see them back until several hours after dark.

Along the way this morning, I kept seeing plenty of places to stop and paint, but something kept driving me farther along the path.

I think it was simply the desire to go farther itself. There’s something about spending yourself to get out there off the beaten paths and be alone on the face of a wild earth that gets in your blood.

The scientists and I approach this place from completely different angles, but we have a lot of common ground as well, it’s just a bit farther out.

“We Must Keep Our Eyes Open”

Medium: Acrylic on Birch Wood Panel
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
We must keep our eyes open. First two syllables: We-muh. Wordplay for the name of the tribe that lived here for thousands of years before they were scooped up and sent away to make room for sheep and cattle and now a national park.

The opportunity to come visit this place was part of a program through CSUCI that brings students here to study this unique natural environment. This trip was designed with an emphasis on “seeing the landscape”.

That’s my bread and butter. Happy to join these wide-eyed kids who get excited about the announcement of an “ethnobotany hike” in 30 minutes.

I lasted about 20 minutes on the educational hike and then my need to see the landscape from the top of this hill won out and they sent me on my way.

What a joy to set up an easel and paint on this hill, where not many feet travel, and even fewer easels get dragged up and put to use.

Life is hard to predict, so keeping my eyes open, I know this opportunity may not come again. How thankful I am to be here today. And this is what I saw…

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