Archive | Los Angeles

“What Lies Behind”

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

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Notes:
Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Movie stars. Music icons. The just plain wealthy. It’s a rare day for an artist like me to walk through the gates that lead to this little slice of paradise. I had to paint fast because my host for the day was only surfing for an hour or so, and I didn’t want to keep him waiting around. The gate had a padlock on it that had to be unlocked weather going or coming. If he were to leave, I would be locked in. Trapped, with nothing but my paint gear, a bottle of water, and a granola bar. Could be worse I suppose, but the rich and famous can be pretty snooty. I was releived to make it back to the van without incident. Oh, and at least one of these rich and famous folks has no clue what they’ve done in planting bamboo in the bare ground in the little gully along the access path behind the gate. Give it time. It will win. But on the bright side, I’ve watched Gilligan’s Island and happen to know that nearly anything you can think of can be made out of bamboo, so there is that to look forward to. Ginger will be right at home.

“A Hard Rain”

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

Notes:
Recently I’ve been really enjoying the rough stages of my underpainting process, where the canvas is all awash in thin coats of transparent paint, dripping, running, colors bleeding together in an unhindered enjoyment. When these loose rough sketches come together, it’s often a disappointment when I go to finish them. I find there are parts of a painting that I really enjoy developing more than others. I’ve been thinking of how to leave some areas unworked and just focus on the parts I want to focus on. The rains that have been threatening and following me around on this trip have got me thinking to just let the paint run in those areas and this was a first attempt to embrace the “unfinished” in my work. In this case it was the dark foreground hillside. I was drawn to the drama of light on the distant scene, and just didn’t want to get bogged down in rendering the foreground rocks and grass with the same degree of attention as I wanted to give the ocean and cove in the distance- so I didn’t. I just painted it dark and let it run… and left it be. It’s an ominous effect, but I like it.

“The Beautiful Mountain”

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

Notes:
The name of this place translates to Beautiful Mountain. Every evening the sun sets behind that distant hill and on an evening like this it’s easy to see why the name was chosen. Working fast in the rapidly changing end of day light, I tried to convey some sense of the crispness of color and light that saturated this scene. Not sure how successful I was in being true to what I saw and felt, but the results have their own sort of charm. I’ll call it a tie.

“Bird, As a Weapon”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 24″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
I grew up near here. Technically in this city, though a bit removed from this scene. It’s a very industrial coastline, and one I’ve mostly avoided throughout my adult life until this day. Folks come here from the hectic city to unwind on the beach, or deal drugs, or eat at hip restaurants, or mumble incoherent profanities at anyone within earshot. It’s decidedly urban, and at times urbane, at other times profane. It takes all kinds. Welcome to the beach.

I’d found this perch overlooking this beach bike/pedestrian path. Occasional walkers, joggers and bikers formed an infrequent stream of traffic on otherwise quiet day. But the real action came from the Birds. Not the ones in the air, the ones on this path, being ridden by folks of all feathers and stripes zipping from here to there. Those things are everywhere nowadays.

Right behind me, separated by a wall of plexiglass, were the well-to-do afficionados of a beach front craft brewery. I like beer. Standing in the humid sun, sweat beading down my face, lost in the minutae of industry in this painting. That thin plexiglass may as well have been a mile wide barrier of concrete and steel. I wish it had been. I tried not to look back at it, and all those cold beers being swished around.

At one point there was a commotion on the nearby pier just out of frame and to the left. Cop cars came driving down the bike path. Dozens of them gathered from all directions. I still don’t know what happened out there. Later that day I saw a news report that a woman was killed in this city, beaten by a scooter.  We… people that is… we can be monsters.

I don’t have any moral to this story. It’s just how the day unfolded as I went to revisit and paint this stretch of coast that I mostly only remember from childhood.

“Sarah’s Lemonade”

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

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Notes:

I scour the coast looking for views like this. They don’t always reveal themselves right away. This one took years of following hunches and calculating the risks of trespassing on these multi-million dollar properties. If they can afford real estate here, they might have other homes elsewhere as well, so what are the odds of them even being home at all, right? Besides, even if they were home, if she caught you painting on or near her property, she might just invite you in for a cold glass of lemonade and give you a tour of her house on the hill while showing you the paintings she’s made which adorn her walls.

I have to admit I was hoping for a stronger drink after a long day painting in the heat, but a cold glass of lemonade is nothing to scoff at.

Thank you, Sarah. It was great to meet you and your family. I think you’re really going to love painting in “plein air”. I look forward to painting with you from your front deck with an even-better view one of these days.  I hope your trip to Italy is simply marvelous.

“Vaudevillian Cartoon”

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

PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE

Notes:
Vaudeville [vôd(ə)ˌvil] noun. a theatrical genre of variety entertainment, typically made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill.

Act one: The rugged beauty of a pristine corner of California’s coast.

Act two: Tourists peering out from beneath beach umbrellas while shouting a their kids and inadvertently feeding seagulls who are smart enough to know a distracted parent when they see one.

Act three: Perpetual novice surfers who have all the time in the world to learn to surf, owing to wealth generated from any means other than actual work, but who just bob and paddle around as the wind of their joyously clueless whims blows them.

Act four: A testosterone-fueled circus act where the slightly more experienced surfers demonstrate their skill level by insisting on sitting and taking off closer to the rock than you and thereby botching 4 out of  every 5 set waves.

Enjoy the show.

“Free Range 28: For Those Who Have Gone Before Us”

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

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 1,296.1 miles
Notes: There’s a lot of history here. Native history, Spanish colonial history, surfing history, and countless other threads entwine around this focal point of the coast. As I painted this one I chatted with a local who was a long time friend of a fellow coastal artist who passed away not too long ago. Hearing his stories and backstories to those stories really brought home the reality to me that this life is too short not to live fully. He lived a much different life than I, but born to another time and place it could have been me that was gone and him just now hearing tales of my days here. Hug the ones you love.

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