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“The Way it Was”

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


I was on assignment here, asked to paint this iconic Southern California headland The Way it Was before the highway and houses came along,  without any signs of human presence. It would require some careful editing of the developed landscape. Speaking of careful handling of the landscape, it would also require some careful stepping through a plant rehabilitation zone WAY off the main trails. I would ordinarily avoid such questionable practices, but when the state park folks decide inexplicably to lace the entire hillside with trails and NONE of them lead to the rim of the bluffs that overlook this white-sand beach and scenic headland I can only scratch my head in wonder. Give the people a trail and they may well stay on it if you ask them too, but take away the trail and you’ll fight a losing battle with the masses intent on finding their own path to the view. I try to be good really, I do. It was quite a tip toe, avoiding stepping on any sign of life as I picked my way through the scrub and out onto the rim, finding a nice clearing between some high shrubs that would conceal me nicely from the eyes of all, especially the eyes of the rangers, and double especially the eyes of the ranger that I had just asked about which trails would lead to a good view of the headland. I knew right then, that something was up because of her awkward uncertainty. Really? You’re a park ranger and you can’t tell me with conviction where the best views can be found in your park? Get out. I’ll find it myself. With or without a trail, thank you very much. And that’s what I did… not to make anything more or less of it, it’s just The Way it Was that day.

“Free Range 29: This Too Shall Pass”


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

Series: “Free Range: California”
Odometer: 1,361.2 miles
Notes: Painted this after driving through the largest freeways of this trip on a hot humid day, suffering a random nosebleed in the fast lane, and arriving to this spot covered in a sweaty layer of smogfunk. Figured I’d make the most of it since I was here. This place has history with me. When I really got into landscapes and plein air art around 15 years ago, I was briefly living in long beach and this was the closest place to come and hike and submerse one’s self in nature and atmosphere and not see cars, roads, or houses for miles. And its also very close to the beach where I proposed to my wife a little over 15 years ago as well. We celebrated our 15th anniversary together up the coast a few days ago, so was really wanting to paint one around here even though I wasn’t too inspired when setting up. Laid out a few lines and was greeted by the heaviest rain I’ve seen on this trip. Paint literally dripping off the canvas. Just about called it quits, but figured this too would pass, and sure enough it did. Glad I didn’t give up earlier.

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