Archive | San Diego

“Dielectric Union”

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

Notes:

The dielectric union is a fitting designed to connect galvanized and copper water pipes. Without this specialized connector, the flowing water would create a subtle electric current around the joint, something to do with the different types of metals, I cannot explain just what, but the end result is that the pipes would quickly corrode at the joint.

It’s a fine metaphor for this whole little micro-region- a mostly laidback and welcoming sort of wealth culture with a mindset that yearns for deeper roots seems to be just the specialized buffer needed between the galvanized working class communities to the north, and the fancy copper neo-coastal ritz to the south. Folks from either culture can find themselves at home here. At least that’s my take as an occasional outside observer. Plus they have great pizza and donuts. I can hang here happily myself when the opportunity arises.

It’s also a fine metaphor for a strong marriage, the healthy relationship required to keep two different and unique souls together without bursting at the joint. So I found it appropriate to paint this one for a married couple who met here years ago, right down this very path.   

“Endangered Spaces”

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

Notes:

It had been a long time since I’d explored these trails. I don’t recall them being quite so constricting. I was looking forward to spending the day out here, associating the open space with solitude and quiet freedom. A relaxing day, maybe find a little nook in the sandstone with a view and some shade. But it was not to be. This was a far busier place than I’d expected. Constant streams of visitors flowing over the clearly marked paths, some of them park volunteers with the authority to smack you with a fine for the slightest violation or stepping off the path. But I do understand the need to regulate the space. The sheer volume of human foot traffic here would be a disaster without regulation. These cliffs erode at the slightest suggestion and the hardy coastal scrub can only handle so much trampling before giving way to bare dirt and accelerating the already alarming pace of erosion.

The irony is the folks coming here to find solitude in nature are finding beauty, but that beauty is surrounded with more restrictions than an average shopping mall. Fitting then that this painting location featured a steady stream of teenage girls taking selfies, having me take their selfies, talking about their selfies, good grief… where is the food court already? Oh wait that’s right, no food allowed here. Really. It’s a rule I found out later. One group of girls sat on a nearby bench talking for almost an hour weaving a conversation of spanish and english and laughter. As this painting neared completion one of them became very excited, “Oh my gosh, this was sooooo amazing watching you. I’ve never seen anyone, you know, paint, like, what they see, you know? I don’t know, it just makes me feel soooo calm, you know?”  I do know, and it does make one feel calm, but I am very glad she noticed and thought it was pretty cool that she’ll see art differently from this day forward…

“Walking a Fine Line”

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

Notes:

My work takes me to remote locations way off the beaten paths, other times it sends me right into the most crowded shoulder to shoulder tourist zones you can find. If this particular state park is as serious about keeping folks on the trails and preventing erosion as they say they are, its only a matter of time before these trails are replaced with a fixed raised boardwalk to prevent a foot from ever falling on the fragile earth. But I digress… back to this day… Due to the high volume of traffic arriving at the overlook, I thought it would make sense to not set up in the small area, often crowded with visitors jostling for a view, so I set up just outside the railing, standing on the concrete footing the park had poured around the fencing, not tromping around, no harm, no foul, and everyone had a great view. After about 30 minutes I was approached by a park volunteer who threatened a $400 fine right off the bat for my standing outside the railing. No conversation whatsoever, just apparently thrilled to have a reason to exercise his authority, but I don’t get it. I’m on the team! I’m with you, not against you, man! Look where I’m awkwardly standing to avoid any appearance of tromping around out here? No? No. Ok, I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself and relocate my whole apparatus. Thanks. No, I don’t want your help.  Later up at the car, I’m enjoying a beer on my tailgate as is my custom after a long day painting in the sun nearly everywhere when a lifeguard truck rolls by, clearly eyeing my van. I quickly replace the beer with a water bottle and chat with him as he informs me casually that technically no food or drink is allowed in the park. I offer him some chips and salsa. After he leaves, a park ranger truck pulls into the now nearly empty lot and sits idling just 20 feet away directly facing me. Not moving, not taking notes, just full on mad-dog staring me down. What have the people done here to make this place so insane? It’s beautiful, but it’s like walking on a razor’s edge trying not land on the wrong side of another rule or regulation or just an old-fashioned imbalance of power. Think I’ll go now. All this nature is stressing me out.

“Succulents, Rust, and Enlightenment”

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

Notes:

No matter what our goals in life, if they are worth pursuing, there are barriers set in our paths that can hinder or prevent us from attaining them. Bear with me while I get symbolic here, I don’t do this very often, but in hindsight this painting practically demands it…

The first barrier is represented by the cactus. It is a natural barrier, bursting forth from the dry earth on its own accord. We tend to go around it rather than through it, and for good reason. This is the barrier of our natural limitations, our bodies, our hunger, our strengths, our weaknesses.

The second barrier is the rusty barbed wire fence. Designed to keep us in place, we might look for a gap in the fence, but much like the cactus, we don’t mess with the barbed wire. Tetanus is no fun. This is the barrier the world sets before us. It’s not a natural thing, it’s the stuff we create as humans, money, jobs, status, etc. These things can all derail us from the desires that have been placed on our hearts that define who we truly are.

And now for enlightenment, although I may not be going where you think with this. The house on the hill here belongs to a Self Realization Fellowship. These folks have enlightenment on speed dial. Good for them, but that is no virtue in my book. In fact they are the ones that put up the damned fence in the first place. Too much enlightenment seeking can ruin a man.

Each of these can be a hindrance to a life well lived, tread carefully and get after what matters. You’ll know it when you find it. Cheers.

“Guns and Flowers” $820

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

Price: $820
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Notes:

A brief stopping point in the middle of one of California’s Coastal military bases. Access is difficult in these zones so I resorted to painting from a roadside viewpoint, just a quick row of parking spots for travelers to pull off the highway and snap a photo or two of the sunset, or themselves, or both. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to explore, just a narrow fenced in strip around the perimeter of the carpark. I contemplated painting the cars themselves and thought better of it as this place is really for me defined by the open space carved out for military purposes and not so much a civilian destination. Miles of rolling hills, many now alight with blooming mustard flowers of spring, have been left in a more or less natural state here, free from the certain development that would cover this prime coastal real estate with just so much of the same as everywhere else, and for this, I salute our armed forces. Speaking of the military, those helicopters are loud. The first 45 minutes were fairly quiet while painting, but then came the thundering skybirds in steady and rapid succession for the remainder of the session. I had the distinct sense they had noticed what appeared to be a very curious hobo lurking near the carpark with an odd array of equipment strewn about the ground around him. I’m never quite sure how my program looks to an outside observer, especially from the air. But either way, I could see them staring out as they circled periodically. I waved a few times, but never saw my gesture returned. It’s quite possible, and highly likely they were just doing their flight practice and training completely oblivious to me down below, but either way I was glad of their presence, as it gave me ample opportunity to observe their hovering forms in the sky and sneak one into this painting of an otherwise idyllic pre-development scene of coastal southern California.

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