Archive | San Diego

“No Harm, No Foul”

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

Notes:
I was thinking this would be a simple little painting to start my day. It was in some ways. But it was also a bit nerve-wracking. Nestled between boulders I painted the morning away, and marveled at just how quiet the trains that run this line have become. I barely heard them coming. The stretched cotton canvas hummed in vibration as they passed by just a few steps away.  I was safely out of the way where I stood, but it was startling every time one snuck up on me. At one point I was visited by a security gaurd for the ex-president’s compound just behind me. I thought I was getting kicked off the tracks, but apparently he didn’t care much what I did. He had a call that some idiot was standing on the train tracks down below and had to respond to it. He made sure I knew it was stupid to be there, and I assured him that I was smart enough to know just how stupid I was, and with that he was off and back to his tea and scones or whatever ex-presidential security guys do when they’re not investigating idiots on the train tracks. No harm, no foul.

“Modern Lines”

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

Notes:
I’ve walked over and beneath this line many a time. I’ve jumped from the tracks to flee the train. I’ve marveled at the burnt beams and wondered that entire trains could be held up by charcoal and memory. Apparently others wondered too, and decided on that eternal upgrade- smooth concrete. Impervious to the hobo’s fire. It’s not the same, but nothing is ever the same. The quiet train, now electric glides overhead. You don’t even hear it coming, you only feel the ground shake and then it’s upon you. Be careful out there. Write your name on the asphault with surf wax. Write your name on the concrete with paint. Try not get your name engraved in the concrete over your head before your proper time.

“Midday Flats”

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

Notes:
Standing here today, it’s hard to beleive this is one of the focal points of high-performance surfing in California. At times there are thousands packed onto this beach to watch professional surfers compete at this very spot. But not today. There is no one. Looking down the coast from here brings back a lot of good memories for me as well. I’d wanted to come down and spend a whole day wandering and painting here, but the wind had come up and ripped the ocean ragged, making the chore difficult and the inspiration harder to come by. I’m not sure what it was that struck me about this little scene, but there was a simple elegance to it that caught my eye. Or that might have been a piece of sand caught in my eye. Or maybe both.

“The Hectic Pace of Modern Life”

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

Notes:
I’d started this one from the roof of my van much earlier on this trip. But there was no VW in the foreground, just that white truck. And it bothered me. The whole composition was messed up by the dead space beneath it. I’d tried to live with it. Sometimes I have the tendency to cram too much information on to every inch of canvas. Not details necessarily, just information. Lots of brush strokes, interlocked, dancing. It can be a nice effect, but sometimes equally nice to let the quiet spaces just be quiet once in a while. I think I thought that would work when I painted this, but it never really did. So I went back and parked in the same spot and waited for someone to pull in beside me and paint their car in the foreground to break up that dead zone. But it was a quiet day here. Everyone must have been busy keeping up with the hectic pace of their modern lives. Or maybe they just looked at the webcams streaming into their living room to tell them there was no waves, and just one van with a bearded dork sitting around on top of it scratching his head and drinking beer- sometimes at the same time even. No matter what the cause though, the effect was that there was no cars to paint at all. So I did the next best thing and painted my dad’s 76′ VW from memory. I grew up in that van. I was one year old when he got it, and he’s kept it all these years in great condition. My wife and I drove from Long Beach, California to Long Beach, Canada and back in that van on our honeymoon. We lived in for nearly three months. I know it pretty well, so I figured I could bluff a sloppy rendition of it just about as well as I could attempt to accurately paint something else if it had pulled into the lot.  I took my time and enjoyed myself, reveling in the hectic pace of my modern life.

“Oh No, Not Today” $522

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

Price: $522
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.

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Matt Beard Art- Plein Air Original Painting Documentation

Price Breakdown:

Base Price:
$180 – ($1.25 per square inch)

Travel:
$228 – Approximate distance from Eureka, CA ($0.3 per mile)
$50 – Overnight Travel
$0 – Sleeping in Van
$0 – Tricky Urban Camping

On the Ground Logistics:
$10 – Paid Parking
$0 – Illegal or Questionable Parking Required: Nope
$0 – Parking Ticket or Citation Issued

$25 – Painted from Roof of Van (that platform wasn’t cheap)

$0 – Painted from Private Land: No
$0 – Posted ‘No Trespassing’
$0 – Harrassed by Authorities/Told to Leave
$0 – Citation for Tresspassing Issued
$0 – Fence/Gate Hopping
$0 – Barbed Wire
$0 – Blood

$0 – Hauling Gear on Foot ($30 per mile)
$0 – Off Trail Wilderness Tromping
$0 – Climbing or Vertical Scrambling Requiring Use of Hands: None
$0 – Full On Bushwhacking: None

$0 – Poison Oak Observed: None
$0 – Bee/Wasp/Other Painful Insect Bites ($15 each)
$0 – Mosquitoes: None
$0 – Ticks Observed on Skin or Clothing: None
$0 – Tick Bites ($125 each!!)

$20 – Wind ($2 per mph)
$50 – Shade/Sun: Cooking in the Hot Sun
$9 – Heat/Cold ($1.5 per degree farhenheit above/below 65)
$-25 – Crowds/Questions/Human Element: Distracting, but Nice

$0 – Sustenance Provided by Others Before, During or After Painting: Nadda
$-25 – Fun Surf At Location Before, During, or After Painting: Good Enough

$ – Other:
_________________________________________________________________________

$522 – TOTAL COST

Notes:
I was supposed to meet some visiting Northern California friends here for an easy morning surf. I figured I’d roll down, even though I was pretty far up the coast- it’s not very often we see each other outside of Humboldt, or even in Humboldt for that matter. After a surf, I’d hang, maybe paint, just see what they day would bring.

One of them backed out the night before on account of a less than favorable forecast, but I’d already made the plan and figured I’d meet the other one that was still planning to go. On my way down, that friend backed out too, citing the same crummy conditions. Oh well, I’d already gone this far, and besides, even with a bad forecast there’s always still something to surf here.

But oh no, not today. It was the worst day of surf I’ve ever seen here. And I’ve seen some bad ones and surfed em anyway.  I could always paint, but even that was tough. My usual approach to this place is to paint the bustling parking lot full of cars and scattered surfboards. It’s a living piece of California surfing history here. But alas, not today.

And so I present to you here this iconic mecca of carpark surf culture, as absolutely empty as you may ever see it.

At least it wasn’t raining.

“The Deep South”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2019

Notes:
Not many see this major metropolitan city in California from this vantage point. Let’s call it the deep south. I was tired and cooked from a day of painting nearby in the humid sun, but couldn’t resist this view on my hike back to the van. It’s one of the faster paintings I’ve done at just under an hour, start-to-finish, in the field and another 2o minutes of minor touch up back in the studio. But it seems to work. Sometimes they just click together. Good thing too, because the mosquitoes were hungry.

And so was I.

Moving right along.

“The Other Side”

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

Notes:
I’d been thinking of this for a long time. I have to make an exception and let you know where this is. This is the where the California/Mexico border meets the sea. I was hoping to drive out to the park on the hill right here overlooking the scene, but due to late season rains, the road was too muddy to open to vehicles so I had to walk in the 2 miles to the spot. After tromping off the wrong direction and ending up at the border about a mile from the coast under the watch of border patrol agents and confronted by a myriad of signs saying I wasn’t supposed to take a step further, I tip toed back to the van and tried again.

I noticed a lot of folks heading down the paths that made their way to the park. The smart ones on bikes. Whole families. Abandoned scooters. Dead crows. Nasterciums in beatiful bloom. Humid rain falling lightly at times. Mosquitoes that meant business. It was quite a scene down there in those wetlands of the Tijuana river.

Beautiful in its own way. But curious too. Why were so many people walking all this way just to be confronted by this uncomfortably stark reality?

I’d know soon enough. On the other side of the fence was a carnival of color. Ice cream trucks. Cotton candy. Kites flying. Flags waving. A swirling mix of humanity. On this side was gray. Border patrol SUV’s with armed agents keeping watch. An additional fence effectively creating a no-go zone buffer about 100 feet wide. Surveillance cameras. Concrete and weeds. No ice cream.

And no judgment really. I’m sure the southern border of mexico doesn’t exactly open the gates and throw parties for everyone from central america that might want to stroll on through. But still- a stark reality to be confronted with no matter how you cut it.

And that no-go zone?  There was one exception to that rule. Right on the bluff overlooking these waves there was one area, and one area only, where visitors from the U.S. side were allowed to walk right up to the actual border fence. Only 10 or so at a time were allowed into the area, and they were watched closely at all times by a dedicated border patrol gaurd.

But here was the heart-breaking answer to my orginal question. This is where families and friends separated by geopolitics could speak, not by letters, , not by phone, not by email, not by facetime, or anything fancier than that. Here is the one place, and the only place I know of, that these affected families that find themselves on both sides of the fence can see one another and truly speak face to face.

No matter which side you’re on, this place is all about the Other Side.

“Just the Basics”

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

Notes:
I painted this one for a photographer/videographer friend of mine, Scott Sporleder. We met up and plotted the scene out, carefully arranging our cars (and our friends cars) along this bend in the coast to compose this one from the roof of my van. The plan was to go for a surf, paint, hang out, drink beers and make a day of it.  I never made it out to join them in the water as this painting somehow made a day all unto itself. Maybe I got a bit bogged into the shapes of the vehicles, being as they are a little less forgiving than my usual subject matter. Whatever the cause, I ended up standing up on the roof of my van all afternoon, 5 or 6 hours up there maybe? Probably not, but it felt like it. Especially when they all ran out to surf, and I just kept chasing this painting in circles. In the midst of all this Scott would periodically climb up to join me, take some process shots, ask a few more questions, deliver more cold beer, etc. It was a fun time all the way around. Nothing fancy. Just the basics. Scott even put together this cool little videocumentery of the day. Check it out!

“From the Shadows”

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

Notes:
I painted this on a raining morning in Southern California in May. I like to come south to get away from rain. This rain was not in my plan. Those ephemeral little jewels falling from the sky, as wonderful as they were to the dry desert southlands, collectively formed a dull and dreary darkness casting its shadows across my mental landscape.

But on the bright side, I painted this one alongside my friend Norm Daniels. He’s a great artist and a great guy to hang out with under a shade palapa (good for rain shelter too) and paint the day away. We ate donuts. We spoke with a jewish couple who came down to baptize their new cooking pot in the ocean. Norm was babtized in the ocean too. Somehow that struck me as humorous at the time, but I see now that it wasn’t really that funny. I guess that’s why both Norm and the couple with the cooking pot looked at me with blank stares when I exclaimed that Norm and the pot were brothers. Hindsight is 20/20.

After painting, we had tacos and beers and I really couldn’t have asked for a better day, even though I grumbled a bit at the start of it.

I guess sometimes you have to step out from the shadows to see things more clearly in the light of day.

“Not Exactly a Picnic”

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

Notes:
Painted from the roof of my van. I recently put a platform up there just for this purpose. It’s great to return to places I’ve been before and see them from just a little higher up.  I wasn’t all that into this scene though, even from my lofty perch. But this is what I came to do, so sometimes it’s just a matter of getting work done. Halfway through this one I really started to like where it was going. Funny how that works. Sometimes you can see a painting before even setting up the easel, other times you have to slog your way through the grays before something of interest emerges. It’s not always a picnic, sometimes it’s more like peeling potatoes in the galley of a slave ship. But either way the soup can be delicious- I guess it just comes down to hunger.

“Respect the Elders”

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

Notes:
In other times an old road collapsed into the sea here, the slabs of concrete line the point and have been beaten and weathered into pieces, at times rounded smooth, at times broken and jagged. The locals here have gathered together some of these slabs and arranged them into a row of benches from which to sit and talk story, heckle visitors, drink beer, play music, or all-of-the-above. I’d seen this little scene earlier in the day and wanted to come back and paint it in the afternoon.

I’m pretty sly about my whereabouts when I’m out painting, so I was thinking it was quite a coincidence that an artist friend of mine who lives in this area messaged me the morning I was heading out to paint here about what sort of plein air easel and setup I used. During lunch I told him it was primarily a self-built custom job, right before heading down to paint this scene, but never told him where I was or asked where he was that day.

When I arrived, I was a bit dissappointed to see these makeshift benches in full operational glory by a small crew of locals. One had a guitar, there were coolers, they were clearly posted up for the time being. It would be awkward to approach a group like this and just start painting the spot where they sat, so I figured I’d have to have a conversation and see if they’d mind, fully prepared to come back another time if they weren’t into it. Not because they own the beach, but simply out of respect- after all, they were there before I arrived.

As I began to make my pitch to this crew, the one sitting closest to me looked up, and slowly pulled his sunglasses down to see me better, and I had to laugh as we both realized who the other one was. This was none other than my friend Paul Elder, who had just asked that morning about my easel.

A cold beer was produced, and a demonstration of my painting setup ensued as we chatted art and life nearly the entire time I painted this one. Not sure why I didn’t paint in any of the crew that were hanging out on the benches this particular afternoon- to tell the truth, I didn’t even think about it. I just painted what I had in mind, which apparently didn’t include them.

Anyway, Paul is crazy good artist. You should look him up. He does all the art for Ballast Point beers.

Nothing but Respect for the Elders.

“Grumpy Locals”

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

Notes:
It’s a beautiful little cactus garden planted at the entrance to this beach. I always think of cactus as nature’s grumpy locals- planted firmly where they live, and keeping outsiders at bay. I believe this place may be frequented by a true grumpy local or two as well, but they aren’t nearly as local as these cactii who call this perch their true home every day of the year. These prickly little buggers might not throw rocks, but don’t get too close anyway or they’ll remind you who’s who real fast.

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