Archive | SoCal May2018

“California’s Dream”

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

Notes:

This is what the California Coast dreams about while she’s sleeping in during the May Gray/June Gloom…

She sees a distant marine layer and no other clouds in the bright clear sky. She sees the shade of an old Eucalyptus. The tree itself both invasive, and beautiful, and loved – a rare combination. Indeed, she is saddened by the thought of life without the mighty twisted Eucalyptus growing from her earth and part of her hopes it never comes to pass.

She sees the memories of her adolescence, the old rail, the lifeline that connected her various towns and settlements when she was just coming of age and didn’t know the difference between a scoundrel and a gentleman.

She sees the running barbed wire fence placed to keep the cattle in place, another reminder of her adolescence when shots fired from a rider on horseback could signal fear, or theft, or love, or life, or all of them at once.

She sees a couple of painters standing over this vista scribbling away at their canvas, while sipping cold beers as a herd of cattle is moved down the road behind them.

In a moment of lucidity, she wakes within her dream to wonder what it means. She asks a man who smiles beside an old faithful Toyota truck and offers her a beer as well. It is then she hears the answer coming from the open cab of the truck and spoken to the wind through the crackling voice of a young Bob Dylan.

“From the Grave to the Cradle” $985

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

Price: $985
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

Notes:
A funny thing about life, that you don’t really ever consider the miracle of your birth until you’ve truly reckoned with the reality of your impending death. Standing here, two feet planted firmly on the path to the cemetery (let the reader understand), this is the first time I ever laid my eyes upon the moment of conception (again, let the ready understand). When confronted with metaphor of this proportion there is no need of a horizon line, that usual separator of the known and unknown is no longer relevant when faced with this stark reality. There is nothing really to do now but just stand here and look back at your life and face the rushing wind as it hollows out the spaces in your soul that turned to stone while you were busy dreaming of the points in between the Grave and the Cradle.

“Almost Home”

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

Notes:

I haven’t spent much time on this stretch of coast, but the short windows I’ve been blessed with have been spectacular immersions into one of the most well-preserved portions of an older California still remaining.

Some folks call this place their home. This is the view they see coming home every time they leave and return.

When I see this scene playing out before my eyes, I realize I must have left a bit of my heart out here on a previous trip. Everything about this place speaks to me of coming home- the deep canyon, the old rail trestle, the scattered eucalyptus, the naturally smooth diatomaceous shale cliff faces, all overlooking a vision of a finely foiled California point break.

I sometimes call the entire California Coast my home, and if the whole coast were a magnificent house on a hill, this is the entryway to it’s Great Room, it’s focal point, where all of the architectural nuances used to great affect elsewhere culminate to a sublimely perfect crescendo of the Architect’s true genius.

It’s not likely that I’ll ever live here in the normal sense, but still, when I consider this scene, I feel I am Almost Home.

“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
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
click here for full cost breakdown

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.

“The Way it Was”

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

Notes:

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.

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