Archive | Free Range Road Trips

Painting on location across the California coast, accessed by van, by foot, and sometimes by boat.

“Guns and Flowers” $820

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

Price: $820
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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


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: SF/San Mateo 2017

8 days. 1 bad head cold. 2 rainy summer days. 2 busted easels. 1 busted wetsuit zipper. 1 painting that blew off the easel and hit me in the face before nearly flying away. 1 odd conversation with the police. 1 gnarly lightning storm.  11 paintings.


Free Range: South Central Coast 2017

8 days.  16 paintings.

Free Range: Mendocino/Sonoma 2017

8 days. 8 dodgy parking situations. 4 tresspassings. 2 lengthy discussions with the authorities. 1 “VEHICLE IMMOBILIZATION AND NOTICE OF ARREST NOTICE”. Zero tick bites! 23 paintings.

Free Range: East Coast* Tour 2017

6 days.  2 laps around the lake. 1 trip up a mountain in a gondola. At least one van wheel witnessed completely off the ground after an unexpected “bump” in the road. Zero injuries.  10 paintings. 1 sold out show.

*East coast, as in Lake Tahoe. It’s the east coast of California anyway…

Free Range: SoCal Road Trip Spring 2017

22 days. 1 San Diego Surf Film Festival. 1 Boardroom Surfboard Show. 1 Expression Session Art and Surf Invitational. 23 paintings. 1 brush with the law.

“Free Range: Orange County Winter 2017

7 days. 2.5 days of rain. $26.75 paid to parking meters. 9 Paintings created on one road trip.

Free Range: Santa Cruz 2016

12 days. 1 Parking Ticket. 18 Paintings created on one road trip.

Free Range: Santa Barbara/Ventura 2016

13 days. 3 separate wildfires. 19 paintings.

Free Range: Marin 2016

5 days. 8 paintings.

Free Range: San Diego 2016

12 days. 1 massive film festival. 1 surfboard tradeshow. 1 art and surf invitational event. 12 paintings. 1 Sold out show.

Free Range: California 2015

23 days. 1499.6 miles. 33 paintings created on one road trip.

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