An Unfamiliar Song

Plein air painting of East Point area of Santa Rosa island in the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California

Artwork Notes:

This was the endpoint of my longest hike on this trip, 11 miles total, and it took me past several miles of coast I’d hiked and painted on a previous trip. On that trip, I thought I’d gone about as far as I could reasonably go in a day’s work of hiking and painting. But this trip was a chance to smash that mental barrier. I’d been out here hiking and painting daily for 4 days straight, so while my feet hurt, my body and mind began to love the new “normal”- especially if it meant seeing another corner of California for the first time. This hike also required hiking with a heavy pair of waders strapped to my pack to cross an almost waist-deep creek that had washed out the trail entirely. That was a first. Huge thanks to the crew at the research station and Dr. Dan for having me along, and letting me enjoy this place so fully. I wouldn’t have had a dry bed, hot food, or these borrowed waders if it wasn’t for you guys. Cheers! The hassle of this creek-crossing was offset by the knowledge that past this point, it was now exceedingly unlikely that I’d see another human being.

The bunkhouse that was the home base for the trip was situated in a long crescent of shore where from nearly any point on the crescent you can see both ends bending out to sea in the far distance. This was after a mission to reach the farthest end of the crescent to the east. Once I got there and climbed the hill that overlooks it I decided instead to keep going further out along the ridge, traversing another mile or so through high grass with no trail across the tip of this headland and getting my first look around the corner and back up on this unfamiliar stretch of coast. Like a song you’ve not heard before but instantly love, I wish I could have heard more, but with the rain in the distance and facing a long hike back to the station, I thought it was about time to stop walking and start painting.

-Matt Beard




Artwork Information:


Artwork Title: "An Unfamiliar Song"
Original Size: 16" x 12"
Medium: Acrylic on Birch Panel
Year Painted: 2019

Additional Artwork Information:


Method: Plein Air
Date Painted: 03/21/2019
Region: The California Coast > The Channel Islands > Santa Barbara > Southern California
Road Trip: March 2019

Artwork Logistics:


Miles Hiked: Over 10 Miles
Hiking Terrain: Trudging Through Soft Sand, Deep Creek or River Crossing, Climbing or Vertical Scrambling Using Hands, Off Trail Wilderness Tromping, Full-On Bushwhacking
Vehicular Logistics: Extra Vehicular Assistance Needed
Extra-Vehicular Requirements: Boat Required for Access
Botanical Hazards: Some Poison Oak Observed, Thorns and Brambles
Biological Hazards: High Grass- Tick Country!
Weather Logistics: Painted in Heavy Winds, Painted in Full Sun with no Shade, Threatening to Rain, Rain!


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