Waxing Moon

My favorite story about this one isn’t my story at all. It’s something a Patagonia employee said the first time they saw this piece in the back of my van in their HQ parking lot in Ventura, California. It went something like this:
“This is heavy, no way, check it out, when you look to the right it’s what’s already happened, the wave has gone by, that’s the past, you don’t want to live there. But then when you look to the left that’s future, what’s to come, something to look forward to, but that’s not where you want to live either. When you look at the center that’s the present moment, that’s where you want to be.”
I’ve always remembered that, even though I’ve forgotten his name and have lost all touch with the fellow who uttered that wisdom off the cuff like only a barefoot surfer in a parking lot in southern California could muster…


Afternoon Mourning

She loved it here beneath these colder mountainsBut now she is gone

And even now, after all this timeI’m still struggling to say goodbye


Overlook

A landscape painting of the Lost Coast near Shelter Cove on the Humboldt county coast of northern California
Some things are easy to overlook⠀Others take a little more work⠀Natural beauty⠀Simple love⠀So often get left where they lie⠀While the headlines print bold⠀On our aching flesh⠀These haunts where our demons lurk⠀⠀Crashing stocks upon the shore⠀Homes condemned to their blight⠀The need to eat⠀A will to survive⠀We’ll do what we must to get by⠀Sell our daylight for leprechaun’s gold⠀That will vanish⠀In the dark of the night⠀⠀We wake to a frozen sunrise⠀Empty and cold and ruined⠀It’s easily missed⠀But always there⠀The lift in our hearts at the sight…

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Daybreak

A fine lineDivides the pursuitOf overwhelming joyFrom sheerAnd loathsomeIrresponsibility
The high tide lineDividesThe rest
Consider us dividedAndConquered
Even the SpaniardsOn the tall shipsKnow…
Both victoryAnd defeatTaste betterWith a dash of saltAnd lime


Afternoon on the Coast Route

This is one of the first paintings I painted of this location. I’d go on to paint many more over the years, but none quite as refined as this one painted over ten years ago. It waspainted at home in the quietness of my studio. This is as good a time as any to point out what I love about painting on location in “plein air” instead of in the studio- real stuff happens out there. You never know what you’ll see when you post up for a few hours in a single spot and simply observe the world around you. The last time I recall painting here on location with a friend, as we stood at our easels …

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Happy Cows

While painting this one from behind a rusty barbwire fence running along the overgrowth by the riverbank, I had an odd thought of what would happen if a cow came charging down the little path I was on. I sorta game-planned how I would step back into a little clearing behind my easel to let it pass, then dismissed the thought as the product of too much coffee working on the ol’ brain. About halfway into the painting I heard some rustling in the brush up a little ways, and sure enough, COWZA! I stepped back as the bovine stomped its way happily down the trail, out to the road, and off down the lane. I went and knocked on what appeared to be the farm house door to let them know of the great escape. They just shrugged and said it happens all the time, them cows are all branded anyway, she’ll be brought back soon enough. OK, back to painting then. Interesting times.


Trying to Paint in the Rain

After two straight days of rain and a not so inspiring view from inside the tent, I broke down and attempted to paint on this masonite panel even though it was still drizzling. Luckily it never became a downpour. The thought of painting in the rain has resonated with me ever since though…   She cooks an extra portion of every meal Delivers it to the kids Whose father is sick and maybe dying And whose mother travels with him To doctors far away Because nothing can be done Here She leaves their dinner on the porch And feels their fear and pain Seeping up through the floorboards She’…

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Backside of the Dunes

One of the last plein air paintings I did before my first daughter was born. When she came along we bought a house and painting was put on hold for several years while frantic nest-building ensued. That was nuts. Two weeks before she was born we were walking to the gas station down the street for the restroom. My wife had taken to cooking on a campstove on the back porch. We managed to get one room finished along with a functional toilet/shower, and stove by the time she was born. Then it was a race to finish the rest of the house and floors before she started crawling. We stayed one milestone…

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California Poppies

After this piece I came to the conclusion that the nearly unbearable intensity of the color of California poppies in bright sunshine may just be one of nature’s cruelest tricks ever hoisted upon unsuspecting plein air painters. It’s just not fair, really.


Skunked

This was the first full studio landscape I completed after spending about 2 years pretty much exclusively painting outdoors. The outdoor approach ended up completely altering my approach to painting in general. Most of the studio landscape work I’ve done in more recent years that folks know me best for wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t spent those couple years outdoors relearning how to see nature.


First Hike Up the Canyon

This one goes way back… I first became interested in painting outdoors after seeing work from some of the early California Impressionists at a show in Los Angeles. I’d been painting for a solid ten years already, a dedicated artist since the age of 16. But those California Impressionists did something with their art that I couldn’t do at the time- make you feel the place. I’d already been painting different spots from memory here and there, but their lifelike renditions tapped into my experiences of being on the coast in a whole different way. I spent the next couple of years paint…

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The Top of the Canyon

This is from way up the canyon, to the top of the ridge from where it starts. If I painted the scene behind my back you’d be looking at the 5 freeway or the toll road or something near Irvine and a bunch of strip malls and houses. But hiking up here from the trailhead a few miles down at the coast you don’t see or hear any of that. It’s just rabbits and snakes and birds and the very occasional group of brightly colored cussing angry spandex clad men in a hurry on their wheelie toys. Aside from them, it’s a full sanctuary back there.