I Shall Be Free

Plein air painting from the Hollister Ranch on the Santa Barbara coast of Southern California

Artwork Notes:

The third of three paintings from a quick trip last summer. The titles for the three are all chosen from Dylan tunes for various reasons. This one was chosen because the actual name of this creek comes up in the song. Also, as an artist I often do claim the right to freely edit a landscape if I choose. In this case I should have edited it further the first time around- when I got home and pulled it out I was shocked at the weird choices I’d made including trees to the left of the creek which effectively turned this idyllic beach scene into a fish-eye bubble of distorting confusion. Also the creek placement was technically pretty accurate but compositionally quite awkward. The painting just had all sorts of problems. But in keeping with my freedom, I just went ahead and fixed it all in the studio later. Open heart surgery to revive a plein-air painting from a near death experience. Thankfully, it now lives on to be enjoyed instead of relegated to the graveyard of painting mishaps. Artist as surgeon. Freedom and all. Why not?

And also a random poem I wrote later…

What do you see?⠀
A land taken by zeros?⠀
More zeros than you’ll ever know?⠀
By money changers⠀
That take all they want⠀
In exchange for their soul?⠀
If that’s all that you see⠀
You’ve only read headlines⠀
In the red letter press⠀
This isn’t your land⠀
This isn’t my land⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

Some small success⠀
Some chance at a dream⠀
A life built for two⠀
But what is life if not pain?⠀
A standalone shack⠀
In a narrow ravine⠀
All that’s left⠀
And it’s all that he needs⠀
But this isn’t his land⠀
And it sure isn’t ours⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

This land he travelled⠀
Paving the roads with his bike⠀
He’d led them all onward⠀
Riding further each day⠀
Riding for their lives⠀
Through sweat, tears, and smiles⠀
Roadside sandwich breaks⠀
He watched a wayward driver⠀
Drift out of her lane⠀
One from his flock⠀
Laid to rest that day⠀
It wasn’t her land⠀
And he wished it wasn’t his⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

A son that knows⠀
Too much about too many things⠀
Nothing to gain⠀
From his father’s love⠀
He’s moving fast⠀
And his dad moves too slow⠀
The son doesn’t see⠀
Just how much his father carries⠀
But one day he’ll know⠀
That his father’s failure ⠀
Was his greatest success⠀
And that he’s not the only one⠀
That was carried in those arms⠀
It’s not his land⠀
And it never will be⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

So get out of this house⠀
If you think you’re any better⠀
Get out if you think⠀
Your owed a damn thing⠀
Get out you bastards⠀
You never lived here⠀
You only came when invited⠀
To feast on his generosity⠀
There’s no gates of gold⠀
It’s worn down and rusty⠀
Broken and dirty⠀
But we’ve kept it clean⠀
It will never be your land⠀
It will always be his⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

-Matt Beard




Artwork Information:


Artwork Title: "I Shall Be Free"
Original Size: 20" x 16"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2019

Additional Artwork Information:


Method: Plein Air
Date Painted: 05/01/2019
Region: The California Coast > Santa Barbara > Southern California
Road Trip: Maycember 2019

Artwork Logistics:


Travel Logistics: Had to Sleep in My Van
Access Logitics: Private Property, Posted: No Trespassing
(Painted With Permission)
Anthropological Hazards: Other Painters
Weather Logistics: Painted in Heavy Winds


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