Jim Denevan’s Gift

Plein air painting of Jim Devevan creating landworks art at Cowell's Beach on the Santa Cruz coast of California



Artwork Notes:

Jim Denevan is an artist on a whole different level. Mostly sea level. His medium is the beach. I mean that in a very littoral way. And no, that’s not a misspelling. I’ve been aware of his work for years, but haven’t had the opportunity to watch him at work in his studio until this day when our studios briefly collided in the heart of Santa Cruz . I was in town for a quick visit and looking to paint somewhere along this stretch of coast when I spotted him down there raking sand into perfect alternating spiral patterns (his were far more perfect than my rushed hand was able to convey on my canvas). The minute I saw him and the patterns he was making on the low tide sand I knew I had to paint this homage to a hero of an artist, whose work is enjoyed freely by all who come across it, and washes away daily with each incoming tide.⠀

I first learned of Jim’s work through the lens of Patrick Trefz. Ever since meeting Patrick back in 2011, I’ve been a fan of his photography and cinema. When he participated in a surfboard art show I put together for SurfAid International in 2012, his entry with shaper Travis Reynolds was unlike any other. Hands-down best of show in my opinion- an eleven foot solid black single-fin log adorned with a singular black and white photograph laid under the glass of a dead bird, lifeless and flightless on the ground, floating on a sea of dead leaves. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, it resonates loud and clear. ⠀

Anyway, I bring up the Patrick Trefz connection because I’m aware he recently made a documentary about Jim’s life and work and toured at various film festivals just before those sorts of things became outlawed by the covid. I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but I’m sure it’s worth a watch if you have the opportunity. ⠀

Anyway, Jim’s presence on the beach this day made for a super fun painting and is a reminder to me that even as an artist, life is better when enjoying other artist’s work. We all feed each other in one way or another. Let’s celebrate the good in these crazy times, because food is better than poison.⠀

-Matt Beard




Artwork Information:


Artwork Title: "Jim Denevan’s Gift"
Original Size: 20" x 16"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2019

Additional Artwork Information:


Method: Plein Air
Date Painted: 05/24/2019
Region: The California Coast > Central California > Santa Cruz
Road Trip: Maycember 2019

Artwork Logistics:


Miles Hiked: Less than 1 Mile
Hiking Terrain: Pounding Pavement
Access Logitics: Fence or Gate Hopping Required
Biological Hazards:
Anthropological Hazards: Sketchy Human Interactions, Surfers Are The Worst


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