Leave No Trace: Side A

Plein air painting of the coast at Cave Landing near Avila Beach on the San Luis Obispo coast of central California

Artwork Notes:

Arrival: Late Afternoon.  Look west, hike to bottom of trail. View from top was better. Plus creepy creepers lurking in the reeds everywhere down here. Trash strewn. Beautiful place, but yuck. Back to top.

Look east, hike toward cove on that side of this headland. Trash strewn. Starting to feel guilty. Might head back to the van and dump some beer cans and toilet paper around at random to blend in better with the local crowds.

I continue on, decide not to add my own trash.

Arrive at fork. Turn right, holy mackaroly, that’s a neat cave. Spend some time enjoying this marvel of nature. And graffiti. Because that’s what I feel like doing when I see a place this beautiful. Quick! Write my name on something, pronto!

I still prefer the view from the top though. Head back up the trail. Am I being followed? Creeper country picnic down here. Scope view from top. Neat granite rock formation in foreground. Like an arcing wave. Covered in graffiti, of course, because names need to be written here.

Go back to van, retrieve supplies, return to paint. College girls smoking weed and giggling. No thanks, but thank you for offering.

They leave and another couple arrives and picks up right where the girls left off. But they don’t offer me any. I don’t hold it against them.

One more group of kids show up, and climb over directly in front of where I’m painting. But they leave because it smells pretty bad down there. After writing your name on a rock, you usually need to urinate… maybe even on the rock you just wrote your name on.

The day gets late. A cute young couple expecting their first child shows up with a photographer to take pretty sunset photos. Probably going to crop out the beer bottles and graffiti.

Not me. They are part of the story. When I am done I drink a beer of my own while the sun finally sets. I don’t smash the bottle when I’m done though, I just take it with me and leave no trace.  I don’t think I belong here.

-Matt Beard




Artwork Information:


Artwork Title: "Leave No Trace: Side A"
Original Size: 12" x 12"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2017

Additional Artwork Information:


Method: Plein Air
Date Painted: 08/23/2017
Region: The California Coast > Central California > San Luis Obispo
Road Trip: Southern Central California 2017

Artwork Logistics:


Travel Logistics: Had to Sleep in My Van
Geological Hazards: Awkward Footing on Uneven Terrain
Biological Hazards:
Anthropological Hazards: People Drinking, Sketchy Human Interactions, Crowds with Lots of Questions
Weather Logistics: Painted in Full Sun with no Shade
Temperature: Uncomfortably Warm


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