This Side of the Cactus

A plein air landscape painting of cactus overlooking Pfeiffer Beach on Monterey's Big Sur coast of Central California

Artwork Notes:

A lonely cypress stands on this ridge, holding on for dear life through every storm and gale it’s seen, and it’s seen a lot of them. It’s getting a good whipping from the north wind right now as I paint this, its roots holding firm and its muscular bows holding back the wind for myself and this happy little cactus patch looking down on one of the most beautiful beaches in all of California. One of the most photographed beaches in all the world, but you wouldn’t know it from here. Nobody goes here. It’s off limits. Private. One jogger wandered up the path while I stood here with my host, and she sent him right back down the hill, thwarting his plan to jog the ridge over to the next state park. Big Sur is a territorial place. Always has been. There’s a lot of it that I’d love to see one day, but find myself on the wrong side of the cactus. On this day though, it was enough to just be out of the wind on this side of the tree, and on this side of the cactus for a change.

-Matt Beard




Artwork Information:


Artwork Title: "This Side of the Cactus"
Original Size: 20" x 16"
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Year Painted: 2020

Additional Artwork Information:


Method: Plein Air
Date Painted: 02/18/2020
Region: The California Coast > Central California > Monterey
Road Trip: Big Sur 2020

Artwork Logistics:


Miles Hiked: Less than 1 Mile
Vehicular Logistics: Extra Vehicular Assistance Needed
Extra-Vehicular Requirements: Ride on Truck/Quad/Off-Road Vehicle Required for Access
Access Logitics: Private Property, Posted: No Trespassing
(Painted With Permission)
Geological Hazards: Awkward Footing on Uneven Terrain
Botanical Hazards: Some Poison Oak Observed
Weather Logistics: Painted in Full Sun with no Shade


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