Perhaps I should have confessed it up front to Elizabeth, but I had had never been in an art classroom in an institution of higher learning. I have been in art classrooms at art schools, but never a college or university. Being primarily self taught the last 45 years of painting, my art comes from what I love. The only ‘formal’ instruction I have had is various workshops from artists I admire the last 15 years.
It was a class of about 10 students, all pursuing different disciplines. After a short talk about “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”, we launched into a demonstration painting. I chose a seascape in Garrapata State Park for my study. I really enjoyed the intimate setting where students scooted up right around my easel to watch me paint.
Here are some photos during my demo, some courtesy of Elizabeth. (Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions)–
Here is the painting about where I left it in class…
I touched up the painting a bit after returning to my studio which can be seen at the top of this weblog entry.
The California Art Club sponsored a paintout at Pescadero Beach last Saturday, March 10, 2018. The weather for Saturday looked iffy all week, but in the end, although it turned out to be a grey, somewhat gloomy day, all we got were just a few sprinkles.
I spent more time socializing with artist friends, and videoing more than painting. I did start a another vertical water scene, but didn’t get very far along. I’ll call it a value study in greys.
Here’s a few pictures…
The scene to paint.
Yours truly enjoying the gloomy day.
The painting about as far as I got for the day.
Now, enjoy this short video of the day, and some scenes along the beautiful California coast.
One of the prominent man made features on the San Mateo Coast of California, along the Pacific Ocean, is the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Built in 1871, it is the tallest lighthouse on the western coast of the United States. It is still used for Coast Guard navigation, and a small overnight hostel is now housed in the old light keeper’s housing.
Between visiting with fellow artists and occasional flights of the drone, I probably only painted about 60 minutes! I doubt I will touch up the painting any further, but just leave it as a value study.
Stop the presses! Call Guiness Book of World Records! The world’s first plein air drone selfie painting has just been created! Enjoy this short video including some spectacular scenes from the California coast, and then read about the adventure below—
There is an ever growing patchwork array of rules and regulations for drone owners, particularly where you can fly. I agree with most of it…you can’t fly in national parks and wildlife refuges, close to airports, over stadiums, etc., but leave it to California to spoil the fun with more and more regulations. There are online websites and apps which are good resources on where its legal to fly, plus the DJI drone app also keeps track of where you are and tells you if you are in a no-fly-zone. Much of the California coastal waters from Morro Bay to San Francisco are off limits because it is a marine sanctuary, but if you don’t fly over the ocean, are generally OK.
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse area on the San Mateo Coast had some places I could fly, close to the road, and the cliffs were not too high in case I needed to get to the beach. I am a little paranoid about crashing such an expensive instrument, or coming down in a place inaccessible, so have been flying in open areas where there are no fences, etc.
We had a sunny day between two storms here in Northern California, so I headed out to the coast and the lighthouse. What a beautiful day! I was expecting it to be a little cold, but soaking in the sunshine just warms you up. Winds were light which helps in piloting the drone.
I set everything up, my easel and paints first, then the Mavic Pro. I also mounted a GoPro video camera on a tripod to record everything from the ground.
Upon launching the drone, I flew it around a bit to find the perspective I wanted for the painting. This drone has a live video feed to smart mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, etc. I then sketched in the scene by looking at what the drone was seeing through my iPad. I actually did not have the drone in the air a lot while painting. Besides conserving battery life, it was easy to see the values and colors quite well from the ground. I just needed the drone to get the perspective, and to see what I looked like from about 20 feet up in the air. From there on, I basically painted as normal en plein air, but taking the drone up a few times to recheck my drawing, etc.
Some plein air purists may scoff since I used an iPad for part of the process, and a bit gimmicky. The only thing I actually used it for was to get the scene from an aerial perspective and to see what my backside looked like. And so what if it is a little gimmicky! If you can have more fun while having fun, I say go for it!
I was there a little over three hours, about half that actually painting. Every once in awhile, I couldn’t resist taking the drone up and around the area to record some amazing video.
Late afternoon, I headed down the coast and made a few quick stops and quick flights to record the amazing California coast near sunset. You can view these in the video above.
All-in-all, I was musing on the way home, this was one of the best painting day-trips I have experienced in a long time!
I touched the painting up just a bit in the studio, and here is the final result…
I recently purchased a drone, and fittingly my first flight was by the same hill Montgomery sailed down more than a century ago. I had been contemplating buying a drone for quite a few years, so finally got a DJI Mavic Pro, a portable compact quadcopter, and rated one of the best in the industry. It is small enough to fit in the saddlebags of my Harley, but has all the features of top end professional drones.
Here is a short video composite of my first flights at Montgomery Hill. Yeah, I know it’s not like the stunning drone videos you probably have seen, but it’s a start!
So why am I writing about drones in what is primarily an art weblog? Well, besides just being lots of fun, I have some ideas on incorporating drones into my art. So stay tuned, and Drone On!
The Cambrian Artists League invited me for an ‘encore’ demonstration last Saturday. I had previously done a demo for them several years ago, and they wanted more. I did a snow scene for the last demo, and they wanted a seascape this time.
I chose as my subject a scene from Perkins Park in Pacific Grove, CA. In the spring, the ice plant blooms there and the entire park is covered in a blanket of reds, pinks, and purples. I had painted there last year for the Carmel Art Festival, and in fact lately have been doing a painting in the park for the festival every year as they always sell. I have wanted to do a larger studio piece of the same scene.
Here are a few pictures near the end of the demo. (Click on the thumbnails to view larger pictures)
Here is the painting after about two hours of demoing…most of the major elements were at least blocked in…
Thanks, Cambrian Artists League! It was a fun morning with a lively bunch of artists!
I later finished the piece in the studio, pictured above. As usual, a painting is never completely finished until it goes out the door, but will set it aside for now.
AKA Bracebridge Bucket List
AKA You Win Some, You Lose Some
The Bracebridge Dinner is an extravaganza and theatrical performance in Yosemite Valley’s Majestic Hotel’s dining room during the month of December. A tradition since 1927, for a few weeks, the grand dining room is transformed into a Renaissance scene of Bracebridge Hall patterned after Washington Irvings writings. The four hour event includes a stunning array of singers and actors who tell the story of Lord Bracebridge and people of his household. A number of the cast are from the San Francisco Opera company. All this happens during a 7 course feast. The Wall Street Journal noted in 2006: “Bracebridge is, without much doubt, the country’s, if not the world’s premier Christmas dinner.”
I have long wanted to attend the Bracebridge Dinner at the Ahwahnee (recently renamed the Majestic Hotel) in Yosemite Valley. In times past it was so popular, you could only get in by lottery, but now can just make reservations. My wife had never heard of it, so educated her a bit about it, and we decided it would be my somewhat extravagant birthday present.
We booked a package deal, two nights at Yosemite Lodge, the Bracebridge Dinner, and a portrait package, for Wednesday Dec 13-Friday Dec 15, with the dinner on Thursday night.
Monday night prior, I woke up in the middle of the night with what appeared to be a mild case of food poisoning. It continued into Tuesday, and I was afraid I was coming down with something, so took it easy all day. I didn’t want to miss this as it is all prepaid with no refund, and quite pricey! By Tuesday evening I was doing better, and Wednesday morning felt pretty good, so we made our way to Yosemite Valley arriving late afternoon, and checked into Yosemite Lodge.
Thursday morning, I originally was planning on painting, but was still recovering a bit from whatever hit me Monday night so I didn’t want to sit in the frigid cold. The big dinner was tonight and I did’t want a relapse, so just a morning walk was in order. Josie joined me in the 40 degree cold for a walk from the Lodge to Swinging Bridge. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures–
Sentinel Rock. If you look close, you can see Josie on Swinging Bridge.
Josie on Swinging Bridge
Josie and Cathedral Rocks.
Donald and Cathedral Rocks
Half Dome over the Merced River
I have been to Yosemite dozens and dozens of times, and I have never seen it this deserted! We encountered not one person on our mid morning walk!
That afternoon, I drove over to the Majestic to get our tickets, and they also gave us two souvenir menus for the event–
I also drove around the valley and took more pictures–
It’s a formal affair, so after getting gussied up, we headed to the Majestic late afternoon to get our portrait taken, and wait to be seated.
The coat check girl took our picture
Waiting for dinner in the lounge
At our table were couples from the SF Bay area, Chicago, and Orlando. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the four hour feast, as there is a good write up here which was similar to our experience. We sat at the very back, facing the stage. This is actually a good seat in the house as we were right by the entrance where the performers would enter and exit, plus much of the action was right by us.
No pictures were allowed during the dinner but we could pose with the cast members afterward. There are lots of official pictures on the above mentioned websites.
Josie with Andrea Fulton the director of the show
Josie and the Minstrel
Me and cast members
Josie and cast members
It was about everything I expected. The performers, costumes, vocals, and everything else was spectacular. The food was wonderful, and was reminiscent of a nice cruise ship dinner, although slightly better. There were lots of courses, but they were all small portions spread out over hours, so by the end of the evening, was just full enough.
Friday morning, once again I passed on painting as it was even colder, below freezing, so took a short walk prior to packing up and heading home. I didn’t get any painting done on the trip, but gathered a few photo studies which would make good studio paintings.
So, I won with the Bracebridge Dinner, but lost on the painting endeavors!
If you are seriously considering going…my overall impression is, if you can afford it and Yosemite fairly accessible, it is a once in a lifetime event to do. It is not for everyone, as it attracts an older crowd and most younger people may not enjoy it. If you are interested in going, the weblog found here is very informative, plus many of the comments are worth reading.
Enjoy this short video of a 90 minute demo I did for the Society of Western Artists reduced down to about two minutes. After watching this, it seemed I was turned around talking to the audience as much as I was painting!
You can also read about this demo and a revolutionary new painting technique on my weblog here.
The quest started as a simple idea. I didn’t even know if I would, or even could finish it. After all, it was a commitment for a year.
I didn’t know if any of it would turn out any good, or just a bunch of bad paintings for the scrap heap. I didn’t know if anything would be interesting or worth looking at.
I didn’t know I would eventually paint ghost towns in Silicon Valley, or haunted springs, or wild beaver sign in a metropolitan city, or the worlds largest homeless camp, or the world’s first ‘plein air selfie’.
I didn’t know eventually strangers would walk up to me, give me a hug, and say I brought back their fond childhood memories.
I also didn’t know it would snowball in scope and public interest way beyond my first simple idea.
Four years ago today, I started the year-long quest to paint a different “Creek and River of Silicon Valley” each week en plein air, or on location.
At the time, even finishing the year successfully was not known, but I ended up with 60 paintings of 43 different creeks all over the South San Francisco Bay area. Little did I know it would grow with articles written by international art publications, multiple showings in various venues, and a book. Discover about the quest, including a short documentary video, interactive map, and other information here–
The collection of 60 paintings is still intact and will be for the foreseeable future. I am still seeking venues both local and nationally for showings, so if any of you have ideas for venues, please let me know!