“Embarking on twilight bicycle rides at Laguna Seca Raceway is a captivating experience. Amidst the fading daylight, the track’s storied history and scenic beauty merge, offering a surreal journey. Pedaling along the curves and straights, you’re enveloped in a serene ambiance, where the echoes of past races intermingle with the tranquil coastal whispers. As the sun sets and the corkscrew comes into view, a sense of wonder encapsulates this fleeting moment, embodying the allure of adventure and timelessness in one breathtaking ride.” — ChatGPT
A number of times a year, the renowned Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, CA is opened up for bicyclists for a few hours. Greg, Dave, and I eBiked it August 2, 2023. Enjoy this short video of our laps around the course.
Colorado thunderstorms are a magnificent display of nature’s power and beauty. The state experiences an impressive array of thunderstorms throughout the year. These storms are characterized by dark, billowing clouds that roll across the sky, often accompanied by intense lightning strikes and deep rumbling thunder. These wonders of nature rarely occur in coastal California, where I live.
I was recently visiting family and friends in Colorado, and during a morning walk witnessed a squall coming in directly over Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak, dominating the skyline around Colorado Springs, and one of the most famous peaks in the Rocky Mountains, stands tall at an elevation of 14,115 feet (4,302 meters). It was a scene begging to be painted, so I did a piece back in the home studio.
I have done a number of cloud paintings over the years, and never quite satisfied with them. This one, I think, is a step in the right direction, but as usual might touch it up in the future.
For those who didn’t want to watch the entire 19 minutes “Hohenschwangau in Time Lapse” (posted earlier), here is the ultra fast version, which lasts about a minute. About 3 seconds of video time-lapse equals one hour of actual painting time. (Be sure to turn the sound up)
Hohenschwangau Castle, nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of Bavaria, Germany, stands as a captivating testament to history and architectural brilliance. This majestic castle, with its fairy-tale-like towers and elegant facade, exudes an enchanting aura that transports visitors back in time. Built in the 19th century, Hohenschwangau Castle boasts a rich heritage, having served as the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Impeccably restored and adorned with ornate interiors, the castle offers a captivating glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of royalty. Perched on a hill overlooking the serene Alpsee Lake, Hohenschwangau Castle seamlessly blends natural beauty with architectural grandeur, leaving visitors spellbound by its timeless allure.
September 2022 we visited the castles Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein in Bavaria Germany. I have been wanting to do a painting of the area ever since. The setting of both castles perched above magnificent Lake Alpsee nestled beneath the soaring Bavarian Alps is a sight to see. I chose to paint Hohenschwangau Castle from a viewpoint from Neuschwanstein. In other words, Neuschwanstein is right behind the viewer of the scene. Neuschwanstein is probably a prettier and well known castle as it is the one which inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle, however, I wanted to include the entire setting, be true to originality, and Hohenschwangau was the castle in view.
For this work, I did a video time-lapse of the entire painting process. I have done a number of time-lapse videos of my plein air painting, but not a larger studio work. You can see some of the videos here on my website. Although most the time-lapse videos of plein air pieces are short, as they are painted usually in a few hours, this video runs about 19 minutes. Each minute equals about an hour of painting time, and I explain a little about the painting process as it goes along.
As mentioned in the video, I kept adjusting the distant mountains, maybe 4-5 times, never quite satisfied. I usually don’t repaint a section this much, and I am still not sure I am satisfied with it. However, will let it sit for awhile, and determine that later, so as usual, I might tinker with the painting a little more.
In the meantime, enjoy this time-lapse video of the entire painting process…so far…
If a 19 minute video is too long to watch, stay tuned for the ultra, ultra fast version!
“The Carmel Art Festival in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, is an extraordinary celebration of artistic talent and the beauty of the coastal landscape. Every year, this renowned event brings together artists and art enthusiasts from around the world to showcase and appreciate a diverse range of artistic expressions. With its charming streets and stunning ocean views, Carmel-by-the-Sea serves as the perfect backdrop for this captivating festival. Visitors can immerse themselves in a vibrant atmosphere filled with creativity, as they explore the exceptional artworks on display, engage with the artists, and participate in various interactive events. The Carmel Art Festival is a true testament to the profound impact of art, fostering inspiration and forging connections between artists and the local community.”
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Carmel Art Festival, and instead of jurying in participants, they invited past award winners for the show. I have won a number of awards over the years, so I was automatically in, but it was certainly going to be a pretty stiff competition! As it turned out, about 40 past award winners opted in, so they juried another 20 artists for a total of 60.
I have been participating the the Carmel Art Festival about every year since 2006. There have been ups and downs both in sales, and awards, but is always a rewarding experience. This year, since we live near Carmel, I didn’t need to travel, stay in a motel, and had the convenience of my home studio where I could do final touchup and framing, etc.
Day 1 – Wednesday May 17
During a competition/show like this, you have a number of days to create paintings which are then sold or auctioned off. At the start of the event, the painting surfaces, such as canvases or panels, are stamped or marked to verify that all artwork is created within the designated time frame. After checking in Wednesday morning, and having my canvases stamped, I headed down the Big Sur Coast for my first painting. I had spotted a scene last week near Rocky Creek Bridge while on a Harley ride, which looked inviting to paint. It was overcast, but clearing, and hoped the coastline would be sunny. Well, it wasn’t, but the fog drifted in and out, sometimes totally blocking the scene, but occasionally the sun did break through which gave me enough to complete the painting.
Next stop was Ft Ord Dunes State Park, a familiar location, not far from our house, which I walk by 2-3 times a week on our coastal dunes walking. I did a studio painting of the scene several years ago, but never a plein air on location. It was still overcast, but the sun peeked out occasionally.
Last stop for the day, was Del Monte Beach, where I started a nocturne of Monterey Bay with the town of Monterey in the background. Again, I did a studio painting of this several years ago, but never a plein air.
It was an exhausting day, but I got 3 paintings near completion.
Day 2 – Thursday May 18
It was foggy and overcast again, so I spent the morning touching up the prior day’s pieces. In the afternoon, I ventured out, and went to Pacific Grove to paint the coastal ice plant…always a favorite among collectors. I only got about half done with the piece, and eventually decided not to put it in the show. I’ll go back at a later date and finish it as I liked the scene, light, and colors.
Day 3 – Friday May 19
We had to deliver our just completed paintings to the festival by 2 pm, so I spent the morning framing, photographing, and prepping the three pieces. Here are the three paintings I entered in the show. Click on each one to see a larger, more complete version.
After delivery to the show in downtown Carmel, it was home to get ready for the afternoon and evening activities. Returning to the show, found out I was honored with People’s Choice award for the Ft Ord Dunes painting, and it sold right away! The collectors run a gallery in Texas, and since I spent my formative years in Texas, we immediately made a connection!
That evening, a VIP event was hosted with wine and small plates served. I had invited a few friends/collectors to celebrate with us, and it was a delightful evening.
Day 4 & 5 – May 20-21
The next two days of the show were fairly uneventful as I only stopped by occasionally to see how things were going. All-in-all, it was a great event, and a great, but tiring time!
Stay tuned. Next show is at the John Steinbeck Museum!
Salinas Valley, California, is a picturesque region known for its rich agricultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. Stretching from the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains to the fertile agricultural fields, Salinas Valley is often referred to as the “Salad Bowl of the World” due to its extensive production of lettuce, strawberries, and other crops. The region’s mild Mediterranean climate, fertile soil, and abundant water supply make it an ideal location for farming. Salinas Valley is also famous for being the birthplace and inspiration for renowned American author John Steinbeck, who vividly depicted the region’s landscape and agricultural lifestyle in his novels, capturing its unique charm and character. With its blend of agricultural productivity and scenic vistas, Salinas Valley is a captivating destination for visitors and a vital agricultural hub in California.
The above was generated by ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence application which has been getting a lot of buzz on the internet.
The Salinas Valley is only a few miles from our home in Marina. Last Tuesday, I went out to East Garrison, a new housing development in the old Ft Ord, just minutes away, to paint the Sailnas Valley. The area has expansive views from the bluffs overlooking the valley. With our record breaking wet winter, wildflowers were in abundance from California Poppies to blue Lupin. I had in mind an upcoming show which I already had a piece or two lined up to enter, but wanted something more in line of the theme of the show. I’ll talk about the show in a later blog (if I get in), and as yet, not even sure I will enter this painting.
It started out as a cloudy, hazy morning, and as I painted for a couple hours, the sun finally broke through.
Here are a few more pictures of the day after the sun came out.
We were supposed to paint around Old Town Monterey, and then display the paintings in the afternoon at the block party. Architecture, buildings, etc. is not usually what I paint, nor do I consider my self proficient at it. As a son once said many years ago, “Dad, your buildings suck, but you are getting better”. As we got closer to the event, the instruction sheet says they will assign us a location to paint! Uh-oh!! I don’t even get to choose where to paint!!!
Arriving for check-in on a cloudy morning, my assigned spot was Casa del Oro Garden. I had actually not been to this garden, but as it turned out, there were several spots appealing to me to paint. I chose the old adobe wall and gate behind the Pacific Hotel, and close to Debra Nichols, Membership Chair of MBPAPA. About 15 MBPAPA artists were participating.
Since it was overcast, but supposed to clear, I took my time the first few hours, painting everything but sunlight until the sun came out, and then finished the painting in a little over 3 hours. They also opened the gate, showing the inside garden, which I decided to paint in, and enhanced the piece. It was probably too late to start another painting, so left it at that.
The festival coordinators didn’t specify if we should frame the paintings or not, but I only had one frame in the studio for the size of the canvas, so framed it. As it turned out, the painting and frame seemed to really go together, and later on a number of spectators remarked as such.
Dropping off the piece at the festival for display, it was quite an active event! The downtown block party was jammed with people, display booths of all sorts, food galore, and live music.
My piece won first place, and also sold! Maybe I should start painting more architecture!
Before 1994, the only people who could see this viewpoint were US soldiers. Overlooking the Salinas Valley from Fort Ord, in the distance is the old community of Spreckels.
Most Americans have used or heard of Spreckels Sugar. I remember it a staple in our pantry growing up. The town of Spreckels was established by Claus Spreckels in 1898 as a company town to provide a complete community (including store, school, hotel, church, theater, etc.) for employees of the Spreckels Sugar Company. When built, the Spreckels Factory #1 was the largest and most innovative sugar beet factory in the world. It operated here from 1898 to 1982, and was demolished in 1992.
Since last May, I have been riding my RAD Rover 6+ electric bike all over Ft Ord National Monument, usually with several friends. This painting is from one of those rides along Sandstone Ridge Road overlooking the Salinas Valley with Spreckels in the background. The farming area below the ridge is Merrill Home Ranch, started in 1916, and grows a wide variety of produce.
I post a few biking pictures on Facebook from time to time, but for those who missed it, here are a couple…
My last weblog entry introduced a new studio painting from a recent trip to Pt Lobos. You can read about it here. It was a good piece as-is, but after looking at it for awhile, decided it need a little more dramatic early morning light. The study I used was a photo taken about mid day and the scene was fully lit, which is kind of the way I painted it. Here is the original photo which I used as a study for the painting.
So, I spent today touching it up a bit to add more shadows, putting a little more color in the large wave, and other minor touchups. You can see the before and after by moving the sliding bar back and forth. The newer version is on the right.
My last weblog, “Stupendous!!” was about painting at Pt Lobos State Natural Reserve in January with the Monterey Bay Plein Air Painters. It was a great day and the painting turned out pretty well. Recent storms had been battering the California Coast for much of January, and I have never experienced surf that high while at the preserve. Waves were pounding and crashing the rocky coast, sometimes splashing, as a guess, over 30 feet high. You could feel the thundering surf on your chest!!
It’s been awhile since I have completed a studio painting, so did a painting of one of the crashing waves from that day. The scene is from near the China Cove parking lot looking back towards Hidden Beach. The lower cliffs behind the wave are 10-15 feet high, so I am guessing this splash was at least 30 feet high!
I might touch it up a bit more, but doesn’t need much!