ThirtyNine: Beaver Sign!


Continuing the “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long quest.

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California Golden Beaver
California Golden Beaver

Thar’s beaver in that thar valley! so the pioneer mountain men used to say. Yes, there are wild beaver right downtown San Jose, the “Capital of Silicon Valley”. First discovered in March 2013 by Roger Castillo, who I wrote about in Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar, the downtown San Jose area is now locally called Beavertown.

The beaver is the largest rodent in North America and the second or third largest rodent in the world. Castor Canadensis Subauratus, or the California Golden Beaver was last seen in this area 150 years ago. The beavers are believed to have originated from the Lexington Reservoir above Los Gatos, where they were re-introduced in the early 1990s.

Turns out now they are all over the Guadalupe Watershed. Multiple families of beavers are living from Lexington Reservoir down to Alviso, which I painted in ThirtyThree: Sin City, This includes Los Gatos Creek painted in Twelve: With the Los Gatos Elves and Fourteen: The Los Gatos Stream; and the Guadalupe River painted in Two, Three: Woz Way, Six: The Downtown Sticks, and Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar. They have not yet built any dams as much of the habitat has deep enough pools for their purposes. However, during this drought, they are being watched as the water reaches low levels.

Last summer a beaver was seen injured from trash in the river which wrapped around it’s body. It was captured, the trash removed, and returned to the wild.

There are some videos of the beaver you can watch here and here, plus some of the above links have more pictures and videos. BTW, the picture above of the beaver is not one of those in San Jose.

Here are some pictures of the day. Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

I did the painting where the first beaver sign was discovered, right downtown San Jose in Guadalupe Park, next to SAP Arena where all the big venues in the area are held. This area is also locally called the confluence, as it is where the Los Gatos Creek joins the Guadalupe River. The beaver sign was still there, although it looked like it had been awhile since there was any gnawing on the trees. Of course I didn’t see any as they mainly come out at night. I did use a little artistic license and painted a beaver “V” in the water as if one was swimming by. I also indicated a downtown building in the background, and one of the concrete river channel walls.

Beaver Sign, 8x10, oil on board
Beaver Sign, 8×10, oil on board

Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.


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ThirtyEight: Late


Continuing the “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” year long quest.

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Later, 8x10,oil on board
Later, 8×10,oil on board

Well, the title of the last painting was so long, I decided to shorten this one! We are having a full moon this week, so what better time to paint a nocturne! This is the first nocturne I have ever painted, but more about that later.

Quimby Creek starts in the eastern foothills of San Jose, flows out of the mountains, joins Thompson Creek which empties into Silver Creek, then Coyote Creek, and on to the San Francisco Bay. Quimby Road (about two blocks from my home) roughly parallels the creek climbing the eastern foothills of Silicon Valley, eventually joining Mt Hamilton Road which winds it way up to the Lick Observatory.

Lick Observatory, built in 1888 by James Lick from gold rush and other money, was the worlds first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. In that day, materials had to be hauled via horse and mule-drawn wagons via a winding dirt road to the top of the 4200 ft high Mount Hamilton. Lick is buried beneath the main telescope and the observatory is still used today.

I frequently ride my Harley up to the observatory. Here are a few pictures—
Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

This takes us back to the valley, and the painting… Many wonder why the street lights in San Jose (aka Silicon Valley) are amber in color, and depicted as such in the painting. City light ‘pollution’ can interfere with the night skies, so the city of San Jose and the observatory cooperated to install special LPS lights which does not interfere with the astronomical activities.

I painted this scene just a few miles from my home, just up the hills on Chaboya Road right after sunset. Quimby Creek was not running, but there were a few puddles, so I put just a hint of the creek in the lower left with a little reflected moonlight. Here are a few picts painting in the dark…
Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

As previously mentioned, this is my first nocturne. I promised myself at the start of this quest I would challenge myself to try new things. Nocturnes are a little difficult for those who haven’t done them, primarily because it is hard to judge values and colors in the dark with just small lights, so I did this in two sessions. I first scoped out the place, and then painted most of the sky and the general values in the land part. After taking it back to the studio and checking it under normal lighting to make sure the values were OK, I then went out the next evening and finished the rest of the piece. Using a LED headband for light worked out pretty well.

After painting this, during my research, I found out about the Quimby Road Jogger, a ghost that appears on the road at midnight. Maybe I’ll paint somewhere else for my next nocturne!

Next week is the Los Gatos Art Festival in which I am participating, so there will not be a Creeks painting. Look for some posts on Facebook or this weblog for my adventures there.


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.


***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.

ThirtySeven: Missions, Creeks, Trees, Bubbles, and Painting


Continuing the ‘Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley’ year long quest.

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Mission San Jose
Mission San Jose

Missions
Mission San Jose, founded in June 1797, is in Fremont California. Since most mission towns in California grew up around the mission, I could never figure out how the mission ended up in another city, and not San Jose. The answer is rather simple: both the mission and the pueblo (city) were named in honor of St Joseph, and there was no other connection.

As the fourteenth mission built in California, the site had been inhabited by the native Ohlone Indians for centuries. Built on a slope overlooking the plain on the east side of San Francisco Bay, the area was very fertile for agriculture, and the wild game plentiful. The adobe church was destroyed in an 1868 earthquake but in the early 1980’s was restored as it appeared in the 1830s.

Creeks
Mission San Jose was built close to a spring fed creek which runs year round. You’ll never guess the name of the creek…yep, Mission Creek. It’s headwaters is a spring located on the north slope of Mount Alison, flows out of the hills past the mission, through the town of Fremont, and feeds Lake Elizabeth in Fremont’s Central Park. From there it feeds Laguna Creek and on to San Francisco Bay. Over the decades suburban sprawl had greatly damaged the creek, and Joyce Blueford along with groups of private and civil groups has in recent years restored some sections. The part I saw today looked pretty good.

Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

Trees
As Mission Creek passes through Fremont, in places, large stands of Eucalyptus trees line it’s banks. Just about every artist I know enjoys painting Eucalyptus with its varied bark color which reflects a lot of the local reflected color, and it’s large, distinctive shape and hanging branches.

Bubbles
California, however, has had a love hate relationship with the Eucalyptus. Before 1850 there were no Eucalyptus trees in California. They were imported from Australia. Being fast growing, a number of enthusiasts convinced farmers to plant millions of the trees in the early 1900’s in a get rich quick scheme to sell the lumber. It soon grew into a speculative bubble in eucalyptus timber. The bubble burst in 1913 when many discovered what others had long known: that the wood cracked, warped, and twisted as it dried and is basically useless for building. Many investors were ruined. Some now call it the worlds largest weed. More history can be found here and here.

Click on the below thumbnails for larger pictures***

Painting
I painted along Mission Creek Drive right in the middle of Fremont suburbia about a mile downstream from the mission. (It would have been nice to paint the creek by the mission, but it is separated by numerous buildings and there just were no good viewpoints.) The flat area in the middle ground is Mission Creek trail. Mission San Jose High School is in the background. Flowers were growing along the bank which were backlight by the morning sun and just glowed. The creek was running very well, and I certainly enjoyed the gurgling and babbling while painting.

Missions,Creeks,Trees,Bubbles & Painting,  8x10, oil on board Missions,Creeks,Trees,Bubbles & Painting, 8×10, oil on board[/caption

After I got home, although I painted the brightly lit bank and flowers as it was, I had to tone it down as it detracted from the trees.


Click this link for a map of all painting locations along with each painting.
Click on this link for a Pinterest catalog of all paintings so far.


***Email subscribers may not see all pictures. Just click on the title for a link to the online version.