FiftyThree: Rain Free


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

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Rain Free, <a href=
here 8×10, oil on board” width=”500″ height=”398″ class=”size-full wp-image-3369″ /> Rain Free, 8×10, oil on board

California and other areas of the west coast of the United States has been in a severe drought the last few years. While other areas of the US have had near record winters, California has one of the driest years on record. Reservoirs are emptying, and if we don’t get substantial rain soon, are in real trouble. I guess I kinda picked the wrong year to paint and promote the “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”!

I have been wanting to depict the drought in at least one of the paintings in this quest. Most of the reservoirs close to Silicon Valley are very low, however I have painted the creeks they are on multiple times. So, I went a little afield, but still in the Silicon Valley area, and painted Uvas Reservoir (Spanish for “grapes”), which is just above Morgan Hill (painted in ThirtySix: El Toro) and San Martin, just south of San Jose. This reservoir is on Uvas Creek, and almost empty. I drive by the reservoir frequently throughout the year as it is on one of my favorite Harley ride routes, so see it in all stages of capacity. McKean/Uvas Road is a mecca for cyclists, both motor and pedal powered.

 

Having spent my adolescent years in East Texas, I am always enchanted by the beautiful skies and clouds when I go back to visit. Huge thunderheads, magnificent in their awesome power would bring refreshing, but short bursts of moisture during the summer months. Huge puffy cumulus clouds would fill the sky rolling slowly past in no hurry to get anywhere. In the hot summer sun, an hour or two would show no evidence of the previous downpour.

Here in the San Francisco Bay area, we rarely see such wonder in the skies. Being close to the Pacific, the skies are usually a non-event. The exception to this is just after a storm. Such a day was today, as the first substantial rain since April moved through the area. The skies were so beautiful, I decided to make it a center of interest in the painting.

We need many such storms before we are rid of this drought. The streams are still not running as it will take quite a bit of rain to soak the parched ground so runoff can start.

 

To give you a little perspective, Uvas Dam is 105 feet high and I am almost a mile away in the below pictures. The water level would normally be at the tree line in the far shore. Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

 


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.

FiftyTwo: Valley View


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

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I thought it might be appropriate to do an expansive painting of Santa Clara Valley for painting #52. Although I have reached the total count of one painting a week for a year, help I am not finished, but more about that later.

Yesterday, a small storm front arrived late in the day, and the first clouds arriving in the bay area produced a nice sunset shown above. The camera really distorts the color as the bare sky was not nearly as yellow as depicted. Once again, as in most the sunsets I have done for this quest, I painted in several sessions. During and after the sunset, I made color notes, then went out the next day and finished the painting.

The view is from Mt Hamilton Road. Mt Hamilton Road, was built in 1875 in anticipation of carrying materials to build Lick Observatory which I wrote about in ThirtyEight: Late. The road offers stunning vistas of the entire Santa Clara Valley, AKA Silicon Valley. You can see all the way from San Francisco down to Gilroy…the extent of all the paintings in this quest. It was just wonderful sitting there watching the sun go down over the valley. Sounds of horses, cows, wild turkeys, and an occasional motorcycle wafted up from miles away. I am surprised I actually got any painting done!

Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

 

Here is a panorama of my painting location on Mt Hamilton Rd. The sunset was a little different than the evening before which I used in the painting. Click to open up the full picture.

A panorama of my painting location.
A panorama of my painting location.

 

The scene would be better treated with a larger, wider canvas, but kept with the 8×10 format for the quest. Perhaps I will do a large canvas at a later date. At least half of the painting locations done in this quest is in view, although I used a little artistic license in squeezing in some of geography on the small canvas. In the distance is the Santa Cruz Mountains. You can see downtown San Jose in the middle. On the left is Lake Cunningham where Painting Number One was done at the start of this quest. On the right is the southern tip of San Francisco Bay where I painted Alviso in ThirtyThree:Sin City.

The creek is North Branch South Babb Creek. Although it is dry, I indicated just a pool of water in the lower valley.

 

Valley View, 8x10, oil on board
Valley View, 8×10, oil on board

 


 

The original goal of this quest was to do one painting a week for a year. I am now at painting 52, but there are still several months on the calendar to complete the year. Some times when I had to drive a distance, I did two in the same area. Even with traveling and other commitments, have stayed about 8 paintings ahead for the last several months. I am going to continue for the full year as I want to bring it full circle to fall time. At the end, I will probably have around 56-60 paintings. So far I have painted 36 out of the 60 creeks listed on my website here. Due to the dry year, many creeks never actually ran. I might slow down a bit, and wait to see if we get any rain which might run some of the smaller creeks I have not yet painted.

I am now starting to seek venues in which to show the entire collection, preferably a local public venue, museum, or other major space. If anybody reading this has suggestions, please send me an email to: donald@donaldneff.com .


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.

FiftyOne: Cleanup’s Never Done


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

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A great cleanup crew.  Photo curtesy Steve Holmes.
A great cleanup crew. Photo curtesy Steve Holmes.

 

San Jose is the southernmost major U. S. city with known salmon spawning runs. In past years, their progress had been blocked primarily by the culverts, wide concrete channels, and other features installed by the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Much of the spawning grounds have been choked with trash from citizen dumping, human waste, and other pollutants, primarily by homeless camps (painted in FortyEight: ‘The Jungle’ Fate).

During this quest, I have been pleasantly surprised to see that in recent years many citizen volunteers and organizations are working to restore the creeks and rivers of Santa Clara Valley. Due to their efforts, the trash which for decades accumulated and clogged the creeks has slowly been cleared out to make room for salmon runs and other aquatic animals. These volunteers have also lobbied and worked with the Santa Clara Valley Water District to modify structures and policies to allow salmon to migrate. Naturally this brings in more wildlife, like wild beaver in downtown San Jose (painted in ThirtyNine: Beaver Sign!)

 

This painting is dedicated to the volunteers clearing the creeks of Silicon Valley and their tireless efforts.

 

Organizations such as The Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Group (SSRG), Friends of Los Gatos Creek, Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, Friends of Guadalupe River, Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition, and Friends of Coyote Creek Watershed have worked to restore the waterways of the “Valley of Heart’s Delight”. Many have regular cleanup days where citizens volunteer their time and sweat to keep the waterways clean.

Foremost of these citizens is Roger Castillo, dubbed “The Watchdog of the River”, who I wrote about in Twentyfour: Roger, Let’s Soar.

I especially want to thank Steve Holmes, founder of several of the above groups, who has helped me in this quest by giving some valuable ‘creek advice’, spreading the word, and his efforts in preserving our waterways.

Give it up and cheers to all the volunteers!

Painting 51 was done during one of Friends of Guadalupe River cleanup operations. Steve Holmes invited me out for the morning where I was ‘allowed’ to just sit and paint without picking up trash.

35 volunteers showed for the cleanup, one of several scheduled that day in the valley. The Guadalupe was completely dry which made it easier to clean and get trash from areas that normally might be under water or mud. One Boy Scout leader, whose troup had adopted this stretch of the river, brought special tools just to get an old TV and 6 cylinder car engine block out of the dry riverbed which normally would be impossible if the river was running. The area was not quite as trashy as other places I have seen along the waterways, but there was plenty to clean up, and there were 115 large trash bags collected!

 

Click on a thumbnail to open up a larger picture and slide show***

 

 

This is the first time I have painted beyond the ubiquitous chain link fence and “no trespassing” signs which guards much of the waterways of Silicon Valley from the abuse of humanity. The river stretch beyond the fence by Guadalupe is just wonderful, and as I painted, imagined a time in the future when many of these areas might be opened up to be enjoyed by the public without being ruined. These volunteers, I think are working towards that goal..

 

 

Cleanup's Never Done, 8x10, oil on board
Cleanup’s Never Done, 8×10, oil on board

 

About the painting…
Overall, I wanted to portray one thought about the volunteers cleaning up the area, but there are a number of points of interest in the piece. In the back is Capital Expressway as it crosses the Guadalupe River in south San Jose (Capitol Auto Mall) close to the intersection of Almaden Expressway. On the left are a few volunteers picking up trash in the riverbed, and on the right are the large accumulated trash bags. In the forefront, I painted a homeless pad (which was actually under the bridge), plus the usual trash you see in these areas. It indicates the job is not yet done. The riverbed is dry reflecting the drought California is experiencing this year.

Despite many efforts by many entities to improve Silicon Valley’s streams, their health still remains in in the balance, but greatly improving. As in the title, it seems their cleanup is never done.

 

If you want to volunteer, go to the above mentioned websites. Detailed information about some cleanup events are here.


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.