Month: May 2024

31st Carmel Art Festival

The Carmel Art Festival in California is an annual event that transforms the picturesque seaside town of Carmel-by-the-Sea into a center of creativity and culture. Each May, this festival celebrates the magic of plein air painting, where artists capture the breathtaking coastal landscapes. seascapes,  and charming architecture of the area in just a few days. Visitors are treated to the thrill of watching artists bring scenes to life, bidding on exquisite art at auctions, and diving into a variety of engaging exhibitions and workshops.

I’ve been part of this artistic extravaganza nearly every year since 2006. In recent years, participating has become more convenient since we now live locally, eliminating the need for travel and accommodations—though those adventures were part of the charm! Artists have about two days to create at least two world-class paintings ready for sale.

Check-in was on Wednesday morning, where festival officials stamped the back of our canvases to ensure all paintings were freshly created within the two-day timeframe.

After my canvas was stamped, faced with morning gloom, I was uncertain about my first painting location. However, being halfway there, I ventured on to Garrapata State Park near Soberanes Point. Despite the overcast skies, a little artistic imagination brought the scene to life.

Next, I headed to Ft Ord Dunes State Beach. I walk there 3-5 times a week as it is near our home in Marina. Last year, a painting I created there won the People’s Choice Award and was featured as this year’s festival poster. Although I didn’t expect to capture lightning in a bottle twice, I hoped for a bit of the same magic by painting close to last year’s spot, yet capturing an entirely new scene.

Thursday morning was gloomy again, so I stayed in the studio to touch up and frame the previous day’s paintings. By early afternoon, I was off to Elkhorn Slough to create another piece.

The festival is not just about art—it’s a vibrant celebration with live music, gourmet food, and family-friendly activities, offering a rich and inclusive cultural experience that showcases the artistic heritage of the region. Since I won People’s Choice Award last year, my painting was the festival poster for this year. Here are a few photos of the festival.

Here are my three pieces for the show.

Painting Hokkaido

It had been five long years since we last visited our son in Sapporo, Japan. Not by choice, but because the pandemic threw a wrench in our plans. Japan, being one of the last countries to reopen after COVID, kept us apart. Thankfully, our son visited us during that time. But finally, we made it back to Sapporo.

I won’t turn this into a full travelogue, but I did bring my acrylic kit and managed to squeeze in a few paintings between our touring excursions and rain squalls around Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.

We made our base at the Sapporo Park Hotel, nestled next to Nakajima Park—my favorite spot in the city and conveniently close to our son’s apartment. I had painted in this park on our last trip to Sapporo. This time, we also ventured into other parts of Hokkaido. Here’s a few photos around Sapporo.

Our first excursion was to Furano, where my son’s girlfriend hails from. Furano, in the heart of Hokkaido, is famous for its breathtaking natural landscapes, especially the vibrant lavender fields that bloom in mid-summer, which unfortunately weren’t in bloom during our visit. When people asked what it reminded me of back in the States, it eventually clicked—Montana! Known as Big Sky Country, Montana has wide valleys framed by mountain ranges, similar to central Hokkaido, though some in Japan are volcanic. Here are a few photos from the trip, including the famous Blue Pond.

I managed to do one painting in Furano, capturing a view from one of the hilltop parks.

After returning to Sapporo, I did another painting in Maruyama Park, where a few cherry blossoms still clung to the trees,

Next, we headed to Hakodate via train. This historic port city in southern Hokkaido is rich in cultural heritage. Hakodate was Japan’s first city whose port was opened to foreign trade in 1854, and used to be the most important port in northern Japan. Hakodate blends modern attractions with historical sites, like the star-shaped Goryokaku Fort, now a public park and observation tower with panoramic views. The bustling wharf area brought to mind Cannery Row in Monterey and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I didn’t get a chance to paint in Hakodate, as we were too busy soaking in the sights.

Back in Sapporo, finding time for one more painting in Nakajima Park, I sat on the same bench to paint as I did five years prior.

Too soon we headed back to our home in Marina, CA. It was time to get ready for the Carmel Art Festival. Stay tuned!

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