Third in my yearlong Preserve Coyote Valley Series.
Although called a creek, it is actually a river, and larger than the Guadalupe River which also runs through the San Francisco south bay area. Starting on Mount Sizer and the Diablo Range, running through two reservoirs, then flowing through much of Coyote Valley, Coyote Creek is the largest watershed in the Santa Clara Valley, also known as Silicon Valley.
A number of local conservation groups are working to clean up and restore Coyote Creek to it’s original state where steelhead trout and other species thrived years ago. It’s an uphill battle with urban, suburban and other forces such as homeless camps keep polluting the waters. Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition and South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition are the forefronts in this battle. I am always amazed at all the volunteer activity organized by Steve Holmes and others to help keep the south bay creeks clean.
Second in my yearlong Preserve Coyote Valley Series.
Coyote Valley, a large expanse of farmlands, orchards, and scattered homes has been the subject of a war between the developers and conservationists for years. I am spending a year painting at least once a month a scene in the valley, either en plein air (on location), or studio paintings. You can read about my first painting in this year long quest here, and a video here.
We have had an unusual number of storms coming through the San Francisco Bay area the last week or so. For the second Coyote Valley painting, I decided to make it as much about the sky as the valley.
The painting is a barn along Kalana Avenue, a short street just over a mile long in the valley. I started this piece en plein air (on location), but finished it in the studio…probably about 70-30. I took a little artists license and moved some trees around, shortened the barn, but overall it’s about what it looked like.
Below are a few shots of the day.
Stay tuned for more. I still have to report on the Carmel Art Festival with some great drone video along the California coast!
Hokkaido is the northernmost, second largest, and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. The winters are harsh with lots of snowfall, below zero temperatures and frozen seas, while in summer it does not get as hot and humid as in the other parts of Japan.With unspoiled nature, Hokkaido attracts many outdoor lovers, including skiers and snowboarders in the colder seasons. Hikers, cyclists, and campers come during summer and fall.It is considered to have some of the best snow powder in the world.
I just returned from a couple weeks in Japan visiting my son, who recently moved to Sapporo, the capital and largest city in Hokkaido.After 5 years living in SW rural Japan, he wanted a change of scenery so moved to northern Japan and one of the snowiest metropolis’s in the world. Sapporo hosted the first ever Olympics in Asia, the 1972 Winter games.
Soon after we arrived, we realized it would be raining in a few days, so we took advantage of the sunshine, rented a car, and drove around the Hokkaido countryside for a couple days.Our first daytrip was south of Sapporo where we enjoyed rural Hokkaido and visited a couple lakes. The lakes in this area are all caldera lakes, that is, they are ancient volcanos.
The first was Lake Shikotsu-ku. We spent some time at the visitors center (we were in a national park), and I did a quick 90 minute study, plus a drone flight.The lake is very reminiscent of Lake Tahoe, except without all the boulders along the shore.
We then went on to Lake Toya, which was just as pretty, but it was getting late in the day, so flew the drone, and then headed home.
The next day, Justin and I headed to the Shakotan coastal area.What a spectacular coastline! It is much like the coastal areas of California, but with little Japanese fishing villages scattered throughout. We drove to the fishing village of Shakotan, had lunch, and then backtracked to a place I had spotted on our drive there to paint.
Shimadomarigyo Harbor is a small fishing harbor along the coast with a view of Candle Rock, an unusual natural monolith. It was a beautiful view, but the winds were around 20mph with gusts up to 40.Even my tubes of paint were being blown away. I moved to a boat shed to get out of the wind, but it was still too much to handle, so I made a quick study to finish the painting later.
The final painting is at the top of this weblog entry. Here are a few shots of the area…
I was disappointed the strong winds prevented me from flying my drone and capturing this amazing place from above, so this area is definitely on my list for the next visit!
There doesn’t seem to be as many temples and shrines in Hokkaido as in other parts of Japan.My assumption is this is because Hokkaido was the last area where the Japanese people populated.Prior to that, the Ainu indigenous people inhabited the area.
However, there was a little Buddhist shrine a few blocks from Justin’s apartment, called Nantoku Shrine, so I spent a few hours painting it.
The shrine in the painting looks a little askew, so will correct that when I have time.
The next day was still nice, so I went back to the same place and did another painting facing a different way.
Overall it was a wonderful journey and we saw new parts of Japan. I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to fly my drone more, but when we were at places where it is allowed, the weather didn’t cooperate.
Coyote Valley, just south of San Jose, CA, has been the object of a decades long war between the developers and the conservationists.It is the last vestige of what Santa Clara Valley used to be called, “The Valley of Hearts Delight’, now dubbed Silicon Valley. Measuring 7×2 miles, it is an expanse of orchards, farmlands, and homes, which has been targeted for urban development since the early 60’s amongst much controversy. Numerous organizations are fighting back to preserve this last remaining undeveloped valley floor in the San Francisco Bay area.
Thousands of commuters pass it everyday on their way to and from bedroom communities such as San Martin, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy. During the Cold War, IBM built a facility here, presumably to be out of nuclear strike zones. It is also a critical open space buffer between south San Jose, and the next town south, Morgan Hill, as a wildlife corridor. Tule elk, puma, coyote, bobcat, badgers and other animals use it as safe passage.
I am beginning a new quest of spending a year painting the valley.Perhaps I should call this a mini-quest, as it will not be nearly as ambitious as my “Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley” I did some years ago.The last quest was more about the past, but this one is about the future. Not to be too cliche, but I am painting it “before it’s gone”.
I have painted in the valley numerous times, including several for “The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley”.I plan on doing about one painting a month over the next year, resulting in at least a dozen or so paintings, including both plein air and larger studio works.I also will vary the size, unlike the strict 8×10 size during the creeks quest.There really isn’t much in the way of seasons, but the grass in the surrounding hills goes from emerald green to a golden savanna beige and back to green as we progress through the year.
My first painting is a plein air (painted on location) piece shown above, painted in the Coyote Valley Open Preserve on the west side of the valley.I wanted to start in the spring when the wildflowers were in full bloom.There weren’t any wildflowers at the exact spot I painted, but used a little artists license to put them in.Greens are one of the hardest colors for artists, especially the subtle value and color shifts when there is a lot of green in the painting, so I hope I did it justice.
I am working on a short video which will be out in a couple days. In the meantime, here’s a few pictures from the day—
Well, this is pretty much about nothing. It’s definitely not about art. You might be wasting your time reading this.Anyway, here is the story…
I bought my house in 1984 , a new tract home, when it was still being built.Awhile after I moved in, and during my daily trek home from work, I always looked up to the hills behind the house.Through the seasons, the coastal hills of California turn from a deep Irish green to golden fields of dry grass.Scattered around are plenty of oak trees.
Looking up, I began to notice a tree at the crest of a hill on the skyline which was all by itself.It was a little odd shaped like it was windswept bending over to the right.Most every day I would glance up as somewhat of a beacon to the way home. In my mind, I called it “The Lone Tree”.
My original intent was to eventually move up to a bigger house, although this one is plenty big. As time passed, I got married, had a son, and pretty much settled in.
Through the years, the tree was always there, beckoning me home.One day I was driving home with my son, and he just blurted out, “Dad, have you ever noticed the Lone Tree?”.So, I’m not the only one who noticed it, and my son is also observant!I answered, yes, I look at it most every time I drive home.
Some years ago, when I had more free time, I began to wonder if I could drive or hike up to the tree.I looked for it on Google Earth, and tried to see if there was an easy way up.I would occasionally drive up in the hills nearby to paint,but couldn’t see it from those vantage points.It must be on fenced private property, so never did try to visit it.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations has a limit of 400 feet altitude AGL (Above Ground Level) for drones. It is built into the drone software, and it will stop you from flying higher. I might have missed something, or DJI changed the software, but recently discovered you can set the limit much higher, about 1500 ft, even though it is breaking regulations to fly that high.
I didn’t want to break any FAA rules, but if I keep the drone close to the hillside, it will never be 400 feet above the ground, which is legal. From my takeoff point in nearby Groesbeck Hill Park, the Lone Tree would be much higher, but the rule is above ground level where ever the drone is, not from where it took off.So I took the drone on a journey up the hill to find the Lone Tree.Here is a short video clip of the drone’s journey…
It looks like an Oak Tree, and looks like it might be dead.Perhaps I will do another reconnaissance in several months to see if there are any spring leaves. BTW, the tree is about 1350 feet above our neighborhood.
So, this blog entry is pretty much about nothing…possibly reminiscing the passing of time. Maybe a little about observation of your surroundings.Perhaps it’s just about a tree with a couple of admirers.Perhaps I have too much time on my hands to write blogs like this.
The opening reception was Friday, February 22 this year, so I arrived a day early, Thursday afternoon.Lodging prices in Yosemite were quite high for winter season (possibly because the Firefall is getting ever more popular), so for the first time, I elected to stay outside the park in El Portal, which is right at the entrance.
After checking into my motel, I headed into the park. A series of recent snowstorms had hit the area, and it was like driving around in a winter fairyland. I wouldn’t have much time to paint, so just drove around for a few pictures, then headed to the Firefall.I won’t go into that experience here, as I posted a weblog entry you can read here.If you haven’t seen my short Firefall video, you should watch it:
I won’t go into detail on my visit, but it was very cold, barely getting above freezing most days, so my painting activities were a bit limited.Plus, with all the recent heavy snow, many pullouts and parking lots were unavailable, and those available quickly taken up by the unusually large winter crowds.
Here are a few pictures from the trip. Click on the thumbnails to get a larger picture and description.
The Firefall and me
A classic view of Half Dome
From Tunnel View
Painting Bridalveil Falls
Bridalveil Falls study.
A study of the Merced River as it tumbles out of Yosemite Valley.
Painting Cathedral Rock. It was so cold, didn’t get very far on this one.
Painting Cathedral Rock. It was so cold, didn’t get very far on this one.
I stopped by the Yosemite Railroad exhibit in El Portal for the first time. In the old days, this is the way you got to Yosemite.
My work hanging in the museum
My work hanging in the museum
Yosemite Renaissance 34 will be on display at the Yosemite Museum from February 23rd through May 5th, 2019. The Museum Gallery is open daily 10 am to Noon, and 1 pm to 4 pm. The 2019 Traveling Exhibit will be displayed at the following venues. We will confirm specific dates and times as they become available.
Kings Art Center, Hanford, CA. (June through July)
Carnegie Art Center, Turlock, CA. (August through October)
Gallery 5 at Gallery Row, Oakhurst, CA (October through November)
For friends who have visited, they know I don’t have a great, large, wonderous studio in which to create great artworks.Actually, I never have, and its not really necessary to produce good art.One of my favorite paintings is this one from around 1981, painted entirely at night in a small motorhome with just adim 1/4 watt 12v light bulb overhead.
The short story is, I used to paint in an empty bedroom, until I got married, and shortly thereafter became a nursery for my newborn son.Around that time, I sold about $7K of paintings to a local company for their new building.That money was enough to turn one of my three car garage stalls into a studio.We installed a wall,skylight, and other items.It eventually turned into a general workroom and storage area, but still my studio.
I have been cleaning out the studio this week and going through old paintings. Many artists periodically purge old paintings, whether finished, abandoned, etc. and I do every once in awhile.Artists, even famous ones, will also paint over an old painting. I generally don’t like to paint over an old canvas, but most of my small paintings are on canvas board, and lately I just scrape it down, and paint right over it. The old paint can also give a nice texture to what I paint over it.
After sorting thru everything, I now have over 250 canvas boards, worth probably $2K, to paint over which will last quite awhile!
We have had a pretty wet last couple of weeks, but during a break between storms, I headed out to Half Moon Bay to meet with an old college days friend for lunch. Of course, I have to make it a day with some painting and droning along the way!
After waiting for rush hour traffic to die down, took off for the hours drive to Half Moon Bay. By the time I arrived, it was only about an hour before lunch, so explored a bit, took pictures, and a couple drone flights.
After a long lunch, I headed up the coast to an area called Devil’s Slide. Recently, Caltrans built a tunnel bypassing the slide area, but the last turnout allows walking access to the old road, so decided to do a painting right there. By that time I only had a couple hours to paint before the parking lot closed.
I didn’t really get a finished painting as I was enjoying the scenery as much as working. I am still trying to decide if I should finish the painting in the studio, or start a new one sometime in the future.
Below are a few pictures of the day. Click on the thumbnail for a larger view.
There was no droning allowed right there, so I drove back down the coast and took some arial shots. Enjoy this short video above the beautiful California Coast entitled “Coastal Soothe“…